You Tell Me: Is Elder Scrolls Online Must-Play, Should-Play, or Pass?


I lasted all of one hour, if that, in the Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) Beta.

Simply put, I disliked the UI, I didn’t like the feel of the combat, and the experience seemed disconnected from other players. It was the worst first impression of an MMORPG that I had since Age of Wushu, and that’s really saying something. It turns out that a lot of others players had the same initial reaction to ESO.

For context, I didn’t play Skyrim or any of the Elder Scrolls games, so I have neither an attachment nor an opinion on the IP.

Over the past 2 years I have been extremely selective about which games I play, because:

  1. I’ve been disappointed with a lot of the games in MMORPG space since 2008
  2. My free time is limited – my job as a digital product manager has kept me busy in RL
  3. I tend to stick with games I enjoy and find challenging. Over the past year the game that has kept me most entertained has been World of Tanks (WoT), because it is a high skill-cap PVP game, and Guild Wars 2 (GW2)

I don’t want to waste my time on games that I don’t think are going to stick, for me or the community. I’ve found that it’s useless to be the last person on the island (e.g. with WAR), when most of your guildees and friends have moved on. Therefore, I have passed on a lot of recent games, e.g. PlanetSide 2, Defiance, Neverwinter, Final Fantasy XIV, etc.

I played WildStar Beta a bit, leveling a Medic, Warrior, and Stalker to about level 6-7, to get a feel for the basic game and combat mechanics, and I had a solid impression of that game. So based on my (limited) Beta experiences, my plan has been to pass on ESO and play WildStar.

There was a recent post on Massively that made me wonder whether that plan makes sense:

As I have found playing both ESO and Wildstar up to level 12 now:

Wildstar is animation-savvy and artistically appealing, so the game makes a strong first impression…  then, for people like me, the shine wears off within hours and the actual gameplay becomes a chore. With ESO, its struggle to both maintain and diverge from an Elder Scrolls formula, along with its animations (and the awful tutorial zone) makes a very weak impression out of the gate, but once you get to the main game world, you discover 50 new interesting things every hour and they never stop coming, and the world starts to feel alive and even bountiful

Wildstar delivers a great first impression but falters. ESO stumbles first and excels second.

I keep hearing on social media that Cyrodil RVR/PVP is fantastic, and the build customization for characters is really high. So you tell me, is ESO a must-play game, should-play, or a game I should pass on, given what you know about my preferences: love PVP, PVE is fun only if it’s meaningfully challenging.

P.S. When I took a break from WoT in November, my WN8 rating for my last 1000 battles was at 2349 – literally 1 point under the “Unicum” threshold, which represents the cream of the crop statistically.

Over the past 2 months I’ve been averaging a WN8 rating of 2600+, and my account WN8 rating is closing in on 2000. It’s satisfying to know I can play at a Unicum level without ever having used premium ammo (aka gold ammo).

Taugrim's WoT WN8 Rating per WotLabs

Taugrim’s WoT WN8 Rating per WotLabs

If you have WoT installed, you can download my replays. Onward, upwards!

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Posted in Elder Scrolls Online, Game Design, Guild Wars 2, PVP, WildStar, World of Tanks
41 comments on “You Tell Me: Is Elder Scrolls Online Must-Play, Should-Play, or Pass?
  1. theunwarshed says:

    depends on what you’re looking for. i think the jury’s still out on whether it will be worth subbing to long term, because of the lack of information on end game. in my experience (through several weekend betas and early access launch), i’ve found the rvr to be epic (much more so than GW2) and more in line with DAoC. there is no “structured pvp”, so that might be a turn off to you Taugrim.

    i find the pve to be structured like a typical theme park mmo with all of the linearity you’d expect; and yet, there is the ability to explore in the linear level-progressive zones. the voice acting and huge variety of quests are all interesting. the environments are interesting and well done. you get used to the animations and when you do the combat is actually quite fun (at least as much as GW2’s is).

    you get far more character building customization in this game then in GW2. there are certainly “must have” abilities/skills in each of the “classes/roles” (i say this because each of the 4 base classes can be built to assume any role). for someone like you (who likes to tinker) i think you’ll enjoy their character building system, because it requires you to factor in multiple skill lines (3 class, 2 weapons/out of 6, 3 armor, 3 guild, 3 world, alliance war, racial passives and crafting) to flesh out your build concept.

    all in all, i’m enjoying myself immensely with ESO (despite its bugs and issues). i’ve done all 3 low level/entry group dungeons with 2 other friends (basic group size is 4). we found them somewhat challenging as a 3-man at the suggested level. i suspect they will get progressively harder. i suspect the success of this game will depend on how well ZOS executes group content going forward and how much they expand on pvp options (dueling, structured team pvp, etc.)

