The Elder Scrolls Online Review - Levels 1-20

The Elder Scrolls Online Review - Levels 1-20

The first 20 levels of The Elder Scrolls Online plays a lot like the first 20 levels of Skyrim in that you'll pretty much be playing by yourself.

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A pretty fair review. Nevertheless, some people have experienced worse bugs, although few as bad as what we saw in the last beta. Relogging often does the trick.

I have to agree about the crafting system: it's rather deep, but even at level 34 I'm not using it much beyond researching things for endgame. There's a scarcity of certain ingredients, and the general loot drops are also good, meaning anything you do craft at early levels is likely to be outclassed soon. By endgame, though, people how have invested in crafting should find it rewarding.

One other thing that may be worth pointing out: Zenimax have not been doing a fantastic job of doing maintenance at times appropriate for European players. While the situation has improved, we've had a couple of peak or nearly peak periods of downtime. Hopefully that will be solved when the European server finally moves to Europe, but at the moment it is kind of frustrating.

I'll probably be checking this game out once it goes Free-to-Play, as of right now I don't feel like paying 60€ + subscription to play what looks like a slightly worse Skyrim with a larger map.

Regarding crafting. Had the totally opposite experience to mjharper, what I pick up is good but I'm usually wearing crafted gear at my level or one below it at all times anyway so everything I pick up goes to deconstruction/researching which in turn feeds more crafting.
Its a good system.

Just keep in mind that you have to submit your credit card details in order to play the game, even if you don't intend on playing for more than 30 days and/or don't intend to pay subscription.

As long as you can commit a couple hours a day to it, you'll more than get your money's worth in the 30 days that comes with the purchase.

I'm sorry, but I don't like the review. You describe some general technical and gameplay aspects, as they might interest an average gamer looking to dive into a new MMO. But you're not really talking to the people who are arguably most interested in this game. Namely, the single-player RPG focused Elder Scrolls fanbase. For me, the review doesn't answer the fundamental question if I, as a fan of the franchise, will be able to accept and enjoy this new MMO as a "true" Elder Scrolls experience.

The review doesn't provide answers to any of the really interesting questions:

- The World: can you really explore all of Tamriel? This is something Elder Scrolls players have been dreaming about for ever. What is it like to travel the land? Are there loading times between areas/continents, or is it seamless on the main map, like in the previous ES games? What do the continents look like? Does Skyrim look like Skyrim, Morrowind like Morrowind? Can you go to these places known from previous games and recognize them, see known landmarks, meet known NPCs? What do the new continents and places look like that have not been featured in any previous ES game? Do they fit the lore, are they awesome or do they suck?

- Items and Inventory: do you have this standard progression of weapons and armor from Iron/Leather to Ebony/Glass and Daedric? Is it something entirely different? Do you have these other elements from ES Lore, like Soul Gems, Amulets of Divines, Daedric Artifacts? How does crafting, alchemy, enchanting compare to previous ES titles?

- Lore: does the lore add up to the previous games or can this be considered something new/unrelated/a variation? Do we also have Divines with shrines that can be prayed at? Are there Daedric shrines with quests? Does the plot make any sense at all?

- NPCs: do NPC's feel and behave like in the previous Elder Scrolls games? Do they have schedules and go about their daily business like in Skyrim/Oblivion or are they stucked into position as in Morrowind? How does the conversation system compare? Can you have followers? Can you interact with NPC's or are they simply quest-givers and merchants?

- Gameplay: is there crime-tracking like in previous ES games? Are there factions like Mages Guild and the Dark Brotherhood? Can you cast spells and drink potions and do the mechanics work like in previous ES games or has it all been MMO'ified? Does combat feel as physical and interactive as in the single-player games, or does it feel "floaty" like is typical for MMO's?

The list goes on, but I suppose you get the idea... It would have been nice to get some insights into how this compares to the games we know and love.

Tiamat666:
I'm sorry, but I don't like the review. You describe some general technical and gameplay aspects, as they might interest an average gamer looking to dive into a new MMO. But you're not really talking to the people who are arguably most interested in this game. Namely, the single-player RPG focused Elder Scrolls fanbase. For me, the review doesn't answer the fundamental question if I, as a fan of the franchise, will be able to accept and enjoy this new MMO as a "true" Elder Scrolls experience.

