Tales from the Tutorial

It seems the industry has spoken and the beginning of the Tespocalypse is upon us. Seek shelter and huddle amongst your loved ones for this shall truly shake the very foundation of what we know… or not.

I have to admit that over the week and with reading a fair few reviews for Elder Scrolls I became a little pissy… hmm, pissy is a bit of an understatement. I wanted to grab some of those smug, hate filled “journalists” and smash their faces to the screen and demand they play more. Occasional whipping those fat asses if they should skip through the story cutscenes or if their attention should wander away from the screen. I wanted to rub their smarmy noses in the gameplay that ESO becomes once you get out of the newbie tutorial areas, the gameplay they never experienced and really, never had any intention too.

This feeling is still there a little but doing such things is impossible. That would be well beyond my means, probably land me in jail and not really change anyone’s opinion anyway. A lot of people going into this preview weekend seemed to have already made up there mind. It’s more those reviews or comments where it begins with a, “I’ve always loathed mmo’s”, “I wanted a multiplayer Skyrim” and many other such comments that tell me an opinion was formed before even playing and later confirmed. The self-fulfilling prophecy of expectation, looking for that something and then making a bigger deal about it then it actually is. Reading one review the writer was proclaiming the how he loved exploring the world and finding the random quests, talking to NPC’s and such in Skyrim yet in the same breath stated that such a thought never crossed his mind in ESO, in fact, he went so far as to think these elements didn’t exist. Then there are they many comparing features and mechanics to single player games – is that really a fair comparison

For many others it was never going to be good enough. It fails simply for being a mmo based on its rather standard mmo feature. The graphics have been compared to skyrim, in its modded state when such a thing for a multiplayer title would be near impossible in this age. The animations get ripped on when there still better than a lot. Complaints about questing when, that’s every mmo and even the elder scrolls series is mostly finding and finishing fetch quests. It was never going to live up to the expectations placed onto it by the single player series but comparisons to it are being used to proclaim its failure. I can’t help but think, reading all this that it would have done far better without the IP behind it… maybe. It will definitely get more initial sales having the name but whether it can win gamers in the long-term is harder to determine.

Now, A lot of people have criticism and dislike the game, which is fine, no one mmo can service everyone and the diversity of interests. Hate the game and I’ll listen and acknowledge the why but if you tell me you barely made it out of the tutorial well sorry, but your opinion doesn’t mean as much to me. As for the journalists giving these reviews well, I feel a little more angry towards them. I tend to think in such a position, one that claims them as a professional in the field and that people look towards for information have a certain responsibility to give an experienced account of a game. The fact many couldn’t even be bothered playing for more than a few hours, in a mmo where you typically spend 100’s makes me feel like they are taking this job for granted and fills me with contempt. That’s an issue with the industry in general and not just ESO but this time it certainly is more blatant. Remember the controversy about the game journalist who gave a bad review but only played for an hour or two well.. it seems that is the norm now.

I understand the tutorial times of the game are extremely slow. Having played through that a few times on different factions it was rather obvious these needed to be improved. They were trying to ease gamers in, especially ones not used to playing a mmo or mmo players not used to playing an action game. The action is limited, they are heavily scripted and directed for far too long but it eventually opens up. They don’t show off the game very well, and this is definitely a fault of Zenimax.

The game in general has a slower pace than what I’ve played recently, especially at the beginning and it seems we are just not used to this any more. We seem to demand that immediacy from a game in getting a quicker impression. I think Gw2 was the best tutorial experience there is out there and a great comparison. Quick experience and learning, smooth directed experience with an amazing set piece and epic combat point at the end before you’re then placed in an obviously large open world.

This actually reminds me of that early Tera experience with how bad it was and how little it reflected the core experience. I always said the gameplay was the strongest point and the combat at higher levels was challenging. That the group mechanics that encouraged grouping at higher levels to progress but none of that was visible early on. It was just a long extremely painful grind to get that first pegusus and actually start experiencing the game and a lot more from there to get to the good stuff.

The early ESO experience isn’t this pronounced, as grindy or as terrible but it definitely has lessens to learn. It’s their want to create an atmospheric environment and immerse in the story but the way it is done is far too passive and directed. From this part and out into the world it seems to continue for a certain time to the point where you just keep following that main quest line. There isn’t the neon lights showcasing the exploration and so it looks like the game is just another linear directed… and boring experience.

Is this a problem with us gamers now. That we are unwilling to have the patience with a game if it doesn’t immediately gives us some gratification or exhilaration upon entering within the first few scenes. If progression and that ding or FUCK YEA!! effect isn’t giving us our dopamine hit often enough. If the effects and lighting aren’t flashy enough to make us and our actions feel important. That we are unwilling to step outside the comfort of the rails we are so used to and chasing that next map point or achievement index, I don’t know… but it does seem like the more classic mode of storytelling is slowly dying with that old style of slow mmo gaming being dead. It’s these modern conveniences and comforts like sign posting all content and to never leave any down time that I really think we need to wean ourselves off a little and while I’m not saying ESO solves these ills, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

12 thoughts on “Tales from the Tutorial

  1. You and I can keep arguing about the merits and qualities of ESO, and I’ll continue to swear that co-op Skyrim would’ve been better than a subpar MMORPG-version, but we can agree on journalism’s role here.

    People like us and so many more who will be swinging by to read what you’ve written here do a lot of writing just for the fun of it. Yet people who get paid to not only write but write for websites where they are GUARANTEED to be read can’t put in the extra effort?

    Sorry you couldn’t be bothered!