  2. After drop kicking gw2 over half a year ago, I`ve been looking for a new mmo to play (although I still play Guild Wars regularly).
    tbh TESO just never hooked me in any way, the Skyrim style combat just doesn`t seem right to me, for an mmo at least. Well, that & locking out an entire race/racials to me is flat out wrong.

    Whilst gw2 tried to evade the trinity, it just means folk will go pewpew & there isn`t much you can do about that, whereas TESO does seem more interesting in the long run in those stakes.

    Having said that, I`ve watched some streams of the 3 server PvP & was amazed to see it didn`t appear to get hit by lag, something gw2 still is atrocious at…
    Perhaps those streams were extremely lucky, I don`t know /shrug

  3. catchersrule says:

    Yeah… I still don’t know, myself. I’ve played one or two of the original Elder Scrolls games – Morrowind and I think Oblivion. Didn’t get too attached to either one personally. I did love the idea of going into places and stealing stuff, but then again I can do that in various older games. Wildstar sounds neat to me for the reasons you mentioned, but I’ve also heard it called “scattered”, which tends to be very much the opposite of my own gameplay style. I’m still going with LOTRO (even with the issues it has in the later expansions, because I’ve been a fan of Tolkien since I was 4 years old ), Terraria and occasionally GW2. Sometimes I even go back to the Starbound beta to see if they have anything interesting and new. That’s quite enough to keep me busy when not doing real life stuff!

  4. Malicyn says:

    I feel like ESO tries to be “Themepark” wrapped in a Sandbox body, and it just doesn’t feel like it really works. Before anyone tries to crucify me, I am still playing ESO and am currently level 23. The only reason im playing it is because my friends are and there is nothing else really out to peak my interest yet. My personal feeling is that by the end of month 3, subs will start dropping and either going to WoW, Wildstar, or back to whatever game they were comfortable with. “50 new things”, I would ask where? Its the same combat, and honestly I feel like they never really excelled at any of the systems they put in, they all feel bulky and clumsy.

  5. Milkarton says:

    For me personally I was interested in ESO, then i heard a lot of negative things about it.I watched some videos on it and the combat isn’t my cup of tea. I have been horribly disappointed with many MMORPG’s also, gw2 and swtor both got me so excited and while they weren’t bad games they didn’t hold my attention. Partially because my love in MMO’s is PVP. I have been in almost all of the weekend betas for Wildstar i have a lvl 19 toon and a few lvl 12 toons, and i really enjoy the game. The combat is what draws me into this game. The questing is a bit dry; reminds me of old school WoW. But the pvp seems like a more solid system and more exciting for me. Will wildstar holdout? I think that depends on the community I think everything else is there and I sound like a fanboy but the devs have been listening to the fans, which is a good sign. I Would like to see how eso does a few months after launch just because I don’t have a lot of faith, and i fear that its clunky feel i have heard about takes away too much from the game.

  6. As previously mentioned, ESO is a game that grows on you as you progress. The RvRvR is arguably better than GW2, but raid groups are very buggy (crashy), especially if you go into one of the many dungeons in their RvRvR. Combat feels slower and more strategic than a typical MMO, which can frustrate some players. PvE questing requires plenty of running around/exploring which makes it ideal for western players who hate grinding. The phasing issue means it is essentially a solo game – poor at grouping unless you do dungeons. Wildstar, unfortunately, does the kill-ten-rats style of MMO. It becomes a chore when you see one kill-ten-rats quest after another. I do like Wildstar because it has more gameplay variations and I ended up playing a great deal of Battlegrounds. My guild has a large ESO contingent and it looks like our Wildstar followers are relatively small. In the long term, I feel that I will be playing Wildstar more, but you need a strong guild group to fully enjoy it. Right now, not enough people are interested in it.

  7. Valkyriez says:

    Hey Ed,
    I haven’t played either game yet (game by beta keys to a friend, I’m currently deployed to the Middle East and my net couldn’t handle it anyway) and I think Wildstar is the pick of the two to play. I did that large scale PvP like RvR is generally a Zerg, sure there is large scale strategy going on sometimes, but indavidual skill doesn’t really shine.