The review doesn't provide answers to any of the really interesting questions:

- The World: can you really explore all of Tamriel? This is something Elder Scrolls players have been dreaming about for ever. What is it like to travel the land? Are there loading times between areas/continents, or is it seamless on the main map, like in the previous ES games? What do the continents look like? Does Skyrim look like Skyrim, Morrowind like Morrowind? Can you go to these places known from previous games and recognize them, see known landmarks, meet known NPCs? What do the new continents and places look like that have not been featured in any previous ES game? Do they fit the lore, are they awesome or do they suck?

- Items and Inventory: do you have this standard progression of weapons and armor from Iron/Leather to Ebony/Glass and Daedric? Is it something entirely different? Do you have these other elements from ES Lore, like Soul Gems, Amulets of Divines, Daedric Artifacts? How does crafting, alchemy, enchanting compare to previous ES titles?

- Lore: does the lore add up to the previous games or can this be considered something new/unrelated/a variation? Do we also have Divines with shrines that can be prayed at? Are there Daedric shrines with quests? Does the plot make any sense at all?

- NPCs: do NPC's feel and behave like in the previous Elder Scrolls games? Do they have schedules and go about their daily business like in Skyrim/Oblivion or are they stucked into position as in Morrowind? How does the conversation system compare? Can you have followers? Can you interact with NPC's or are they simply quest-givers and merchants?

- Gameplay: is there crime-tracking like in previous ES games? Are there factions like Mages Guild and the Dark Brotherhood? Can you cast spells and drink potions and do the mechanics work like in previous ES games or has it all been MMO'ified? Does combat feel as physical and interactive as in the single-player games, or does it feel "floaty" like is typical for MMO's?

The list goes on, but I suppose you get the idea... It would have been nice to get some insights into how this compares to the games we know and love.

The world: progression is linear and not all the world is open yet, but i imagine they will add more to the world as time goes on, kind of like how wow releases a new tier or raids once and awhile to keep things fresh.

Items: Armor is similar to what you would find in eso games. light = cloth, medium = leather heavy = plate / mail Dadric is a crafting style and can technically make low level dadric items. Crafting material does scale up like in eso games though, going from iron then steel, then orc so so forth for heavy as an example. The best gear you can get in the game will always be the things you make. They have soul gems which you use for recharging and reviving the dead. You have an enchanting profession that makes enchants, which gives you physical items to use. I have not ran into any artifacts yet other then the wabbajack, which was part of a quest. They might be offered in end game though.

Lore: the lore in the game is good, its a prequel to the single player games, but you run into a lot of familiar faces that have a long life span. Its also before talos, so only 8 divines.

Npcs: They generally like to stand around other then the occasional wondering merchant / castle guard. Quest chains will offer rather active npcs though. There are also neutral npcs that just hang out and talk to each other for the atmosphere.

Game play. First of all there is no murder or non sanctioned steeling, so no dark brother hood or thieves guild, yet. There is a mage and fighters guild though. Each offer a long quest line for you to fallow. Combat is a little more floaty compared to skyrim, but at the same time i find it more engaging then skyrim. Compared to other mmos i find the combat to be a whole lot better.

Questing and pvp is alot funner then any mmo i have played (i have played wow, swtor, warhammer online, rift, lotrol, eq 1, and a handful of other free to play mmos) I am not at end game yet, so i cant say if that's any good or not. For what mmo releases are concern, it is defiantly alot more stable then most mmos at release, but it has its fair share of frustration to be had from bugs.

Paying full price for the game then have a subscription ontop of that is why I will not touch it. So you pay full price to rent the game for 30 days? No thank you. Then have to pay rent every month to continue? Even worse.

If it was pay full price and you can continue playing it until they shut the servers off never to be turned back on again I would be OK with that. If the game was free to download but required a subscription then that would be OK as well. If it was buy the game and be able to play forever then a cash shop to buy things with real money is acceptable, but if there is a subscription then I cannot accept a cash shop. The subscription pays for the servers and for development of new content. Making players pay for new content they pay for in the subscription should not be acceptable by players.

