Finding A Groove: ESO

For the past week or so the only game I’ve been playing on my PC is The Elder Scrolls Online. That’s not to say that I have played every day, and it’s not to say that I’m obsessed with the game, but I’ve been logging in and continuing progress and that’s more than I can say about many MMOs these days.

In an attempt to write something of substance rather than just “I did this” or “I beat this game,” I thought it would be nice to write something more in the vein of Bhagpuss, where I have some deeper thoughts about something and splash some pretty pictures in between.  A decade ago, I was living and breathing MMOs, to the point where I played every day when I could, and would jot down notes and thoughts while I was at work in order to write out blog posts about the games I was playing. It was mainly Everquest 2 back in those days, but there have been a smattering of other MMOs that I’ve played over the years, but I never stick with one title for long and most of the time I take a short tour to have something to write about and then move on.

I find that one of the biggest draws to ESO for me is the fact that its set in the same world as the rest of The Elder Scrolls series. Having familiar races and places makes a difference and makes me want to explore. Honestly, this isn’t much different than playing a single player TES RPG; you’re still the hero that saves the day and there’s still at ton of quests and places to explore.

One of the issues I took with the game back when I first played it was that it really didn’t feel like it was necessary to have an Elder Scrolls MMO. Most people I knew that had played Skyrim really just wanted to be able to play Skyrim with a couple of friends. Those I had talked to about it thought that a traditional TES game with some co-op functionality would have been better and I tended to agree with them. Having returned to the game after some changes have been made, I find that this feels like that. The game is alive and well, and I find myself running about in solo mode completing various tasks and for random people to just be in the area and helping out to take down harder mobs without the need to group up or even have a conversation. I imagine it would be just as easy to play PvP in the same way or to finish up higher level content. Now that everything scales it seems like you could literally group with anyone and do anything.

It seems though that despite the fact that what I’m doing is still basically the same shit I would be doing in Skyrim, but instead of doing it alone it’s in a shared world, it still affects my attitude towards the game. The simple fact that this is an MMO means I don’t read quest text, I just click through things and on to the next kill ten rats quest because all I care about is vertical progression and not the story. Sure, the game is beautiful and there are some great sights to see. I rather enjoy the combat (though it sucks a bit when you get some lag). There’s just something in me that says “who cares” when it comes to the story that they are pushing at me.

It doesn’t make sense, when in Skyrim I would read the quest text and be enthralled by the things I was doing throughout the game. It felt epic and felt like I was the only person in that world who could complete these tasks. In a shared world, you are still force fed this storyline where you are the “one true hero” but you also see other people doing the same thing you are and at the end of the day it feels less special. But that doesn’t make it less fun.

What I’m trying to get at here is that I’ve found a groove and I’m enjoying myself in an MMO for the first time in a long time. Despite having made a return trip to Norrath at the beginning of the year, I still didn’t really feel at home and honestly the game’s aging graphics take away from the experience. The gorgeous visuals of ESO make me want to play it more, and the fact that I see people everywhere I go makes it feel more alive than other fantasy MMO worlds I’ve participated in as of late. Despite feeling a certain way towards MMOs for the past few years, I feel like this one is getting its hooks into me, and I don’t have the guilt of wasting subscription time at this point because I’m so low level that I’m still working through original game content. I may subscribe at some point just for the perks and all the DLCs but for now I’m happy with this feeling of having something to work towards. A strange relationship I have with MMOs, indeed.

7 thoughts on “Finding A Groove: ESO

  1. “The simple fact that this is an MMO means I don’t read quest text, I just click through things and on to the next kill ten rats quest because all I care about is vertical progression and not the story. Sure, the game is beautiful and there are some great sights to see. I rather enjoy the combat (though it sucks a bit when you get some lag). There’s just something in me that says “who cares” when it comes to the story that they are pushing at me.”

    I find that part very interesting. I still do not understand: why do so many people play MMOs as if they were a race? Usually the game’s still around for quite a while. (Yea. Sorry Wildstar… ) You’re not winning anything by doing quests faster. Especially in ESO, where you basically at any level can do most of the content. Also, the XP you get is the same, no matter if you skip the text or not. 🙂

    Would you be a group player and want to join trials in a hurry, then leveling up quickly could matter for you. After all, veteran dungeons and trials don’t scale you up, your actual level matters there. But that’s clearly not the game you play. I developed the habit of reading all the texts and usually even listening to all the voice acting. Sure, it’s quality is not as consistent as in good old TSW. A good part of the voice acting sounds like right out of drama school, full of overacting, while other parts are rather well made. No matter the voice acting, much of the writing in ESO actually is good, albeit often quite tragic. More than once, I had to make decisions in the game, where neither of them were desireable. You only can pick what you consider to be “least worst”.

    So yea. Not all stories are good. Some zones and their stories are utterly predictable. Others have nice twists and turns, and some very interesting and loveable NPCs, too. (Most commonly mentioned for that: Razum-dar. ) It took me a while, but I learned to play ESO like a classical Elder Scrolls game (as long as I play alone, that is), and it became all the better for that. 🙂

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    • I feel like you read into what I said a little too much. It’s more about not caring about the storylines in MMOs because they are mostly garbage, and only enjoying the vertical progression in this style of game. In single player games, story is king and it’s more about the journey than the destination. I’m not saying I want to race to the level cap at all, I just don’t really care about what is being said (though I do appreciate that they gave so much attention to the voice acting unlike most games in the genre). If you’ve been playing MMOs since the 1990’s, you’re probably bored of quest text too.


      • Hmm, yea. I tend to interpret to much, sorry for that.

        On when I started, yea. That might be the difference, I only started with MUDs (Multi User Dungeons)in spring 1995, no MMOs around yet at that time. Only later people added graphical clients to create MMOs, old school MUDs were all text. 🙂


  2. I’ve played a few hours of it, but I just can’t bring myself to be that interested. I LOVE Elder Scrolls, so I want so badly to play this game and get another fix, but I don’t like MMOs and it just won’t “click” with me.

    This post makes me want to *maybe* try again eventually, possibly…

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    • Well the good news in that TESVI is in development, so hopefully we’ll have a new game to sink our teeth into within the next couple of years. This is a pretty good substitute. Just play the game solo, it’s easy to jump in and do a few things here and there and still gives a pretty good TES fix.

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    • You still might like to try ESO. All the story can be done solo. Actually almost all open world content can be done solo. Just switch off the chat and you’re good to go.

      Only once a while, there’s a world boss which might be too much for you. (They can be soloed, but they need a bit of character optimization. ) Sure there is group content, but it’s really optional. And the game is buy2play. Yes, they want extra money for expansions and DLCs, but that’s normal for all games. But the base games content is good for quite a while, at a rather low price.

      So at least for me, most of the time (as long as I don’t care for group content) ESO really has the feeling of older ESO games I played. Other players are just a slight variation of NPCs, as long as you don’t get involved in group content. 🙂

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