    Wildstar is launching with cross server Arena in all 3 brackets (2,3 & 5 man teams) and should be good for really skill based gameplay with the Interrupt armor mechanic, dodging an double jumping to avoid damage. The ability, AMP and LAS system should be good for some build making, but that’s yet to be really seen.

    P.s I don’t know how you can enjoy WoT. It’s more a simulator ten a game. Each to thier own though.

  8. Benny says:

    Hey Ed,

    I bought ESO and like you I have a hard time playing through… more because Diablo 3 Expansion has kept me in check! Remember what I said, try SMITE out especially the Arena format since it is close to a 5v5 Arena PVP system. 10-25 minute games that do not eat your time as much as the other MOBAs.

    My favorite games have been very niche like Ragnarok Online, Wakfu, or more mainstream like FFXI. The next game on my radar is Tree of Savior, as it is the successor to one of my favorite MMORPGs of all time.

    Good to see you writing again :)

  9. Aakek says:

    I can’t comment directly upon ESO as the most that I have seen was stream of game play which just turned me off.

    Wildstar has a lot of potential. It has a solid amount of both PvE and PvP content for a game that is releasing. With questing, shiphands (mini dungeon), adventures (choose your own dungeon), normal dungeons, and 2 raids (along with vet modes). While it follows the tank n spank mode the game play is much more engaging with telegraphs. Honestly where I felt GW2 should have been.

    PvP play is currently unrated arena/battlegrounds to 50 then opening up Rated BG, Arena, and Warplot (raid) play. I feel there is a higher skill cap than GW2 play which allows for much potential.

    I personally find both PvE and PvP enjoyable and feel relieved to have dungeon mechanics that everyone has to pay attention too. No single class really holds more dominance and teamwork is important.

    • Shane says:

      I agree with “aakek.” My ESO experience is limited, but I’ve greatly enjoyed my time on Nexus.

      Words of caution: settler path takes ALOT of time. Stay away, unless you want to spend a significant portion of your gameplay gathering items and building/restoring buildings. I have not played past the level 20 experience cap. I agree with “aseriousmoment” about the lack of accounting for the y axis during PVP gameplay.

      The telegraph & interrupt armor are improvements to the PVE experience, despite threat remaining a cornerstone to the system. In the first adventure for the dominion, the bosses regularly drop threat, run to another player/location and attack in a unique manner. It keeps everyone on their toes, and they’re all immune to taunts (I’ve tried) & resistant to stuns (it’ll be easier once all 5 players are on a voice client to coordinate. War plots are the big unknown, for me. I am interested to see how organized a 50 man raid group can be while reacting to another 50 mans movements/strategies.

  10. Joel says:

    I agree that ESO is a pass and WS is a must buy. But that is just from watching Streams on Twitch as I have yet to play either.

    I miss watching your Twitch steams as you were my favorite streamer.

    Tx,Joel .aka – Notesure770

  11. Peter says:

    I guess my opinion is one-sided as I never got to late-game ESO and was able to ‘see it blossom’ as it were, but if getting there meant dealing with punishing myself with the early game then no thank you. The UI is atrocious, and I’m fairly confident was built by someone who’s never worked in UI before. Trying to find the vendor you are looking for, standing in a sea of NPC’s, is a lesson in pain and unbridled rage. The combat is static and feels more telegraphed than a Steven Segal movie, and the shoddy and slow animations don’t help it feel pressing at all. Lastly, the need to zone…into EVERYTHING…was the nail that sealed the coffin. Why am I having to zone into someone house in the middle of a town? It feels so Resident Evil circa-99 that I don’t think they’ve even played their own game. All in all it was a major letdown.

    Wildstar, on the other hand, I played for 3 hours and literally alt-tabbed in the middle of gameplay to go pre-order. The personality it has, the palpable heartbeat that flows through everything from the voice narration to the underlying story is real. It’s not forced and it flows extremely well from town to town. The combat is fluid, reactive, and skill-based. The character progression is simple with choices both readily available and abundant. All in all, it’s polished (with the possible exception of graphic performance which is fairly awful right now due to un-optimized beta code).

    The difference is clear and, to me, Wildstar is legitimately the first MMO I’ve had fun playing, and looked forward too, since vanilla WoW.

