The internet has been filled with reviews and thoughts on The Elder Scrolls Online. A surprising amount of them have been negative. Mine was one of the first to go live last Friday and though it was largely positive there are a few things about the game that just rub me the wrong way. None of these things are really big enough to keep me from playing so I didn’t really mention them in my review.
Call me a traditionalist if you like but I’m a big fan of the traditional MMORPG user interface. I like being at the center of the screen and using tab to find my next target. ESO could very much benefit from this. I found this to especially be true while trying out Nightblade. While tabbed targeting is still something you can do it doesn’t feel natural.
Which, when playing a teleporting assassin is important. The minimalist look of the UI looks great. It makes for a very clean screen. But it means you’re forced to go into menus for every little thing you want. A simple fix for me would be to make it so the UI was always visible and the chat box is solid so it isn’t so hard to read.
Now, I know I’m going to get a lot of flack for this. Especially from the female readers but you know what, I want boobs. I want to wear unrealistic armor. Maybe not chainmail bikinis, but I want to at least feel sexy. 90% of the armor I encountered in ESO left women as shapeless blobs. And while sure, that may appeal to some, there are still many people out there who enjoy the female form. Not to mention the crazy things roleplayers get up to.
Difficult to tell who is an NPC
One thing that bothers me about The Elder Scrolls Online more than anything else is that it is difficult to tell who is an NPC and who isn’t. Partly this comes down to there being no floating names above their heads which goes back to a complaint about the UI. It also leads me on to something else I don’t like about ESO which is explained at the end of this article.
Duplication of Effort….sometimes
Sometimes, in fact most of the time when you are teamed with someone your effort doesn’t count towards progress in their quest and their work doesn’t count towards the progress in your quest. That means if you’re teamed with someone and you need to flip a switch, you both have to flip that switch. Need to take something to stop hordes of undead? You both have to take it. For the majority of the game (up to level 15) grouping with someone is utterly pointless. If they were going to go this route they may as well have made it another single player game. Because this is how it feels.
This is reinforced by some instances in which teamed players cannot play together. There are many quests which you will enter and anyone you were teamed with is phased into another instance. You can see their arrow showing where they are but you aren’t actually with them. You’re forced to play through the instance alone.
Cost of Mounts
It may have only been a beta but the prices of mounts versus the amount of money I was making was insane. From the looks of it the hope Zenimax has is that you will reach level 50 before you ever consider a mount. Which to me rather defeats the purpose of having them.
It will especially be frustrating for those people who don’t go for the Imperial edition which comes with a mount for every character. Or perhaps this is a sign that mounts will feature heavily in an in game shop and that if you don’t want to pay real money for one you’ll be forced to wait. Neither of these ideas bode well for ESO.
While we’re on the topic of money there was an irritation that occurred to me, something I had never seen in an MMO before. I had used a wayshrine for fast travel from one zone I was in to get to another. It was only after I clicked it though that I realized I had gone to the wrong island. So I opened my map again only to find that what while travel had previously cost me about 70 gold it was now going to cost me hundreds! I sat there in shock for a few moments before noticing that as each second went by that number decreased by one gold.
This continued until it was back down to the normal 70ish gold to travel. It seemed to me at the time I was being punished for going to the wrong place. But the reality is that they don’t want you to use wayshrines to get around quickly. They want you to take the long road. Of course this makes sense, they want you to spend more time in the game they’ve made. But it seemed harsh to me.
Bookshelves are EVERYWHERE. And nearly all of them have a book to read. Which is great news! Who would say no to lore or lyrics to music? My problem is with where they’re found. Quite often they’re located in underground structures or in buildings with enemies. Sure, you can defeat that enemy, but because of the nature of the instance when it is possible you’ll run into random people doing the same thing as you it also means that things will respawn. Sometimes right on your face, while you’re reading. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the idea behind the books. I just wonder if there may have been another way to implement them.
The Elder Scrolls Online seems to have been made with the single player in mind above all else. This is especially apparent in the difficulty of the game. Take on a single enemy on your own? You have a little bit of a fight on your hands. Two people take on that same guy, easy town. Most of the time NPC mobs are no bigger than groups of three which will murder the face off a single player but two people can take on no problem. Being a married woman I naturally come with a gaming companion in my husband. There was no fight we couldn’t win. And this bothers me. I want a real fight. I want a challenge.
This is a game that was designed to be easily be played on a console or a PC. For this the MMORPG aspects of it suffer. That would be things like the UI, and social inclusion. But that isn’t what I’m going to talk about here. This space is all about the fact that PC players will never play with the people playing on the PS4 or the Xbox One. And in fact we have to suffer with design choices which were made for the consoles that make no sense for PC.
I personally am of the opinion that if we’re going to have to suffer we should at least be able to enjoy the company of the people we are suffering for.
Most of my complaints in this article really come down to one choice Bethesda made. The game is super realistic. In some ways this is awesome. It means we get JJ Abrahams style lens flair and flowers which can be used for crafting are mixed in with wildflowers seamlessly. But it also means that it is a very brown world. Armor can’t be dyed and most come in shades of silver, brown, or grey. And while it looks great because it is so realistic it also gets boring to look at. The realism of The Elder Scrolls Online is the cause of many of the complaints I have on this list.
As I said in the beginning, many of these complaints are minor and some of them are even a bit silly. But they all come together to make me love this game a little less. It is unlikely that any of these things will change but it is just as equally unlikely that this article will sway any opinions. And with the news earlier today that there would be no open beta I encourage everyone to sign up for the closed beta, snag those beta keys when they come up and try out The Elder Scrolls Online for yourself.