ESO: Prediction forming is at 85%

This article over at Massively by Larry Everett mirrors a lot of my most recent experience with the ESO beta, in that the first area is 100% linear, the second feels like a typical themepark zone, and the third feels like a comfortable cross between a full open world and an MMO themepark. I would love if someone could confirm that going forward, the rest of the game’s PvE is like the third area, if not even more ‘open’. Anyone?

Now to nitpick, I think it’s a bit silly to complain about the first, very short, 100% linear area as not being very Elder Scrolls. Load up Skyrim with a new character and no mods, and tell me what you experience for the first half hour or so? Oh right, a 100% linear experience that is mostly to setup the story. Load up Oblivion and it’s the same thing. If anything, the linear part in ESO is shorter than the single player game bits.

The traditional themepark zone is also a bit of an extended tutorial, in that it introduces you to some of the new stuff ESO does (skyshards, finding runes, stuff like that). I could do without it, but I also see why it will be helpful for new-to-MMO players, which I think will be a significant portion of ESO’s playerbase.

I feel like I need one more weekend with ESO to put down a solid “ESO is themepark 4.0” prediction post. I’m getting there, and I don’t think Zenimax is going to bork ESO just before launch like Trion did with Rift, and hopefully they don’t do a Rift 1.2 ‘accessibility’ patch to kill it, but who knows.

I will say this however, the comparisons to SW:TOR with ESO are ridiculous. SW:TOR wasn’t predicted to be the Tortanic because it was ‘boring’, or ‘more of the same’. It was easy to spot the Tortanic because on day one the devs told us the 4th pillar was the path to greatness, and some of us (or just me) called the game DOA on that day back in 2010. There is no 4th pillar for ESO, at least not that I’ve found yet.

Pre-ordered the digital collectors edition, in part because I think the game will be a good time, and also in part because the genre blows outside of spaceships.


About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Mass Media, MMO design, SW:TOR, The Elder Scrolls Online. Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to ESO: Prediction forming is at 85%

  1. mobs says:

    Ahhh I can’t wait! Got dogital collectors myself. My cash shop rage was somewhat put to ease because of some digging up other quotes. That mention how the first quote given was inaccurate. I’m so pumped

  2. adam says:

    After enjoying the beta immensely, I’m ordering the CE as well… just as soon as it goes on sale again. I missed a 20% off sale on GMG already. Hopefully another one comes around before early access starts.

  3. sleepysam says:

    How does it compare to your favorite memory of whichever version of WOW you liked? Is WOW themepark 1.0 or 2.0? Maybe that’s for your predictions post.

  4. JJ Robinson says:

    Seems like the consensus forming is ESO should be a fun but not ground breaking MMO. Given every time I see Wildstar, all I see are AOE markers all over the ground, guess I’ll be giving it a shot. The graphics look nice and usually the hot MMO is fun, even if it’s just a 3-monther or less… Count me amongst the Lemmings that will be there on launch!

  5. John says:

    Syn tell me that ESO have paid you for advertise, I cannot believe that you do this for free..this game is the worst MMO I have ever seen..yes, even in beta.

    • adammtlx says:

      So you think that if anyone thinks something is fun that you don’t, they must be getting paid off? Nice logic.

    • JJ Robinson says:

      Why so bad?

      It’s pretty clear to anyone reading this blog that Syn gives his true opinions. without holding any punches. Worst MMO ever are some very strong words. Seems like someone is a wee bit salty over something.

    • Kirk says:

      Given it works, that more than 100 people can play without crashing, that you can log off and when you come back what you did and gained is still there, and several hundred other little problems I’ve experienced with starting MMOs aren’t present, I’d say you don’t have much experience with MMOs, beta or otherwise.

    • John says:

      I didn’t say it was bugged, I said it is terrible as a game…and I have MMO experience and have been participate in countless betas. If this does not go f2p in less time than swtor, then I ll be hugely surprised.

      • SynCaine says:

        I would love to bet money on that prediction.

        • Rowan says:

          I wouldn’t bet money on it, but it would be amusing.

        • Mara Rinn says:

          With a $200M budget, Zenimax will have to sell approximately 2 million Imperial edition subscriptions to break even. Looking at it another way, they have to sell approximately 14 Million months of subscription.

          If we see that ESO only has 200k subscribers after the first month, that means Zenimax has to extract $1000 from each subscriber in order to break even. That represents 67 months of continual subscription (call it five to six years, assuming the occasional lapsed subscription).

          So expect to see special mounts available in the cash shop for $50 very quickly. Perhaps new clothing/blacksmithing styles exclusively available through the cash shop?

          My only question is how quickly will Zenimax start to exploit the fans? Will it be little things like increasing the rarity of legendary ingredients and selling them for a few dollars through the cash store, or major things like leaving the Imperial race behind a $50 paywall, and adding new zones which (LOTRO style) you can only start questing in after paying for access to the quest givers?

          I bought the (digital) Imperial edition. I’ll be prepaying 6 months of subscription. I’m expecting the game to be around that long. If it stays around longer I’ll be happily adventuring, crafting and waging war for the life of the service.

