Perfect Ten: The top 10 things to love about Elder Scrolls Online

    
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And again.

Having finally clicked hard with Elder Scrolls Online this winter, I find that it’s difficult to restrain myself from gushing about pleasant discoveries (and rediscoveries) from this fantasy MMORPG. I’ve got my lizard Warden riding a bear and fielding a bear (with a bear vanity pet), carving a legend for myself in this wide-open world of Tamriel.

As I always love hearing what people appreciate about games that they’re getting into, I thought I’d devote this column today to simply sharing 10 things that I really like about Elder Scrolls Online. These might not be revelations to you, but I think they’re worth relaying even still to paint a picture of a full package.

The graphics

While nobody can argue that Elder Scrolls Online is cutting-edge in the graphics department and will melt your card to slag, it is a very, very pretty game. Having an attractive world to explore is a big bonus, let me tell you. While I’m more than willing to lower my expectations for visuals in MMOs as long as good gameplay is present, I’m not going to complain when a title feeds me delicious eye candy as well.

The level-agnostic design

I wasn’t that big of a fan of how the single-player Elder Scrolls games would scale content up and down to your character’s level, but in the MMO, it works so well. The One Tamriel change delivered the entire game on a platter to players, giving them the freedom of choice in where they quested and who they quested with, all without having to worry that they’d get in over their heads by wandering into the wrong zone.

Dungeon diving

My previous forays into Elder Scrolls Online skirted around most multiplayer content. I always get really nervous about going into MMO dungeons until I just gird my loins and do it. And having taken that step in ESO, I’ve found that there’s a lot to like. The dungeons have an interesting visual design and aren’t especially that long, making a random queue part of my daily experience.

Content and questing

The real meat and potatoes of ESO, at least to me, is the enormous buffet of incredible quests that it has. Instead of trying to drown us in a flood of mindless tasks, this MMO’s approach was to deliver fewer quests but to have them be longer, more story-driven, and usually part of an arc. And there are still a whole lot of them, from the main storylines to smaller missions to dailies. I get giddy when I think of how many quests I have left to do, because I know that so many of them will be great experiences.

Skills

While ESO’s combat is, in my opinion, the weakest point of the game, at least this title allows me to tailor my character with the flexible mix-and-match skill system. In addition to the main three skill lines of every class, there are so many other lines — guilds, weapon skills, non-combat professions — that making up a build is a lot more interesting than what I first assumed. And while they’re one-trick ponies, morphs are really cool, too.

Antiquities

The big side-system that came with Greymoor last year ended up being a nice net plus to the game’s overall package. Antiquities offers an alternative to questing and dungeon diving as players solve mini-games to uncover dig sites. These hold all sorts of goodies, including vendor trash, housing decorations, mounts, and mythic items. It’s something I enjoy doing when I have a few spare minutes here and there.

The humor

ESO continually surprises me with its humor, which isn’t as punny as World of Warcraft’s or as odd as Final Fantasy XIV’s. There are some seriously weird people, daffy situations, and hilarious quotes that pop up from time to time. I was laughing my head off when I got initiated into a guild and the NPCs were making horrible jokes at my presumed imminent death from adventuring.

Recurring characters

Something I’ve come to love in MMORPGs is when developers reuse NPCs over the course of a player’s journey. That’s certainly present here, as I continually encounter a recurring cast of characters, from a loony prophet to a thief who keeps popping out of the shadows to a well-intentioned but woefully misinformed ambassador. I feel like I really get to know them this way. And I also love how the scripting in this game brings these characters to life, because they’re not always standing stock-still waiting in desperation for somebody to talk to them.

Housing

While I’m not sold on the awkward placement tools in ESO, I’m beyond delighted that the game has a housing system, period. It’s a pretty good one, too, allowing players to purchase all sorts of apartments and homes and outfit them with furniture, pets, and even the occasional follower. And, to my delight, I can own more than one abode at a time!

The community

While there are always bad seeds in any online game, Elder Scrolls Online’s community has been top-notch in my experience. Guilds seem mature and welcoming, and I’ve encountered so many great players who make playing a joy. I haven’t even had a bad pick-up dungeon group yet, which is shocking on a whole different level!

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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Elf butts

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Hurbster

Fundamentally, it’s a great game.

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Bruno Brito

My breakdown:

The Graphics.

– The Good: Zones are gorgeous indeed. Verdant caves are the best, zones with lots of crystals and rainbow-like caverns are a sight to behold.

