#1 Posted by Veektarius (4869 posts) -

I was invited to play ESO this past weekend by a friend who's in the closed beta. Since they're letting people talk about it freely, I though I should do so. I'm a big Elder Scrolls fan while I've mostly kicked the MMO bug, so there were several things about the proposition of ESO that didn't sit right with me. Nevertheless, what I saw wasn't as bad as it could have been, so I'll share my thoughts in the hopes they inform others who are sort of on the fence and haven't had a chance to play it. I only made it to level 12 and PVP was locked, so my impressions are obviously restricted as such.

Reasons I saw to buy ESO based on the beta:

Well-realized world: The main promise of this game that actually exceeds the ambition of the core Elder Scrolls games is that it intends to present the entire world of Tamriel, rather than simply doling it out piecemeal. As such, it's a pleasant surprise that so much care has been gone into designing interesting topography and rewarding divergence from the core path in ways that few MMOs do.

Character Freedom: I was sorry to see that there were any class-specific skills in this game, but it genuinely feels like any combination of weapons, armor, and class could combine to make a viable character, and when you add in skills that are based on your rank with the various guilds (that's fighters/mages/etc.) there's plenty of chance to go off the beaten path where character design is concerned as well. I played as a dual-wielding summoner, which isn't bad as far as MMOs go.

Good Quest Design: One positive I came away with in ESO that I wasn't expecting at all was that they've really cut down on the amount of superfluous "fetch" quests and done their best to tie most quests into some storyline or other. It may only be a one time thing - maybe a ghost asks you to discover the legendary treasure in this cultist-infested ruin or maybe a group of harmless farmers performing an old harvest ceremony turn out to be summoning a Daedra that you have to put down, but it's rare (though occasionally, it happens) that you undertake meaningless fetch or kill quests purely for the narrative sake of character advancement.

Reasons that if I buy ESO, I doubt it will be at release:

Underuse of Instancing: Remember that quest I told you about with the ghost and the ruins? Well, what if I told you that when I got into the ruins, they were already swarmed with other players running in every whichway pillaging them for their secrets? Kind of kills that intrepid mood, doesn't it? What if I told you in another quest, I was sent back in time to fill the role of a legendary warrior who killed a powerful villain, and yet, when I reached that villain, a dozen other people filling the role of a legendary warrior did all the hard work while I sat back and watched? These are problems that could be solved if ESO instanced its indoor areas, but the only cases where I saw them use the mechanic was in group dungeons and in a limited capacity, to shift around NPCs when reflecting story progress (e.g. a camp overrun with werewolves is recaptured by the guards). If those sound like a bummer to you, you definitely ought to wait for the preorder hordes to move up through the ranks.

Skill Limitations: Somewhere between Guild Wars 2 and Diablo 3, skill bars limited to a handful of buttons became the vogue for multiplayer RPGs.. I don't know if this was done to restrain player power or to make games more console-friendly, but it's a serious bummer in this game, where you're restricted to five abilities and one ultimate. Now keeping in mind that between your class skills (3) your weapon skills (6), your armor skills (technically 3, but these are mostly passive), your race skills (1, but mostly passive) your guild skills (up to 5) and your world skills (Just for soul trap, that I saw, but a legitimate skill tree) you have almost twenty skill trees you could be spending points in by the time you're level twenty.

Okay. I'll be more realistic. You're probably in no more than two class trees, one weapon tree, one armor tree, and a couple of guild trees, along with the world & race tree.. you'd still be hard-pressed to fit even one skill from each tree you're using on your bar, and each tree has four skills associated with it. Honestly, I think it's fucked and that they need to at least double it or seriously reconsider how the skill trees work so that they give fewer abilities.

You're probably right that it's destined to go F2P: There's nothing wrong with them trying to make some money up front, and the game is definitely not designed with microtransactions in mind, so it'll require some overhead to get the model turned around, but from what I saw, the people playing the game weren't so overwhelmingly positive that it's destined to become a home-run success.

So, those are my thoughts. And in case it isn't obvious, my recommendation is that if you were thinking of playing it, you totally should, but just not at release. In addition to the surge of players ruining the atmosphere they're going for, I'm hoping that some fundamental design decisions get reversed, and odds are that's not going to happen for six months minimum.

#2 Posted by Random45 (1213 posts) -

I only played the game for about an hour before I turned it off, so my impression isn't so great, but here's what I got out of it:

-The story is uninteresting (for the first hour). This game does that stupid thing where someone "dies" really early on, and it's supposed to be dramatic, but you barely knew the person, so you're not emotionally invested at all into what's going on. Though it is pretty cute that you start the game as a prisoner. I have NO idea what's up with TES always having you in chains in the beginning, but I got a good laugh out of that. Other than that though, the game just gives you no time to get invested in any characters. I will say that I'm glad that the quests give you some choices, for instance, I went to save this guy and get a gem for him, and then I was given the option to either give the gem to him, or give it to the person he stole it from, so they'd drop the bounty on his head.

-Character customization is actually pretty in depth. I like this current trend in MMOs to allow you to really customize how your character look. There are some downsides though - you can't make your character ridiculously fat, and no matter what, you can't make your duder not look like a body builder, but still, it's pretty great. Though one thing that actually made my jaw drop was the female character creator actually allowed you to change your character's chest size. Like... God damn, you do realize that every G.I.R.L. is going to put it to the max setting, right? Still, I can't help but appreciate an option like that. But seriously, the character creator is pretty damn good, the only other MMO with a better creator that I can think of was City of Heroes.

