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LONG BLOG

First Day Impressions: Elder Scrolls Online Early Access

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Two important quests in the first region for the Ebonheart Pact (Nord, Dunmer, and Argonian faction) were bugged to where an essential mob for each must be spawned -- which they weren't doing. I'm sure there were multitudes of other bugs that I had yet to see.

Other than this, though, the first day of playing Elder Scrolls Online was a blast. I had fun romping around the northeastern part of Tamriel as my Argonian Dragonknight. I managed to get a taste of the PvP, but in the end I felt like I couldn't make a big enough contribution because I didn't have a mount while all of my guild mates were riding around on horses.

The gameplay feels solid. Its action-oriented style is actually pretty satisfying to grasp and is a welcome change to the macro-heavy gameplay style that is prevalent in modern MMOs (Even though there are still macro-based abilities. This is an MMO, after all). Everything is limited by how much Magicka and Stamina you have -- in true Elder Scrolls fashion -- and very few abilities actually have cooldowns before you can use them. Any class can heal, so long as they have a Restoration Staff (and can even level their healing abilities with enough use). You can build your character however you want, but there will be optimal builds for your class and chosen weapon. The freedom of character development, though, is still pretty true to the Elder Scrolls formula.

They do reuse some graphical assets from TESV: Skyrim. However, this doesn't take away from the fact that you're in an entirely different time, fighting in an entirely different war, on a much larger scale. Each zone is pretty in its own right. Morrowind, itself, took me back to when I played its corresponding game. You can't go to Vvardenfel or Solstheim (as of yet) but the rest of Morrowind looks gorgeous and bleak at the same time.

UPDATE: If the first dungeon is to provide a basis for the quality and difficulty of the game's content, then I have to say: Holy crap. It wasn't difficult, but it was definitely a challenge to run through the first time. Aggro management for tanking is very different in this game than it is in modern MMOs. If you specialized your points into the One Handed and Shield skill line, then you have all of your tools right there to maintain aggro -- but given that this is a twitch-based action MMO first and a macro-based MMO second, it's difficult to do so. I absolutely love the difficulty, though. It will require players to know how to truly play the game. If you're used to WoW, leave what you know right at the door and enter this game with a fresh minset for your playing style, because knowledge of PvE through WoW will not save you.

On the social side, you're playing on one massive server broken into different instances for overflow. You can join up to five guilds (but I think you're limited to only creating one guild. I'm not sure, I haven't tested it out) and be able to represent each each separately while in PvP. It'll work great for those communities that have multiple chapters intent on playing this game (Like, say, a chapter purely for PvE content, for PvP -- or hell, even for Roleplaying). However, players go by their @Username handle rather than their character names in the social windows -- which is slightly bothersome, but easily manageable. It does require a bit more communication and coordination to know your guild members.

For my honest opinions, though: As much as I enjoyed this game, I really worry about its future success. Let's be real, here, it has some massive shoes to fill. Not only is it the series' first entry into the MMO scene, but it's also a pretty prestigious series on its own -- and not to mention that it's being thrown against titans of the MMO industry (WoW being the obvious one that everyone is going to compare it to). The first month will see big numbers and multitudes of people doing everything there is to do in ESO, mostly out of love for the series. Then, after the first month is up, many will leave either out of boredom or because they can't afford the subscription. It's the standard MMO affair. It's the main reason why games like SW:TOR, DCUO, Warhammer, Age of Conan, and AION tanked so quickly and went Free-to-Play. Not because they were inherently bad games, but because they were either not what the fans expected, or they didn't offer enough content to hold players beyond the initial leveling experience.

So now Elder Scrolls Online is the newest incarnation of this business model -- a Pay-to-Play MMO with a base purchase price of $59.99 ($79.99 for the ability to play an Imperial, put any race into any faction, and buy a Horse for 1 gold when starting) and a monthly subscription of $14.99. For the average MMO gamer, today, this is a pretty hefty price tag. For this reason, many won't go on past the first month. Some others won't pay subscription as if out of "principle" -- if I'm being honest here, this is probably out of being spoiled by "higher quality" free-to-play games. If we're using previous MMOs as examples, there will only be a relatively small community after the first month. Thankfully, with the Mega-Server functionality the game runs, this won't seem too bad until you get into the PvP.

Truthfully, I prefer the subscription model over the Free-to-Play or Buy-to-Play everyone seems to clamor for, these days. I really think that subscribing to a FTP game makes it better, anyway, so what's the difference? The lack of microtransactions is really all there is between a subscription-based game and a free-to-play game, and I would take no microtransactions any day of the week over a game that's heavy with them.

So, all in all, what do I think about the game? I think it's great. I'm having fun with it. It's definitely a game I would like to keep a subscription with, if only to support the development team and to hope for good content updates. I'm going to take my time leveling (as I should probably do for all MMOs) so that I'm not rushing to the end-game just to be (potentially) disappointed. I would really recommend this game to anyone who's interested in the Elder Scrolls series. If you're willing to spend the money, please do so.
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About CaptainSharkFinone of us since 9:58 PM on 05.24.2013

You can just consider me a PC gamer passionate about gaming as a whole; I go into brand new games with a fully unbiased opinion to help others determine if whether or not said games are worth their time. I'm an amateur Twitch stream that plays a variety of games spanning across different genres and styles.

At home, I'm a twenty seven-year old college dropout still living with their parents due to financial issues. Thankfully this hasn't deterred me at all from doing what I love most.