– The Bad: Character animations are dogshit. Reverse Slice spin is a ballerina strike that would get you killed in real combat. Flurry has the same stabbing animation for every weapon you use, which means if you use axes or maces, you stab with them, which i don’t need to say: It’s really dumb. Characters run with their gravity center so far forward that i feel like they’re almost doing the Naruto ninja run, or competing for the faceplanting world record.

One Tamriel.

– The Good: It literally made ESO a exploration-heavy game, which is always a plus in my book. Being able to level ANYWHERE is great. More games should do it.

– The Bad: A huge part of ESO endgame gearing comes from you collecting overland/dungeon/crafted sets. Which means if you do a zone below CP 160/Level 50, you’ll end up getting weaker versions of your needed items and you’ll need to grind them. That defeats the purpose of being able to quest anywhere.

Dungeon Diving.

– The Good: Eh.

– The Bad: I mean, it’s RDF. Nothing more, nothing less. ESO Random Finder tools are notoriously bugged almost all the time, making queues a chose. Other than that, metagaming makes everyone race dungeons, and they’re a breeze. They’re fun, but not that fun.

Quests.

– The Good: It’s basically ESO’s strong point. Questing is this game is a bliss. So much fun stuff, and zone story always make it the sieged zones more violent and cool. Liberating a village and that village becoming a new hub is cool. Makes you feel heroic, specially when people thank you.

– The Bad: Other than the borderline tedium that is crossing zones, not much. Questing really is the best part of ESO.

Skills.

– The Good: ESO combat system really is the weak part of the game, but it’s strong, when compared to other MMOs ( which is a really sad point for me to make ). Being able to play how you want and solo everything just by a combination of gear and skills is fun. Specially for me, who play one-bar builds ( fuck weapon-swap ).

– The Bad: It’s still a really bad combat system, even with a great skill system. Animation Canceling is rampant and lags the game. The game desyncs like insanity, specially on specific zones like Cyrodiil. Skills lack impact, outside of some specific ones ( Uppercut/Reverse Slice for instance ). It’s more of a personal point here, but i don’t think having a good skill system makes up for how awful ESO combat is. ESO buff/debuff system is also REALLY bad, and having to weaponswap just for rebuffing, and keeping track of 1min buffs is mindnumbling dull. I really don’t get why they don’t went a bit more standard with that, and just gave CDs to buffs or lasting buffs, like other MMOs. Specially considering that the game lacking CDs ALSO contribute to the terrible lag.

Antiquities.

– I can’t speak for this system. Never tried, don’t have the DLC.

The Humor.

– The Good: Yeah, it’s fun when it gets to you. The game has great characterization, and a lot of the funny characters keep being funny. Razum-dar, Darien and Sheoggorath are great.

– The Bad: Nothing much. ESO voicework and storytelling is top notch, hence why i find questing the best part of the game.

Recurring Characters.

– The Good: Yes. It’s a constant and i love it. They also remember you. A lot of the characters deserve the spotlight they get because it’s a waste to just toss them aside. It also gives you the feel of a story evolving as you progress through the zones.

– The Bad: Again, not much here.

Housing.

– The Good: It’s expansive and beautiful. It’s a great system that most MMOs should have, and ESO has a great version of it.

– The Bad: It’s literally one of the most cost-prohibitives systems in the game. ESO is known for being terrible at allowing you to do stuff outside of subbing, even if the game is P2P. Houses are really expensive, the small apartments you get have limits for furniture, which means everything you collect ends up clogging your inventory or bank, you need to craft for some furniture which is also cost-prohibitive and clogs your inventory, etc etc.

The Community.

– My experience was a bit different. While i didn’t had any bad outliers per se, i noticed some really bad habits from the community and i blame some game systems for it:

1- The game fosters artificial guild camaraderie. I found that their guild system is so convoluted and rides so high on activity, that every guild i met was begging their players to participate, donate and such. Which i get the point, i found it too much. Being afk for 3 days was enough to being gkicked.

2- The lack of an AH is defended with fiery steel within the community. Again, while i get the point, it decentralize the market, and makes it less prone to manipulation, not having at least a central search engine makes it awful to look for stuff. Whoever used ESO’s AH system, knows it’s FUCKING GARBAGE. At least make a goddamn search system so we can localize the vendors in the game and go to them.

Other than that, it’s a normal MMO community. Can’t complain much.

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Bereman99

It’s more of a personal point here, but i don’t think having a good skill system makes up for how awful ESO combat is.

