Elder Scrolls Online is quite an interesting and controversial game. It is classified as a MMO, and is considered a failed one at that by many people. But what happened with this game, and how has it improved since then? Is the version rebranded as Tamriel Unlimited better that how it was on PC at the original launch, and is it worth playing?
Why did it “fail”?
Have you ever played an Elder Scrolls game, like Oblivion or Skyrim? If yes, and you liked it, did you ever think that it would be amazing to play with a few friends together in the same world, like a cooperative game, helping each other, trading items, exploring and questing together? I think most people were thinking of something similar when Elder Scrolls Online was announced, and this was not what we got.
Even in the beta, the game seemed to be a badly written, bland, fairly linear MMO with serious performance issues and many broken quests, skills and abilities, making it unenjoyable. Also, during the early months of the live game, bots plagued it heavily.
Economy was barely existent, and what existed was broken by the hordes of bots, which camped public dungeon bosses and mobs. PVP was very laggy and very unbalanced, with the most hardcore Veteran-leveled players smashing entire groups on their own, since scaling was barely implemented in it.
After a little less than a year of being live, the game was rebranded as Tamriel Unlimited, and it became buy-to-play with an optional subscription, with several DLCs to arrive soon after console launch.
How good is the game now, and where is its place?
Console versions for Xbox One and PS4 were released in June, and the PC version also got a nice population boost. many of the performance issues, broken quests and skills, grouping issues and economy were fixed or changed, so the game is in a much better place. Currently, it is a really enjoyable single-player MMO, where most players join up to 5 guilds just to use the guild stores for trading, like some sort of mini auction houses.
There are a lot of 4-man dungeons both in Normal and Veteran difficulty; the former are fairly easy, and the latter can be unforgiving if not tackled with proper skills and gear. Large 12-man raids, called Trials are also available, but these are locked to Veteran 10 and higher players, which require a TON of Mob or Quest grinding after reaching level 50, which is Veteran Rank 1.
You can group with other players outside of dungeons and Trials too, but the social aspect of the game is still lacking heavily outside of PVP, as most quests and delves can be done alone, and if not, someone else will surely come in and tag along, as mob kills are shared even outside of parties. The game just doesn’t give enough of a reason to group with fiends or other players if not doing a dungeon or PVPing.
The only part of the game where the MMO aspect shines, the huge Cyrodiil battleground can be accessed from Level 10, with several Campaigns available to pick one from. I recommend that you pick the Blackwater Blade one for characters below 50, as this is a campaign specifically for non-veteran players. This campaign also upscales everyone to VR14, eliminating the need for any gear; only your active and passive skills count here, making it an equal field.
The very controversial Veteran Rank system is still in the game, and no one knows whether Zenimax will remove it at all, despite players telling them from day one that his is a terrible design idea. I agree with the players, as it is very annoying, and it feels to drag on too much. The game should open up all of the other factions’ ones for you to freely explore, but instead of that, you are forced to do them in a specific order to progress through the Veteran ranks, and there is no other content than the Veteran version of these zones, making the game very alt-unfriendly. Either you level up one character per faction to 50, and see like 90% the game has to offer along the way, or you level up a single one to Veteran 14. When you reach that level, you have seen the exact same content. Also, Veteran 1 players are like 2-3 this to well-geared VT14’s, making PVP unenjoyable once you’re kicked out of the non-vet campaign.
Elder Scrolls Online is really in a weird place in no small part thanks to the IP behind it, but when we look around at all the other MMOs, we see the same issues: not enough reason to team up and socialize with other players, the game being mostly too easy, thus not having enough staying power for players who want to feel at home in a community.
If you like epic, mass PVP, or just to explore in a huge world (even alone, with others running around you and not caring about your or anything else), then ESO may be a fairly god game for you. Just buy it once when it goes on sale, and play it for a while. If you want to do PVE raids and be part of a community in a game that gives reason for said community to exist, you should look elsewhere, as ESO doesn’t really fit those roles.
What do you readers think of ESO? Is it doing really well? Is the game enjoyable in the current state?
Written by Adam Vogl, follow him on Twitter @Hurricane1989.