I’ve recently come back to The Elder Scrolls Online (again). It’s a really solid game that’s much better than the game that launched, even better since the One Tamriel level scaling system (which kind of calls into question why an Elder Scrolls game level restricted zones to begin with, and whether or not this is/should be an outdated mechanic for other games… but that’s a post for another day). I came back to it mainly because I’m interested in housing when it comes out in February (and I’m sure there’ll be a lot of gold involved in that, so I’m trying to get some saved up), but I’ve found a lot of things to love about the game in the mean time.
Crafting Is Interesting
I’m not a big crafting person. Sure, in Guild Wars 2 and the like I eventually get around to doing crafting, but more out of a sense of guilt for having all of these crafting mats than because I was motivated to craft for crafting’s sake. A lot of it is probably because, since I left my first MMO, Runescape, I’ve never gotten into any MMOs that are sandboxy or otherwise crafting-focused. But in Elder Scrolls I’m actually crafting starting at a very low level, not only because most of the stuff you get from quests is garbage, but also because they actually make it interesting and rewarding. I’ve already found a couple of motifs to be able to craft armor and weapons in styles other than my own race’s, which is always interesting and exciting. Daily crafting writs are basically free XP. And, of course, I always love it when all professions can gather all materials. Deconstruction is also an interesting idea; deconstructing something made by another player will grant more XP than something you craft yourself, which encourages trade of otherwise worthless items.
Story Is Interesting, Not Overwhelming
It’s hard to strike the right balance of story and gameplay. I must admit, for as much as I love SWTOR and its storytelling, when I did all of KotFE at once, I got a little sick of the amount of talking involved. Granted, a lot of that was because of the fact that the DvL clock was ticking, but there is such a thing as too much talking and not enough action. Conversely, I’ve always felt like Guild Wars 2 was a little light in its storytelling department. Elder Scrolls has, so far, seemed to strike the right balance of meaningful, voiced conversations, many with optional lines of questioning.
Man, this game is pretty. It almost makes the incredibly long load times worth it.
Subscription Optional, But Worth It
I almost never subscribe to MMOs if I don’t have a good reason, and this is the first buy-to-play game that I’ve subscribed to almost immediately. I was in the cash shop, thinking about buying the $15 premium currency package so I could get an account wide mount (later I realized that gold-bought mounts may be account wide as well… oh well, the black and white horse I bought is neat, and not too flashy), when I realized that subscribing for $15 a month gets you $15 of cash shop currency, and opens up the crafting bag, as well as all of the DLCs. SWTOR, take note, this is how you entice me to sub to your game; not by taking away features from your free players, by making your sub actually worthwhile.
I keep saying that I don’t really like action combat games, but I’m beginning to think that it’s more that I don’t like bad action combat, because ESO’s combat is actually pretty fun, if a bit repetitive. I’ve written before about how I actually like limited hotbars in many ways. Before weapon swapping becomes available at level 15 it feels a bit restrictive, but even so, I prefer it to anything in any other Elder Scrolls game.