ESO: Turn right, always turn right

This image, showing just how often ESO uses the same layout for dungeons, is a great illustration of why what worked well in Skyrim doesn’t work as well in ESO.

It’s almost part of the IP that you reuse stuff in Elder Scrolls. It was done in Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, and as we see, now in ESO. The critical difference is that in the single-player, sandboxy games, you have options. In ESO, you progress from one zone to another, without choice. And even within a zone, there is a somewhat linear path that you ‘should’ follow. Because :themepark:

To put it a different way, imagine if Skyrim forced you to do a dozen “kill the bandit leader” quests before you could advance the main plot and get to experience some of the better quest, and during those dozen required quests, the game sends you to a dozen specific caves that all look and feel very similar. That’s ESO at its worst. You COULD do exactly that in Skyrim, but you can also completely skip all of that stuff and JUST do the unique stuff. The option to do either, or to jump between the two, is the key.

General themepark design means you don’t have that choice. And why is it that way? Because the devs are worried you will get lost, that you won’t be properly guided. And I can’t even say they are 100% wrong; how many threads have we seen about a sandbox where someone ‘had nothing to do’? A themepark is like going bowling and every lane has the bumpers up. I’d hate it, but sadly more than enough ‘gamers’ will be happy about getting a higher score and not concern themselves with the fact that failure was never even an option.


About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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12 Responses to ESO: Turn right, always turn right

  1. wartzilla says:

    I skip the dungeons in TES games whenever I can.

    I guess ESO is a no-go for me.

  2. pkudude99 says:

    I’ve noticed that most “solo dungeons” are really just XP farms. Used to be bot farms on the final mob all the time too, but they’ve added in code where the mob won’t drop loot each time anymore, so that’s helped a little.

    But yeah, run down a ramp or some stairs, follow the loop to the right, grab the skyshard, kill the mini-boss, and it’s time to leave. Most take maybe 3 minutes, if even that. Definitely not the best design decision, but on the other hand, I find I don’t really mind it all that much either. And the over-arching story missions in each zone and for the game itself really make up for it — they’ve all been quite well done, IMO.

  3. Lani says:

    The Public Dungeons are a bad thing yeah. Most of the time I run through them without even seeing a mob, grab the Skyshard, try to tag the miniboss in the .3 seconds of its existence before it gets slashed to pieces by the crowd of bots around it just so I get the Completed Achievement then leave.

    I hope Zenimax wises up and makes these true single player things, preferably with a difficulty option and or one time loot drop from the miniboss. Then they’d be at least semi interesting as a solo activity.
    To be honest the one thing that hasn’t bothered me about them is the rather generic layout. That’s not something that I’ve considered an issue since automapping got introduced way back when.

    Same for buildings, I’m actually liking how much Zenimax manages to do with decorations to make default templates feel different. I guess it’s a matter of focusing what the game offers rather than what it doesn’t offer?

    • Anti-Stupidity League says:

      “I hope Zenimax wises up and makes these true single player things”

      *Sigh*. Yes, in a “massively” “multiplayer” game, that would definitely be a great thing. I can’t think of anything greater.

      • Rynnik says:

        Let me help you ASL:

        If it was free to play. That fixes ALL the MMOs.

        • Anti-Stupidity League says:

          Or, I don’t know, maybe some massively multiplayer content? I think that would be kind of great in a massively multiplayer game. If TESO was a single-player game, I’d agree that true single-player things would be absolutely wonderful, but if it wants to be MMO, maybe single-player content is not something that most people who want to play massively multiplayer games are looking for? What do you think?

          But I’m sure you’re right and a bit more phased and instanced single-player dungeons will make TESO the greatest MMO game since World of Warcraft. It’s a monthly subscription game so of course it must be great — it’ll turn crap only after it goes f2p in a few months and Syncaine says that it’s crap because of its new monetization model..

  4. Anti-Stupidity League says:

    Minecraft has sold 700,000 new licenses on the PC during the past two months, which is more than the amount of active players in TESO today, I believe. And that’s just brand new licenses, and not counting any other platforms. And in my opinion, Minecraft is kinda sandboxy, don’t you agree?

    Skyrim has sold over 20 million copies and even though it’s not as sandbox as, say, Ultima Online or EVE, 20 million is a lot more than around 12 million, which is the maximum number of subscribers the king of themeparks, World of Warcraft, has ever had.

    I think that more than enough gamers would have been happy with a sandbox TESO.

    • John says:

      But skyrim is a “pve” sandbox while all the MMO sandboxes are all about ffa pvp and players swear that sandbox cannot work without pvp… The day that a quality pve sandbox will come, will be the day that an MMO will hit again the 10+ million players. Also I do believe that vanilla wow was not a themepark..

      • Anti-Stupidity League says:

        “Also I do believe that vanilla wow was not a themepark..”

        Uhh… yes, it was. You couldn’t be more wrong. On the themepark-sandbox axis, it has always been a themepark with very little sand in it. It was the themeparkiest themepark when it launched. In the year 2005, if someone would have asked for the best example of an MMO themepark, people would have peltered him with boxes of vanilla wow.

  5. Whorhay says:

    I don’t recall Skyrim really repeating dungeon layouts at all. Can you name a few examples? I’ve got a few hundred hours in Skyrim and can’t think of an example. I think SWG was the worst I’ve seen for dungeon layouts. Every single cave in SWG was identical. The sad thing was there weren’t even all that many of them, how hard would it have been to make different layouts?

    • SynCaine says:

      A lot of the bandit structures are very similar, like the caves or the above-ground camps. Also almost all of the forts during the civil war quest chain have similar/same layouts. Various houses across different cities also have the same layout (the single bed, storage underground house sticks out for me).

  6. Davis says:

    One of the only things I was looking forward to in TESO on the PvP side, was the promised return to noninstanced big public dungeons where people could group.

    Phasing and quest based leveling, and the nerf to group bonus xp mostly killed the grouping part of the game. And abysmal dungeons killed that side of the game. I’m just of just shocked at how bad the dungeons are on TESO. There is no excuse. They’re aren’t instanced but they’re designed like instanced dungeons.

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