My Experience with ESO in 2018
When I first heard the news about The Elder Scrolls online I was a mixture of hesitant and excited. As it got closer to the beta testing phase I moved more towards excitement. And then I got into one of the closed beta tests and was met with a wave of disappointment. I know betas will be betas and bugs and lag are to be expected, but what I experienced was horrible latency, a confusing questing and combat system and a world that didn’t feel at all like Tamriel.
Fast forward to last spring, right before the Morrowind expansion launched. The Gold Edition of ESO (which I haven’t been able to find since) was on sale for $20, including the game and all the DLC plus premium currency, a pet, and a mount. I had been hearing some good things about ESO going around and had the money to spare, so I decided to drop the money on it and try it out again. It wasn’t a very large investment and I didn’t have to worry about maintaining a subscription.
I found the world very much changed and far more enjoyable. To me, the game feels less like an MMO, but not quite like an open world RPG either. I could care less about the main storyline (we all know Molag Bal is a dick) but I’ve found myself invested in the main and side stories for each of the individual zones. I care about the characters and their problems. I’m invested in a way that I never was with other MMOs, not even Wildstar, which I enjoyed immensely during the year or so that I played, both for free and with a paid sub.
MMOs will be MMOs, no matter what form they’re in, but it seems to me that now ESO is trying to do something a bit different. The One Tamriel update made it so that you can go and do the quests in whatever zone you want, regardless of player level. Combat still requires hitting hotkeys and waiting for some level of skill cooldown, but you also have to physically hit your target with your weapons to do damage. I’ve had a couple instances where I’ve been low on health and literally run circles around an enemy until my health regenerated enough for me to be able to finish the fight off.
The five guilds system means there will always be someone online to help you and there’s constantly groups going for world boss runs and dungeons. Speaking of dungeons, in addition to typical instances, there’s also public dungeons which anyone can enter regardless of level and team up to fight the bosses without needing to actually group, and smaller dungeons called delves that have one main boss, are sometimes related to a quest, and usually have at least one collectable in them.
Not needing a subscription to play the game takes a lot of pressure off of me personally, as someone who doesn’t always feel like devoting hours and hours to an MMO, or doesn’t feel like playing video games every day, or, as is usually the case, doesn’t have the time to devote to something that isn’t school or work. That being said, while there isn’t really any punishment for playing without an active sub, there are definitely benefits to having one. With a sub, you’re gifted 1500 Crowns (the premium currency) each time it renews, as well as having an EXP and gold boost and access to all the DLC, but the biggest game changer is the craft bag, which keeps all the materials you’re bound to pick up for crafting in their own separate inventory that keeps your rather limited bag space from being filled up with alchemy ingredients.
The point is that I’m actually having fun with a game that I initially greatly disliked. The developers seem to listen to feedback from their players and do what they can to fix the issues and deal with complaints. I don’t always want to play ESO, and sometimes I only log in to do crafting dailies, but it’s a vast improvement over what it started as and I would heartily recommend it to anyone who’s been on the fence, especially following the announcement of the Somerset Isles expansion.