TesO will not be getting my money because of the blatant money grab of buy the game at full price, subscription, and a cash shop.

JET1971:
Paying full price for the game then have a subscription ontop of that is why I will not touch it. So you pay full price to rent the game for 30 days? No thank you. Then have to pay rent every month to continue? Even worse.

If it was pay full price and you can continue playing it until they shut the servers off never to be turned back on again I would be OK with that. If the game was free to download but required a subscription then that would be OK as well. If it was buy the game and be able to play forever then a cash shop to buy things with real money is acceptable, but if there is a subscription then I cannot accept a cash shop. The subscription pays for the servers and for development of new content. Making players pay for new content they pay for in the subscription should not be acceptable by players.

TesO will not be getting my money because of the blatant money grab of buy the game at full price, subscription, and a cash shop.

You must be new to MMOs.

Thing is the whole 'F2P' model is fairly, well, NEW.

It's not a 'money grab'.

That would be the yearly Cod/Madden games, or most of the mobile F2P market.

I've been playing since the Beta in November and I love it. I've played Elder Scrolls game since Arena and each one offers something new and unique to enhance the experience. ESO carries on that traditional many ways.

One: Exploration is King! There are points of interest, lore books, hidden treasures, "sky shards", optional dungeons and caves to explore, and "world bosses" to find in every zone and it behooves you to find them. The bulk of the skill points come from quests and sky shards, so if you want the most options, head west young man!

Two: ESO carries on the tradition crafting brought into the series by Skyrim. Every even level you can create new gear and each time you upgrade the gear is slightly tweaked: it's slightly shinier or has accent colours. Yes it does take a while: I'm at level 27 and my Blacksmithing is 13. I can make Tier 3 items in a variety of styles. Each race has a particular style, but if you want to make others you have to find style books. These are random world drops.

Three: PVP. Before you sign up for PVP you pick a realm from a list; look for a realm with high population. I have had lots of fun with groups for 40 or more attacking gates, keeps, and temples to gain control of key strategic points. The map is just massive so a mount is must. Siege warfare is fun from either an attack or defending side. I have loved dropping hot oil on attackers as well as manning the battering ram.

Four: Quests! The quest are varied, some have plot twists, some are downright humorous. There are a returning cast of characters who show up every now and again and it is akin to bumping to old friends (or frenemies). Every big quests shows up on the map as a change from black to white and includes a synopsis of the outcome when you mouse over. It's a good way to see what you have done in the zone and it also gives a "sense of accomplishment".

I like the game well enough to say it justifies the price and so long as content continues, it will be worth the subscription.

Tanis:

JET1971:
Paying full price for the game then have a subscription ontop of that is why I will not touch it. So you pay full price to rent the game for 30 days? No thank you. Then have to pay rent every month to continue? Even worse.

If it was pay full price and you can continue playing it until they shut the servers off never to be turned back on again I would be OK with that. If the game was free to download but required a subscription then that would be OK as well. If it was buy the game and be able to play forever then a cash shop to buy things with real money is acceptable, but if there is a subscription then I cannot accept a cash shop. The subscription pays for the servers and for development of new content. Making players pay for new content they pay for in the subscription should not be acceptable by players.

TesO will not be getting my money because of the blatant money grab of buy the game at full price, subscription, and a cash shop.

You must be new to MMOs.

Thing is the whole 'F2P' model is fairly, well, NEW.

It's not a 'money grab'.

That would be the yearly Cod/Madden games, or most of the mobile F2P market.

You know what they say about assumptions? Also yours is incorrect.

JET1971:
Paying full price for the game then have a subscription ontop of that is why I will not touch it. So you pay full price to rent the game for 30 days? No thank you. Then have to pay rent every month to continue? Even worse.

If it was pay full price and you can continue playing it until they shut the servers off never to be turned back on again I would be OK with that. If the game was free to download but required a subscription then that would be OK as well. If it was buy the game and be able to play forever then a cash shop to buy things with real money is acceptable, but if there is a subscription then I cannot accept a cash shop. The subscription pays for the servers and for development of new content. Making players pay for new content they pay for in the subscription should not be acceptable by players.

