The Elder Scrolls Online MMO Log: I Suppose I Should Be Playing

The Elder Scrolls Online MMO Log: I Suppose I Should Be Playing

In preparation for our full review of The Elder Scrolls Online, each week I’ll be presenting a journal of what I’ve been doing in the game. Except for the previous two weeks, because those logs would have been boring.

There’s a simple explanation for why I hadn’t played enough of The Elder Scrolls Online to fill out MMO log entries over the past several weeks, but I am going to make it as complicated as possible.

Reason One — Time Constraints: I’ve been incredibly busy over the past three weeks, working on large projects, taking care of children as my wife deals with a strange scheduling situation at work, and handling my everyday duties. There’s always the weekend (which for me is Thursday and Friday), but that’s for napping.

Reason Two — Bad Timing: The urge and time to play have been coming together at the oddest times. I’ll grab a drink, clear my slate for a few hours, slip on my headphones and dammit, I forgot there was maintenance today. There was once instance where I got in, found a party for the Banished Cells group dungeon, and then a message popped up telling us the servers were going down. The worst timing.

Reason Three — The Banished Cells: I spent many of the rare moments I managed to play standing in front of the Banished Cells group dungeon, trying to get into a well-balanced part. My main is a Nightblade — a damage-focused class. He does not heal, nor is he equipped to take on a huge amount of enemy attention. He is not a party requirement, like a tank or a healer, so he spends a lot of time running about killing the random giant bats that spawn outside of the dungeon and crying.

I did manage to get into a group last night though, and we attempted the dungeon twice — first with just two Nightblades, which went horribly, and then with a party of four, none of which were healers and one of which was named “Poonbane the Joohunter.” It went as well as expected. Mind the video, it repeats.

Reason Four — Alts, Alts, Alts: After trying crafting, a seemingly-involved process requiring running about harvesting things without falling asleep in your chair (oops), I opted to partake of one of my favourite massively-multiplayer online role-playing game pastimes — making several alts, most of which I will never play again.

The Elder Scrolls Online MMO Log: I Suppose I Should Be Playing

Of the three additional characters, only Adharsuil the Sorcerer is a keeper. I’m really enjoying magic in the game — the effects, the strategies, the effects some more — and I can’t wait to experience how powerful area-of-effect spells are in player-versus-player combat. Just hope they don’t institute some sort of ill-advised AOE nerf before I get there.

The alts have given me a chance to see some more of the world, at least. I still think it’s gorgeous for an MMO, especially now that giant mushrooms have come into play.

Reason Five — Pressure: I know, it’s not a proper, Bethesda-developed game in The Elder Scrolls universe, but there are enough similarities that I want to play The Elder Scrolls Online the way I’ve played other games in the series — on my own terms. I want to be free to explore the entire world, from coast-to-coast, but ramping enemy strengths (and sometimes physical barriers) prevent me from doing so.

I’d love to be able to play in the world for a few hours and then put it down for a bit, returning to it on a rainy day when the kids are at their grandparents’ house, but this is not that sort of game. I’m paying $US14.95 a month for this, and if I put it down and come back to it later, time does not stop. The world is on a 30-day time, and I feel pressured to make the most of it — and when I feel pressured, I tend to rebel.

It happens in the other MMORPG’s I have played as well, but the difference is they weren’t built to evoke a fabulous solo experience I’ve had time and time again over the years. The Elder Scrolls Online really makes me want to load up Skyrim one last time.

Reason Six — I’m Bored: Possibly the biggest reason. Perhaps I should have led with it.

Have you ever found yourself incredibly attracted to a person — going out of your way to get to know them, making excuses to be near them, that sort of thing — only to discover once you are with them they’re really just kind of empty inside? Maybe a little dumb? Completely unable to maintain a conversation?

That’s how I’ve been feeling about The Elder Scrolls Online so far. I want to play it. I want to find it fascinating and exciting. I want to experience things I’ve never experienced in an MMORPG before. I enter the game with enthusiasm and vigor, but soon I’m just walking through the woods again.

There is still plenty for me to do in The Elder Scrolls Online. There are levels to gain, players to attempt to slay (likely failing miserably), new lands to explore and group dungeons to finally overcome once I find a group with heals. I’m not giving up on the game — I have no plans to. Just because I am underwhelmed thus far doesn’t mean there’s not plenty of room for additional whelm.

MMORPG reviews are not built in one day. For major MMORPG releases like The Elder Scrolls Online, Kotaku spends several weeks playing the game, delivering progress reports each week leading up to the full review.


  • Yeh, I gave up on it within the month. It feels too laggy and unresponsive on my crappy Australian connection, and it started feeling a bit drab again. The environments, while beautiful in parts, felt very same same. Came to miss the crazy variety that games like WoW and GW2 provided with their unashamed cartoon fantasy visuals.

  • I stopped playing last week (at least for a while). The PvE design makes it quite difficult to play with friends who have made slightly different quest choices, or help lower level players with quests, or just play socially in general. We were pushed into different phases too frequently and my companions reduced to floating triangles. For an MMO it’s certainly a lonely experience.

