When The Elder Scrolls Online was announced, I immediately became far too over-excited. As a huge fan of Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, etc. I thought this might well be the next MMO to take over my life and put all my other gaming on the backburner for a long while. Before the game even entered beta testing, I had joined up with a guild and started working on my character’s role-playing back story. The anticipation was overwhelming.
Less than three months after the game was officially out of beta and released to the public, I left it and haven’t gone back. Based on a lot of positive discussion around improvements made to the game recently, I’m considering returning when I get bored with The Division. But I’m still not sure. My foray into The Elder Scrolls Online ended up being a painful gaming experience, and I’m very wary of going back.
I suppose at heart I was one of those stupid fools who hoped that The Elder Scrolls Online was going to be like Skyrim on steroids that I could actually play in with my friends. Instead, I almost immediately felt like I was running around doing the same boring, repetitive quests and tasks over and over again. And that was just in the Beta.
Yes, that endless MMO grind that seems to curse 90 percent of all of them that I’ve ever played. Still, I had hope. Although frankly the graphics weren’t all that better than my heavily modded Skyrim, it was still a big, interesting world to explore. So I tried to just get on with the grinding so that I could explore as much as I liked without dying to some rather bland creature that seemed possibly designed by a kindergarten class.
Grinding and exploring soon just wasn’t enough, so I really put myself into working on my character’s story and participating in guild activities. After all, being in a terrific guild and roleplaying the hell out of my character kept me playing The Matrix Online until the game was entirely dead and buried. So I started making videos about the guild and our place in The Elder Scrolls Online universe as a band of ‘good’ mercenaries fighting for the just and innocent.
We had located and taken over a town area in the game and basically incorporated the location into our roleplaying as our mythical home of ‘Whitehawk’. With that as our base of operations, we tried to make the guild into something that would keep us interested in the game in the long term. There were some really great folks in the guild, and they had some beautiful stories to share. Sadly, however, only a few months into the game being live, and one by one my guild mates just seemed to vanish, never to be seen again.
Disheartened and bored, I too eventually gave up and walked off slowly into the sunset and cancelled my account. The expansive world just did not make up for the boring, repetitive quests, tasks and crafting. The beautiful landscapes and (some) interesting NPCs couldn’t counteract the endlessly immersion breaking asshats constantly screaming crap in chat and running all over the game acting like children.
Lastly, I was just simply furious that The Elder Scrolls Online demanded that all characters be linked to your publicly viewable username. So someone looks at your username, they know all your characters. Not great for someone who is being stalked by jerks, or if you were trying to play some sort of secondary spy character in a rival guild. There were several other guild members who noted this as one of the reasons they quit as well.
You can never start over when you have things set up this way. You can never have a fresh new life in a game without the baggage of your old character, or play a spy in the game, which is one of my favorite things to do. (Thank you EVE Online for NOT ever having this idiocy.)
A lot has reportedly changed about The Elder Scrolls Online since I’ve been away. It’s reportedly more fun than it used to be, especially with the new Thieves Guild content (which bloody well should have been in the base game). So I’m tempted, because I WANT to love it. There were some good basic bones there at launch, but there was a lot wrong with the game that made it so quickly tedious and repetitious. Maybe I will go back someday. If I do, I hope it will change my mind and I will fall in love this time around.