A lot of folks are excited for The Elder Scrolls Online, but just as many are understandably wary about an MMO adaptation of the beloved series of RPGs. There is reason for anticipation, for sure, but here I’m going to give a handful of reasons for why fans of the series may get a bit irritated when diving into Bethesda’s latest epic.
1. It’s a linear world.
Probably the most frustrating things about MMOs with stories for folks who prefer solo games is level guidelines for quests. Whereas in Skyrim the enemies you battle are always leveled relative to the player (i.e. a level 15 player always fights level 15 enemies on normal settings), MMO worlds don’t work like that. Enemies in each section of the world have set levels, and taking on a quest with a recommended level five spots above yours will usually end in tears.
Yes, yes, a lot of folks take this for granted, but what that mechanic means for TESO is that the ability to do what you want when you want that the Elders Scrolls games have fostered for so long is not there. There is instead a linear progression of quests that you must follow just because. Don’t like your current questline? Well, you can do other stuff at that level, but you can’t just go somewhere else to look for more interesting things to get into. Wandering the length of the world and exploring random dungeons while ignoring your quests just isn’t something you’ll be able to do in TESO while you level.
2. It’s scatterbrained.
Another frustrating MMO trapping that stunts TESO is that in order to stay on level with your quests you pretty much have to do all of them. And so while the game has the core universal questline with Michael Gambon and then also a core faction questline, there’s also a ton of other random ones, and then the guilds on top of those. And in order to keep up you’ll have to do them all more or less simultaneously instead of focusing on one all the way through. So maybe stopping to help some Khajit get rid of the rats that are infesting his moon-sugar doesn’t sound appealing, but you have to do it anyway.
3. No options for quest rewards.
The above two items seem like they may be necessary evils, but I’m not sure what the deal is with this one. Most of the time when you complete a quest, you’ll get some gold and a piece of gear. Unfortunately, what gear you’re given is not tied to which class you’re playing, and so my Khajit Dragonknight has a bunch of staves and bows for no damn reason. That problem could be fixed by giving the player options -- say if it’s going to give you a weapon let you choose from a staff, dagger, and one- and two-handed swords -- but it just throws equipment you don’t need at you willy nilly instead. You could trade your junk gear to another player for something you can use, but that’s going to be a frustrating task for folks who want to pretend this is another offline Elder Scrolls game. There are going to be lots of folks like that, by the way.
4. Abrupt difficulty spikes.
If you take the game at a normal pace, you might go seven or eight hours without needing to make much use of TESO’s block and interrupt moves. You’ll glide through the quests without stressing yourself too much, and then at around level 8 you’ll find yourself facing foes you actually need to be decent at the game to beat. Having to be skilled with your weapons isn’t the problem; the game not preparing you for that necessity is. Having to actually work at it is good, but it’s supremely frustrating to go several play sessions without dying and then being killed repeatedly in a single encounter. Early on there’s little reason to work at your defensive abilities because it only serves to slow down the process of grinding MOBs. So by the time you need be good with them it feels like a kick in the teeth.
TESO isn’t all bad, of course. There is much to like in the series’ transition to MMO, and to read about some of those things, check out 4 Reasons Fans Will Enjoy TESO.