So I had the chance to play Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) today and although I found the game to be beautifully rendered and the controls to be well defined and easy to use, the overall game is completely hobbled by this antiquated idea of quests and forcing players through the game.
In recent years gaming has actually gone backwards in allowing players the freedom to explore. Gone are the days when you could simply grind your way through the game, exploring new lands and vistas, making enough money to fuel your next adventure. ESO, among the others of recent years, has turned all players into automated mannequins chasing dots on the map to fulfill orders of plucking X number of apples for predetermined cash payouts.
All gear is the same and all builds are essentially the same. Gone is the mystery of playing with character levels, skills, equipment, and different ways to move through the game. ESO predicates leveling on strict sets of quests, turning a fun game into a predetermined video story.
Why can’t players create their own stories? Allow the world to be explored and manipulated, letting players set the markets for goods and services. Provide paths to grow, balanced with the need of other players to help achieve the end. Nothing is worse than to complete a long quest to see 7 other players standing around the static NPC gaining the same dull prize.
Where is the innovation of discovery and story creation. If players wanted a prewritten story they could read books. Computer games should allow players to invent their own stories, not read something that was hard coded in by a 22 year old game designer.
ESO also courts the same idea that all players are 10 years old. When are game companies going to put on their big boy pants and treat gamers like adults? This insipid innuendos of sex, drinking, drugs, and moral decisions is an abomination to 90% of all players — because we are all more than 15 years old.
Too bad ESO does not break the paradigm of current MMOs, striking off in new and exciting grounds. It is just another pretty MMO to sap 15 dollars a month for two years, before going free to play and opening the doors for a new squad of trolls and assholes wanting to destroy and maim.
Aside from the gorgeous graphics and the great menu layout, the game does nothing to break new ground. If you are tired of your old MMO and essentially wanting the same, try Elder Scrolls Online, you won’t be disappointed. If you want a break in the paradigm of other MMOs, this isn’t it.