TesO will not be getting my money because of the blatant money grab of buy the game at full price, subscription, and a cash shop.

Box and subs were the standard for a very long time. And what cash shop? When you have to go into account management to purchase a name change, collector's edition upgrade or bit of that CE with a new skin is that really a cash shop? That's just what Blizzard did for years before they added an actual cash shop. If Zenimax had an in game cash shop I'd agree with you on the cash grab, but they don't. They're not selling cash shop things, and they're not selling it in the game.

tofulove:
....

Thanks, this is the kind of stuff I want to know.
I'm afraid it sounds like there may be too much MMO in this game for me to like it. I suppose I was hoping for a "Multiplayer Skyrim", but of course, what we got is a MMO in Tamriel. Which makes sense, as this is an MMO after all... but I just don't like the mechanics, grinding gameplay, staticness of the game world and the floaty combat in MMOs.

I've been hearing rather good things about this game but I refuse to buy it until they drop the subscription fee for consoles. How they can justify charging people for the game and a sub in addition to the console sub is beyond me.

JET1971:

Tanis:

JET1971:
Paying full price for the game then have a subscription ontop of that is why I will not touch it. So you pay full price to rent the game for 30 days? No thank you. Then have to pay rent every month to continue? Even worse.

If it was pay full price and you can continue playing it until they shut the servers off never to be turned back on again I would be OK with that. If the game was free to download but required a subscription then that would be OK as well. If it was buy the game and be able to play forever then a cash shop to buy things with real money is acceptable, but if there is a subscription then I cannot accept a cash shop. The subscription pays for the servers and for development of new content. Making players pay for new content they pay for in the subscription should not be acceptable by players.

TesO will not be getting my money because of the blatant money grab of buy the game at full price, subscription, and a cash shop.

You must be new to MMOs.

Thing is the whole 'F2P' model is fairly, well, NEW.

It's not a 'money grab'.

That would be the yearly Cod/Madden games, or most of the mobile F2P market.

You know what they say about assumptions? Also yours is incorrect.

[Note: I generally had to pay a deposit on an apartment then monthly rent... so I don't think that is an apt comparison]

Less of a money grab than a lot of those 'F2P' games, many of which can be considered Pay2Win. Doesn't ESO just offer a horse? And there is no in-game ads telling you to go buy something, you have to manually go to their website. WoW (considered the most successful MMO of all time) also has a sub fee and sells mounts and pets.

Having to pay for a game and then a subscription was standard practice around 2009ish and back. I think the purpose of having an upfront price is to initially offset the development costs, which can be significant. And I thought that ESO is

Having a subscription fee gives the devs incentive to make a quality product. May F2P games have to balance between addicting and frustrating to convince players to pay for some type of bonus. You can find information about what these developers call 'whales'(same term used by casinos for suckers) by looking at various talks and workshops at last month's Game Dev Conference. Another thing to note is that companies are hiring people who specialize in 'consumer psychology'. The DSM-V has even added game addiction to a list of possible disorders for future study.

It's gotten to the point that the EU is determine whether or not to add restrictions on companies for using the 'free to play' terminology.

Not saying that all F2Ps are bad, they do still need to make a profit after all. A game like Path of Exile is the perfect example of what I would consider an effective cash shop model. Something like SWTOR switched to an awful model. They severely limited the end-game content, prevented access to your bank for storage, and blocked non-subscribers from using certain items. Not sure if these have been addressed yet, but this was a critical success that lost all credibility by switching to a 'free' model.

I think the main point here is that I would rather companies not attempt to manipulate me into having what is basically an addiction

But, who knows, maybe if ESO becomes F2P it will be done in a consumer friendly way.

Antsh:

JET1971:

Tanis:

You must be new to MMOs.

Thing is the whole 'F2P' model is fairly, well, NEW.

It's not a 'money grab'.

That would be the yearly Cod/Madden games, or most of the mobile F2P market.

You know what they say about assumptions? Also yours is incorrect.

