ESO Marries Skyrim and MMOs, but the Relationship Seems Rocky…

Elder Scrolls Online is a great game... but it leaves die-hard Elder Scrolls and MMO players alike wanting something more.
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I remember when I first encountered Skyrim.  I bought it for my Playstation 3 on a whim and really liked it.  When I got a new laptop, the first game that I bought for it was Skyrim and seeing the graphics and playing it on my computer made me love it.  I logged countless hours and became completely obsessed.  I played all through Skyrim and downloaded some of the earlier games like Oblivion and Morrowind. I tried to convince friends to play it so I had people to talk to about the quests.

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I remember thinking, if only I could play this game with friends…

Then I heard about Elder Scrolls Online and I was just happy that I was going to be out of school when it finally launched March of this year, because I knew that it would take over my life.  But I feared that ESO wouldn’t live up to the best game that I ever played.

ESO is very different from its Elder Scroll predecessors.

Elder Scrolls Online begins with your character escaping from a daedric prison, realizing that your soul has been stolen by the daedric prince Molag Bal. Similar enough to the beginnings of the former games, you’re thrown into a crazy situation as a prisoner and must make your way back. 

And that’s where ESO began to lose me.  There is a moment in the Elder Scrolls games when you think, “This is completely new.  I’ve never been here before, and this is wonderful.” After playing through some of the game, I’m still waiting for it to be a completely new world and not an attempt at a multiplayer Skyrim. At times it feels like ESO is an MMO that has borrowed Skyrim’s robes, flaunting around like a child in his father’s clothes.

This is mostly due to wanting to appeal to both worlds: Skyrim-lovers and MMO-enthusiasts.

The MMO aspect really does get in the way sometimes, ruining the suspension of disbelief that goes along with high fantasy RPGs because of the very characteristics of MMO—the other people.

After leaving the daedric prison you and your new allies venture back to Tamriel where you are the Chosen One… along with all the other Chosen Ones wandering through the game and trying to complete the same quests.

It shatters the illusion that you are an important character—the lone savior of the realm

While playing Skyrim I sometimes forgot that everyone else did all the same quests to reach the end goal.  But it is impossible to feel this way in Elder Scrolls Online.

Solving puzzles becomes frustrating when people are scrambling around trying to complete the same puzzles.  Lockpicking faces its issues when you pause for a moment and the chest is taken by a different player. Other players swarm around targets and kill him before you have the chance to get a decent hit in. And when you do kill a target, it’s not like they stay down for long as other players come to defeat him and complete the quest as well.  The effect is very similar to when I worked a haunted house and kept pretending to attack and die, only to do it again a few minutes later when a new group of people came into the room. 

Creating the character is an amazing aspect, much like the earlier games, and you can take your character wherever you want to go, leveling up whatever skills you wish.  But there is also a problem to be had here where it connects to MMOs.  In MMOs you have guilds and groups of damage dealers, tanks, and healers which are determined by the player’s class—but this is not the case as everyone builds their characters in multiple directions for the most part.  So unless you have a set group of friends that you are playing with, group dungeons and attacks become more difficult than necessary and should be avoided.  Time that can never be taken back has been wasted with unnecessary player deaths that could have been prevented if more energy was spent on few skills rather than all of them.

But the MMO aspect of the game is not a wholly negative thing

The main redeeming quality of the game is the PvP aspect which is better than many other MMOs that I have encountered.  When playing Skyrim or any other game where the main enemies are AI, you can anticipate what a character is going to do next.  If you die while fighting, you come back and know what plan of attack the enemy is going to take.  But there is something so different with an MMO.  You can’t anticipate what another human being is going to do behind a computer screen miles away. 

Elder Scrolls Online is not Skyrim: Online, nor is it Elder Scrolls VI: Online; but it isn’t supposed to be.  The game appeals to both worlds but slightly falls short of its potential greatness.  It’s missing some of the spark that had me and everyone else falling in love with the previous Elder Scrolls games–but it should not be cast aside.  Despite its problems, it really is a great game, and with the first round of major updates on the horizon, it can only get better from here.

ESO Marries Skyrim and MMOs, but the Relationship Seems Rocky…
Elder Scrolls Online is a great game... but it leaves die-hard Elder Scrolls and MMO players alike wanting something more.

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Krystina Butler
The droid you're looking for. Mordor adventurer. Coffee ninja. Zombie scholar. Award-winning reader. Gaming evangelist.