    • yeh, that annoys me that they really can’t be bothered….so annoying. It’s the dream job for many and i get it’s hard sometimes with deadlines and such but at least put in some effort

  2. Devil’s advocate cause…me I guess.

    Are there people who will play TESO that have never played a themepark MMO or haven’t played Skyrim? Is there even a market for that type of player in today’s age?

    I do hope the game sticks around if only for the gameplay diversity. I love Skryim, TESO just doesn’t scratch the same itch. Hopefully a few of their implementation ideas can spread to other games too.

    • i have no idea who the audience is for teso just yet. It’s marketed to a lot of different demographics but which will be the core audience. I think by just having the name it appeals to a wider audience than just ES and mmo gamers. That’s a name just about everyone involved in gaming knows whether or not you like those styles of games.

      I agree it doesn’t scratch the same itch as stuff like Skyrim but that’s not really the point i think. They have skyrim for that itch and probably another single player title in the years to come. They’d be silly not too. I’m liking it so far because of what it doesn’t different from other mmo’s, not from what it does different than say skyrim or oblivion

  3. I think the target of this game is more Skyrim fan than MMO fan. Thus comparing to Skyrim seems fair to me. But Games reviewer should also say if this game is the MMO that is the nearest to Skyrim VS other one (WoW, etc..)

    About patience, as a casual player, I do not have a lot of time. The majority of the game I play, I play less than 5hours. The game I love, I play them 20 to 50 hours. There is less than 5 games where I play more than 100 hours – and this take me years ! My gaming time is 10hours a week – for the good weeks ;-)

    Thus the MMO dev should put their best effort in those first 5 hours. I know they very often try to do it. If they do not succeed to please me in those 5 hours, there is little chance they will succeed for the next 20hours ! Whereas there is a lot of gamess.

    Thus what is my best strategy ? Try every game for 20 hours, and found one game I like every year ? Or try 4x to 10x more games, and find a gem every 1-3 months ?

    Thus even for very well received games, if it is not good in the first few hours, I will not insist. My gaming time is too small !

    • I remember a WoW dev post that stated something like 90% of their player retention was decided by level 10. Those first few hours are absolutely key.

    • yes it’s being marketed towards skyrim fans but it isn’t being marketed as a skyrim substitute or sequel. It’s being marketed as an mmo which is vastly different.

      I get the time starved gamer and wanting to get a quick impression but for mmo’s I always considered this a little different. The repeated addage about mmo’s is that the game starts at end game, this is a well know and supported facet so why judge the beginning so quickly. The standard is to slowly gain skills over many levels before you get a taste of the true game but when you’re trying to get people outside the mmo playerbase then this needs to change.

      but how would they do it better? I was thinking maybe dump them in a open zone first, with a few range of skills then have some sort of event occur like those dark Anchor things that you fail and then get pulled into the dungeon area

  4. There’s a question of target audience here. Is it the MMO players, or the a Skyrim players? Yes, there’s overlap, but given that they’re utilizing the Elder Scrolls name, they’re deliberately inviting comparison. If they didn’t want that comparison, they would have given it a different name.

    • They maybe should have created a new ip for it but, I don’t doubt for a second that they’ll sell more boxes because of it. Like I said before, I don’t think the intention was to replace skyrim or to act as it’s substitute; they are probably continuing to work on the single player series. It’s an attempt to cash in on the apparent everything must be online craze that’s been going on for a while.

  5. For me this game will succeed or fail based on the merits of its Alliance versus Alliance gameplay. I don’t care if this game has 1 million subs or 100,000 – if my family and gaming circle like it I will play it and support it, regardless of how many MMO “connoisseurs” turn their noses up at it. I don’t like PvE anyway, but I’m tired of ladder PvP in WoW and the lack of meaningful world PvP in that game. Dark Age of Camelot did the tri-realm split very well – here’s hoping TESO can emulate their success. As a fan of open world PvP I’m willing to slog through boring quests to get to the end game, which hopefully will be quite fun and engaging. Furthermore there is no disconnect between PvE gear and PvP gear like there is in WoW – everything I do in PvE will have a net effect on the strength of my avatar in PvP, which will give me further incentive to go out and explore and get those quests done. Finally, I’m resolved to stay away from Wikis for the duration of the first PvP campaign (the first three months). I’m a min-maxer from habit, but I would like to preserve the integrity of the game world and explore it with my family and friends without breaking the fourth wall in our formative months in the game. My gaming circle loved Borderlands 2, and since my sister and her husband have never stepped foot in Tamriel I am looking forward to sharing the world with them. After the first three months though, it will be game on for AvA. :)

    It would be fair to say that I am already pre-disposed to TESO given the above, so I guess prejudices and bias works both ways. :)

    • I’m so excited for the AvA. Most of my guild, who are avid pvp players have already preordered after playing on the weekend. The older gamers where saying it definitely has elements that feel more like they are from DAoC but with a modern twist from games like GW2 in terms of the combat.

      I’m more an omnivorous player…I go for both PvE and PvP but PvP is definitely my main interest and well, I loved it. It’s still early days in terms of the game and getting an impression but my gut says WOOOOOOOO!

      I have to admit I was surprised and pleased that they didn’t make the split between pvp and PvE gear. Each of those have a specific set of bonuses you get from using and wearing related to the gameplay but it’s good to have that flexibility. I always hated those silly restrictive mechanics, It was the bane of my existence and just involves way to much grinding if you want to spread your interest around.

      I have to admit I’m not much of a min maxer. I do typically follow the meta after a time but usually with my own twist. It’s hard doing what you want though when your with a coordinated group with a certain amount of reliance on each other. You want to do your best and that means using those builds.

      I have a bias as well..hopefully I can keep that in check haha

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