[Note: I generally had to pay a deposit on an apartment then monthly rent... so I don't think that is an apt comparison]

Less of a money grab than a lot of those 'F2P' games, many of which can be considered Pay2Win. Doesn't ESO just offer a horse? And there is no in-game ads telling you to go buy something, you have to manually go to their website. WoW (considered the most successful MMO of all time) also has a sub fee and sells mounts and pets.

Having to pay for a game and then a subscription was standard practice around 2009ish and back. I think the purpose of having an upfront price is to initially offset the development costs, which can be significant. And I thought that ESO is

Having a subscription fee gives the devs incentive to make a quality product. May F2P games have to balance between addicting and frustrating to convince players to pay for some type of bonus. You can find information about what these developers call 'whales'(same term used by casinos for suckers) by looking at various talks and workshops at last month's Game Dev Conference. Another thing to note is that companies are hiring people who specialize in 'consumer psychology'. The DSM-V has even added game addiction to a list of possible disorders for future study.

It's gotten to the point that the EU is determine whether or not to add restrictions on companies for using the 'free to play' terminology.

Not saying that all F2Ps are bad, they do still need to make a profit after all. A game like Path of Exile is the perfect example of what I would consider an effective cash shop model. Something like SWTOR switched to an awful model. They severely limited the end-game content, prevented access to your bank for storage, and blocked non-subscribers from using certain items. Not sure if these have been addressed yet, but this was a critical success that lost all credibility by switching to a 'free' model.

I think the main point here is that I would rather companies not attempt to manipulate me into having what is basically an addiction

But, who knows, maybe if ESO becomes F2P it will be done in a consumer friendly way.

I agree with you, and I have never understood people's fear of subscriptions. That's how MMOs started, that's what makes them different. It may not be for everyone, but I think it's still a good option. And your big AAA titles will start that way, EQ, WIldstar, WOW, etc. And yes it is a way for them to make more money maybe, well I guess that's silly for a company to want to make money.

JET1971:

Tanis:

JET1971:
Paying full price for the game then have a subscription ontop of that is why I will not touch it. So you pay full price to rent the game for 30 days? No thank you. Then have to pay rent every month to continue? Even worse.

If it was pay full price and you can continue playing it until they shut the servers off never to be turned back on again I would be OK with that. If the game was free to download but required a subscription then that would be OK as well. If it was buy the game and be able to play forever then a cash shop to buy things with real money is acceptable, but if there is a subscription then I cannot accept a cash shop. The subscription pays for the servers and for development of new content. Making players pay for new content they pay for in the subscription should not be acceptable by players.

TesO will not be getting my money because of the blatant money grab of buy the game at full price, subscription, and a cash shop.

You must be new to MMOs.

Thing is the whole 'F2P' model is fairly, well, NEW.

It's not a 'money grab'.

That would be the yearly Cod/Madden games, or most of the mobile F2P market.

You know what they say about assumptions? Also yours is incorrect.

Ooh, I have an XKCD for that!

image

You know what happens when you assert: you make an ass out of the emergency response team.

"The Elder Scrolls Online doesn't believe in quest hubs like you may be accustomed to from games like WoW. While it may be slightly frustrating for the most serious power levelers out there to have to go out and find the quests they need to level up, these quests are fairly bountiful and sufficiently interconnected to keep you from having much by way of dry spells. From level 1-20, you'll typically have no less than three quests at any given time, sometimes having as many as 8 or more. Whether you consider this a pro or a con for TESO as a whole, the fact remains that this is something of an innovation for MMOs"

When making claims like that you should really know your MMOs. Ultima Online already did that 17 years ago. There is nothing innovative in TESO.

Biggest problem for me is that The Elder Scrolls games are known for their sandbox nature, but TESO, while trying to add some "sandboxines" to it, still is a themepark MMO. We need more good sandbox MMORPGs.

Lykosia:
We need more good sandbox MMORPGs.

"sandbox mmos" don't get good numbers on account of the fact most people get actually get bored and lose motivation when left largely to their own devices.

even the grand doyen of the genre EVE, often spoke of in hushed tones as if it was some gaming nirvana, only has about about 500k of a playerbase....if that now...

