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.