Developing opinions about ESO continue to… develop!
Overall I’m coming out of this weekend more positive about the game than I was going into it, and going in I had already pre-purchased the Rich White Man edition.
The good; my character from the previous beta weekend had to be shelved, as I think I gimped him. A Breton duel-wielding Dragon Knight in light armor did not seem to work. Now why is this a good thing? Because if you can gimp a character, that means character development has some actual choice to it and those choices matter. If you can’t gimp, everything is ‘good enough’, and that kind of design sucks IMO.
What’s even better however is that while talking to a buddy, he let me know that light armor Dragon Knight is a thing, but you use a staff to dish out heavy ranged dps. Apparently it works really well in PvP. I don’t want to get too ahead about this, but right now I believe ESO will offer a large range of builds, some more viable than others of course, with some great in one area vs another (PvP, PvE, group, solo, etc). If that actually happens, that will be a huge plus for the game.
The further I got into the game (up to lvl 11 this time), the better the difficulty feels. I’ve had a few tricky/interesting solo boss fights, I’ve gotten some public dungeon experience, and overall I still feel the game is opening up and getting more interesting rather than hitting a plateau. It really is an interesting mix of solo RPG ala Skyrim, and improved MMO themepark content. I can safely say we will see some ‘reviews’ where the reviewer only plays for 30 minutes and calls it hyper-linear or something silly. Those should be enjoyable in terms of blog content.
The bad: Bugs. Oh the bugs. /reloadui was used constantly to get out of buggy NPC conversations, and our small group ran into more than one boss/encounter that wouldn’t spawn or was broken. The game has a month until the 4.4.14 release date, so while there is still some time to get things fixed, I’m not expecting a bug-free release. What I am hoping is that they fix all the major stuff, like bosses not spawning, because those really sour the experience. Getting deep into a public dungeon only to have the game cut the experience short on you and others is not cool.
Those are the big points. I also got into crafting a bit more and liked it. Nothing crazy different, but again tweaked and expanded beyond what I’ve seen in the themepark space before.
Ultimately I think that is where ESO will either just be another title or something special; if most of the tweaks and changes to the standard formula ESO has work out (and I’m leaning towards that right now), the game will be successful. I don’t know if that means retaining 500k subs for over a year or what, but yea, successful.
I will say this right now, all the comparisons to SW:TOR are comically wrong. Worst case scenario ESO will do better than the Tortanic, because structurally it’s a better game, and more importantly, it’s a better MMO. I just can’t tell HOW good, in part because I’ve seen promising titles destroyed in beta or shortly after with ‘accessibility’ patches.