Have to agree – at best, it makes the combat bearable.

The necessity (as pushed by the community) to do animation canceling, the bonkers decision to have heavy attacks restore resources which just feels…off…and then the various other issues you list.

Honestly, it’s the single main issue that keeps me from playing it more often.

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Bruno Brito

I am completely for a combat rework, from the ground up. Add cooldowns to the game, make buffs last longer, take heavy attacks out, fix animation canceling, give us other ways of regenerating resources, and make your damage come out of skills.

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Ben Stone

Agreed. Combat is what keeps me away from this game. I really, really, really hate pretty much everything about combat in this game, aside from the morphs and spec building.

The buff/debuff system needs to die in a fire, its tedious rather than challenging. Swapping hotbars and buffing constantly is immersion breaking for me and just annoying. I want to build my characters with some coherence, not just spam the same buffs as everyone else. Same issue I have with GW2.

In limited hotbar games I think it would be better if buffs / debuffs were just attached to longer cooldown attacks or ultimates, used for burst windows. Noone wants to spam them every 10-20 seconds.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Which means if you do a zone below CP 160/Level 50, you’ll end up getting weaker versions of your needed items and you’ll need to grind them.

Actually, with the chests to unlock all over, and the random Thieves Guild boxes too, you actually can find the gear ‘over time’ in the zone at level, without ‘grinding’. It’s just annoying to have to run circles around/waste time trying to find em all (Which some people may consider grind, so I’ll give you that), especially with the randomness of the boxes loot. But yeah, you can also run delve bosses for the pieces, which would fit your ‘grind’…most people just run through totally ignoring everything just to hit the boss. I saw a lot of it. Not sure what World Bosses/Dolmens give(I never actively did any), but you could probably find some gear from those too, and there’s constantly people thwacking away on those.

I hit max on multiple characters and started hunting down full set pieces to complete their sets…but most of my characters sets just weren’t worth completing.

I’d probably still be playing if they hadn’t done some few certain things certain ways that made me angry enough to not pay them for.

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Paragon Lost

Fair points to be sure. Agreed strongly on the animation as an aside. It lacks like The Secret World’s does, in the same way.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

I tried to get into this. Mostly because I think I got the base game as some kind of Humble Bundle or something. Anyway, realized I owned it in my Steam Library, decided to give it a chance. Made a Khajiit, actually played for about three evenings. Slogged through another two weeks of trying to log in to get the the one part of the reward calendar that was worth anything to me at like day 25. Missed enough days that I didn’t get it, gave up, and haven’t been back since.

Not helped by the fact that the inventory is clearly crippled unless you sub, and the fact that whatever Humble Bundle I got didn’t include about 95% of the DLC content. If I’m going to spend that kind of money on a game… I might as well find one with an actual single player mode.

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Phil Gillespie

This may sound like a minor thing, but I cannot get over the fog/view distance.

I find it crippling and it completely destroys the world/my immersion, which is one of the most important things in an MMO for me

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Paragon Lost

Like Justin, I just only really got into ESO this winter after owning the game since its initial release. Man am I having fun, overall I strongly agree with his list. My only frustration so far is how fast folks fly through dungeons.

It made me decide to pass on tanking or healing in them for the time being. Also folks drop out much quicker and more often in dungeons, or at least it feels that way. I have dropped down to doing just one or two dungeons a day for the time being due to this.

Anyhow I’m having so much fun and the game world really is quite scenic and enjoyable to wander in. I hit 50th with my sorcerer last week and have gotten my Champion Points up to 175.

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Quill Fiend

Yeah, the zones are pretty. The characters are bland and badly animated however, and the character creator is *shudder*.
I really wish I could like TESO. I love elder Scrolls lore and the housing, but the combat and the associated animations are just so bad.

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Louie

This is my problem too. The characters are just not that great looking at all, and the sprinting animation for every character is especially bad.

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Kenneth Portner

While there are many zones, to me they individually feel a bit small. Similarly, the faction capital cities don’t feel suitably grandiose to be the capitals of powerful empires.

Detracts from the immersion.

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strangesands

How is the modding in ESO?

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SmiteDoctor

There are addons like WoW, but no modding like the single player games where you can create content and change rule sets.

The Add On manager that I use is Minion.

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SmiteDoctor

The combat maybe clunky and slow but damn it I’m 42 and I prefer slow.

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Hurbster

Word.

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Bruno Brito

I love slow combat, but i could live without the clunky.