Monday, April 14, 2014

Elder Scrolls Online

I never played Skyrim beyond a day or two of game play because it didn't offer a co-op option so that Jason and I could play together.  Jason talked on and on about the game and played the livin' shit out of it when it came out so I was really looking forward to Elder Scrolls Online's release as it is an MMO version of Skyrim so we'd be able to play together again.

We've played it a couple nights now.  I like the look and feel of the game.  The character create was very fun to play with.  The tutorial was pretty straight forward although I definitely relied a lot on Jason to show me how to do things since he'd already played before I started. The quests are interesting and not grindy which is very nice.  The world is engaging.  Transportation makes sense.  Dying/rez is intuitive except for the soul trap thing that you don't realize you need to figure out until after you are sitting there over a corpse that is your buddy.  Ooops.

The crafting system is freaking awesome although since it's subscription based and not ftp/mtx (free-to-play/micro-transaction) based, it is a bit of a grind to save up resources to effectively gain the xp needed to craft something of true value. The combat and skills usage in-combat is simple and effective although I wish I had more than 5 skill slots active at one time. The skills management hud is not particularly intuitive at points as learning you can split an already selected skill to augment it isn't something that you see before it's available so you don't really know to plan for it..

I liked that I could buy more bag slots early on. And that I had access to buy an MTX horse early.  I don't like that I have to manually map my keyboard/mouse controls for each new character created.  I also don't like that I can't auto follow Jason when I need to go to the bathroom (he has to stop wherever we happen to be and defend me until I get back, stupid). I wish the bank and the merchants were located closer to one another so I am not running to and fro repeatedly due to poor planning.  I wish there were an auction house or a means to do micro-transactions so I can buy crafting components instead of harvesting them in-world because I don't have the hours and hours to play that others do. Maybe this isn't allowed to prevent a pay-to-win infrastructure, but I don't PVP so it just limits my ability to enjoy the game a bit. There is enough variety in game content to keep busy and not feel like anything is seriously repetitive, well, except for this one quest early on where you go around and talk to all these people all over town and you just want to jump off a cliff, it's so boring, and there is not action related to it at all. But other than that.

For most of the first 10 levels , I felt pretty over powered when paired with Jason, so it never felt like I was worried I might not make it through a fight successfully. Then we logged in one night to fight Doshia.  We had problems just logging in that night and that should have been the first red flag.  We were already grouped when we logged in which definitely seemed not right, and then we couldn't see each other's characters and our names were grayed out on our group list.  We both logged out and back in, even restarted our computers but nothing helped.  Eventually Jason figured out that he could right click and travel to me and that fixed the problem, so apparently we were not the same instance of the game.  But we're on the same server so it didn't make sense that we wouldn't see one another.  Something was clearly broken.

So later that night we get the Doshia quest and when we enter the instanced zone we're separated.  Since in some MMOs group members have to do instance zones alone, so we groaned but went about our separate instance fighting our way to the boss.  That's when things got ugly.  I am a tab targeter and Jason is a point and click targeter.  He has a heal.  I don't. He likes ranged attacks and complex positional combat. I like to open with big booms and then up close and personal  in-our-face melee  Our preferred game play styles are extremely different, and usually that doesn't mean we can't play together, in fact it works out quite well for us.

But my way of playing did not fair well with Doshia and I could not hit the orbs before she got them and healed or without her beating the ever living shit out of me.  It was retarded.  I died like 20 times and paid way way more on armor repairs than seemed fair.  Jason died a bit too but he finally prevailed.  Eventually he was hanging behind my chair watching me deal with Doshia and saying he didn't know what I could do differently, so I decided I was just so disgusted that I'd abandoned the quest and moved on so we could at least continue to play together.  Not long after that we ended up at a timed race quest. I'm not the most observant person in-game and Jason was running behind doing something else (it's usually the other way around) so I started the quest but didn't realize I was being timed so by the time I got my shit together there was no way I was going to complete the race in the allotted time. I failed it so I went back to the quest giver and tried to restart it.  Nope.  It wouldn't let me.  I was again dead-ended. It was the straw that broke the camels back. That night I learned a new term.  Rage Quit.

Yes, indeed, that was my reaction.  I was so pissed and fed up and disgusted with the fact that I'd felt over powered all this time and then to be placed in a quest that was basically not winnable the way I play and the way that I'm spec'd out, so I realized that I had probably FUBAR'd my character spec. When I looked at respecing, it was super expensive in terms of in-game gold (it's per skill point) and you have to travel to some high level zone to do it (which means I'd be killed by NPCs way before I could possibly reach my destination).  And I had no idea that I had spec'd poorly until then because I'd not been challenged at all with any of my quests prior to Doshia.  I felt like I was sold a false bill of goods, tricked and trapped, and now left with an irreparably broken character and would now have to start over with a new character at level 1.  Considering how little time I have to play with Jason, I was pissed, seriously pissed.  I walked away and had little interest in coming back.

The next day, Jason told me his co-worker told him that the Doshia instance was a group quest and we were just experienced the same zone bug we'd experienced when we first logged in and that he should have just right clicked and traveled to me again. Are   You    Fucking    Kidding   Me?  Since Jason had already completed the quest (so likely couldn't join me to win mine) and I was dead set that I needed to respec we decided to start new characters but that really just took the wind out of my sail (beside the fact that I'd opened all the one-time perks mails from my early buy and bound them to this character).

I've only played one night after that.  Really quite a bummer when I think about how stable this game is, how polished it is, how cool it seems on a lot of levels.  It hasn't crashed, not once, for either Jason or me since it launched.  That is virtually unheard of in a freshly launched MMO.  It's amazing actually.

Jason has had some issues with broke quest lines and has submitted trouble tickets but he's never even received an automated response back let alone a resolution for any of the problems he's submitted.  Not the most stellar customer service apparently.

Not sure if I'll go back and play but I'd better decide before my free 30-days is up.

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