Aion, Runescape, SWTOR, STO, Lineage I & II and ofc WoW all roflstomping over those numbers even on a purely regional basis and those are just the ones you might have heard of (cause its a whole other world over where they write in pictures)...

for most people following a path is simply more compelling than wandering around a field.

sandbox MMORPGs are there, its not like good ones haven't been made , but the truth is they're not in a very healthy state at all compared with their "theme park" neighbours...and at the end of the day...dem bills, oy...

Strange...I find pvp the be the best thing about this game. Did the reviewer check populations of the campaigns before joining one?

Anyways I am level 40 and enjoying myself with my pvp guild. And everybody says it only gets better at VR1. I'll be subbing as long as the leaders decide to stick with the game before our next one. (ArcheAge is being eyed very much by them right now.)

Oh, and I have no problem with the sub fee since I have played lots of mmos and always hated the f2p model.

mjharper:
A pretty fair review. Nevertheless, some people have experienced worse bugs, although few as bad as what we saw in the last beta. Relogging often does the trick.

I have to agree about the crafting system: it's rather deep, but even at level 34 I'm not using it much beyond researching things for endgame. There's a scarcity of certain ingredients, and the general loot drops are also good, meaning anything you do craft at early levels is likely to be outclassed soon. By endgame, though, people how have invested in crafting should find it rewarding.

One other thing that may be worth pointing out: Zenimax have not been doing a fantastic job of doing maintenance at times appropriate for European players. While the situation has improved, we've had a couple of peak or nearly peak periods of downtime. Hopefully that will be solved when the European server finally moves to Europe, but at the moment it is kind of frustrating.

Us US players are not faring much better, they take it down around 8am EST and continue on till about 5pm EST every tuesday. :P

Tiamat666:

- The World: can you really explore all of Tamriel? This is something Elder Scrolls players have been dreaming about for ever. What is it like to travel the land? Are there loading times between areas/continents, or is it seamless on the main map, like in the previous ES games? What do the continents look like? Does Skyrim look like Skyrim, Morrowind like Morrowind? Can you go to these places known from previous games and recognize them, see known landmarks, meet known NPCs? What do the new continents and places look like that have not been featured in any previous ES game? Do they fit the lore, are they awesome or do they suck?

Yes and no. There are huge portions of the continent that you cannot explore but every province is represented extensively. So you can go to Daggerfall or Cyrodil or the Black Marsh or what have you but the even the world map admits you don't see the whole place. If you want to assume the world map is accurate, the player explorable space is probably about 1/2 of the total land area of Tamriel.

Tiamat666:

- Items and Inventory: do you have this standard progression of weapons and armor from Iron/Leather to Ebony/Glass and Daedric? Is it something entirely different? Do you have these other elements from ES Lore, like Soul Gems, Amulets of Divines, Daedric Artifacts? How does crafting, alchemy, enchanting compare to previous ES titles?

You absolutely have this progression. Indeed, the basic crafting system is basically what it was in Skyrim. Iron makes the lowest tier of heavy armor but if you invest lots of iron into a set you get much better armor out of the deal. From there the armor can further be improved using rare crafting items that further boost it's innate stats. Crafting a "green" item is fairly trivial but getting all the way to a legendary item requires a staggering commitment of resources. Once you hit certain level caps you can wear the next higher tier or armor (Steel for heavy armor for example) and if you have progressed far enough in blacksmithing you can create such items as well.

Tiamat666:

- Lore: does the lore add up to the previous games or can this be considered something new/unrelated/a variation? Do we also have Divines with shrines that can be prayed at? Are there Daedric shrines with quests? Does the plot make any sense at all?

There are absolutely shrines to the divines in the game through the ones I've encountered have specific mechanical functions. The shrine to Mara lets you bind yourself to another player (provided you have an item that allows it - something that as far as I know is currently only available if you get the 80 dollar version) giving you more experience for everything you do as long as you are grouped with them.

