I've been reflecting on why it is that I couldn't get into the Elder Scrolls Online.
I wanted to like it, but try as hard as I did I eventually had to concede defeat. I was one of the many people being a Beta-Tester, and I submitted all my feedback as to the issues I had with it, but sadly the game continued on.
I'm now playing the Dragonborn DLC for the first time, and all of Solstheim feels like ESO. I can't help but feel that it's release was to smooth over the transition into ESO, and that maybe if I'd played it before ESO, maybe I'd have liked it a little bit better.
What I Liked
I liked that I finally got to play with my friends! Skyrim was the first Elder Scrolls game that I played, and the one thing I wanted to do but couldn't was to share the experience/adventure with my friends.
Ummm... Yeah... Sadly, that's kinda it
Oh, I think I liked the voice actors and the story lines. Well, some of the storylines anyway...
Barriers to My Enjoyment
Sexist Character Generation
Why is it that I was able to make a male Orc with a full-on beer gut, but if I was playing a female Orc, I wasn't able to make her fat.
When my female Orc ran, she minced along with a riddiculous arse wiggle, while my mates playing male orcs trunched along just fine.
What. The. Hell... Female Orcs with big doe eyes and big pouty lips... An Orc should not look like a Barbie doll, she should look like her method of showing you that she likes you is to throw you across a table.
|Orsimer in Skyrim||Orsimer in ESO|
These pics probably aren't the best examples as the female orc has facial tattoos, but you can there are also a lot more creases in her face, that just aren't there in the ESO orc (it's not unique case), and that the male orc in ESO is able to have a weathered look just fine.
All the female Orsimer in ESO had smooth, unblemished skin, and it looked wrong. While the male Orcs would have rough, weathered skin. Did I mention the insulting, sexist depiction of female characters in this game?
Inconsistant Main Storyline
I get that all Elder Scrolls games have previously been about a single character that was imprisoned, that goes on to be a Big Damned Hero™. However, this is an MMO with multiple PCs all running around trying to be Big Damned Heroes, some of them solo, and some of them with others.
So when I have an NPC telling me that they better buy me a drink for saving the King, I can't help but think, "well, what about all the other people in this room? Didn't they do that too?"
For me, the main storyline should have been about a group of chosen escapees/vestages that work together to bring down Molag Bal. They had a background story of five heroes working together, so why not have that very story for the PCs?
I'd frequently go through a storyline with my friends, and the NPCs would talk to me like I was the only one there.
Ummm... Don't you want to thank my friends too?
The allocation as to which races belonged to which factions broke continutiy with me, and this meant that I just couldn't get on board with the primary division of the game.
Orcs should have sided with their Mer cousins in the Aldmeri Dominion, not the two human races that continously sacked their home. And yes, I get that they divided up the races based on Geographical borders, but that just struck me as the most lazy and unimaginative reason to group races together. Why not come up with a story about how Orsinium was (once again) sacked by the Bretons and Redguard, and that the Orsimer were forced to turn to their cousins for refuge and to request aid to get their home back. The Altmer are quite happy to have brutish orcs as cannon fodder for their war and agree to help, but only as a secondary goal to their own plans.
The Argonians should not have sided with the Dumner that enslaved them.
The Khajiit should likewise not have sided with the Altmer that enslaved them. They could join forces with their kindred spirits, the Argonians, or they could decide that they like the idea of a "Free Trade Agreement" in Tamriel and decide to support King Eric's goals to remove all trade restrictions in Tamriel (because serisously, what Khajiit wouldn't get behind that?!).
If the above example with the Orcs had them seeking refuge with the Khajiit and Argonians, then the Dunmer could join their Mer cousins, and the Nords with their human bretheren.
Now you would have a Human Faction, a Mer Faction, and a Faction built not out of "gosh, we'd better join forces because the others have", and instead have an active desire to retaliate against those that wronged them: The Humans and the Mer (let's not forget that it was the Dunmer's fault that the Orcs were cursed).
|Aldmeri Dominion||Daggerfall Covenant||Ebonheart Pact|
Embarrassing Excuses For Male Orcs
I tried to play an Orc in the Daggerfall Covenant. Every time we came across an NPC female Orc, she was hard core. Pretty, but hard core. Whenever we came across a male Orc that was an NPC, all of us wanted to kill him for the good of the Orsimer, least other races start thinking that all Orcs were like them. All of them were completely useless. And fine, these were the Orcs that weren't strong enough to be a Chief of their own stronghold, but that didn't mean that they had to be snivelling, useless cowards.
Lack of Diversity in PC Models
Playing Orcs shat us so much that we switched to playing Khajiit. Suddenly we had much more variety when it came to character models. Way more variety than the other races got, except for maybe the Argonians.
Why carn't other races have all the piercings and decorations that Khajiit and Argonians get?
We couldn't bring ourselves to join a Faction with those that enslaved us, so we joined the faction fighting for the Free Trade Agreement in Tamriel.
While I loved being able to play with my mates, we frequently encountered Bots that dampened our fun. While I was mildly irritated by them, they infuriated my mates.
Lack of Quality Control
Allowing a world to be populated by people means that each character can be given a depth that an AI can't provide, but there was no quality control in those contributions. People could make characters and name them in ways that referenced other material (Harry Potter and the like), which would be fine if they could have at least made their references conform to naming conventions and the like. Playing in ESO felt like I was playing in a MMO of Fan Fiction rather than an Elder Scrolls game.
Dumned Down Scenery
The last MMO I played was Evercrack. After playing Skyrim, ESO felt like I was playing WOW. Consider if you will the difference in how ore veins are displayed in Skyrim and ESO...
Ore vein in Skyrim
The ore vein in Skyrim had veins in a textured rock that blended in with the background. In ESO, ore veins were ugly blobs that stuck out like rat's balls.
Australian Players Getting Ripped Off
I get that it costs companies to ship physical copies of games to various countries, and that it is expensive to ship to Australia. However, charging Australian players a surcharge for a DIGITAL purchase "because you can" is illegal and at best, alienates your market.
Bethesda are not a small company. They could be industry leaders when it comes to not ripping people off because of where they live, but instead they perpetuate an ongoing problem for many players, not just Aussies.
I ended up purchasing my copy via a vendor that meant I paid the same price as people in the US, which is the only reason that I played the game at all when it was first released.