  12. I ended up enjoying the TESO beta more than the Wildstar beta. I found Wildstar disappointing after having a lot of initial interest. Wildstar’s combat was too much like a MOBA. It even didn’t account for the Y axis, because hey MOBAs are flat so why bother with that? I know that’s a sarcastic, dismissive response to the combat, but I was hoping for the action combat tofeel more actoiny. Generally, the combat felt designed around PVE encounters and I look for combat that answers to PVP demands as well. Neither TESO or Wildstar does quite well enough in this. The questing in Wildstar was very WoW-like, and a lot of the experience felt too familiar in a WoW sense. It didn’t help that the beta had floating NPCs and various bugged quest items.

    The other thing that bugged me was how much Carbine seemed to fight their fans on progressing forwards. Why are the devs trying to punish players for playing together? It was weird to me.

    The final problem was pvp combat felt like a disco dance floor. I was just watching telegraphs and the battleground fights weren’t that interesting. Plus, since everything was based on flat MOBA-ish telepgraphs, there wasn’t much reason to take highground as a ranged caster. The telegraph can’t line up along those higher or lower along the Y axis. So i’m just shooting off into the air.

    TESO had its issues as well. The early leveling experience was bad, but Zenimax quickly switched their approach to make the starter island optional.Combat and movement felt floaty, worse-so than Wildstar. They improved this some in subsequent betas, but it still fell a little short. I’ll get into this later.

    What I liked in TESO was some of the Elder Scrolls stuff. Character customization was high and certain quests had different ways of handling them. I could use stealth and disguise or I could be brutish and try to kill everything I came across. Side quests had some interesting stories to go along with them and certain quests offered choices with some consequence to them. Past level 10, you tend to go off exploring to find a quest hub rather than be lead by the nose. There’s some small mini-dungeons to be found and there’s respawning bosses to find and fight. Exploration was better than Wildstar, but not as awesome as it is in say Guild Wars 2.

    I went to Cyrodill to try to RvR and PvP. The map and structures have a great sense of scale. There’s bullution boards that have repeatable quests for scouting enemy objectives or killing certain NPCs. There’s PVE quests out in Cryodill to complete. The greater distance between areas slows down the masses well.

    What turned me off of the RvR is the combat. I liked the large scale and large map. It’s one advantaage it may have over GW2’s WvWvW. However, once you got down to fighting, the game began to loose steam. In the Beta, the meta was stun and spike, and there wasn’t much to do against this. You brought anti-stealth light or an armor buff that absorbs a stun. However, reactionary play was poor, and the combat feedback was very poor. You pretty muc have to load up a bunch of add-ons just to understand what is going on, but even then the combat feedback leaves a lot to be desired. Floating numbers don’t do enough to give a good method to parse the fog of war.

    The other issue with combat is that despite the crosshair and mouse-look UI to combat, much of it plays like older tab target combat underneath the action combat stylings. Hit detection is on skill press rather than on animation swing. Projectiles will pull hard rights to follow a target.

    In a bit more detail: Hit detection is a balance issue fo rmyself. I did some testing and found that as long as you start an attack within range, being in range when the attack fires off doesn’t matter. So with a Nightblade and two (what should be short range) melee weapons, I can begin a channeled chain attack within range and have every hit of the channeled attack land even if I back off or the foe runs a good distance away. I could use this to my avantage in PVP: start an attack in range, have the caster foe I’m hitting run away and then see them magically die out of my range due to the hit detection and skill lag.

    And yeah, there was skill lag in Cyrodill during beta. Not sure if they improved that for launch or not.

    So ultimately I decdied not to get the game. A GW2-mate did get the game for Cyrodill. It just depends on if you want to put up with the combat and the poor information/feedback of combat in the game.

  13. Misaligned says:

    I bought the game and am enjoying it. However, I do not think this is a game you would enjoy long-term. Wildstar looks even worse. If you’re interested in competitive PvP I would look to MOBAs (LoL or DOTA2) as they lead the pack for competitive PvP by a huge margin. They also don’t require you spend a dime. There is no P2W like you have in WoT.

    I don’t play MOBAs because I don’t enjoy the playstyle. If I were interested in competitive PvP though that’s where I’d be spending my time.

  14. Ozrik55 says:

    I played ESO beta and the visuals and sound are great, combat not so much. Melee combat is so slow and unresponsive, feels like trying to swing thru molasses.

