Rolling The Dice With Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls is one of the most popular series of games to come about on both console and PC, with little to no disappointment. Breaking that chain was a dangerous gamble. Creating an Elder Scrolls Massive Multiplayer Online game might not have been the right way to go.
The Elder Scrolls games have been known for their in-depth stories, strategic combat systems, and ever-enhancing graphics, but I felt extremely disheartened by the game. I had to stop playing after only reaching a measly level 15. So what’s the problem?
Before I get my butt chewed for not even making it to the level cap, let me explain how I broke down my experience with this game.
In an MMO, it’s very important to balance the two main sources of entertainment, the story and the game mechanics. Despite my obsession with the lore, I have not been able to invest my time into the entire Elder Scrolls series.
I wanted to know what I was doing and why, and how quickly it took me to understand. I also had my roommate, a fan of the series since the beginning, play as well. He paid attention to both the mechanics and the story, so I could see if a diehard fan could follow the game.
The beginning was graphically exceptional, but cliché as far as MMO starters go. I can name at least three more MMO’s that begin with a boat crash and a beach. However, the game is quick to put you on the right path to an Elder Scrolls feel, introducing you to characters and factions that appear in the single-player games.
I was taken by the nice feel, pace, and plot twists that awaited me from the beginning. The story escalated quickly. My roommate understood the lore that they were spitting out a mile a minute, and had very little trouble following. However, I found myself hurrying to complete each quest, rushing through each character’s lines. Perhaps those that play the series more often are used to reading quickly. The voice-over work is very well done, but slows the game down. If you are in a party, good luck catching what’s going on.
The one problem that stuck out like a sore thumb was the party design. I was in a party with my roommate, yet he easily finished quests before I did, and he didn’t wait for me before bolting to the next one. The mount he got for buying the Deluxe Edition sped up the game for him and left me in the dust. This made me anxious to finish quests and catch up with him, so we could both enjoy the story and the mechanics of the MMO. It felt like a HUGE contradiction that the party mechanic was so sporadic.
Players will have a love/hate relationship with the mechanics in Elder Scrolls Online. The combat system is on par with Skyrim‘s, and techniques have been adopted from past games in the series. However, it was a complete shock when I realized you have to compete with the other players for the loot, foraging, and chests you find along your quests. This mentality brings out the ugly in its players, encouraging Camping, Raging, and unnecessary banter.
In more recent MMO’s this minor, yet annoying mechanic has been eradicated completely. Guild Wars 2 is a prime example of fair loot drops between party members. This specific mechanic killed my enjoyment of the game, but I kept on playing anyway, wanting to see cut scenes and more of the battling system.
Though the game went from closed beta to complete launch with little trouble, the mechanics are still extremely glitchy. In addition, the servers often shut down from hours to days at a time, giving players who paid for the privilege a lot less time to enjoy it.
Overall, I do not feel this game was ready to be launched. I say that a lot, but Elder Scrolls Online takes the cake. I have never paid for an MMO, and after seeing all the problems first-hand I surely won’t start paying now.
Who’s to blame?
We can’t really get upset with Bethesda for the failure of Elder Scrolls Online. I believe they had the best intentions when turning this massive project over to Matt Firor, who has eleven years of MMO experience through Mythic Entertainment. However, with more recent titles like Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar and Dungeon Keeper, his credibility may be lacking.
I commend Matt for his attempt, but taking on such a big title may have been biting off more than he could chew.
Hearing their many fans chanting “Multiplayer! Multiplayer!” may have sparked Bethesda’s interest in an MMO, but Elder Scrolls Online made it feel like the only source. A co-op version of Elder Scrolls would have been more acceptable, as their target customer was console specific, and even PC players play co-op games. Multiplayer is another great option, allowing two to four (or possibly more) people from different parts of the world play together as though they were all in the same room.
However, MMO’s are a different take on gaming entirely. It takes one hell of a story, a lot of knowledgeable computer techies, and a whole lot more to create an elaborate, beautiful, and functional work for a large community of players.
For now, if you want to enjoy an Elder Scrolls game with friends, hang out and take turns running around on Skyrim. It’s easier and more fun than Elder Scrolls Online.
- Graphics: great
- Story: Decent
- Mechanics: Poor