The Elder Scrolls Online Review: Epic Adventure Or Epic Fail?

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John Cressman

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While I think the article is a bit lopsided, I do agree with the general sentiment.

I have been a huge TES fan for years - MANY years, enjoying Daggerfall and Ultima Underworld side by side. They were incredible graphics and immersion for the time.

I've loved how they've continued to improve the interface, story and immersion by keeping up with the technology each release.

Sadly, ESO falls FAR, FAR short of the regular TES games. I'm level 42 on my main character (I have 8 characters currently) and I'm bored. The author is dead on when he says the quests are lackluster. I just did a quest (A level 42 quest) that involved catching fireflies... REALLY?! At level 42? That should have been something you did in the starter island.

Other quests are too buggy to complete or make no exception for things that make sense. For instance, in one quest you freeze to death if you get too far away from torches... only problem... I'm a vampire. I'm FREAKING UNDEAD... the cold really should not affect me at all... ESPECIALLY since vampires get an intolerance to fire. Simple programming they could have done to make it more immersive... but they didn't.

The money I spent initially DID rub me the wrong way due to most of the REAL MMOs being free-to-play now, but I figured it would be worth it... I was wrong. It was a money grab pure and simple and I'm just waiting for them to drop the in-game store hammer and free-to-play option to really make me regret shelling out the money.

Was it worth the $60? Probably... I've spent as many hours in it as I have in some other games I've paid that type of money for... more time than some actually.

But it is a HUGE disappointment. Not to mention BUGGY AS HELL. I had my bank reset and lost the items in my bank... not ONCE... BUT TWICE. I got some idiotic email about the items being summoned back... that was 3 weeks ago. Still nothing and no word. Their support makes overseas tech support by people who can't speak your language look GOOD. But that is par for the course in an MMO, who consistantly have only slightly better support than a Chinese prison camp.

He writer is dead one right about the sparsely populated land and re-used areas. I've noticed that repeated as I've gone through dungeons and areas on all three functions... cut and paste baby... cut and paste.

But I do agree that the crafting system is FAIRLY well done... the most insanely annoying thing about it is the artificial research times for traits... with the final trait basically taking a RL month to complete. INSANITY. IDIOCY. And only fanboi will defend it. It has no logical or physical merit. As someone who has ACTUALLY MADE LEATHER ARMOR.... I can tell you, learning your first few "traits" will be the most difficult, learning the rest come easy after you know the basics. It's clear they haphaxardly through the wait time in there so people wouldn't level up in a single day - not that you could even if you wanted to since - as he pointed out - you cannot be JUST a crafter... you are FORCED to be an adventurer to get the skill points to advance your craft. While it's true you can gain xp in the craft by doing crafty things, in order to make better armor out of high level materials you MUST spend skill points... and that means adventuring. NO WAY to be just a crafter unless you want to make the most basic, low-level stuff.
 

megatf

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Just a quick Q, I saw my post was originally deleted by Onus and restored by Ubercake. Just curious as to why my post was originally deleted?

Anyway, I've been following Toms hardware since I was a kid back in 1997, I've just never made an account before as I generally just read the reviews and the news sections. This review was so epic I couldn't help myself but make a post.

After playing both ESO + Wildstar, I'm hands down a hardcore Wildstar fan, most of the players who have played in both betas for months know that the Wildstar fans took massive crap talking from the ESO crowd when they had never even touched Wildstar.

If anything, all we'd like to say is...

We told you so. See you on Nexus.
 

mamasan2000

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I can completely agree with this article.
I didn't buy the game, I betatested it just before release. I couldn't even play it for 2 days because it was so buggy, unengaging and just boring gameplay overall.

Probably even EQ1 is 10 times better than this mess (never really got into eq1 but eq2 is my favorite, I still play sometimes).

It seems like the name is there but everything else is general, rehashed, old gameplay and content that even most F2P games do much better. Just go to gamershell.com, click on MMO client and just click anything. Those are most likely much better games.
 