    Currently in beta for Wildstar and Wildstar also has great visuals and sounds, although very different art style much more laid back and comedic. The combat however is fantastic, very fast and responsive and skill based.

    In Wildstar you need to react very quickly and with good aim or your dead plain and simple, you can be well geared and be knowledgeable about game, but you missed that important telegraph that gets you stunned and hit by the followup flurry attack and your toast.

    As i see it ESO PvP is basically GW2 WvW, with a terrible combat system. (I played daoc when it first came out and for years after, their PvP was/is the best period nothing has come close to it yet. ESO tries somewhat in style but is nowhere near as good and the combat system is atrocious.)

    So if the art style is appealing to you i definitely recommend Wildstar, its action combat is far superior to ESO, and game play seems like alot of fun.

  15. Mike says:

    I’d call it a “should try”. You should’ve played some more beta. If I end up playing, it’ll be down the road when the purchase price goes down and/or they drop the sub. What little I played of one of the beta weekends felt like Skyrim meets standard MMORPG. I’m not a fan of certain things they’ve done like adding superfluous “classes” on top of a classless system, and selling the ability to play cross-faction races. Also if you haven’t played any of the previous ES games you’re likely not going to have a whole lot of an instant connection to TESO. 

  16. BlopBlop says:

    Me and my friend played TESO beta, and was really dissapointed in it. It is neither a good MMO, nor a good elder scroll game. We love the traditional holy trinity games (he is a tank in every game, and i’m an elitist dps), more than free-to-do-what-you-want style (GW2) and TESO was the worst. On the rare occasions we were in a group, we had no idea how the aggro works, how to tank a mob or how to teamwork. There was no damage numbers to know which of my skills were the stronger. It was just a mess, everybody killed one mob he choosed to, not paying any attention to anyone else. We quit before the end of the beta.

    However, we got a free Wildstar beta key, played it for a few hour, and pre-ordered it immediately. Now I played both a Stalker and an Esper for 18+ and stopped playing the game. Because it is so good, I want to enjoy it when it is released!
    Yes, you have to watch the telegraphs, yeah you don’t have a Y axis. But in PvE you have boss fights where everybody needs to move constantly, dodge constantly, you need good communication and team work (interrupt armor). It has the best fight mechanics since sunwell.
    In PvP you can outskill anyone if you can avoid telegraphs. You can kill 4-5 level higher players in world pvp with ease if you are better. I won a lot of 2vs1 fight on my esper (which is considered one of the weaker classes).
    I like the humor in WS, and the aesthetic as well. It will become boring, I know that, every game I played became boring at some point. But it has so much to do, it will probably last for 2-3 times more than other games.

    In the end, i just want to say, I’m happy to read another post from you, and really hope to see some gameplay from you in WS. I played SWTOR a lot (it was one of my favorite games, shame to not reach its full potential), and your videos made me play the powertech.
    However if you choose TESO I’m looking forward for your videos of it, maybe they will convince me to buy that game too :)

    P.S. sorry for my English

  17. Serialnerd says:

    ESO is not a bad game like many have said but it’s not the game for me. I played in six plus betas and pre purchased the “Imperial” edition to give it a fair shot once live.

    The issues that I dislike the most:

    1. No free cursor, just like in Never Winter it’s not an interface design I’m in favor of.

    2. No tame tags or the option to have them in PvE, As someone stated above finding the NPC you want can and be rage inducing. I understand the don’t want name tags for PvP and that is fine but for all PvE content they should at lease give you the option.

    3. Combat does feel slow, not really molasses slow but more like soft butter or warm sour cream :)

    My guild really enjoys the game and we have a large contingent playing, I just won’t be one of them.
    I feel the real problem in ESO is that they wanted to do things “Differently” just for the sake of being different not that it added a better game play experience or was more engaging, and to this end I feel the game suffers some.

    I have only played in two Wild Star betas and enjoyed my limited time. It seems more fast paced and more inline like other current MMO’s on the market IE specific rolls, skills trees, etc… and that is my preference. I have not pre purchased yet for release on June 3rd but I am eyeing a Rocket House…what is not to like about a Rocket House :)

  18. Winged Nazgul says:

    Copy/pasted from my guild forums:

    I am not an Elder Scrolls fan by any means. I have both Oblivion and Skyrim in my Steam library but I probably have an hour total spent on both games. The combat and sandboxy nature just never appealed to me.

