Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Elder Scrolls Online launch +1

So, needless to say, I've been quite busy in Elder Scrolls Online since its launch yesterday. Let's get the easy bits out of the way first:
  • This seems to be the smoothest launch of an MMO that I've ever heard about; and,
  • I'm still enjoying it immensely.
I've been involved in the ESO beta for several months now and had the beta client installed (as did, I think, a lot of launch day players). And there was nothing special needed to do for launch day except update the client the day before the five day pre-trial I was entitled to. The client version number passed 1.0 (it's on 1.0.0.962841 as I type this) and that was that. I received my collector's edition copy with four discs but haven't had to install it.

That's not to say the game is bug-free. I've run into several minor ones and one pretty major one: player groups refuse to enter the same instance together under some conditions that I've had trouble reproducing. Still, my overall impression of the game remains quite favorable. I still stand by my position that the more you play this thing like another MMO, the less you're likely to enjoy it. But if you play with the peculiar desire to see what's over the next hill of a true Elder Scrolls fan like myself, you'll find whole stretches of true greatness.


Say hello to Molag Bal, the villain of the piece, by the way. That's a struggling human he's got in one hand and a large maul in the other. The thing curling back behind him to the left is a spiked tail. This statue becomes important for reasons I'll talk about later today or tomorrow.

Anyway, I've played the game about 30 or 40 hours over the last six days and there's no question in my mind that the developers have captured the spirit of the past three ES titles. Because of the Daedric focus of a lot of the goings-on, it owes the most to TES4: Oblivion. But there's quite a lot of TES5: Skyrim (particularly in skills and crafting) and TES3: Morrowind as well. There have been so many little moments that I've gotten a smile out of that I can't even tell you, but I'll mention three just to give the feeling of the thing:
  1. You come upon a couple arguing over an unlit campfire; neither one can get it lit. You can watch the couple argue for a while, or you can just step in and light it for them. At that point, they become a little shame-faced. It's a little nothing scene worth no experience and no money but it's just the sort of thing I expect from a quirky ES game (it reminded me of the amazing falling wizard from Morrowind, to be honest).
  2. In a particular area that I won't talk about so as not to spoil the surprise, you turn a corner and there in front of you is another fun bit of Morrowind: a floating castle reminiscent of Vivec's Ministry of Truth. I'm not sure yet if it's a place you can actually visit, though. I laughed out loud when I saw that one. Also, for those in the know: cliff racers circle overhead in a nearby area, though they don't attack you. ;-)
  3. Wandering well off the beaten path in another map, I came across one of the rocky pools that were so commonplace in Oblivion and my brain hadn't even finished registering "you know, this is just the sort of place that you'd find a ton of nirnroot" when I came upon... a ton of nirnroot. Not far from this location scouting for more nirnroot, I got eaten by slaughterfish (and in the process, earned an achievement for doing so, heh).
Short version: the devs have played Elder Scrolls games. More than that: the devs get Elder Scrolls games. Bravo!

Seriously, the more you just rush from quest to quest, the less impressed you're going to be by this game. Instead, play it leisurely. Wander! Go out just looking for stuff. Hell, just go out looking. Even the little minor stuff is cool. I came around another corner to find a cave cut into the rock where someone had apparently attempted a daedra summoning... and apparently it had gone badly. All the evidence was there, but it was equally clear that there was nothing to be done since it had happened a decade or more prior. It was just something cool to look at. The game is just chock full of these tiny little easter eggs for those who want to see them.

OK. Let's do some things I'm less of a fan of. The game uses the fairly standard-for-MMO multi-character "bank" thing. This doesn't work in an ES game. At all. It particularly doesn't work in the rather slipshod method it's been implemented. Guild Wars 2 got this so much more right with multiple "banking" areas spread across a large building. In ESO, you really have to hunt to find the banks and they're tiny little buildings with only one "banker". This creates enormous crowds of overlapping players trying to get this business done that you have to push through to interact with the banker.

You nearly immediately feel the loss of not having a house. ES games have centered so much on players having their own houses to come back to that not having it here feels really wrong. You have a backpack that you can buy more slots for and you have the bank which you can also buy more slots for. And that's pretty much it. The crafting system is wonky enough that if you want to get into crafting as I did, you'll soon rapidly fill all of those slots and be constantly struggling with what to sell and what to keep. While that's also admittedly a very characteristic thing from ES games, it's not something that should have been replicated.

I don't care if the game says your "house" is in large inns in the major cities with instanced rooms. But individual characters should have a place where they can store some of the dozens and dozens and dozens of crafting materials without having to worry too much about inventory slots. That's sort of an ES tradition, after all... I'll talk about the crafting system as a separate post.


If you do do the quests (and sooner or later, you'll do some to work up your loot and your gold), you'll find that several of them suffer from the standard MMO foibles that should have been avoided. Here's the final boss of one of the quests -- killed over and over with eight or nine of his "bodies" piling up. This one had a flock of characters camping it waiting for him to re-spawn because he drops pretty good loot.

The game borrows heavily from other games here and there. The intro, main quest, and dodge mechanic is lifted straight from Kingdoms of Amalur. The main threat to the game world is lifted from Rift -- they even look similar. Lots of the mechanics here and there are lifted from Guild Wars 2. I'm sure there are other lifts and homages that are from games that I'm not familiar with.

All that said, these are relatively minor quirks which are annoying, but aren't interfering with the main fun I'm having playing this game. And that fun simply comes down to rolling over the next hill and seeing what's there... and often finding something that makes me smile or laugh and nearly always results in a good time. Westward ho!

More to come.