Onus

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As I read the review, I took the attitude that the reviewer may not generally play or care for MMOs. As to myself, I still play the original Guild Wars, so obviously repetition does not bother me, and I suspect does not bother a lot of MMO players. I don't need to level up constantly; in fact the GW explanation that "at level 20, you are fully trained" makes sense. Yes, you can learn new things, but they won't be expressed as levels, but as the hundreds of skills from which you might choose.
It sounds like the non-instanced implementation of ESO with the repetitive spawning means they've taken the worst of GW2 and amplified it, without incorporating meaningful cooperative effect (which might have made it "Elder Scrolls With Friends").

 

megatf

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Oh and BTW.... Wildstar is having a beta weekend... they are giving out retarded amounts of keys... If you want to see how a fun MMO plays google "Wildstar 2-4 May Beta keys."
 

Onus

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Megatf, I'm seeing two copies of your message, and deleted one of them. Are others only seeing one? I'll leave what looks like a duplicate there for the moment; ubercake?
 

megatf

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I dunno, I only saw one copy of my message and it said that the one message I had was deleted then restored. I just wasn't sure if I had violated any forum/comment policies since I'm new to posting on Tomshardware.
 

megatf

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If anyone wants to see level 50 Wildstar Arena gameplay go to "www.twitch.tv/megatf" and check out my highlight reel. I'm using an AWFUL Razer headset (Great keyboard... great mouse... terrible headsets... do not buy.) so you'll hear slight static if you have nothing playing in the background. If you put on a song you can hear me and my teammates talking without any of the static, or just mute the sound.

Anyways you'll see 2v2 and 3v3 footage of several matches at level 50 with endgame pvp gear against opponents in the same.

If you want to review any game... Review Wildstar... Though it's a lot harder than anything we've played after the 90's. Hope people are up for the challenge. You're article won't be complaining about any dungeon boss being trivial and cumbersome or PvP being lolzerg vs zerg.
 

Bill Reinhardt

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I really enjoyed reading this article! Seems like nothing has changed from the beta.

To the author: Thank you for making my friday! I will share this review with others!
 

knowom

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The EQ MMO clone genre is a dead horse all ready shot and all ready decaying I don't care what company is backing and hyping it.
 

Tierney11290

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I am getting pretty tired of all of these bad reviews. Many people are loving this game (myself included), but I will say that it is a love or hate it game, nothing in between. However, don't base the game off of reviews. Most of these reviews are badly informed or didn't do their research. This article does bring up some good points, but that doesn't make it a bad game. This game has a ton of potential and to be honest, it wasn't even close to being a bad launch. Most MMO's aren't playable for the first week, whereas this one was. This one had bugs, but not game breaking bugs. I look forward to what the game can bring.

TL;DR: Try the game for yourself, don't base your decision on reviews.
 

Tierney11290

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Oh and I also like the down votes people are getting because they don't agree with the article or are enjoying the game. Funny thing is, those that don't like the game are the ones that only played the beta or have no reason to dislike the game. Form your own opinion based on the released game, not off of reviews or beta gameplay. Beta is for testing, not for you to see whether or not you enjoy the game.
 

LongLostUser

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@Vertexx
I can ofcourse only speak for myself, and pretty sure im just one person with just one name posting my first post on Toms. Just because I enjoy the game doesnt mean im spamming.
Why dont u write about the game instea`?
Peace
 

Adroid

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Hey! I liked Neverending Story back in the day... How dare you compare the awesome 80ish story to ESO... At least in NES he road a freaking dragon and the universe kinda disintegrated or something...
 

jpishgar

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Joe brings up good points and I would say the review is honest from the standpoint of someone who just doesn't "get the game". I'm certainly not here to be Zenimax's fanboy, if one doesn't like the game then by all means unsub / uninstall.
I get the game. I very much wanted to get the game. I convinced friends, family, and those in my guild to get the game. It isn't a sandbox, it isn't a train ride, it isn't hardly a game. I know it's a cliche', but you are paying for a beta and what amounts to a technology showcase with little to no content. There's very little "game" to get.

