Welcome to our “Review in Progress” of The Elder Scrolls Online, except I would probably much rather call it a preview over a “review.” The reason being is that we just haven’t had a solid amount of experience in the game to give a proper opinion on the game. It’s be completely unfair for us to judge the game in it’s current state because it’s barely been a week since launch and MMOs take a lot of consumption before you’re capable of forming a valid opinion. However, everyone wants to know how the game is going and we’re going to be sharing that with you, but you should take all of this with a grain of salt until the official review hits.
Disclaimer: This is a review of content only up to level 10. This in no way reflects Ten Ton Hammer's official stance on the game.
The biggest question on everyone’s lips is if the game is fun and I’ve personally had a lot of fun so far in Tamriel. The game doesn’t really disappoint me so far in that section, the section being titled “fun.” However, Star Wars: The Old Republic was fun for the first week of launch and we all remember how quickly the fun went away after you hit maximum level at launch. So it’s a bit too soon to sign off saying the game is awesome, and rightfully so.
Not to be too much of a downer, but there has been a myriad of issues relating to launch. From downtime to various bugs popping up here and there, the game’s launch hasn’t been perfectly smooth. But we’ll talk about that more in-depth in a moment. Right now let’s talk about why I find the game fun. First and foremost, a lot of the entertainment for me comes from the fact the game is a hybrid between modern “hand holding” MMOs and “bootstraps” older RPGs.
See, in ESO you don’t get breadcrumbs taking you quest to quest. Instead you’re forced to wander around the world and discover all kinds of quests and neat things going on in the world. Not only that, but phasing plays a critical part in the game. You can choose in certain quests to save one area or another and quests can have lasting impacts, from cities burning down to restoring peace in specific areas. It’s all so organic and the world feels so alive. It’s wonderful. Challenge and adventure are two of my favorite things when it comes to an MMO.
However, exploration does come with a small downside. You’re forced to wander through legions of hostile enemies, each with an agenda of smashing your face in and making you watch 1970s soap opera reruns that show up at 3 AM on T.V. This is mitigated by the fact that some quests turn hostile enemies into neutral, but come on. I love exploring without huge legions of angry mobs chasing me everywhere wanting me to visit the wayshrine. I do thank them for being helpful and showing me where the nearest one is, but I mean, it’s a tad unnecessary. Kind of like shopping for a T.V. and the salesman coming over and trying to talk you into a T.V. you have no interest in, just not my thing you know.
Crafting is another highlight, mostly because it’s so fresh and different. So complex, yet so simple, it’s like a bottle of wine that your waiter tries to sell you but you’re just really not into wine right now, but if you had the money you’d totally be down for it after the sample he forced on you. Okay, it’s sort of kind of nothing like that, but it’s really cool and fun to explore the different options and the different outcomes for crafting.
There is other fun things in the game, that other people don’t mention a lot, like the fact that many of the quests are very interactive and very different from kill ten bears and run a package from Seattle to Detroit as fast as you can. Some involve stealthing around ghosts, others involve ghosts wanting you to solve a puzzle, and the rest of them involve ghosts giving you quests. I don’t know, there is a lot of ghosts in the game. Kind of creepy.
On to the negatives for me so far. The downtime is a blemish, but honestly I don’t find it to be as big of a deal as others are finding it. The game went down during the “free” extra time outside of the 30 days gametime that comes free in the box (or email). What I do find very unappetizing is the fact that players were logging into other player’s characters. Dunno, I don’t like that. Was any harm done? I don’t think so, but again I haven’t dug deep enough yet, and hence why this isn’t a review. I don’t know how I feel about it as well and I’m still digesting it emotionally, just because it’s like launch and things can go wrong and all that, but at the same time this is 2014 and technology is super crazy stable. To the point every Blizzard expansion launch is just a flip of the switch now.
However, in the time since then the game has been rather stable and I have yet to run into any bugs, nearly none of the bugs I met in the beta have shown themselves. The only thing that really bothers me is the random horse dismounts. This I don’t know if it’s a bug or not, since the horse dismounts whenever there is something above you, I guess making it feel like you’re inside. I dislike being dismounted while under an arch, though.
Speaking of inconveniences, travel is a bit annoying. Not long distance traveling - the wayshrines are crazy awesome, but the just walking / horse speed is a bit on the slow side for me.
Now - the big elephant in the room, is the game satisfying to both the MMO crowd and the Elder Scrolls crowd? Here is the answer: I have no clue. There is so many opinions about this and that I can’t honestly say right now what the collective community experience is at the moment. For me, the game is fun, but I’m a huge MMO fan and a much lesser Elder Scrolls fan. So I’m happy with the MMO mechanics and find the ES mechanics to be amusing. However, ES fans have been reporting that the game has been satisfying to them, but at the same time zone chat has also educated me on more naughty words than I ever knew and opinions about the game that range from -infinity to infinity on the bad to good scale.
We’re getting too long for a summary article, but I would like to also quip about PvP for a moment. The PvP is fun, but it hasn’t matured enough yet. So no one is going to get a really “true” PvP experience and the campaigns haven’t matured enough yet. It’s going to take some time to build a true opinion on how the PvP is in the game.
Weighing the pros and cons, I would suggest getting the game if you’re excited for it right now and joining us on bumbling around in the game and having fun. If you’re not into the game, well, don’t get it. I’m sorry that my opinion is so hyper neutral right now, but again, there just hasn’t been enough hands-on time.
Ultimately, what I want to say is that the game hasn’t presented any gamestopping bugs or issues that make me want to tell you to avoid the game. It’s still all go on picking it up if you’re interested, but I’m not going to say “trust me - this game is this and you will experience these things in the game” just yet. For now, there is no reason to not get the game if you’ve been wanting to, but again, if you’re super on the fence, let the game cook a little bit longer with everyone and a more refined opinion will arrive.