Elder Scrolls Online is the latest in the Elder Scrolls saga of PC (and console) games. It seems they believe the next phase of the beloved franchise is wading into the murky, complicated, world of the massively online role-player genre. After a couple of weekends in the beta, I am not sure that it is such a great move. Interestingly enough, quite a few other pundits are not convinced either.
The truly weird thing is that one finds oneself, if a fan of series and especially Skyrim, wanting to stop playing ESO and get back to Tamriel. The online title has all the hints of wonderful world that has sucked many into the vast landscapes for 200 hours plus (DLCs and MODs encouraging even more time), but few of the pleasures.
Yes, it looks really rather good and the sounds assets are great as is the music as one would expect. The combat is even rather good, especially when compared to other MMOs. It is just that the game as it stands is so damn boring. Getting anywhere takes way too long, the quests are as dull as they ever have been in an MMO, and there is little in a sense of accomplishment to be had. If you stick to the script and don’t wander off anywhere too far above your level there is little in the form of challenge either.
There are other quibbles like crafting, of all types, being just that little bit more complicated, taking longer, and requiring more resources. It is as if there is an attempt to take the smooth nature of those aspects of the solo game in order to expand the MMO play. Of course, this is not a shock since it is not a cheap game to get into or continue to play. You can pay ludicrous amounts to get the be all and end all game, almost $100 (for the physical version, and then of course it is $15 a month to keep playing. That all gets very expensive very fast. And from what we have all been seeing from the beta, there is little to justify the content.
Granted, it could be all about the PvsP, but considering it is an Elder Scrolls game that seems a tad off the mark. It is possible that the publisher of ESO really doesn’t care about the fans of the solo games and is merely concentrating on expanding the brand come what may.
Sadly, like many other observers and fans of the series writing about it, I think there are serious questions about the title. One of these, perhaps the main one, is if this is a free-to-play game in the near future. As a free-to-play title it could be something quite amazing. Right now, as a traditional model MMO, it has neither the legs nor the content to justify the price of admission. Unless, of course, the publishers have one of hell of a lot of special stuff up their sleeve for launch to make us all look like crust-covered cynical mudcrabs.