I know I promised more screenshots and I promise I have them but I want to get the review out-of-the-way first. This past weekend I participated in ESOs latest round of Beta tests. With a rapidly approaching launch date and an even more rapid early release date, I can say with relative confidence that Zenimax is shitting a brick right now. My first round of beta was nice, it had all the bugs and hiccups I expected it to have, even if it was just a “stress test” for their servers, and it showed promise, a lot of promise. However, this time around was different. This latest round left me scratching my head at a few things. The issues I mentioned in my previous reviews were not addressed at all, I didn’t expect them all to be addressed but a few should have been but no they were untouched. In fact it seemed as if more issues were brought to light. Especially in the broken quest department. I don’t know if it was just me because I took things relatively slowly for my first Beta than I did this last go around and I just didn’t notice the broken quests, and I was just noticing this time or what was going on but it was bad.
I played three new characters, because I wanted to experience each faction from the Imperial race stand point, as well as two of my older characters. I will introduce the characters either later in this post or in a new post later with the rest of the screenshots I took. I digress, back to the broken quests. On all the factions there were broken quests. I don’t mean the kind of broken you can ignore, well you could but why should you have to? I mean the kind of broken where you say to yourself, “Well it is a beta. I’ll report it.”, then you remember, wait this is probably the last beta, this should be fucking fixed! I am not talking about a few quests either, no, I counted at least 8 quests that were so broken there was no way to complete them at all. That is 8 quests for each faction, minimum, lord only knows how many were still out there I didn’t get to. So that is 24 quests minimum that need fixing. You might think that’s not a lot for a Beta MMO and you would be right, it isn’t, until you factor in the release date is in three weeks. Not to mention that for one of the factions some of those broken quests mean you are stranded on a damn island with no way off, which is what happened to poor Xavier.
Now, I could have dealt with these broken quests with a bit more temperance had there been any GM (Game Master) support at all, but there was none. All I could do was bug report it and hope they get their shit straight. So, bottom line, my biggest complaint in this beta was broken quests and shitty customer service 3 weeks from launch? I can say with 90 percent certainty that launch is going to be fucking rough, especially if they don’t get their customer service straight.
Another problem they need to address, that also effected questing but I do not see this as breaking a quest, is the instanced zones. Basically, from what I experienced, they need to work more on this, some instanced zones didn’t load properly, which made quests not able to complete in that instanced zone, which made you log out for a few seconds then back in to a completely new instanced zone. I didn’t group much at all so I have no idea how this affects groups. It was a major pain at one point. I am not saying instanced zones are bad because they aren’t, they help keep your lag down and things running smoothly, but they haven’t got them working properly so until they do it is just another thing for people to bitch about.
My other gripes are less than gripes and probably stuff that will get tweaked, hopefully, before launch or during the first 3 months after launch. Crafting, I noticed that blacksmithing is significantly slower to level compared to the other crafts. One of my characters I focused on smithing and he was only able to reach level 2, having made significantly more armor and weapons than my other character who managed to get to level 4 almost 5 by making medium armor. Not to mention I still feel it takes way too many materials to refine into the materials it takes to actually make the items. Like I said these gripes are just little annoyances compared to my earlier gripes.
A very lesser gripe, names. ESO really gave users too much freedom when naming their characters. I am sorry but if your character’s name is a short sentence you deserve to get a kick in the junk IRL. I can not tell you how many times I saw crap like ” I Am The Best” as a name. Or worse yet the offensive troll asshats with names like “Skull Rapist” or the people who are breaking lore with “Uriel Septim” or “Hero of Kvatch”. My personal favorite, that I reported this weekend goes to a Orc named “Shits N Ur Face”. So, yeah too much name freedom.
One of the things that was changed was the ability to skip the “Tutorial” areas if you have a character that has previously been through said area. I did however play through that area again just to see what changed, and I was pleased with the changes. Now, if you did skip the tutorial it will start you off at level 3 in the starting zones, and even give you some crappy weapons and some shitty gear. So I would suggest either running through the tutorial for new characters to get some slightly better gear or be prepared to twink the new character out a bit with your higher level characters. I am not certain if this was only for the Imperial race but they started right in the major city that was after the starting zones, which you are usually level 6 by the time you reach that area so you have to look for a quest at the dock area to get back to the starting area, which seems a bit odd to me, but it was still fun.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the experience I had with ESO. The gameplay was good, it was nicely balanced between being way too easy and way too hard, giving me the right amount of challenges needed to keep me interested. The class system they have seems very balanced from what I could tell, I can’t comment on Pvp because I didn’t focus on it at all but I spoke to others who said they enjoyed it a lot. The quest lines, that weren’t broken, were fun as hell to play through. The stories and progression in quests is better than most MMOs’ out now and can keep you locked in and having fun. If Zenimax addresses the issues I have mentioned here and previously I could actually see myself getting sucked into ESO the way EverQuest sucked me in for 10 years.
I am probably missing a bunch more to address but I feel this has been long enough. So, in closing, I think Zenimax is asking for trouble if they do not address at least some of the problems I mentioned before their launch date, and anyone who has early access all I can say is, I’m sorry but it seems early access will just be another beta. I think they would be wise to push the release date back, address a few of the problems they have, like broken quests and zone stability, and squeeze in another beta but I doubt they will do that. You can expect a lot of issues in the first few months while they try to fix everything they should have fixed by now and all the new bugs that will be found after release. I would say ESO will be a stable MMORPG after the third month of release, at the earliest. I just hope people will give them the chance to fix things before rage quitting, or being complete morons online spewing hateful crap trying to ruin the game. Because if they get the time to fix things and clean and polish up the game, I honestly think ESO could be a great MMO.