When Elder Scrolls: Skyrim first came out, I played the hell out of that game. While I had seen other ES games, Skyrim was my first. It was gorgeous, flexible, full of freedom and adventure. I remember thinking…”this would make a great MMO”. My dream for ESO was Skyrim with other players in it. In some ways, I got my dream, but it was all too shortsighted.
In a lot of ways, ESO was just Skyrim Online, which may have been the developers intent given the massive popularity of that game. However, that means it lacked certain qualities necessary for MMO success. Leveling in ESO is fairly slow, as it was in Skyrim, but for MMO players familiar with a broad spectrum of games that move much faster, it can feel a little tedious. Though, with questing being generally enjoyable it could have been alright…if it weren’t for the bugs. I played in the beta. I saw and reported a great many bugs. Some of which completely halted questing progress for hours on end or required really annoying and cumbersome work-arounds. So many of these bugs made it into the launched product. So often, dozens or more players were howling into zone chat because their quest was bugged past the point of continuing. I was hampered with a great many of those. But, one can forgive bugs in a new game, right?
If there was a silver lining, a light at the end of the tunnel, one might stomach through a long leveling process fraught with bugs, delays and server outages. You’re feeling a big but coming here, aren’t you? There’s nothing at the end of the tunnel. Upon reaching max level and literally beating the game (that’s all I’ll say without risking spoiling anything in too much detail), you’re sent to quest all over again through the other factions zones to gain “veteran ranks”. What do veteran ranksgive? Basically nothing. You get another skill point, no additional stats. But wait? Aren’t their veteran dungeons? Why yes there are! Filled with loot that you cannot use. That’s right, the vet dungeon epics for the starting dungeons are vet rank 5. Which means it takes leveling 4 times before you can even use this dungeon upgrades. Otherwise, it’s exactly the same. It’s progressing through very similar quests in different scenery. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not put out by the -option- to progress through the other factions zones, I’m annoyed that it’s the ONLY effective way to keep leveling. PVP and dungeons are too slow on their own. On top of that, I intended to level alts in each of the other factions to see their story (at a slower pace when taking breaks from my main), but given that I was going through them to get veteran levels, there’s less of a point.
So, do you want me to talk about the “end game”? I mean, the end game should be what we look forward to while leveling, right? Wrong. Guess what end game was available at the game launch? Nothing. At all. The single end game zone with the single end game “raid” wasn’t even available at launch. I think, as of the time of this writing it may be available… for people who not only reached “max level” but also reached veteran rank 10. Why did they even make level cap 50 if you have to level 10 more times to do anything that is end game? Of course, the other “end game” activity is PVP. Which, don’t get me wrong, was pretty fun while leveling. Unfortunately, it doesn’t change at max level. There’s still one zone. It’s a massive zone, yes, but one place with the same zerg, zerg, zerg, tactics. And the center area we’re fighting over isn’t even open (as of the time of my canceling).
Overall, it felt like they weren’t ready to make an MMO. This game feels like it would have been better off being a single player game (not even counting the fact that most quests don’t share any collection credit or give much of any reason to play together). They have a pretty dynamic and fun (if one ignores the bugs) questing, story, and leveling experience.. and that’s all they have. I don’t regret buying the game, I did get a lot of hours played relative to a standalone game, however paying monthly for a game that functionally stops just seemed to be a waste.