If he gives up after 10 seconds and die, he really doesnt have a clue what he's doing. Some bosses requires more than one player and a good combination abilities.
My assessment of the severe extremity of PvE was not based on my individual experience with it, but the experience I witnessed countless times for other players. As I mention in the review, it was rare that a challenge could be found, bosses die within a minute or so. Death in PvE is rare and empty.

TESO is working on the issues... read the updates and upcoming patches!
I absolutely have been following the patch notes religiously. They have all been technical fixes, excepting Craglorn, a small consolation. The biggest problem with the game is the lack of content, and this isn't something you can fix with a patch.

How much are the other games paying you to flame such a Epic game?
Is there a check somewhere waiting for me I don't know about? I ask because in total, I'm out $60.

This article is absolutely terrible, with a total lack of objectivity in it whatsoever. It's less of a review and more of a pointless, childish rant.
I'd hoped that it didn't come off as me drinking the Hatorade. Yes, I was a bit brutal in spots, but I really, really wanted to enjoy this game. I was pumped about it, and I beta tested it every weekend I could. I tried to be as objective as I could after the launch and during the retrospective review - the game is just really quite awful. I don't think I'm over-exaggerating to say that this lowers the bar for MMOs. I could have softened the language up a bit, or watered-down some of the negative aspects, but I've got friends, family and fellow gamers who are still making this mistake (and doing it in an Imperial Edition way) because reviews have been muddied or neutral.

ESO could have been "Skyrim with Friends"
This is why I pre-ordered - I thought, like everyone else did, that that's what ESO was going to be. I was wrong.

Overall though, I think the game's brilliant. I'm not sure how long it'll stay great, but I'm not tired of it yet.
What level are you? I mention in the review a bit of cognitive dissonance in the early levels, where you'd generally chalk up any bumpiness to the notion that this is a new game, I'm at a newbie level, the early stuff is supposed to be tough and rough with the learning curve and all - like the first day at school. MMOers give those first ten levels a pass typically because we've been trained to look for the great parts of the game mid-way through. If you are enjoying it at level 15+, sincerely genuinely enjoying it, then good on ya. I don't begrudge anyone with a different set of expectations about fun.

What's funny is I've played both ESO and Wildstar in their Betas. What I quickly learned was that one of the games was fun and one was not. Can you guess which one was fun?
I'm holding my breath on WildStar. It looks like the best thing since sliced bread, and I've been beta testing it right alongside and it's the funnest MMO I've played. But I've been burned before, and I don't want to get my hopes up prematurely. I want to believe, but I just had a bad, bad breakup with ESO.

... writer is dead one right about the sparsely populated land and re-used areas. I've noticed that repeated as I've gone through dungeons and areas on all three functions... cut and paste baby... cut and paste.
How can a game be so full of players (in dungeons) and yet feel so very alone? The copy pasta is atrocious. It's downright depressing. I lobbed a great many expletives at the screen when assembling that infographic on dungeons. "Are you kidding me? Did they have NO level designers? Not a one? You could hire or contract subpar level designers orders of magnitude better than this, wholesale in bulk from Full Sail and Guild Hall three-dozen at a time!" I'm not a game design snob when it comes to this either - but sweet jeebus, if literally more than two-thirds of your content is copy/pasted, you've got problems.

I took the attitude that the reviewer may not generally play or care for MMOs. As to myself, I still play the original Guild Wars,
Some backstory on me. I started my career (professional and MMORPG) in MMOs back in 1999 in Ultima Online, eventually becoming a Seer. I played for many, many years and ran a large guild from Moonglow. I eventually went on to work for EA as an Event Moderator. I played Anarchy Online and participated as an Advisor of Rubi-Ka, building a guild there. Then came Shadowbane, where I ran a guild of more than a thousand people and conquered the western hemisphere of the game's largest continent, operating 26 cities at the height. In World of Warcraft, I played a more quiet role, but hit level cap back when it was tough to do so. I've played almost all of the MMOs, excepting EverQuest. Before joining Tom's Hardware as Community Manager, I was Community Manager for a few MMOs as well.