        • SynCaine says:

          If ESO has less than 500k subs across all platforms after the first 6 months, the game will be a failure. I don’t believe that will be the case.

  6. Jenks says:

    Seemed terrible to me, but then again I’m playing FFXIV once a week so I guess the MMO drought of the last decade has everyone’s tastes eroding.

    • adam says:

      “has everyone’s tastes eroding.”

      That’s more than a little unfair. I think, if anything, my tastes have refined. I enjoyed TESO for the following reasons:

      1. The pace was great. The game didn’t push me along or hold my hand or babysit me every step of the way.
      2. Varied combat options in terms of both abilities and mechanics, with the depth of choice growing ever larger with each level.
      3. Tons of skills to choose from. Gaining a whole new skill line when joining an NPC guild is really kind of awesome.
      4. Easily-understandable attributes.
      5. Attractive, understated art/graphical style.
      6. Interesting quest stories.
      7. “Cross”-class skill choices (mage wearing heavy armor and wielding a sword? yes, please)
      8. Lots to explore. I headed off the beaten path several times to random corners of a map and nearly always found something interesting.
      9. Stability. Encountered very few bugs.
      10. Deep crafting system, and the brilliant idea to allow you to craft using items sitting in your bank.
      11. Mega-server. No more worrying that your friends who aren’t playing yet might decide to play on a different server and you’ll have to migrate. Or vice versa.
      12. Fairly robust character customization options.

      • qyte says:

        Combat mechanics and “feel” was AWFUL at best, and add to that that the general gameplay/interaction with the world was also shitty as hell you let me know what you get.

        What you describe is good in theory and are indeed there but if the gameplay experience is lackluster to that much degree you cannot stand to play that game for a long period of time and that is what PERSISTENT WORLD MMOs are about and offer as a strong selling point.

        • SynCaine says:

          Combat is a bit off (it’s not awful), but I suspect some of that is due to the beta, with both the client and the server running extra data collection scripts/tools. That said combat is only so important in a themepark, and even in beta I don’t think the combat in ESO is THAT bad to really be a hindrance. Sure, coming directly from DF:UW is feel blah, but most players won’t have that point of reference.

        • adam says:

          “Combat mechanics and “feel” was AWFUL at best”

          That’s purely a matter of opinion–an opinion which I disagree with.

          “the general gameplay/interaction with the world was also shitty as hell”

          What does that even mean? “Shitty as hell” compared to what? At least qualify your statements with SOMETHING.

        • Rammstein says:

          “That’s purely a matter of opinion–an opinion which I disagree with.”

          No, it’s partially a matter of opinion, and partially reflects real underlying mechanics. Let’s look at food, for example, which food people prefer is partly a matter of opinion and cultural training, but nutrition experts have also done real objective research onto what types of food are genetically programmed for maximum preference and which aren’t. There are real genetic reasons that nearly everyone likes bacon and ice cream. I make this analogy because the control mechanics are indeed that important, even in a themepark–in the same way taste is more important than we might think naively. the fluidity and naturalness of movement in WoW’s engine is such a huge part of it’s ‘stickiness’ in retaining new players who try it out; and a huge part of retaining players who try other MMOs, find their control experience less fluid, and decide, at an unconscious level, and without even being able to put into words, that this other MMO just doesn’t feel right. Blizzard has been slowly updating their graphical level of detail, but always holding back and emphasizing performance over detail, because they know that this is an important part of their secret sauce.

          I understand that a 1% exists which looks for features at a much deeper level than this, and that this 1% is strongly represented in this blog’s readership. Just imagine your mom, or grandma, trying ESO out. How important will she find the ‘combat feel’ and ease of control? If you want to get someone like that hooked on ESO, you need just moving around to be fun, or they won’t get through the 2-3 hours of introductory linear questing; and without that, you have a niche game.

        • Rowan says:

          WoW’s combat mechanics are “smooth” because the avatars are just whiffing at each other while all the heavy lifting goes on as a series of dice rolls on the server. So they got the animations fairly natural looking. but nothing ever really interacts “physically.” Not to mention that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing Hollywood “fights” that are perfectly choreographed to look fluid, and we don’t know what real combat looks like. Any imperfect attempt to create realistic physics between combatants will come across as clunky. Neither approach is wrong, per se, but I think many are willing to go with the imperfect attempt at realism.

        • Rammstein says:

          @rowan: I’m guessing you’re replying to me, because I specifically mentioned WoW and you’re talking about WoW, but perhaps you’re not. In any case, your comment doesn’t work as a reply to anyone in this thread. Your main point starts with “WoW’s combat mechanics are “smooth”, but I never mentioned combat mechanics, and qyte never mentioned WoW. Technically movement is indeed part of combat, but I don’t see what it has to do with dice rolling. Perhaps you should decide which of us you’re responding to, and make a response that actually fits. Or, if you’re not responding to anyone, make that clear by starting your comment as a new thread.