Tiamat666:

- NPCs: do NPC's feel and behave like in the previous Elder Scrolls games? Do they have schedules and go about their daily business like in Skyrim/Oblivion or are they stucked into position as in Morrowind? How does the conversation system compare? Can you have followers? Can you interact with NPC's or are they simply quest-givers and merchants?

Not exactly. NPCs are far more active than most MMOs. You will often get quests delivered by a runner (for example) and you are regularly issued temporary minions (who in my experience are basically as effective as the monsters in the area they are expected to help you out in). There are also merchants who wander along certain roads and NPCS that exist just to fill out the world sprinkled all over the place. The conversation system is much more limited than it was in past games generally just in the form of a simple tree. If you opt to invest in the persuade and intimidate skills, you occasionally get special dialog options but for the most part trees are fairly limited. Skyrim is probably the closest example that comes to mind.

Tiamat666:

- Gameplay: is there crime-tracking like in previous ES games? Are there factions like Mages Guild and the Dark Brotherhood? Can you cast spells and drink potions and do the mechanics work like in previous ES games or has it all been MMO'ified? Does combat feel as physical and interactive as in the single-player games, or does it feel "floaty" like is typical for MMO's?

You can't really commit crimes. You can't harm NPCs unless they're hostile for example. Also any item that can be looted is free for the player to loot. There are absolutely factions though currently they are Fighters Guild, Mages Guild and the Undaunted. Combat is broadly similar to other elder scrolls games but not identical at all. You can do a standard attack or power attack with any weapon, blocking is performed by pressing the right mouse button and you can bash with shield or weapon to interrupt an attack. Additionally, each class of weapons has it's own skill tree that offers special attacks - Sword and Shield (For example) gives you an attack that both taunts and weakens enemies but costs stamina to use. Further complicating things your class has three different skill trees that offer new other attacks you can perform that generally draw upon Magicka. You can only slot five basic abilities and a single ultimate ability (after level 15 you get the ability to swap to a different set of weapons and abilities in combat - my Templar wields sword and shield most of the time but if our healer runs into trouble in a dungeon I can swap to a healing staff in an emergency). From a mechanical perspective the game could probably best be described as Guild Wars meets Skyrim.

All told, my impression to date is that if you like the Elder Scrolls, you will likely enjoy ESO. It feels very different from the usual MMO while still being very much an MMO if that makes sense. You often get light puzzle based quests - treasure maps with vague clues leading you to loot, casting powerful incantations to save a town that require multiple steps, etc. Also, while it is also a minor annoyance, in ESO the world actually changes as a result of your actions. Saving a town being ravaged by werewolves results, at the conclusion of that quest chain, in a town that is now free of the werewolf menace. The annoyance is if you try and group with a friend to help out on that same quest chain you can't because your version of the town is different from theirs. This basic nod to making what the player does matter (something WoW never really bothered with) thus comes at the cost of undermining basic group play.

As one other note, the only other game worth comparing it to is the recently released F2P Neverwinter. Both games have the same 5 skill slots with an ultimate and both games focus very heavily on the single player experience to the extent that group play is undermined greatly. It is a rare quest that actually requires a second person so long as you play well. But, thankfully, unlike Neverwinter, ESOs dungeons require people play fairly well. Keeping everyone alive as a healer is a challenge even if everyone is playing properly and holding aggro as a tank is taxing enough that tanks end up doing little damage just because they are having to spend all their time managing aggro.

The one odd thing worth noting is that "class" means relatively little in this game. Nightblades might be the most proficient at quickly dealing damage but any class can load up on gear and skills that let them put out serious hurt. Every class has skills that let them crowd control well enough even if the sorcerer is basically built for the task. Any class can heal others with a healing staff but the Templar is the only one that can heal others with a sword in their hands. Likewise any class can load up on health and heavy armor and tank even if the Dragon Knight is better in an emergency. I don't know how ultra specialization will matter in the end game of course because there are obviously optional builds for any particular role. For example, if you want to build the ultimate tank you will probably want to play as an Imperial given they get bonuses to sword and shield and get substantial bonus health and stamina.

