Choose My Adventure: Dungeon diving in The Elder Scrolls Online


Pretty much everything I’ve done in The Elder Scrolls Online has been a delight, so I was going in to my chosen task for Choose My Adventure with a pretty high set of expectations. I’m pleased to report that they were all mostly met to my satisfaction, though it certainly wasn’t all unicorn kisses and rainbow butterflies.

The dungeons themselves aren’t the bugbear I’m referring to. As a matter of fact, the dungeons in The Elder Scrolls Online are generally quite good and continue to have that Dungeons & Dragons sort of feel that permeates this game overall. No, the biggest problem was the people I was running with. That’s not to suggest that they were mean, just indifferent or busy.

I suppose I can’t really be terribly surprised by this behavior: I’ve run in to it plenty of times in Final Fantasy XIV. Still, it would have been pretty nice if the generally relaxed pace of playing the game to this point also applied to the dungeons I ran, but that wasn’t the case. People clearly were very eager to do other stuff.

That’s not for a lack of trying to slow things down a bit on the part of ESO’s dungeons, mind you. There are quests that provide some manner of context to the things you’re doing while running around the instance. The problem is I wasn’t really allowed to absorb any of it, as either people had already blitzed through the dialogue to kick things off, or the group’s indifference to the exercise forced me to do the same. Considering I’ve really enjoyed taking in all of the quest steps of everything I’ve done, it was certainly a little jarring.

Again I stress that the people I teamed up with were fine enough, if generally silent. Even so, the contrast between exploring the island of Summerset and being flung into a high speed treadmill with a bunch of other in-game murder hobos like yours truly was palpable.

In spite of this issue, however, I managed to find the fun in the dungeon runs of ESO. What’s more, I actually felt like I was able to contribute some reasonable damage, which was a concern I was carrying with me from the very moment I entered the queue. Of course, being such a late arrival to the world of Tamriel, I probably wasn’t burning up the DPS charts by any stretch. Still, the skills I had to put down wide area DoTs seemed to help contribute to every group’s success, so consider me pleased with myself.

Despite that, there was still a discernible power gap between myself and my PUG mates. The game’s level syncing system still does its job well, and I still contend that I was a contribution to the group, but there still was that faintest sense that my lowly self was being carried like a hiker’s backpack and with about as much indifference. Maybe I’m reading between lines that aren’t there, but it was just a bit too easy.

As for the dungeons themselves, they were interesting enough when I did have the opportunity to take in the scenery instead of get led around the nose by impatient PUG members. The Queue Gods saw fit to put me in only a couple of different dungeons whenever my number was finally called, but they were suitably dungeon-y and thematic. They felt less like single direction hallways and more like pieces of architecture, like a level of design and detail went into their make. I appreciated that.

Perhaps these pick-up group experiences get better as I go later down the line, but overall I have to say that I enjoyed my time in the dungeon finder of ESO. I’m not walking away from things with a blown mind, but I’m also not harboring any horror stories or feeling like I’m wasting people’s time. Given three strangers I was effectively forced to meet and coalesce with in only a few minutes’ time, I can’t really ask for much more than that.

Ultimately, I’m happy to have made this return trip to Tamriel. I’ve had some good experiences with people, I’ve really enjoyed taking in the ambience of the game’s world, and I’ve taken my character through some really good adventures. Plus, I bought myself a swank little house under your direction. Net positive, really.

Most games in CMA have fallen a bit off to my personal wayside, but ESO will definitely stay part of my regular gaming diet. I absolutely want to take a look at what awaits me further down the leveling line. Maybe I’ll even get to bigger and better dungeons and won’t feel like a very gentle weight. Even if I don’t try to push the PvE envelope and just wander around the various zones slowly chewing on the side quests as I go, then I’ll be content.

I’m having such a good time in ESO, in fact, that I’m going to keep this round of voting for the game going for one more week. Basically, I’ve got an idea on where CMA will be headed to next and I pretty much am not ready to leave Tamriel yet. So, I’ll leave the choice of where to rumble around next up to you, the readers.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the heck out of Summerset, its content, and its views, but when I accidentally walked out of my new little house, I found myself in a completely different location known as The Rift which piqued my curiosity. So with that in mind, where to?

Where in Tamriel should I travel to next?

