I’ve been itching to dive back into The Elder Scrolls Online for a while now, but varying factors prevented me from doing so. It’s not that I couldn’t have casually popped in here and there, but at least to me, TESO is one of those MMOs where you really want to dive into the deep end of the pool rather than just dipping your toes into the kiddy pool, or splashing around in the shallow end without getting your hair wet.

When the new business model went into effect last week, it seemed like a good point to jump back into the game. Initially I had planned on getting some time in-game on Tuesday, but things didn’t exactly go according to plan. Long story short, the update downloads repeatedly failed, so it wasn’t until closer to Wednesday evening that I could properly launch and log into the game.

In the meantime, I’ve been pretty busy with the major updates we implemented on the site. We have even more tweaks and features slated for deployment that I’m pretty stoked to switch on. I’ll be babbling more about that stuff soon enough, but for now it’s time to bust a move on some Getting Back Into TESO action.

Getting Back Into TESO

Even with MMOs that I absolutely love I tend to take breaks from playing every now and again. Nothing sucks worse than getting burnt out on something you enjoy, and I always relish the moments when I eventually dive back in.

I’m also a firm believer that – like nearly every major web service in existence – MMOs need a bit of time to mature post-launch before they live up to their full potential. That initial launch day rush can certainly be exhilarating, but I’m an even bigger fan of coming back 6-12 months later to see what tends to be a more complete version of the grand vision for the game.

Thus it was that getting back into TESO was inevitable, and for the most part it was exactly the right call.

A couple of things worth noting up front if you’ve played TESO previously but stopped for whatever reason, and are contemplating firing your account back up:

1. If you left the game due to a dislike of major gameplay systems, graphics, or fundamental design elements, then you probably won’t feel that revisiting TESO is worth the effort.

2. If your reasons for leaving were due to a number of smaller nitpicks or bizarro bugs, then I’d encourage you to give it another whirl.

One of the hallmarks of a worthwhile MMO is the amount of depth it provides in the department of character progression. Shallower experiences may be super accessible and have the potential to attract a larger audience up front, but it’s the deeper titles that tend to be worthy of greater time investment.

The tipping point between those two – at least for me – tends to be readily apparent when revisiting a game after a number of months have passed. As was absolutely the case with TESO, I immediately realized that I wasn’t able to simply dive right back in with one of my higher level characters. While the number of moving parts isn’t completely overwhelming, there are enough components to advancement that I required a refresher course on many of the particulars.

That’s pretty much what I spent the weekend doing in-game, so it’s too early to boldly declare things like vast improvements or that the game has fundamentally changed for the better. Many of my original nitpicks are woefully persistent, including a few bigger ones:

  • Not nearly enough class diversity, and too much focus on fire damage
  • Many weapon skills are kind of “meh” so I’ve only been able to pinpoint one or two class / weapon setups that I truly enjoy
  • Having to spend skill points to advance crafting. Never understood why crafting is tethered to core advancement in this way.

There are others, but none of them are what I would consider showstoppers. The biggest changes and improvements to the game are focused on high end play – and rightly so – but it’s a shame to see that plenty of intro quests remain bugged this far down the road. Zenimax Online may have lessened the barrier for entry to TESO, but those first few hours remain as critical as ever with an MMO on this scale.

My journey into the dark recesses of TESO will continue this week, so I’ll be coming at you with a more complete report on my findings as time permits. In the meantime, here is a track from the latest Smashing Pumpkins release that’s been stuck in my head for the past few days. Enjoy!

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Reuben "Sardu" Waters has been writing professionally about the MMOG industry for eight years, and is the current Editor-in-Chief and Director of Development for Ten Ton Hammer.