    My first ESO beta definitely did not win me over as I barely made it out of Cold Harbour. Everything just felt so bland and generic. It was no great loss as I was planning on playing Wildstar over it anyways, a title I’d been following with enthusiasm for many years.

    But then I read about the unique systems (PVP, skills, crafting, etc.) in the game and its developers who seemed to be bending over backwards to please its audience (putting in a first-person view for instance). So I figured it warranted another try to get to level 10 at least and see for myself. I never did make it in successive betas as I ran into one quest bug after another that kept halting my progress. But I saw and experienced enough that I felt it warranted a pre-order. If anything else, it would help me pass the time while I waited on Wildstar to release.

    I am enjoying this game far more than I thought I ever would. The achiever in me is just going nuts trying to do and see everything in this game and I haven’t even tried proper PVP yet (I want to get my build perfected first). It really is a beautifully crafted MMO both in immersive graphics and unique game systems. The bugs can be annoying but as someone who went through Funcom’s AOC and TSW launches, this is a walk in the park.

    I don’t know if this will hold me for the long-term as I tend to burn out of MMO’s when the only content left is grinding group dungeons/raids for gear but it’s already had me second-guessing my decision to pre-order Wildstar.

    Addendum: IMO the build customization and PVP in ESO would suit you much better than Wildstar.

  19. Attic says:

    I’d rate it a Should-Play-Eventually-Maybe myself.

    I’m only playing because my old GW2 guildmates are playing for the RvR and I’m pretty burnt out on Planetside 2.

    Thus far it’s enjoyable enough. The combat is along the lines of WARs: not as balanced and well done as say SWTOR circa 1.1.2(or whatever patch was before they ruined everything), but a hell of a lot better than the mess that was Rift. I don’t understand the complaints about it being slow or having bad animations at all

    The RvR is way better than GW2s, the map alone allows for so many other ways to play apart from zerg or be zerged. Never mind the fact that everyone can stealth out of combat. Though the current campaigns are just as big a mess faction wise as the WvW balance was in GW2 at launch. Hopefully they’ll stabilize soon

    There’s loads of build possibilities, but your ability to experiment with them is EXTREMELY hampered by expense. Sure there’s like 300-ish skill points in the game or w/e and you only really need 150-ish to make a build that’s decked out, but if you want to play around with all the various abilities morphs you’re going to need to respec. A lot. Which comes with the oh-so-familar rapidly escalating gold cost attached to it

    Unlike everyone else, I don’t really have much to say about Wildstar. I got to level 20-ish a few months ago and decided I didn’t like it much. The PvP is just too damn spammy for my tastes. You end up watching the floor more than anything else, even though the floor doesn’t really tell you about the severity of the attack so you might end up using your precious dodges avoiding something utterly trivial.

    Honestly, if there was anything at the moment I would rate a Must Try for you Taugrim, it would be SMITE. Like Benny said above me, it’s a wonderful little game that can be loads of fun without a ton of time investment. If I could get more of my friends to play it with me, I’d have probably passed on TESO altogether.

  20. dc says:

    My advice: wait.

    I usually say that combat mechanics are the most important feature of any MMO. I don’t log in to play hide-and-seek or decorate my e-house. If combat isn’t fun, I’m not going to like the game. While ESO’s combat is not especially to my taste (quite frankly, I hated the beta and needed only a few hours to decide I wasn’t interested in the game), I’ll admit that both ESO and Wildstar have sufficient depth in their combat systems to warrant exploration and experimentation, provided you have even some slight incentive (boredom, friends playing, need material for a new column, etc.).

    (Aside, a friend insists that the most basic indicator of whether or not a game will be worth his time is jumping. If jumping looks stupid, doesn’t work well, or has no effect on gameplay, the game won’t be fun. The rule has held since Mario Brothers, he contends, and won’t change any time soon).

    That said (and here comes the important part):

    The quality of PvP depends not only on combat mechanics but on player population. A game with excellent mechanics but a small or weak population leaves you with long periods of downtime between matches and decreases your chances of finding opponents (and teammates) of comparable skill. Even if you like the combat system, if you don’t have quality opponents, you won’t enjoy the PvP (see SWTOR’s decision to shut down 8v8 ranked warzones, for example). By the autumn, you’ll have a good sense of whether the population of each game warrants giving it a more serious look.

    As an extra advantage, if you come in a little later, each game’s developers will have already made a few passes of bug fixes, so you can count on a slightly less frustrating experience.

