Thoughts on Elder Scrolls Online

I read over at Bio Break Syp’s post on his issues with the Elder Scrolls Online combat (e.g. lack of feedback) and that struck a chord. Like all my MMORPGs, I have phases where I am actively playing ESO, usually for a month or just over. I enjoy the world, the questing and the immersive environments more than most MMORPGs.

The single player games never quite gelled with me, I guess I’m just not that much of a sandbox rpg fan. I played Daggerfall, Oblivion and Skyrim each for some time but didn’t finish any of them. The MMO game has much in common with these thematically and even in the feel of the world. Certainly, unlike most MMOs, your character’s surroundings tends to be a lot more interactive than just a 3D painting of furniture, buildings and flora as is the case in other games.

The combat, however, I’m not much of a fan of either: Syp writes at length about the combat not feeling as grounded as it is in other games; playing World of Warcraft at the moment I can see this comparison myself. WoW Classic has always had particularly well honed combat animations. Seeing a friend’s night elf Warrior twirling and striking with a staff is actually rather impressive for a re-make of a 15 year old version of this game. Animations and spell effects in the modern game are even more satisfying.

I’ve noticed the health bar issue in ESO, how the bars seem to adjust with a lag or ‘filling’ or ’emptying’ animation. A commenter mentions that this could be the default UI at fault; I’ve never tried a UI mod in ESO so perhaps that would be worth investigating. I do think developers should take UI feedback and combat issues more seriously – if a lot of players give feedback on these types of issue in ESO why isn’t it fixed already? I could point the same criticism at Blizzard with WoW, why in 2020 can I not open the character pane or map without obscuring the chat panel in the default UI? Needing a mod to make the UI vaguely modern (i.e. moveable components) is not good design.

Health going down..

Combat feedback and UI issues are two different but equally impactful issues for a MMO – both are potential background annoyances that cumulatively detract from a game’s long-term attractiveness. I can ignore these issues to experience some story, but eventually I’ll grow tired of such negative aspects of the game. I believe my issues with ESO are wider than just the combat feedback, although that may well be part of it. Like Black Desert Online, I just grow tired of “all action combat all of the time” – having to dodge, block and interrupt in almost every fight gets tiresome to me.

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