-The game doesn't really give you any sense of direction. I got lost several times trying to find quest objectives. The map tells you where the general location is, but it doesn't tell you if it's underground. Furthermore, your compass on the top of the screen felt completely worthless, I tried to use it to guide me, but I just couldn't get the hang of the damn thing, and just kept resorting to my map to help me find out where to go.

-The game SERIOUSLY needs something above players heads so you know that they are players. There were several times when I attempted to talk to what I assumed were NPCs, but they were actually players. The game does a horrible job of telling you who is a player and who is a NPC, and it's VERY annoying. Additionally, the chat colors need to be changed too. From what I saw, most it was in various shades of orange and red. I guess they didn't want to mess up with the ascetics of the game too much, but again, it made it very hard to tell what channel they were talking in.

That's all I can really think of. Like I said, take it with a grain of salt because I barely played the game.

#3 Posted by Veektarius (4869 posts) -

@random45: Funny thing about the opening of the game - they introduce a ton of characters to you like they're supposed to be important, but by the time the tutorial is over, it seems like you're done with them (except those two characters you meet at the beginning). I will say one thing in ESO's defense; I think the only time I even got slightly invested in an Elder Scroll's character was with Sean Bean in Oblivion, because he was Sean Bean.

#4 Posted by Zirilius (652 posts) -

ESO is a pretty decent attempt at an MMO but I hate how small the hub's are and how poor the environments looked. I felt like I was loading into something every 5-10 minutes which isn't how an MMO should feel. Its some of the same problem I have with FF14 except that FF14 looks freaking amazing on PC.

I also didn't particularly care for the combat. I felt the animation quality was very subpar, that my abilities lacked any real impact (I guess maybe lack of reaction from the mobs is a better way to put it), and that I was constantly monitoring my stat bars instead of watching what was going on.

It has a lot of things going for it but it didn't do enough for me to get super gun ho excited for it. I'll be interested to see how it fares once the console versions launch and come the holiday period.

#5 Edited by Pezen (1612 posts) -

I was pleasantly surprised, probably because I had set my expectations to hot burning garbage. I found the combat decent but hollow (sort of what @zirilius is talking about regard lack of impact), the character creator was nice and the game for the most part looks pretty decent. I think they manage to create a decent world and sprinkled in quests in a way that you didn't have to run too much back and forth. Though I found there to a be a bit too many arbitrary quests that might not traditionally be fetch quests, but they were basically fetch quests without having to do anything other than walk to a different area.

The world didn't feel all that vast area to area, and basically standing in line to kill something was a bit dumb. I did however like that certain objects, such as locked chests and runes, someone could pick up right in front of you and it vanished. It wasn't much but it added to the idea that other people can impact the world you're in, so it's not just me running around seeing a bunch of shadows.

Overall I didn't find it to be particularly bad, as I had a good time with it. It wasn't blowing my mind either, but I kept coming back to it anyway. Still, depending on how the leveling, difficulty and all that jazz differs in the real release (if it does) I am still not sure I have time to sink into an MMO they way that you generally have to in order to get anywhere.

Still came out pretty positive on the game.

#6 Posted by Bakumatsu (357 posts) -

I played it during 5-6 hours and the overall sentiment was positive. It felt like a multiplayer skyrim with a good variety of quests and good visuals. I enjoyed the combat and the character creator was great.

The things that I didn´t like were the fact that I couldn't move while having the map open (in a mmo it's crucial), the inventory wasn't great and like the @veektarius said, seeing a bunch of dudes running around doing the same things kills some of the immersion. I enjoyed it but I just don't see me paying a monthly subscrition to play a game in the future, especially with a baby on the way.

#7 Edited by Wajin (12 posts) -

General concensus is that the game gets good when you reach the first big isle, so i would advice atleast reaching that if you want a feel of what the game is like, on launch you can apparently skip the tutorial areas and go straight to the big zones.

#8 Edited by TheHBK (5488 posts) -

I couldn't even get this piece of shit to work. Errors connecting and it kept crashing when I was finally able to get to the character creation. On that note I am excited to see how it shapes up.

#9 Posted by Veektarius (4869 posts) -

@thehbk: Were you on a laptop? I heard something pertaining to that leading to instability.

#10 Posted by TheHBK (5488 posts) -

@thehbk: Were you on a laptop? I heard something pertaining to that leading to instability.

Nah, I was on my desktop. same thing was happening to my brother, we both have pretty solid gaming PCs.

#11 Edited by OurSin_360 (918 posts) -

I like it, but I don't see any reason for it to be an MMO. Also needs controller support, doesn't feel right using the hot keys with the type of combat it has. Although if i did buy it, it would be on ps4 anyway.

#12 Posted by Hippie_Genocide (586 posts) -

You're probably right that it's destined to go F2P: There's nothing wrong with them trying to make some money up front, and the game is definitely not designed with microtransactions in mind, so it'll require some overhead to get the model turned around, but from what I saw, the people playing the game weren't so overwhelmingly positive that it's destined to become a home-run success.

I would be surprised if Bethesda or Zenimax or whatever doesn't have a contingency plan in place for this already. They'll probably have a version of the game with all the F2P hooks in place on their private servers ready for download as soon as they hit the 'GO' button. It'd be a last resort but something they'd be stupid not to pursue if the subscription model doesn't pan out.

#13 Posted by Reisz (1508 posts) -

I had no interest in even watching coverage of ESO until I ended up with a beta key.

Now I am trying to budget for buying the Imperial edition. Hugely positive impression on me.