    Good luck and please keep posting. Yours is one of the more interesting gaming blogs available, Ed.

  21. brannagar says:

    Having played both Wildstar and ESO, I will totally agree with the poster you quoted. ESo starts off slow but gets better and better. Wildstar starts off better but gets worse and gets a “been there, done that” feel.

    The PvP in ESO is eons better than Wildstar and the PvE keeps getting better as you level. I also detested the pseudo-action combat in Wildstar and the huge neon DANGER boxes all over the place. ESO’s combat isn’t perfect but its better than Wildstar.

    Its funny that I am seeing a lot of people who disliked ESO in beta starting to enjoy the game. Keen is starting to do a 180 on his opinion and I see a lot of other people doing it as well. ESO grows on you like a fungus.

    • Geldarion says:

      You’ll have to describe why ESO has better PvP than Wildstar. Wildstar PvP is freakin’ awesome. I couldn’t get to the level to PvP in ESO in a decent enough time frame because that game’s combat is so boring I almost nodded off, literally. I played for 4 hours and didn’t get to PvP.

      Wildstar, on the other hand, is chaotic and flashy, true. To the untrained eye, the telegraphs are almost useless and you get mowed down. To a practiced player (played it in Beta for about 14 months now), you start recognizing shapes, realize how to position yourself, and you walk away with health.

      Wildstar has a VERY high skill cap. It is actually hard. I died more while leveling one character from level 1-50 more times than I did leveling 9 characters in SWTOR to 55 put together. And it wasn’t miserable dying, because the victories were so sweet.

      The leveling PvE actually teaches you how to fight effectively. I have heard people describe the 5 man dungeons while leveling as harder than raid bosses in other games. Veteran modes at level 50 are insane. Then you have 20- and 40-man raiding.

      In PvP, they actually get it. I have talked one-on-one with the devs, and they understand how rating and brackets segregate the players. They have x-server from day one. Three different types of arenas, two BGs, and a really intense 40-man PvP system at launch, plus a BG on its way to being ready post-launch. TESO has only one flavor of PvP.

      I have seen their tools. They are amazingly modular. They have built small instances in one day from start to finish. They will probably have some amazing turnaround time. They literally went to talk to the guys at ArenaNet to “get lessons” on being fast at turning out content.

      Here is how much the devs get it: when asked about Open World PvP, they always say they are waiting until launch. Why? Because they want to see how players naturally interact in OWPvP, and then they will add systems that enhance that natural OW experience. No more Outlaw’s Den in SWTOR in the middle of nowhere not getting used.

      The revamp of LOTRO’s Moors right after Moria that made it worlds better? That was Jen Gordy, the PvP lead for Wildstar. Tanking in PvP Warhammer that trickled down to SWTOR? Yeah, she worked on that game too. Taunts and guard mechanics are in Wildstar as well (not quite as standardized as SWTOR though, only one of the tanks has that kind of guard).

      Crowd-control is also a game in itself. You get disoriented? They temporarily remap your movement keys. You get blinded? Your vision blurs but you can still use your skills. You will probably not aim worth crap, but still…You get disarmed? Your weapon is actually on the ground, go get it! You get stunned? Hit a button, get out early.

      They basically made their stealth class have a permanent stealth skill with no runspeed decrease (at least in everything but the big spiky damage stance), and then when you are in combat, you can hit it again with a 20-second cooldown to get stealth bonuses. You don’t actually drop aggro or disappear fully, but you get the bonuses. You can also build the stalker to be mobile and a bit beefier, staying out of stealth with no real repercussions. Basically, they made a stealth class that addressed all of Taugrim’s problems with stealth classes in a post he made about two years ago. http://taugrim.com/2012/02/03/taugrim-daily-3-my-solution-for-making-rogues-viable-for-sustained-pvp-combat/

      Anyway, I will be playing Wildstar after being very disappointed with how SWTOR’s Arenas turned out. I look forward to seeing any of you in the Warplot matches, especially since it is going to be cross-server. 40v40 fortress fighting, here I come! http://www.wildstar-online.com/en/news/warplots-epic-drop-is-here/

  22. Dinkle says:

    Hey Taug, it’s your ol’ Guildmate DINKLE!!!

    I don’t have anything quite as articulate to say as the other people that have replied so I’m going to give you my pros and cons for both ESO and Wildstar.