I honestly was fairly pessimistic about the game but after a friend insisted I give it a try (he insisted by purchasing the game and telling me if I didn't like it, I wouldn't have to pay him back) I begrudgingly installed it. As a person who has tried many MMOs but has never found one that I really like I can say that ESO has happily surprised me. The story and lore and quest design make the game feel more like a single player RPG than most and the stuff that actually requires groups, thus far at least, does so in a very smart way.

Sleekit:

Lykosia:
We need more good sandbox MMORPGs.

"sandbox mmos" don't get good numbers on account of the fact most people get actually get bored and lose motivation when left largely to their own devices.

even the grand doyen of the genre EVE, often spoke of in hushed tones as if it was some gaming nirvana, only has about about 500k of a playerbase....if that now...

Aion, Runescape, SWTOR, STO, Lineage I & II and ofc WoW all roflstomping over those numbers even on a purely regional basis and those are just the ones you might have heard of (cause its a whole other world over where they write in pictures)...

for most people following a path is simply more compelling than wandering around a field.

sandbox MMORPGs are there, its not like good ones haven't been made , but the truth is they're not in a very healthy state at all compared with their "theme park" neighbours...and at the end of the day...dem bills, oy...

But what's the difference between EVE and WoW at the moment? EVE Online is constantly getting more players when WoW is losing them. And which one is older game? EVE. Granted, EVE is nowhere near the numbers of WoW or some other theme park MMOs, but you don't need to be if you're smart and don't expect to "kill WoW." It's much easier to get bored in a themepark MMO, because the pretty much only "endgame" you've is raids, dungeons and Pvp. When in EVE or in other sandbox MMOs the players have much more freedom to do what they want with just trading, crafting, mining, wars etc. And it's all player driven.

Btw, RuneScape is a sandbox MMO though more limited than EVE.

What I like about ESO is that it at least encourages exploration.

Whytewulf:

Antsh:

JET1971:

You know what they say about assumptions? Also yours is incorrect.

[Note: I generally had to pay a deposit on an apartment then monthly rent... so I don't think that is an apt comparison]

Less of a money grab than a lot of those 'F2P' games, many of which can be considered Pay2Win. Doesn't ESO just offer a horse? And there is no in-game ads telling you to go buy something, you have to manually go to their website. WoW (considered the most successful MMO of all time) also has a sub fee and sells mounts and pets.

Having to pay for a game and then a subscription was standard practice around 2009ish and back. I think the purpose of having an upfront price is to initially offset the development costs, which can be significant. And I thought that ESO is

Having a subscription fee gives the devs incentive to make a quality product. May F2P games have to balance between addicting and frustrating to convince players to pay for some type of bonus. You can find information about what these developers call 'whales'(same term used by casinos for suckers) by looking at various talks and workshops at last month's Game Dev Conference. Another thing to note is that companies are hiring people who specialize in 'consumer psychology'. The DSM-V has even added game addiction to a list of possible disorders for future study.

It's gotten to the point that the EU is determine whether or not to add restrictions on companies for using the 'free to play' terminology.

Not saying that all F2Ps are bad, they do still need to make a profit after all. A game like Path of Exile is the perfect example of what I would consider an effective cash shop model. Something like SWTOR switched to an awful model. They severely limited the end-game content, prevented access to your bank for storage, and blocked non-subscribers from using certain items. Not sure if these have been addressed yet, but this was a critical success that lost all credibility by switching to a 'free' model.

I think the main point here is that I would rather companies not attempt to manipulate me into having what is basically an addiction

But, who knows, maybe if ESO becomes F2P it will be done in a consumer friendly way.

I agree with you, and I have never understood people's fear of subscriptions. That's how MMOs started, that's what makes them different. It may not be for everyone, but I think it's still a good option. And your big AAA titles will start that way, EQ, WIldstar, WOW, etc. And yes it is a way for them to make more money maybe, well I guess that's silly for a company to want to make money.

well for starters, you get your deposit back with housing and secondly, are you getting your monies worth? Are the constantly updating the game as you pay them? Do you get guarantees of quality and features? (like a tenants agreement if you want to continue the analogy) What is in place if you are unsatisfied?

Games you buy have this. Subscription games do not.

 

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