ESO: Poised to fail

by manylaughs on April 22, 2014


The gaming world needs an MMO like The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO). The gaming world almost cries out for an MMO that doesn’t have cute, cartoon characters and animals. The gaming world is looking for an MMO that’s more immersive, has a “real” feel to it. ESO fills this need in some ways: It feels realer than other MMOs; it’s a game steeped in lore; and the quests you do actually change the world in a meaningful way (e.g. When you vanquish all the enemies in a town, the town will become peaceful.). All of these elements give ESO a strong immersive quality that’s very appealing.

Unfortunately, the game fails on so many levels, it’s hard to see this game getting and keeping much of a following. That’s a shame.

Bethesda and Zenimax have failed the gaming community. Maybe that sounds harsh, but this is a company known for its Elder Scrolls franchise, a quality product, so expectations for a quality online game are reasonable. What they’ve delivered is a shoddy product that’s really more a multi-player game than an true MMO.

Here are just a few of the issues.

Bethesda did not live up to its promises
They promised a 5 day headstart if you bought the digital download version. The servers were down for almost an entire day. Bethesda didn’t even make an attempt to compensate their player base for the down time. No loot, which wouldn’t have cost them anything, no pets, nothing. Not even an apology.

This kind of casual treatment of your player base does not bode well for the future, and not living up to a commitment gets Bethesda off on a bad footing with its players. It’s not a killer issue, but it’s a bit irksome.

ESO is horrendously buggy
After delaying the release of ESO for almost a year, what was Bethesda doing with all the extra beta time they needed getting this game to market? They sure weren’t fixing bugs. The game is full of them.

Some of the bugs are just silly and don’t significantly impact your gameplay (You’ll sometimes be told you can’t fish in werewolf form when you’re not a werewolf.), but a lot of the bugs do affect your gameplay, and way too many will impede your progress in a quest. So many quests are broken, there are forum threads listing them. (Get used to logging and reloading your UI. Sometimes that fixes the problems, sometimes it doesn’t.)

There are just too many bugs at the early levels to feel good about this game. It doesn’t speak well of Bethesda’s quality control and ability to fix their game: Usually the early levels of an MMO are the cleanest, because the bugs are weeded out during the beta testing.

There’s no central market
Do you know why communism fails as an economic system? Because you can never know the price of anything. Does toilet paper cost a dollar or 1000 dollars? Who knows? Without central markets of some sort, you get black markets. Black markets undermine your economy because people end up paying $100 for toilet paper.

Welcome to ESO’s economy. There’s no central market. All of the trading is done in guild stores. So how much is iron ore worth? I don’t know. Do you? Nope. No one knows because the economy is crap. If you need iron ore, you’ll have to go around to about 1000 black markets – er, I mean, guilds – trying to figure out what a decent price for iron ore is.

This also leads to the bonus feature of people constantly spamming zone chat with offers to buy and sell. Yay!


Camping a boss spawn

ESO isn’t really an MMO
Remember all those “features” in old MMOs you’ve been feeling nostalgic about? ESO will cure of that.

– There are no diminishing returns
Seriously, have the people at Bethesda ever played an MMO? This game doesn’t have diminishing returns. Need some loot? Just camp the end boss in one of the many public dungeons and repeatedly kill him. You might need to elbow some bots out of the way, though.

– The respawn times are too short
Yeps, that’s right. You won’t even have to wait that long for the boss to respawn.

Respawn times are way too short for everything. Remember that iron ore you needed? It respawns so fast you can get all you need and much, much more in about 30 minutes of gathering. Another brilliant way to undermine the economy.

– Public dungeons suck the challenge out of the game
Most of ESO’s dungeons are public dungeons. Anyone can run in and kill the mobs right along with you.

At first, this is kind of fun, running through the dungeon with all these people. Then you realize you don’t really get to kill the mobs and a ton of people and bots are camping the end boss. That actually sucks. You feel like everything has been done for you and you’re just along for the ride.

It will make you appreciate the fairly modern innovation of instanced dungeons (By “fairly modern”, I mean the last 10 or 15 years.).

– There’s no need-or-greed loot
There are some instanced dungeons. Those dungeons have loot chests throughout. The person who opens them doesn’t have to share a thing with the party. There’s no need-or-greed system. No system for fair distribution of loot.

It gets even better. You can’t even kick a person who does this. Once they’re in the dungeon with you, they can continue to tag along and keep looting stuff.


Do I know you? How ’bout you? You?

– There are no name tags
This one is just too bizarre to be believed: You can’t tell players from NPCs, because there are no name tags. You have no way of knowing who your friends are if they’re standing next to you. You have no way of knowing if a guildie is standing next to you.

I could go on and on. Almost every MMO aspect of the game feels like an afterthought if they thought about it at all. Bosses don’t scale to the party size. The LFG tool is too general. Guild and other social tools are very basic. Grouping for quests doesn’t always work, because the quests are mostly designed for a single players.

It’s a long list and you’ll add more than a few of your own. When you look at all the MMO issues and oversights, you’ll realize it’s more a mulitplayer game and not so much an MMO.

ESO is a subscription game
This is the killer: You have to pay monthly for this game. Just put a knife through the heart of this game, now, and let’s get it over with.

As a free-to-play game, ESO might survive, but when people have to make the decision to pony up bucks every month for a buggy, multiplayer game with some MMO features, what do you think they do?

Yep, this game is poised to fail.

You have to blame Bethesda and Zenimax for that. You know they can do better, because they have – Skyrim is an awesome game. Maybe in time they’ll fix most of these issues, but as a subscription game they probably won’t have time.

But don’t be too glum. Maybe Elder Scrolls Online 2 will be better.


zeruul April 23, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Good “unsell me” post =p

I was in the Beta, but wasn’t able to play much because of the bugs.

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