I'm not one of those types of players who just "doesn't get" MMOs or enjoy playing them. I play them, I enjoy them, I've built them and I've lived in them. ESO is barely an MMO. What's the point of grouping with someone if you can't accomplish things with them? What's the point of being in a guild with people if you don't see the same world they do? And worst, good lord, the lack of content. Would it have killed them to put in a quest I could sink my teeth into? It's string after string of pointless step-and-fetch. Kill 10 rats, move to point A, kill another 10 rats, grab potato, kill 7 mudcrabs, move to point B, go slap Bonky McWorthless the High Altmer King of Aardvarks, move to point frikken C.
 

jpishgar

VP, Global Community
This game has a ton of potential and to be honest, it wasn't even close to being a bad launch. Most MMO's aren't playable for the first week, whereas this one was. This one had bugs, but not game breaking bugs. I look forward to what the game can bring.
It was a great launch as MMOs go. I gave them endless praise for it in social media - I was actually incredibly impressed with how they handled the issues that came up. It's a case study in how to effectively and efficiently launch an MMO, and it was done brilliantly. As you say, most MMOs aren't even playable in the first week, and this one absolutely was. And that was a major, major feather in their cap.

However, a smooth launch and semi-stable servers don't make the game any less worse than it is. There's very little content, and what is there is trite and droll and boring as heck.

TL;DR: Try the game for yourself, don't base your decision on reviews.
I wrote the review to hopefully prevent people from making the same mistake I did. Minimally, to prevent people from making the mistake of plunking down the big bucks for the Imperial edition. That's the entire reason for doing a review. I suffered so you don't have to.

Funny thing is, those that don't like the game are the ones that only played the beta or have no reason to dislike the game.
I played the beta since Day 1. That player willingness to forgive the first 10-15 levels is an amazing thing.

Hey! I liked Neverending Story back in the day... How dare you compare the awesome 80ish story to ESO...
Faaaaaaalcoooooooor!
 

megatf

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So apparently being able to dupe items and gold infinitely which has completely destroyed and ruined the economy is not a "Game Breaking Bug".

They disabled the Guild Bank, deleted everything out of peoples Guild Bank without restoring those items, they have bots going 24/7 in public areas without any discretion because they have horrible anti-cheat software, overpowered Vampire ability called "Bat Swarm" which has zero balance, effectively turning the player into a raid boss.

No gamebreaking bugs right?
 
Great review, and exactly what I expected in adopting an inherently single player game into a MMO.
I recently picked up Skyrim again after taking a year off. The game is fantastic! Between the bug fixes and a few visual and auditory mods, there is a near-immersive world there that is great to loose yourself in. But what makes it great is the sheer size and density of the game itself. I logged some 250 hours last year when I played the game consistently, and coming back to it now there are areas that I am finding that I still have not properly explored yet. Entire sections of the game that went completely overlooked which lie just around the corner of some of the more traveled parts of the game. Now that I have a good base level I am thinking of turning on some of the realism mods where you have to eat and sleep to properly survive in order to add an extra twist to the game. It is that level of fantastical realism that keeps bringing me back to the game.

But an MMO is a different beast entirely. An MMO is only fun as a backdrop to a social environment. People played WoW not because the game itself was fun, but because it was something you could do with your friends. People play Spreadsheets In Space (aka EVE Online) not because they enjoy a good ledger (... well, that may be part of it), but because you can meet and play with people all across the world and the way corporations (guilds) are set up it opens up much more interesting and dynamic interactions on a corporate as well as personal level. But without that social component to bring players back and back again, then there is little justification to pay a monthly subscription fee for the sake of level grinding. Simply play for a month or two to cap out a character, and come back for another month or two with each expansion. Surely they can still make money that way... but hardly the cash-cow model that they would have been hoping for.