19 comments:

  1. After playing through Oblivion and Skyrim, I forsee myself putting a lot of hours into this game. And you basically can play the game at least 3 times without overlap starting in the 3 different factions.

    My only real issue is the inventory space. I haven't had a problem finding the banker. But I have been getting into crafting and running out of space at times shuffling items, and materials around to practice my crafting and upgrade my gear.

    Tamriel Journal, and Tamiel Foundry, both have good guides on TESO, including one on inventory space.

    Any recommendations on good add-ons and how they work? Something I haven't looked into much yet but see mentioned in global chat occasionaly.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How many of those foibles aren't present in other MMOs ?

    For example, I know the boss corpse pile wasn't present in GW2.

    As for launch issues, I'm hearing one strange launch issue. People logging in and finding themselves on someone else's account. I've got no clue how that happens. Though I've also heard it's been fixed.

    The rest of the launch issues are typical MMO launch issues. Enough to tell me to stick to my policy of never touching an MMO launch, but nothing that will be worth mentioning after they get fixed.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dude your as bad at eve as you are at this. Stfu and keep whining you little bitch

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fail. Work on your insults dude, that totally lacked creativity.

      Delete
    2. "Stfu and keep whining you little bitch"

      rofl. You got logic nailed down there.

      Delete
    3. "You shut your mouth when you're talking to me"
      - Wedding Crashers

      Delete
  4. Every group is assigned one dungeon instance.if anyof the groupmembers were in the dungeon before they joined the group they will be in the wrong instance, even if its the group leader and noone else is the dungon yet. They will have to leave the dungeon and reenter.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What i really like is how people on the streets sometimes say "Hey arent you the one that saved that bosmer in ..." or something else related to the quests you did. Even for the quests were you had a choice and depending on your choice others might say it angrily or happily.

    The choices youhave to make are reaaly something that make me feel like what i do matters, it really is an elder scrolls game. And tbh i struggled with some choices quite a Bit because it often was a huge dilemma morally. I felt guilt having to make some of the choices, it really dragged me in.

    I also came across a female character that spoke of her WIFE and in another Zone i met a male character that was caring for his dying HUSBAND. I like they had the guts to do this in teso and it also makes the game feel more real. (First time i've Seen this in an mmo)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In TESO, you're the hero, and the NPCs react appropriately.

      In EVE, you're not the hero, and the NPCs react appropriately.

      Delete
  6. I may give it a shot sometime. I swear I will crack up laughing if I can find a pun on... no, won't say it, don't want anyone spoiling the fun for me.

    ReplyDelete
  7. But why did it have to break the lore of the series?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's ok, they didn't! Thankfully Todd Howard sait nothing in ESO is cannon to the actual Elder Scrolls. We can all calmly exhale.

      Delete
  8. I played the beta and really liked it - but then I have not even finished Skyrim yet. It certainly is not WoW 2.0, the graphics alone put it into a different category. In the beta, I did not get into crafting or PvP at all, just followed the quest lines. Is PvP actually a "thing"?

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  9. When I saw that quest for the lady to find her wife, I was glad my kids weren't in the room, I'd hate to have to explain that to a 7 year old. But it is a tribute to the writers I suppose that they were brave enough to put that in the game.

    The towns people praising you is a Elder Scrolls trait that I'm happy they included in the game. It make the mundane tasks you usually do in MMOs seem worthwhile. You are still running the basic MMO type quests, kill x amount of x and return, fetch a item and return, Kill a mini boss and get a reward. The formula is standard stuff but the delivery is so well done you don't feel like you are doing those types of things.

    My final remarks is about the artwork and the graphics in this game, they are outstanding! The world is absolutely beautiful! It begs you to go off the beaten path and explore just to have the chance to take it all in. Character creation allows you to make a character that if you fiddle around long enough, you could make a rendition of yourself. It is very nice!

    Overall the game is still having a few growing pains with bug s and things that will iron out in time, it is well worth the cost and I can see myself playing this game for a long time. Zenimax got the game right. And it is still going to have additions like the thieves guild and the Dark Brotherhood along with a justice system that will make looting cabinets an art not just something you do. I can't wait!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really, explaining gay marriage would be hard for you? God help you when you have to explain sex.

      Homosexuality isnt something your daughter can catch if you explain it wrong...

      *sigh*

      Delete
    2. Why don't you leave the parenting of his 7 year old to him and butt out?

      "But it is a tribute to the writers I suppose that they were brave enough to put that in the game."

      Miss that part did you?

      Can't even have a conversation about a game these days without some radical whacko coming in to drop some propaganda where it's not needed.

      Gay marriage is a good thing, being a whacked out zealot is not . M'kay?

      Delete
    3. If you put your name on a post and specifically mention your difficulty explaining gay marriage to your child then discussion of the statement is fair game and that's not being a whacked out zealot.

      Everyone needs to engage their brain before posting (on both sides), it's now an comments section without stringent moderation.

      Delete
  10. My big question still remains largely unanswered.

    Is it elder scrolls shoe horned into MMO ideology.
    Is it an MMO forced to feel like an elder scroll game.

    Is there a reason to play with others? Like other old school MMOs (aka group play before end content) or can you just solo to the end, solo que for everything and never become part of the community?

    I miss the multiplayer part of MMOs.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I’m planning to play ESO but I’m still waiting until the day it was launched and read reviews from the expert on what they say about the game. I play before Rift before and SWTOR but after 2-3 months I quit. Hope this is not just the other game.. I have high expectation on this. Thanks for a great review Jester!

    BTW, do you think about new addon from Zygor Guide? I plan to purchase it also since I used them before back in WoW days and it’s a great tool to have. What you think?

    ReplyDelete

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