Last night I hit level 20 in The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO.) I am currently running around Stormhaven saving High King Emeric and his nobles from the nightmares of the Supernal Dreamers. I saved the abbey, and redeemed one Duke, but unfortunately I could not save Lady Lakana. I am fairly certain I've completed all the quests west of Wayrest and have slain two of the three known Omens - the Omen of Fear and the Omen of Blood. I really like the way Zenimax has done the instances here. They are fought in the dreams of the people I am trying to save. That's all sorts of Sci-fi/Fantasy cool!
Here's some of this weekend's gameplay. Be sure to click on the first picture and read the descriptions for my comments. I've plenty of observations about the game so far, and several of them are tagged to the picture that illustrates my point. ;-)
[gallery link="file" type="rectangular" ids="2373,2372,2371,2370,2369"]
You know, I've been reading a lot of negative things about TESO lately. I even read the (slightly) negative post Jester made about it. Frankly, I see a lot of jumping on the bandwagon going on - not that I think Jester is doing that. That isn't my point. My point is this. I've only run into TWO, count them, TWO bugs in the 64 hours I've played TESO. You can check my Raptr profile to confirm the hours played. The biggest bug I ran into was the killing Faolchu in the past during the Nameless Soldier quest in Daggerfall. That was very annoying to be sure, as I had to log of and on repeatedly to find an instance where the Faolchu would actually spawn. The second bug I've encountered was Saturday. It was the endless attacking character bug. All that did was break my immersion.
You know, when I can play 64 hours and only run into TWO bugs, I cannot call this even close to the buggiest game I've ever played. I can easily say that LOTR Online was worse; not because there were more bugs, but because it was much, much smaller area. TESO is huge in comparison, and I'm only into my third region. I can agree the TESO devs need to fix these bugs. I also agree they need to make it a priority, perhaps their #1 priority (though I would really love to see the bot mobs at bosses killed off.) But this game is so big, and the bugs are far in between in my experience. Perhaps I've been fortunate. Still, I can't help but feel Zenimax is getting a bum deal from the reviewers.
Here's the basic problem I actually see coming out of all the reviews I've read (and I've read dozens of them, thanks Google Alerts!) There are two types of critic drawn to TESO. There are the MMO players, and there are the Skyrim players. I say Skyrim because it's the last of the stand-alone Elder Scroll sagas.
For the hardcore MMO player, and that's anyone writing a review IMO, TESO is not World of Warcraft (WoW.) They want WoW. Actually, they want better than WoW. And they expect that from a game a year in beta and just released? Get real. WoW was no better than TESO when it was first released. It was just as buggy. I know, I played WoW back then. WoW has had how long to get better? And I'll tell you one thing, the quest writing in TESO puts WoW to shame. I don't mean what your character has to do (though I could support that position,) I mean the writing itself. The dialog is witty. It's far more than just, "go kill ten bandits." It actually tells a story. Does WoW do that now? How about it Ancient Gaming Noob? You play WoW the most of all those I follow. Does WoW have story lines?
The second type of player attracted to TESO is the Skyrim player, and they are the worse reviewers IMO. They seemed to think TESO would be just like Skyrim, and there would not be thousands of other players running around all over the place and lag would never exist. It makes me wonder what they thought Massively Multiplayer Online means. Perhaps they didn't bother to find out that's what the acronym MMO stands for. Do us all a favor, go back to Skyrim. It's a perfect game for your type of malcontent.
What I'd really like to start seeing more of, though there have been a few to be certain, are reviews of TESO that discuss its merits as they stand on their own. Bug issues are certainly fair game in that, but they need to take scope into consideration. I also see little in the way of reviews for the PvP area, Cryodiil. There's this nice 4.75 hour video of a raid made last week, but not much in the way of critique. All I've read is to wait until you're at least level ##. The number seems to vary from article to article.
Anyway, here's my advice to anyone thinking of trying TESO: play it for its own sake. It's not WoW and it's not Skyrim. If you get those thoughts out of your head first, you'll have a much more enjoyable game. And whether or not TESO is ready for prime time is really up to you, and what you make of it. It's been a smashing success for me. It may surprise you.