Elder Scrolls Online – First Impressions


Elder Scrolls Online, or ESO, is a long time active title that has an enthusiastic following.  I recently saw a complete history of “The Elder Scrolls Franchise”, but oddly, this video leaves out any mention of The Elder Scrolls Online.

I recently saw that one of the Youtubers that I follow for FFXIV, also plays ESO, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Nine Silly Reasons to Play ESO

There is no “Trial” for ESO. Like Guild Wars 2, this game is Buy to Play, not Pay to Win, but Buy to Play. You purchase the game, for very little actually, and then a subscription and in-game purchases are optional.

Currently, there is a promotion for the upcoming expansion called “Summerset” which comes out in June. So I had the choice of $30 for the base game with the Morrowind expansion, or $40 for the Summerset Pre-purchase including Base plus Morrowind and some Account wide goodies like a cool Flaming Panther Mount. Seemed reasonable. I don’t mind playing $30 or $40 for a game, especially when I’ve watched some videos and seen what it’s about and how it works. If it doesn’t have a completely 3D camera, so you can see the Sky for example, and does not use WASD controls, then forget it. I’m not into top-down ISO scrollers with Point and Click navigation. I’d rather do a trial for 1-20 or 1-35 like FFXIV, but I took a chance.

Wellllll. ESO is interesting, but it’s got a bunch of quirks that I’m not in favor of so not sure it will be my first choice for a game to play. Let’s look at some of those Quirks. I’ve only spent a few hours so far. Your mileage may vary and I’m not saying any of these are “Show Stoppers”, but they are annoying in ways that I’ve never found Wow, FFXIV, GW2 or Tera annoying.

First up – No Mini-Map. Just a linear compass across the top of the screen.


This is annoying. See the problem is that a compass will not tell you what do to when the road has a bend in it. When I looked it up, I found that the game used to have a mini-map, and they removed it. Yep. Removed it. Didn’t make it Optional with Default off, They just took it out in a recent patch. But there is a save. Turns out that like Wow, there are Add-Ons, so you have choices for Add-Ons that give you a mini-map.


Wheew. Now I have a mini-map. This one doesn’t have Transparency when you move, like every other game, but I’m guessing there are others that do.

Quest Targets are Hard to Find.

For some reason the Game Designers think that every quest should be a puzzle. So, they give you a general area on the map where you can find the items, but they don’t glow or sparkle or anything – at least the ones that I was sent to find so far. So it’s a puzzle to solve every quest.

The First City is Poorly Designed

Vivec City, the first city you visit, is poorly designed. The whole thing is a bunch of Islands and each island has multiple levels and the stairs to the top levels don’t connect with the walkways between the islands. So its a mess to get around until you learn it by heart.

The problem is that this is the “First City” you come to and remember that I installed a mini-map. Can you imagine what it’s like with no mini-map?

Sure, make a Maze city if you like. But please not the first one folks see.

The Camera Drifts, Out of the Box.

For Windows 10, the camera drifts around in a circle around you as you are standing still. Turns out this a known bug for months now. There is an obscure fix. You need to change the compatibility settings for the game EXE. And since Windows 10 keeps changing their user interface, the forum post that is a couple of months old is no longer exactly right since the compatibility interface options have changed in Windows 10.

Download Takes Freaking Forever

It took more than “All Night Long” to download the game. More than nine hours.

And you can’t play it until it’s all downloaded.

For some reason, download started at 1.4Mbps and went down to 850 Kbps in the middle of the night.

Oh. I forgot.

Retro-Attribute Point Management


See those plus and minus signs? Each time you level up, you need to Spend your skill points to level up your attributes – Manually. Remember 10 years ago when you played Dekaron, or Jade Dynasty or Classic Wow? You needed to “Spend Your Skill Points” to level up your attributes. Well that’s all back here in ESO. Actually, apparently it never left. So unlike all the other games on the planet that made this “AutoMagical” each time  you level up, ESO makes it manual, and maybe Ir-revokable – not sure about that, but I’m sure I’ll find out.

Not Sure You Can Play it in China

I saw an article about Wow that all the zombies and undead and body parts had to be removed from the game for the China version. I’m not clear how Ghosts work, but I would expect a problem with those too. But ghosts seem pretty key to the Lore of ESO. I’m not clear if this game is available in China or how they changed it.


Voice Acting for Every Quest

There is voice acting for every quest. Surprisingly. And that is ok since if you click the quest menu, you can proceed without listening to it all.

Clickity Click Click All the Time

I’m sick of clicking to move through every door. Why not open doors automatically.

And why are E and F – People or Things – different? How about “Interact” is F. Tera does this and there is no confusion. Are there really places where’s it is ambiguous whether you want to Talk to a Thing or an NPC or Player?

Loading Screens and Delays All the Time

How about we shorten up the loading screens? The game takes forever to load from the character screen, it takes a long time to load “Instances” when you move into a cave or something and it takes a couple of seconds to open a door.

All this seems very dated.

Everything is Dark and Rough

The art style is dark and that is ok I guess.

But nobody is pretty. You can’t be an attractive character, man or woman. There are lots of choices, but none of them look pretty or attractive in the face or shapely.

I’ll spend a lot more time here, but it’s not my first choice to spend my time.

But it’s reasonably economical to purchase and there is an “Optional” subscription.