  • Stay in Summerset. You seem to be liking things fine. (35%, 37 Votes)
  • Go somewhere else. This orange has no more juice to provide. (65%, 69 Votes)

Total Voters: 106

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As ever, polling will close at 1:00 p.m. EST this coming Friday, February 22nd. I’ll be summarizing my overall feelings about The Elder Scrolls Online next week along with reporting in from wherever the polls lead me, but I’d like to provide thanks to everyone for guiding me along and making my return to Tamriel an overall pleasurable one. I also want to thank one Victor for mailing me some awesome new armor.

Until then, I’ve got more of Summerset to root around in.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Chris each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures – and you get to decide his fate. Which is good because he can often be a pretty indecisive person unless he’s ordering a burger.
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Maggie May

Morrowind and Clockwork city were my favorite zones outside of the main storyline.


Go to Davons Watch and start the Pact storyline.

Mr Funktastic

Honestly, “PUGs just want to rush through everything” is something that could be said about just about every MMO I’ve ever played. Though, I will admit that the fact that ESO usually tries to put quests, story-content, and NPCs to talk to, inside its dungeons does make the problem a little worse, here.

At this point, since I’m mostly a content solo player who occasionally ques for dungeons and PvP, I’ve pretty much just accepted that I’ll never fully understand what’s actually going on in some of ESO’s dungeons.


Go elsweyr. not only summerset

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Jebus, throughout this entire CMOA I’ve had to recheck the author to make sure it wasn’t actually me.

I have the exact same issue with ESO’s dungeons. They’re so fast and anonymous that I don’t get any context as to what’s going on or why I should care.

WoW gets a lot of flack for this sort of thing, but in truth it does a much better job of letting you enjoy the dungeon environments than ESO.


I’ve never seen an mmo where dungeons didn’t turn into this. Once you have run them a hundred times it becomes rote.

COH had it with their task forces, so much so I believe there were achieves for finishing faster.

Even DDO which prides itself on a somewhat randomized dungeon, like random trap placement, still had folks just haul ass through the dungeons. I heard at higher level it was a little more difficult since triggering a trap or ambush could be deadly.

The problem is quite frankly, dungeons. They are static, never changing and never surprising.

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The roteness (that’s a word, right?) is part of it. But there’s also the sheer speed that you blow through the map, as well as how the story is presented.

To use WoW as a positive example, their dungeons enemy groups tend to take longer to defeat, and any quest/lore related stuff is either handed before you actually set foot (“venture into Freehold and beat everyone up!”) or voice-overs as you move through it (“Good job beating up Soandso, now onto Whatshisname!”).

I can tell you the names, general appearance, and voice of basically every dungeon boss in WoW’s current content. In ESO… not even close.


Yah they are pretty plain. Still though run em enough and you remember em.

Fungal Grotto which is the go to if you just want to run a random for daily random rewards. ESO has this thing which allows you to sign up for a random, then once everyone is in, port over to Fungal Grotto and still get the daily reward.

Some folks call it a cheat but ESO has known about it for forever and either doesn’t want to or cant fix it.

So I know most of Fungal Grottos bosses but not by name but that’s about it.

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Alex Willis

I did NOT give dungeons a fair shot when I first stated playing ESO, and in retrospect I can see that this really hurt my long-term interest in the game. However, since returning (for the third time), I decided to give them my full attention. And what a great decision that has been. I am loving dungeon play, and the rewards the game gives you for them are very achievable and worth pursuing. (The grind does not feel very acute, given the other things the game throws at you that are still worthwhile getting.)

As for the culture of dungeon-running: while it’s not speed-running, I can definitely understand Chris’s point about the “business-like” method most PUGs will approach the game mode. Honestly, if taking your time and focusing on lore is your interest, your best bet should be a guild and asking them to run it with you. Thankfully, ESO is level-graded to make running any dungeon worth it for a player of almost any level, so there is incentive for even high-CP guildies to run it. I’ve been on the receiving end of this patience and beneficence with my guild and it has really done wonders for my enjoyment of dungeons.

Long story short: do dungeons every day (especially random normals), and if you want to focus on the quests, sign up with a guild who will take the time to do them with you.


Last point cannot be stated enough! A good guild(or 4) can make a huge difference


Yeah, PUG dungeoning is soul crushing.

Find a good guild.

Also, might I suggest Morrowind. It really does have that feel. Just stay away from the Sun-in-Shadows questline …cause reasons. :/

blah blazh

One of the reasons why I never do dungeons in MMOs anymore, I absolute hate the PUGs in almost every game. And since I have no online friends, I pretty much play alone and PUGs are the only avenue for me for any group content.