You may recall from my last post on ESO's Morrowind expansion announcement that I said I would be willing to try ESO again. I'll reiterate my position on the game once again: ESO is not a terrible game. ESO's greatest problems stem from it straddling that line between RPG and MMO, and not quite being able to figure out what to actually embrace.
I decided to jump back in (since it's free) to ESO this past week to solidify my feelings.
Playing for a bit this week emphasized a few points for me.
I genuinely find the combat to be fun. I think it's a great blend between actual Elder Scrolls style and something that makes sense for a MMO setting. I like my skills being limited to 6 abilities (or 12 with 2 weapons) instead of having 30 skills on hotbars stacked all over the place.
I love a skill system. I think it's so much better than a generic prescribed character. ESO's skill system straddles a line, though.
You guys know that I have absolutely no love for a questing system that has me running back and forth from one quest hub to another. ESO, although less about picking up a dozen quests and doing them all, heavily favors leading players by the nose.
I wish gameplay in a zone was less about sprinting around the map to knock out objectives and more about sticking around in one place to skill up a character. Putting things into a frame of reference some of you may understand: More EQ, less WoW.
In its defense, I won't pretend the quests are are that worse than the bulk of typical Elder Scrolls quests. But most Elder Scrolls games have a larger sandbox world to ease or almost eliminate that sense of running from one quest to the next to complete the hubs on the map.
I'm going to let ESO be my "play when there's really not a lot else going on" game. I need one of those. What causes me to log off is a mix between feeling like my existence is futile in the game, and sheer boredom from the questing monotony.
ESO would be much better with a regular group that decides from the beginning to make their progress about grouping together to explore and fight enemies over a solo or duo grinding quests. I can't think of anything more boring.
With Morrowind still a ways off, I'm uncertain how long I'll keep dabbling in Tamriel. I need to feel like there's a goal. I also need to feel like there's a way to "catch up" and play with the rest of the larger body of players. As of now, I feel too minuscule and alone which only feeds the sense of futility.
Aren’t trailers horrible and awesome at the same time? That game looks awesome.
Back to reality, I want this to be great. I so badly want for it to be a true Morrowind experience. So much of me hopes it will be an amazing expansion and era of growth for ESO. Yet, so much of me remember the pains of ESO. ESO wasn’t the worst MMO I’ve played. But that’s really where the ‘praise’ ends.
We’ve given ESO more chances than it deserved. We played it on multiple platforms, played all 3 factions, and made numerous characters. It simply fails to ‘hook’ the player.
Additionally, the cash shop vibe it puts out turns me off completely. I’m not going to debate whether the shop is fair. Having one bothers me. An RPG — especially a mmorpg — loses immersion when I’m presented constantly with buying things from the cash shop.
From the official website:
“Return to the iconic island of Vvardenfell for over 30 hours of adventure in a brand new location, with a new class, a new PvP mode, a new Trial, and so much more.”
So it’s like a mini expansion. That doesn’t seem fitting for Morrowind. One of the greatest RPGs of our time simply adds a class, a battleground, and 30 hours of questing.
I find myself once again grumbling over what this could have been. They could have gone the extra mile and made this into a new type of MMORPG that was more open and sandbox. They could have aimed for a new ‘game’ and attempted something in at least the same ballpark as Morrowind.
I’ll try to get over my skepticism and my disdain for what ESO failed to be and focus on what it is and what Morrowind may end up being. Despite my ridicule, I’ll try it out.
Elder Scrolls Online has had a relaunch of sorts with its latest version now available on the PS4 and Xbox One: Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited. Graev and I both enlisted quite some time ago in ZOS’ offer to buy the new edition for only $20 rather than a full price console release. While both of us also took advantage of the free character copy to bring over our banks full of crafting mats, we decided to completely reroll characters in the Daggerfall Covenant.
I went with a Templar using a 2-hander and a Bow (designed to just be lots of DPS and AOE DPS), and Graev is playing as a Sorcerer user of sorts who summons and heals. So far we are enjoying ourselves by taking things slow and doing most of the quests. Neither of us love quest grinding, and that is purely what ESO is all about, but the combat is fun and we like to slaughter monsters.
So what’s different in ESOTU? Umm… I guess not much. The use of a controller makes playing way more fun, if that counts? Really though, apparently the game hasn’t received THAT much worth writing home about. Stealing has been added, and if you are caught with contraband you will be fined by guards. The thieves guild and Dark Brotherhood, however, are not yet in the game. The running conjecture at this point is DLC now that ESO is B2P supported by a cash shop. End-game has received some decent work with veteran ranks, though, if that’s your thing.
