ESO: The Good and the Bad

Hey there! I’m Vely, new to the blog. First post here.
Anyway, the past number of posts have been rather negative, criticizing The Elder Scrolls as a whole and especially Elder Scrolls Online. While ESO certainly has its issues–bugs, perhaps, being some of the least among them–it’s also an Elder Scrolls game and doubtless to have a number of memorable experiences in it.
When I played in beta, I kept going for the Ebonheart Pact. Morrowind, after all, has remained my favorite game in the series since I first picked it up in 2004. The first day, I was excited. Really excited. I was returning to Morrowind and even Skyrim, the same world with all new content. I was amazed. I wandered in wonder. I played all day and did whatever I could do. There were issues, like no loot and people everywhere, but that’s beta, when everyone is at the same point as you.
Second day, the novelty sort of wore off. Twenty people in the same dungeon? It felt unrealistic, like everything I’d loved about the previous TES games wasn’t there anymore. People populating the world was wonderful, but everyone doing the same, ever-so-important quests and dungeons at the same time felt broken. I didn’t like it.
Next beta test, I picked EP again. I got to Morrowind and… well, all the quests were dull. I had to collect and retrieve things. Light fires. Kill x amount of beasts or NPCs. Act as messenger. The same monotonous activities one can find in any other MMO. Not to mention the Prophet’s quests. Going through them once was enough. Twice? Without skipping his long rants? No thanks. I tried Aldmeri Dominion for a short while, but got bored after going to the beach to save crash survivors or something. It all felt repetitive.
Now, with early access, I’ve joined Aldmeri Dominion again. I skipped the tutorial–thank god for that option!–and moved onto the main quests. I skipped the two side quests–beach and temple–and followed Razum-dar to Mistral. Not before picking up a quest to innovatively save a plantation from a rat infestation via pitting thunderbugs against the rats, of course. Or following a spirit’s instructions to gather and destroy evil tomes, a supposedly simple gather quest that was actually rather complex, also pulling in fun lore tidbits and a daedra prince at the same time.
And, of course, at Mistral, I ran into a nonviolent city quest. Very easy, but very interesting, as it really helped to explain what was going on with the area, and it was just as fun to play as it is to read an intriguing story. The following quest is a bit more generic, considering it’s really just “move from point A to point B, and also kill/activate stuff”, but it had its own story.
Quests in Ebonheart Pact were boring and repetitive. Quests in Aldmeri Dominion do things right: They give you a fun story, lovable characters, and a touch of humor to transform typical quests into something that feels new. That is an artist’s touch. That is what makes a game shine.
Talking about the characters, the NPCs look awesome. Maybe not top graphics, but they’re designed to be much more aesthetically pleasing than in previous games, and I am a fan. And, while so many of them just have simple one-liners, as is necessary for population in an MMO, they all have unque lines. Every single one of them. And if they don’t? Excellent job of making that unnoticeable.
Their personalities, for those who speak more, are wonderful. The Silvenar and Harrani are kind, worried people, and I can’t help but want to talk to them more. Razum-dar is intriguing and mysterious, also bringing a wonderful element of humor to the game from the very first conversation. Ealcil’s a bit rude, per typical sorcerors, but he’s also great to have around, with the lines he has. (Not to mention his face and voice actor. They really outdid themselves, making Altmer so attractive in this game!)
Even those whom I don’t meet for more than a few minutes are awesome. Joining the Mages Guild, for example, led to a nice conversation with a cool guy. I haven’t returned yet, but I just remember that I liked him. Since when was something so basic as joining a guild interesting?
Onto another topic: Crafting. It’s fun. Simple, but fun. Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a grind for everything except provisioning, but I really do like it. It’s a fairly new way to craft objects in games, and the gathering nodes function the same as they have in previous games–don’t need to fix it if it’s not broken. Not that the grind is particularly bad, either, as I can still make items way past my current level.
Gear, on the other hand, is a bit less fun. I haven’t found any out in the wild, except maybe a sword. Quests can take a while to complete, but I don’t always want the item rewards. I can craft stuff, sure, but it’s not very fun. However, with the diverse armors there are already, I expect I’ll find something I really enjoy before long.
But for positive things, we need to mention those that are more obvious. The UI, which is smooth and, while slightly confusing, relatively comfortable. The scenery, which is downright gorgeous in areas and never ugly. The vast amount of space and content, too: Mistral feels huge and lively when I’m wandering about doing quests, and it’s just a single town!
And those issues I had in beta earlier? With too many people in areas? Well, it still feels strange to not be the only one poking around in a tomb or doing something important, or to see an important enemy NPC die multiple times, but it happens way less often now. What really makes the MMO work is cities and wilderness, though. The cities are populated. I don’t know who’s an NPC and who’s not, at a glance, and that’s more than okay with me. In the wilderness, there’s a few travelers, players and NPCs alike. Just enough to populate the area a little bit, but few enough to make it feel like you’re truly going your own way and not just following the flow.
Overall, I am satisfied with ESO for the moment. It’s fun, and I love the quests, characters, and areas. I’m not even a lore guy and I’m fascinated by all this lore I’m finding! I have high hopes for ESO right now, and I’m optimistic that it will remain entertaining. Whether it can last for long enough to keep me for another month, and whether all the content is as interesting and innovative as I’m finding it to be, remains to be seen.
I just hope it is.

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