    This wouldn’t be so bad if they got solo play right, but paradoxically the swarming mass of random players interested only in playing solo ruins my attempts to do likewise. In my opinion, ESO tries very hard to deliver both group and solo play but doesn’t really succeed at either.

    There is some really great stuff in ESO, but it’s lost in the more unrefined systems. I’ll definitely try the game again in another 6 months or so once a few design quirks have been (hopefully) smoothed over.

    • This is easily my biggest issue with the game. I am currently lvl 36. I enjoy the game quite a bit but the dead inside assholes running around who just ignore your cries for help or your role play is beyond belief. It makes sense however considering the pedigree of the series.

      People are used to play Elder Scrolls games solo, so when it comes time to interact they consist of dead stares and silence. It’s very frustrating. Add in to that that you can’t actually party up to do questing and that sometimes you are phased out of other group mates instance makes for an annoying experience sometimes.

      There are a few other things wrong with the game but another big one for me is that it’s a unabashed theme park MMO. There is nothing sandbox about it except perhaps the economy.

      Example. I came across a lizard racing ring in the deserts of Alik’r. I thought, “Awesome! I will be able to race lizards against my friends and bet against them, this is SO COOL!”. I did the obligatory quest in that area, eager to get racing my mates… Oh… The quest is over? That’s it?

      It’s things like this that are just missed opportunities for immersion and social interaction that make MMOs GREAT.

    • Totally agree. Ive given up on social or party play – it never f kn works and just ends up frustrating the hell out of out group of mates. Ive stuck with it as they have all departed.

      Nothing is dynamic – its all so scripted. Its all quest/quest/quest. GW2 really leads the way and if only ESO had added to this idea and run with it.

      Any skill they say. Any weapon they say. Open classes they say…then you hit the dungeons and find that you really really needed that dedicated tank and healer – so all my groups proceed to die and die again due to bosses that dont scale or change with group composition.

      Explore they say – sure you might find a quest but never a cool secret cave system or a dynamic vista or easter egg – after a while u dont even bother climbing a mountain peak or even bother to climb a tower…

      Theres a reason why WoW and GW2 (even NWN/Rift) are currently the most popular mmos – and you need to copy and then build on those ideas if you wish to charge a subscription. Dont redesign the wheel if it isnt broken ffs.
      Zenimax lead designers really show they were not up to the task – must be inexperience.

      Not chat bubbles could be excused if they had added earshot VOIP like arma but it ends up feeling very isolated and hard to communicate – most of the emotes dont even make a sound…

      Crafting is useless – im lvl 46 and looking back cannot see why i bothered. I should have just sold everything and used the money to buy the gear I want/or the mats to another person. At no point in 40 plus levels could I make something that was better than the quests drops unless I wasted “upgrade mats” that end up selling for 10 times the item u could make with them. Stupid design choice.

      No AH. instead u must be in 5 super guilds (which I am) and u can then only sell 30 items on each…and with the sheer volume of bag clutter…wtf. What morons made these design choices. Theres a reason games have moved on from the original Lineage style market.

      Repairs! Why bother when its always cheaper to either buy a replacement or just use a quest item, levelling it doesnt matter what u wear – makes no difference.

      Spend HUGE gold to respec!! WTF. U told me I could try out any weapon or armour but then in the harder dungeons you clearly show that the standard archetypes are what will succeed- but then make it ridiculous to respec or to try other specs out…. What a crazy design choice that some lead developer who is stuck in 2005 thought would be a good idea…

      Cant wait for all these “modern” quality of life game design features to be added to this game. Combat can really feel like fun and visceral – its the only saving grave atm, but it badly needs a better inventory and badly needs dynamic events that bring the map community together and give an alternative to the quest levelling that gets very boring. Heres hoping 6 months will fix this mess. I really really want to like this game but theres just so many lead design choices that are woeful. How did so many bad decisions make it to release. And Im not alone..

  • Pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to who has played the game has told me it’s boring. You should have led with that point like you said, your earlier points seem more like your not suited for the MMO genre in general.

  • Same boat, played it for maybe 5 hours, was bored by it, got a refund. The lag wasn’t terrible enough for me to have a bad experience, it was just a boring game. Might be because I didn’t reach the PVP part of the game, but grinding my way through it was just not worth it. Was never a fan of MMO’s to begin with though, only got it because Elder Scrolls. Will just wait for the next game in the series to get my fix.

  • Poor timing for me, mostly. I’ve not had either the chance to play and the inclination to play hit me at the same time for a couple of weeks. First two weekends I played heaps, and I enjoyed my time (bugged quests notwithstanding). The next weekend I was attending a wedding; the following weekend I was on a family holiday, and this past weekend was just after the release of Dark Souls 2. Work’s been exhausting these past two weeks, too, so I’ve just spent my evenings playing Rocksmith for a couple of hours, and catching up on my youtube subs.

