Saturday, 27 December 2014

Rant No. 1 - 'Elder Scrolls' 'Online'

On paper, the Elder Scrolls Online was an amazing concept. Skyrim with friends. What more could you want? Well, how about an actual Elder Scrolls game, like we were promised?

How about an "Elder Scrolls game... online" as opposed to a WoW clone with an Elder Scrolls once-over with f***ing bland-wash?

Character customization was good... until you realize that everyone chose exactly the same options as you did, and that you can't even hide in single player?

You can never feel proud of what you've got because there are already people who look ten times more badass than you do, and all you can do is grind in the awfully designed and overcrowded dungeons and pray you can eventually catch up to them.

Oh wait sorry - I forgot how f***ing buggy the game is. I went over to play at Satamer's house with him, but we spent the whole day trying to get him out from under a bridge and me from the deep ocean in the corner of the map, slowly drowning and losing durability on my equipment (which is another stupid addition, I'll come back to that later). Admittedly we were playing on the NA server, but when I got home and played on the EU server my connection was actually worse - go figure.

The game was clearly released unfinished, with "free monthly updates" (not like the game is $60 with a $15 a month price point or anything Zenimax) of things that should already be in the game, like stealth! WHAT? THAT IS A KEY MECHANIC FOR MULTIPLE CLASSES AND THAT'S NOT EVEN IN THE GAME YET?

Oh yeah, that's another thing - CLASS LOCKS? Since when did the Elder Scrolls have class locks? Don't give me that b******* that classes help you focus your character - I DON'T WANT TO FOCUS MY CHARACTER! I want to be able to pick up any skill tree whenever I f***ing want, not having to create a new character from level 0, skip the tutorial cos it's boring as s*** and have to grind my way back up again! I want to be a High Elf Sorcerer-turned-Nightblade stealthing behind my enemies and summoning wolves and charging with them into battle wielding my warhammer! Not doing generic sorcerer s***! The f***?

Also, what's with the border lock? If I am a castaway from whatever the f*** Molag-Bal's Daedric Realm is called, then what's to stop me? And don't give me s*** about race or anything, because I met multiple Khajiit in Skyrim (the region, not the game), and none of them were being killed by the guards or whatever! And even so, couldn't they send me in as a diplomat or a missionary or some s*** like that? Something lore friendly to this war they b********* into the universe despite the fact that multiple books in Skyrim describe the period as a peaceful time. And ESO started before and finished after Skyrim was in development, so don't give me any of that either.

Right, back to the mechanics. First the combat - HOTKEYS! WHY?!?!?!?!?!?!? THIS IS AN ELDER SCROLLS GAME, NOT AN MMO YOU SAID THAT YOU PROMISED US THAT, THE F***? Right so you have five hotkeys to cast spells - even if you're a warrior you have spells that use stamina not magicka, because logic, and you get 5 in no time and need a second row but NOOO you can't do that because we want you focused on the game so you'll have to just get rid of spells forever without getting a chance to test it first. The combat is dull, feels like it has very little impact. You are focused on your hotbar. I remember playing on my own and heard my self going "1 and 3 and 2 and 4 and into the 5 oh he's not dead better get the sword out then" I thought we weren't supposed to be concentrating on the hotbar..? Good job Zenimax. You really worked hard on that.

There's no voice chat in-game because typing is convenient in a fast-paced battle... oh wait they aren't. They're boring and slow. I've played a lot as all classes and all of them get dull real fast, trust me. Nightblade? Yeah, nice try, but when stealth requires stamina and you're been leveling health forever you feel useless. As for Dragonknight - you need lots of all stats so expect to be useful in the early game. You'll need friends... who want to play healers. And you can't play a healer on your own obviously, so your only option is the sorcerer, which is boring and can't tank anyway. So you have to work with other people, sure. But there's no voice chat in game..? We were promised Social Media integration with Skype and Steam and whatever allowed us to talk to each other, but me and friends in the US I played with had to rent a TS3 server. Not the best, and definitely not what we were promised.

Now, I've been edging around it but here it is: the payment model. $60 - for the game (which you can download online for the same price) and then a $15 or £10 a month membership fee. Sounds like a lot, right? BUT IT'S OK because when you buy the game you get THREE DAYS FREE! THAT'S RIGHT, THREE DAYS... if you pre-purchased the game. I did so, and bought a full year's worth of membership (which I couldn't cancel). I got the "Explorer's Pack" too, which allowed me to play any race in any faction. Thank God, but really? You can ONLY get that by pre-purchasing the game? Is that fair on new players? No? So why do it then? Money, that's why. In the single player titles, you never lost anything for coming into it late. If anything, you skipped the dramas over Dawnguard and s*** but Bethesda's got a history of being fair to you no matter when you bought the game. And then Zenimax comes up with this... It hurts me. It really does. This "Buy the game before it's out so that you can get more stuff exclusive exclusive exclusive" it's ridiculous! Oh, and if the $15 a month membership isn't enough money for you to drain into this title, don't worry - There's a cash shop! You can buy mounts and s***, because that's F***ING EXCUSABLE!

Oh God, I'm not even in the worst of it yet - the f***ing IMPERIAL EDITION! Get a mount and a pet... whatever, I can take it or leave it, but you can play as an Imperial! AND YOU ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO CAN AND YOU CAN ONLY GET THIS EDITION FROM PRE-PURCHASE. THE F***? Why? Oh, yeah - that's a $100. "But you get a map!" So? That doesn't excuse every player who joins the game late being refused content because they didn't know about the game or didn't have the money at the time.

Oh, the game is fully voice acted. It's patchy in places, but at least they tried. And they tried to make the quests interesting, even if they were just "Run up to X amount of X and right click on it" they added a little story around it. The way that things were conveniently placed to be found like sailors strewn out along a shoreline placed at regular intervals. The graphics are alright. If not immersive, they're serviceable and object glowing and nameplates can be turned up (though not toggled in-game, you have to go through a few menus) but it's a nice touch.

I don't hate the game. I did find it fun, in places. Slaughtering monkeys actually made me feel bad, until I found out they dropped stuff. Never bought gear (because I spent all my gold on inventory slots because that's an Elder Scrolls thing to do), found all my weapons and armour organically. The quests were hidden nicely (even if they had a few bugs) and I did enjoy playing. It was just a disappointment. I was playing it, just desperately wanting to play Skyrim. And I think that's what drove me away, apart from the amount of money I was spending. It tried to copy Skyrim while being an MMO, but went too far down the MMO route for me. It was a promising idea, but executed mediocre, if that.

I'll still play the Elder Scrolls games, of course, but I don't intend to ever play this game again.


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