But there is a demand for multi-player in the Elder Scrolls universe. I would love to see a 2-4 player co-op in a game like Skyrim. It would be really neat to have a game with the pre-built beauty and 'wildness' of Skyrim, but also be able to divvy up the kingdoms so that my friends and I could own our own palatial estates and land to do our own bits of content creation (be it to build a town, farm, or whatever). Have that built-in component of dungeons and a greater world and story, but also have that minecraft-like ability to have user content creation on player owned land. That would be something that could hold my attention for months upon months, and while it would not justify a $15/mo/person fee, I could see something like the Minecraft Realms model where a few of us could split a $15/mo server hosting and maintenance bill. That would be awesome.
 

jpishgar

VP, Global Community
Believe it or not, I'd find those pretty catastrophic bugs acceptable, megatf, if the game itself was enjoyable.

A virtual economy can recover and you can sink out or faucet in additional currency as needed to fix things. Can even chalk up the bots issue to a lack of preparation but something certainly that can be addressed with aggressive customer service and patching. Even the extremely broken bat swarm issue you are talking about impacts only PvP - still forgivable in my book.

The biggest issue is the dearth of content. That's not something you can fix, balance, patch up or address as a development team without a major overhaul and an acknowledged "My bad!" by the team. It's endemic, systemic, and a fundamentally lacking part of the game experience. I'm willing to give it another go in 1-2 years after the game has been sufficiently populated by interesting things (knock wood), but for the moment, it isn't worth the cost of subscription. I'd be hard-pressed to play even if it were F2P.
 

Pgamer77

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Like I said:
TESO is working on the issues... read the updates and upcoming patches!
@ jpishgar And your reply is:

I absolutely have been following the patch notes religiously. They have all been technical fixes, excepting Craglorn, a small consolation. The biggest problem with the game is the lack of content, and this isn't something you can fix with a patch.


http://elderscrollsonline.com/en/news/post/2014/05/01/the-road-ahead---may-1st?ref=rss



Game not even a Month old........

Only reason people flaming TESO is because its not F2P!!

Thank god to that!
 

Cazalan

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Ouch. Sounds a lot worse than the last MMO I tried. SWTOR. That one was good for a few months until the guild ran out of content and everyone and their companions had full epic gear. Got our money's worth at least.
 

jpishgar

VP, Global Community
Are you having fun right now, Pgamer77? If so, this review is not meant to rain on your parade. If you are able to find the fun right now in the game as it stands, bully for you. The problem I had is that large swathes of the game are copy/pasted, there is no challenge, the quests are mind-numbingly boring and grouping is pointless. I trudged up to level 20 and I'm done, because I can see where this is going. Level 30 and 40 will look just like level 20, and I'm tired of hunting for mudcrab eyes and feeling like I'm at the end of a long, long copy/pasted hallway with 10 minutes of trash mobs between me and the quest marker or boss I have to slap to proceed to the next copy/pasted hallway.

Adding in a "death recap screen" and "tweaking facial animations" isn't going to do it for me.

From the patch notes you posted:
Awards when you repeat dungeons

Let me repeat that:
AWARDS WHEN YOU REPEAT DUNGEONS

Somewhere in the world Raph Koster and Ken Rolston just felt a sharp, stabbing pain in their chests.
 

Tierney11290

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Nope, not game breaking. Game breaking bugs are bugs that do not allow you to progress through the game. They are mending the issues with the Guild bank and missing items and even compensating people for their losses. The duping and infinite gold have been fixed (and the exploiters dealt with). Bots are everywhere in any MMO, so your point is invalid. The fact that the devs are going through and killing bots in-game is a great sign. The OP vamps issue is a bad one, that I will admit, but they are also looking to fix that next week and people have also found ways to counter the OP Vamp issues and they are also not in every Campaign.
 
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