    As an annoying side-effect of my other social commitments (not a phrase I ever thought I’d make, tbh – more of a hermit crab than a social butterfly am I) – I made a couple of friends online, but after three weekends away, they’re all likely veteran rank by now (hell, after one weekend away, one was ten levels ahead of me, the other VR2). So, because of social commitments, I can’t play with the people I enjoyed playing with until I either catch up, or hit veteran rank. I suppose, being a healer, I’ll find other people to group with… if enthusiasm and opportunity once again align…

  • I havent even bothered with it just because of the glorious game that is dark souls 2.
    That and the fact everyone is talking about how boring it is and I can see where they are coming
    from. I played the betas and quickly grew bored with the game. I guess it is hard to hold TESO
    against all the other MMO’s I have played in the past.

  • Played the beta and from then I knew it wasn’t for me.

    When I play any Elder Scrolls game (Morrowind, Oblivion or Skyrim, though I have played since Daggerfall) I like to get fully immersed and I play VERY slow! I think Skyrim I spent most of my time playing crouching/sneaking LOL I play full stealth and also with bows and I just couldn’t get this play style to work in ESO so crossed it off my list.

  • I also gave up within the month as it was just too laggy to play from Australia. Dungeons were especially terrible, my character would freeze for around 3 seconds whenever the tank pulled especially large mob groups whilst the other people who were Americans just ran around at full speed. They really shouldn’t have been selling this game in Australia as the latency due to geographical distance makes the game unplayable. If it wasn’t for this I would have kept on playing as I enjoy immersive fantasy rpg games.

    • I have not experienced this at all, I have a feeling this is more a problem with your PC or connection, rather than the game. I’ve done close to 15 instance runs, and aside from BC being bugged in the first couple of days (since fixed, along with pretty much all quest/instance bugs) I have not had any problems with lag or freezing up.

      • My pc and connection are fine. I play World of Warcraft on US servers fine with no delay or lag of any kind. Maybe the freezing is ESO server side but the general lag is there, you may not notice it because you are so used to playing games with high ping but I have played mmo’s in the UK on 18ms connections and I can tell this game plays slow. There is always a short delay between pressing an instant ability button and my character doing the ability which is made worse in comparison to other mmo’s because you can’t line up abilities and there are many real time combat features (blocking, interrupting, dodging). Twice now I’ve gone up to a mining node to mine and another player arriving around a half second later has immediately mined the node in front of me, which is to be expected when I play at 240ms against others on 13ms.

  • Based on games I have played extensively (WoW, GW1 and GW2, Rift), I don’t find it too grindy, easy, or boring. I did find GW2 boring, and this article pretty much sums up my feelings towards GW2 but not ESO. It’s more difficult than WoW (I actually died before level 30), the targeting system is refreshing vs the tabbed target other games use.

    I think many people put ESO down because either they compare it to single player ES/skyrim games, or were not big MMO fans to begin with or it’s too “hard” for them because they were expecting an easy-mode game like WoW. It’s none of those, compare features of the games (crafting vs crafting, pvp vs pvp, talent system vs talent system etc), not the whole game vs game.

    It does have its downsides, some were mentioned in this article.
    Lag has been bad for me at times, it’s gotten much better this week.
    Some quests are bugged (some major ones which block progression)
    I don’t agree it’s difficult to find groups to run dungeons, being in a guild has its advantages.
    The anchors looked exciting, but were a huge letdown for me, far too easy and not nearly as epic as the “RIFTS” in Rift were.

    I don’t find I need to play it everyday like WoW, I can take my time, explore, work on crafting etc.

  • I’m having an absolute blast with ESO, and I don’t get why so many people couldn’t get into it. Like any MMO, if you only play for a few hours you’re making a decision after seeing probably 1% of the game.

    The quest lines are really clever and engaging, which is a welcome change from the ‘collect 10 yeti hides’ that I see in other games. I actually find myself reading and listening to all the dialogue, reading all the books and notes left around and getting into the storyline more than in any other MMO. The character development (the various skill lines), is easily the best I’ve seen, and I’ve been playing MMOs non-stop since UO. It’s so flexible that you’ll rarely see people playing classes the same way, yet they’ve managed to make all the various specs work. The environments are amazing and really feel alive in the way that they’ve scattered content around. And I love the way that I’m not just spamming through quest text and then following a marker on my map. I can run off and explore and I’ll find a world boss, an open dungeon, an interesting quest, a secret crafting station, etc. The combat is awesome fun, you block, dodge, interrupt, do power attacks and do quick attacks all with your weapon. Then you throw two sets of skills on top of that. You end up rolling out of AEs, blocking enemy power attacks, following up with your own power attacks, switching between weapons, leaping between enemies interrupting spell casts, etc. You don’t get to properly experience this until you’ve unlocked your second weapon set at 15.

    I’ve read so many comments on here and on other sites from people that have played for a few hours and decided they don’t like it, which I think is a real shame. It’s one of those games that just gets better and better, three plus weeks in and that new MMO sheen is not even close to wearing off. I really haven’t experienced the same issues around grouping that others have, and I barely notice the ping playing in Australia.

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