        • Rowan says:

          @Rammstein You’re right, I somewhat blended two statements after reading the thread. Perhaps I misunderstand what qyte means by combat mechanics. But I was responding to your statement that WoW has fluid movement, something I attribute in part to a lack of physics in the game. What happens during combat is completely determined by dice rolls (dodge, block, etc.), rather than requiring good timing on the part of the player. To further muddy the waters, people referred to TSW’s combat as clunky as well. Something I never understood, because I find the combat (as I understand the term) to be quite elegant, though still not particularly physical.

        • adam says:


          “No, it’s partially a matter of opinion, and partially reflects real underlying mechanics.”

          The word “feel” denotes subjectivity, and thus, opinion. You can talk about food preference all you want, but someone who hates bacon and ice cream isn’t any less qualified to comment on food than anyone else.

          “the fluidity and naturalness of movement in WoW’s engine is such a huge part of it’s ‘stickiness’ in retaining new players who try it out; and a huge part of retaining players who try other MMOs, find their control experience less fluid, and decide, at an unconscious level, and without even being able to put into words, that this other MMO just doesn’t feel right.”

          I’ve been saying this exact thing for years, and, like you, using WoW as the paragon of “good feel” combat. You’re not saying anything I haven’t said a hundred times on a hundred different sites. Sub-par-feeling combat is the reason I can’t play MMORPGs like EQ2 and GW2. The fact that I’ve been aware of it for 10 years now and having played dozens of MMORPGs in the last 15 years gives me enough confidence to know when something feels good to me. TESO, while certainly not perfect, feels a hell of a lot better than almost every MMORPG I’ve played in the past 10 years, apart from WoW. Comparing TESO to WoW combat, however, isn’t straightforward. They use fundamentally different mechanics. It’s clear ZeniMax has made an effort to impart their combat with a sense of responsiveness and fluidity, and it shows in-game. In their post-beta survey sent out to participants, an entire section of questions is dedicated to the “feel” of combat. It’s obviously something they’re aware of and working to refine. Their demonstrable concern with the issue and the fact that I, for one, enjoyed the combat even in its currently-imperfect state, is enough for me.

          Now, are you going to tell me my opinion is invalid because I don’t agree with you?

        • Rammstein says:

          @rowan: I’m talking about movement out of combat more than anything; but I suppose it’s equally possible for the physics argument to be correct out of combat as well. I would go test it out if I could log on right now, but I don’t have that kind of access; and I didn’t spend enough time specifically trying to see how realistic the physics were to comment further on this.

          @adam: “Now, are you going to tell me my opinion is invalid because I don’t agree with you?”

          What if I say that my opinion is that what you are calling an opinion isn’t an opinion at all? Now, are you going to say that my opinion is invalid because I don’t agree with you?

          As you can see, debating about ‘opinions’ doesn’t work. Usually when someone says, “this is just my opinion, but xxx”, they are using it as a shorthand to say “Here’s what I think, and I have no interest in debating it, so don’t bother responding in that fashion.”. You have done the opposite, as you have started slinging the opinion term around as a means of starting a debate. This is not productive, so I’m bowing out of whatever it is you think you are doing. Good luck with it.

    • sid6.7 says:

      Agree w/ Adam, my tastes have refined. I can hardly even get myself to try games now that don’t have challenging combat mechanics (like Darkfall).

      I’m no longer content to just press 1,1,3,1,1,1,4,2,1,1,3.

      • Jenks says:

        I can’t wait to hear your take on TESO 4 months after release. With your refined tastes I’m sure you’ll only be playing a classic.

  7. anon says:

    By new to mmo players you mean wow players right? Cuz I really doubt there are alot of elder scrolls fans that haven’t played a mmo…..

    • SynCaine says:

      I’d bet more than half of all Skyrim players haven’t played an MMO. Most console players, and a good number of PC Skyrim players as well.

      • anon says:

        I doubt anyone is buying a PC just for eso. As for ppl who play rpgs (elder scroll players) haven’t tried an MMORPG is a lil crazy. I’d be surprised is skyrim was the first elder scroll game most skyrim players played. Its not like mmos are new. But I guess the recent trash in the genra but even then I’d wager a good number have wow accounts. I really want to be positive.about eso because I love Bethesda that said I’ve never played a Bethesda game that wasn’t buggy. Its a big leap from single player to massive online. Is the creation engine finally ready for it? Its only been in development since ES3 and u have yet to see it not be buggy. Stuff thats not too annoying in single player…..but for an mmo it wont cut it.

  8. Galien says:

    Admit it, the high-profile voice acting is what sold you on it. (Hale, McDowell, Beckinsale, Cleese…)

  9. Mara Rinn says:

    And yet Ripard Teg claims that the starting areas are railroad-track-free if you just get off the rails:

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  12. Anonymous says:

    I’m a bit perplexed as to why you are championing this one.

    It doesn’t solve any of the problems with themeparks and shows all the signs of a 3 monther.

    • mararinn says:

      The crafting system doesn’t solve the problem of the end game gear grind?

      The open world exploration which is required to advance in crafting doesn’t solve the problem of “pay this NPC lots of gold to level your crafting without any effort”?

      I’m not sure which traditional theme park problems you think ESO doesn’t solve, except for that thing about level based character advancement.

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