One interesting addition is voice chat. Area voice is on automatically and is opt-out rather than opt-in. This has proven to be quite embarrassing for some. The quality is decent, and having such a feature makes grouping easy since the console comes with a mic for all to use.
Performance on the consoles is not without its downsides. The graphics are great on PS4, but both Graev and I run into hitching at the exact same spots in-town leading me to believe it is game/server-side. The hitching is most common in cities at this point. Unfortunately, playing on PS4 means having a subscription to Playstation Plus which is like $50 a year or something. Not huge, but worth noting.
Worth buying? Here’s my honest stance right now. ESOTU is ESO, and it’s worth getting if you liked the PC version enough to say, “Hey, I’d like to sit on my couch and play it on my console.” The game has life I honestly haven’t seen since week 1 of ESO launch. Both Graev and I both liked ESO but couldn’t fall in love with the game. ESOTU is a great chance for us to dungeon crawl, slay baddies, and play in a world we enjoy. Will we be playing long? We’ll make our way to 50 at our own pace and play until we get bored.
Edits after reading some comments: If you treat ESOTU like a MMO then you’re screwed. It’ll be 1-2 monther at most. Treat it like a multiplayer RPG with a semi-decent story and better than average combat. Play with a friend or two. Go at it alone, or quest grind your way to the top, and you’ll be bored in a week. It’s a console game for me. I would not even consider playing it again on PC or treating it like I do an MMO. ESO on PC was the beta for the console version, where it clearly belongs.[yasr_overall_rating]
Last week Graev and I received emails from the ESO team offering us a promotional package to essentially take our characters from the PC version of ESO and move them to the upcoming console version. Included in this promotional offering was a copy of the game for the console of our choice (PS4/Xbox One).
Graev and I were already planning to revisit the now buy-to-play (B2P) ESO. We enjoyed ourselves a fair bit back when we played for a month of so after launch. ESO PvE wasn’t terrible — pretty fun, actually. The PVP sorta sucked, though.
The console version, being a full price game, isn’t worth it. Getting the game for $20 and being able to play it how it was originally meant to be played (with a controller) while sitting on the couch? Yeah, I’ll take it. The characters transfer doesn’t even appeal to me since neither Graev nor I care to pick up where we left off. We’re rolling a different faction, different characters, etc.
We’re going to play the PS4 version. I think the consoles and PC are separate servers, but I’m not sure if the PS4 and Xbox One are separated or play together. Should be a bit of fun.
In yesterday’s post about Crowfall I mentioned long-term goals and driving factors for why players should care. What makes someone wake up at 3am to defend a relic? Why should I care if I lose my keep? Many games creating a PvP system these days seem to look to DAoC as an example. WAR, GW2, ESO, and Crowfall all have the keep capturing mechanics and really did/do borrow heavily from the system. While they miss many features like proper character advancement in PvP, map size, and the nitty gritty details of how sieging should work, etc., there’s one bigger picture key ingredient they’re all missing: A focus on PvE.
DAoC was about PvE. The game long-heralded as the best RvR/PvP game of all time was driven by the players caring about PvE and how their characters performed outside of the frontiers (where the realm war/RvR took place).
DAoC had relics which increased your character’s stats and damage. Owning these was paramount and the goal of RvR was typically to try and push hard enough that you controlled the keeps necessarily to make the relic vulnerable. To make players care a bit more about those relics, the realm controlling most keeps had access to the best PvE zone in the game: Darkness Falls. Darkness Falls was the best place to level characters, get gear (that wasn’t player made), and earn money.
I have memories of being in Darkness Falls grouping for Legion and hearing the announcement that Albion was advancing and taking our keeps. We bailed out as fast as possible and rushed to the frontiers to defend or retake our territories in order to keep our coveted Darkness Falls longer.
Player made gear was typically the best back in the day. You weren’t going to earn that gear by PvPing. PvPing gave you realm ranks and points to buy new abilities which made you much stronger, but you still needed that player made gear. Player made gear, like all gear, wore out and broke over time. There was always a need to earn money which meant PvE.
Perhaps I should have started with this, but getting to level 50 was through rigorous PvE. Leveling wasn’t quick (before people macro’d and abused the leveling system like they do in every game). Leveling could take months to reach 50, and you weren’t a ton of use before level 50 out in the frontiers. Leveling through PvP wasn’t an option, and the silly “scaling” systems of today (another way for these games to ignore Pve) did not exist.
Although the “end-game” of DaoC was PvP, and one could PvP the entire time they played (after reaching level 50 and gearing up), the core of the game still maintained a healthy focus on PvE. The key isn’t to ignore PvE or come up with systems to avoid it. The two play-styles needn’t compete against each other. A great game can and perhaps should utilize both in harmony.