I’m not going to lie. My hopes for ESO are incredibly high. I love the MMO concept; the persistent, massive world; the social environment inside a game, but I’m running out of something to play. I’m a long time World of Warcraft player and it’s a great game, but… Oh, it’s such a but. The game is old. And I don’t just mean that the graphics engine is primarily 10 years old (which, honestly does get to me occasionally). The game is tired. It’s worn out. We’re on episode two hundred and whatever of Dragon Ball Z and while we keep getting new bosses it’s all the same. The interface and features are the best – there’s no arguing that. No other MMO out there matches the quality-of-game improvements that have happened over the years. But you can only polish the same gem so much. It’s still the same. This is where WoW finds itself, it’s the most polished MMO (excluding graphics) but it’s lacking something new to drive interest. So, what else to turn to? TERA looks great but the only unique part (live action combat) feels more gimmicky than a feature. The Secret World has basically the coolest premise out there, but the simple -fun- of game play is so much lower. A friend of mine described Knights of the Old Republic game play as exactly like WoW from 5 years ago. But look… on the horizon is a game that promises to exceed all of them.
Now, it may seem like I’m building ESO up too high, that my expectations could never be reached. But, I’d like to think I’m not reaching too far. I don’t need the game to be “better” than WoW, if the game play, interface and features were equal to, I’d be totally content – because it would still be different. ESO doesn’t have this massive pile of buttons to push, yielding choices as to what to use instead of the “use everything” necessity in WoW. The combat is still somewhat positional based more than just stacking a certain rating to hit or dodge. It’s also a different world. The monsters are different and the player characters are different. Just not seeing a bunch of Taurens with cow names would be a start. I’ve been in this old World for years now, I want to explore a new one.
So far, it actually seems like ESO is matching the competition in terms of features. We have extensive crafting, dungeon finder, PVP, gear customization. The character creation options are far superior to most options out there. The graphics are top tier. Questing is fun – without too many kill x collect y as is the standard MMO formula. It is poised to be everything I’ve been hoping for. Then why do I feel like something is missing? Or maybe, it’s not that something is missing is that it’s still too familiar. I know the zone and level limit of the beta plays a factor here. I’ve gone through each factions starting zone (well, only part of the Dominions). Only being able to play the low levels without the promise of continuing that character. One of the reasons I love MMO’s is because the game never ends, the character never dies, so to speak. Which makes a beta a let down since all of my characters die at launch, their progress wasted in a way. I still have hope that is just the conditions of the current state of things that leads me to doubt. I’ll just have to see how things go. It’s a beautiful game and they’re doing an amazing job creating an MMO version of Skyrim (which I declared should happen from the launch of that game).