The Elder Scrolls Online: Should you believe the hype or the hate?

Posted: February 26, 2014 by ryanlecocq in Features, Technology

TheElderScrollsOnline3Wait, wait, before you stab me, who wants to hear some Ragnar the Red?


I meant to put up a story as soon as the NDA lifted a while ago, but I got busy and figured someone else was getting paid to do it better.  After seeing the articles on IGN though, I wonder if they actually even got past the tutorial.  Most of the coverage on ESO is pretty vague and uninteresting, while not answering your one important question: “Should I buy this?”  For me the answer to that question is hands-down hell yes.  I really enjoyed my time with the game so far and I feel it’s worth at least the price of admission and the first month of play.  So I guess that means I fall in the hype camp.  You see, the reaction to this game so far seems to be either “I will hate it no matter what” or “Wheee!  So much fun!”   With very little middle ground and no recent videos of gameplay until a week or so ago, it’s hard to decide which camp you should be listening to.  I can really only speak for myself and my tastes, but as someone who has both played in the beta and posted all over the forums, I can at least give you an idea of where people are coming from.

One thing I can say right off the bat is that you should not believe either the most negative or most positive comments about ESO.  The most negative almost always come right after a server reset or game-breaking bug and generally boil down to “How dare you cut off my drugs, I will now rage on the internets in the hope of getting petty revenge by costing you sales.”  The most positive usually come from people who have never played an MMO before and are just playing it because they loved Skyrim.  Those people are generally like “Oh whee!  It keeps on going and I can customize my hat!  I love this game!”  The reality in my opinion is that ESO is a very competently executed licensed MMORPG.  It’s way more focused and hand-designed than SWTOR and also has a compelling world and lore like both SWTOR and  WoW.  Like both of those games (and most other MMOs) it has some bugs in it’s game engine that we may not see the end of until the first expansion.  If you have ever played a popular MMO from the start, you should know that is par for the course.  If you started playing WoW when Cataclysm came out and think that it never had problems where quests couldn’t be completed or you fell through the ground and died, let me just say conclusively that you are wrong.  We used to find game breaking bugs in WoW all the time even after it had been out for a few years.

Unlike both World of Warcraft and Star Wars The Old Republic, Elder Scrolls Online has a game engine which both looks competitive and runs well at launch.  Game bugs aside, the overall performance of ESO is impressive.  The game manages to look shinier than all its’ competition except maybe Guild Wars 2, while running at mid-high settings on even older midrange systems.  Zenimax Online has proved that they were more than up to the task of creating a game engine that can handle the Elder Scrolls world with thousands of simultaneous players.

The servers however may be another matter entirely.  The stress test weekend involved a lot of downtime and long waits for many players to connect.  Overloading the server is the point of the stress test, so hopefully the devs will be ready when the game launches.  That said, there were a number of bugs that were directly related to many users trying to do the same thing at the same time, or situations where lag could break a quest or event.  This will happen sometimes in the final game, since almost the entire world is persiste

There’s another beta weekend coming up in a few days, so my impression is still not final and may be updated.  At the moment I’m feeling that I’ll buy it at launch and play for at least the free month.  It will be a tough year though to keep my attention with a monthly fee, since both Dark Souls II and Titanfall will be competing for it without one.

  1. ryanlecocq says:

    After playing in another beta, I have to say that the whole world being instanced is a huge hurdle this game faces. I remember a lot of talk about how Zenimax Online was going to invent this super server that could handle a giant instanced world without problems. From my observations I would say run it yes, without problems not so much.

    Nearly all of the most frustrating glitches were caused or exacerbated by too many people trying to do the same thing at once. Mike and I were talking about it today and he said something that I think really summed it up well: “If this game was just 4 player co-op like Diablo, it would be awesome.” That pretty much sums up all of my complaints so far in a nutshell. Hopefully this will be improved by launch, but at the moment I have to balance my great enjoyment in playing the game with the constant frustration of not being able to complete quest objectives. That combined with the fact that it costs $15 a month to play are serious obstacles between me becoming a long-term player.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s