    ESO Pros:
    -The crafting system is actually ‘fun’ and I’ve never crafted in any MMO save ESO.
    -The world is lovely – there is a ton to explore and find (although know you’re not a huge PvE person.)
    – PvP has potential, I’ve only played Cyrodil briefly due to time constraints but it could be amazing fun with a bigger group.
    – Character customization is pretty fantastic. There really are no min-max builds from what I can tell. You pretty much will get enough points eventually to unlock every ability but only be able to use those in limited amounts.

    ESO Cons:
    – Phasing in PvE makes it extremely hard to play with friends, sometimes even impossible.
    -The game as it stands has more than a few bugs, a few of which can even keep you from advancing. (They are addressing them quickly.)
    – Sometimes combat feels a little clunky, Also targeting in the game is similar to TERA. I.E If my cursor was over you when I cast a spell it will automatically hit you unless you duck behind a wall or perhaps dodge.
    -PVE Mobs are pretty un-challenging and boring (This isn’t a comment on the story lines, I love those.)

    Wildstar Pros:
    – (Personal Opinion) The game-play and game-feel is great! A mix between arcade style beat em’ ups and MOBAs.
    – Every offensive ability is a skill shot that can be avoided, missed or course-corrected at any part of the casting or activating.
    – Healing in low level PvP is a great challenge and really engaging. Efficiently aimed heals meaning the difference between keeping someone alive or not. (Skill cap!)
    – Character customizations looks to support the more min-max approach of previous MMOs, but it’s still there.
    – PvE can actually be a challenge if you play like a suicidal idiot (i.e ME!)

    Wildstar Cons:
    – Quest hubs (BOOO!)
    – Gear hurdles!? This point I’m not too sure about, but Wildstar may end up with the issues of other MMOs; PvP gear may have TOO much of an influence during the endgame.
    – WoW Syndrome. While the game is nothing like WoW if we’re talking big picture, there are design choices reminiscent of WoW.
    – UI overload. The UI can get in the way at times and I hope there will be addons to replace or remove it entirely.
    – Unknown endgame PvP. Carbine has been very tight lipped about the endgame PvP. We really have no idea how Warfronts (40v40) are going to work and it’s winding down to launch time. It’s a concern.

    Conclusion:
    Honestly I’ll probably play both games, but Wildstar is MY game. ESO has a lot of design choices the I like and might ever prefer.

  23. kharnamatic says:

    I played a few hours of the TESO Beta, hated it, but “in the interests of science/blogging” bought the game anyway days before launch (also nothing was happening in WoW so I could unsub).

    I am now very happy that I bought the game. My main complaint with the beta was the lack of collision detection, which made combat floaty, unsatisfying and first person melee especially a joke. In the live version, collision detection is in, and it has done a lot to fix the game. There’s now weight to the melee combat.

    I’m also having a lot of fun with building my character. This isn’t WoW or Diablo 3 where you essentially are told how to play your class (we removed the talent tree/ability to pick attributes, now we the devs decide what abilities you should get). This is classic Skyrim/Elder Scrolls leveling. You can use any weapon, wear any armor you like, and each level you pick health,stamina or magicka to invest in. I decided to make a heavy armor bow wielding sorcerer for the lols when I bought the game … and it actually works well (too bad you have to be sword and board to tank :(). What’s more skills don’t have cooldowns in the game! You can do absolutely crazy awesome stuff like have a spammable blink teleport or spell reflect! In the game you only get 10 abilities + 2 ultimates + light/heavy attack/dodge/interrupt, but with all skills spammable, you are constantly choosing what to use and feeling like an active participant in combat. This was the problem with Guild Wars 2 / Diablo 3, all too often you were waiting for cooldowns to finish with the limited abilities you have, spamming one ability in Diablo 3, or refusing to slot cool abilities because they had too long cooldowns and you only had so few buttons (Diablo 3 wizard meteor looked really cool but not really justifiable to slot :()

    I agree the default UI is terrible but the game has modding support, and on day one I was able to get unit frames, minimap and DPS meter installed.

    Finally, the leveling experience has been incredible. The MMO quest padding is gone in this game. This isn’t SWTOR: there are barely any kill or gather “filler” quests, and if so, you only have to gather a few items (like 4 items not 20 in other MMOs). Each area you go to usually has one quest chain that tells an involved story, that changes the quest zone after you finish it. For instance you might be asked to free a city from a pirate occupation. After you beat the quest, that city will be pirate-free and populated with civilians and traders! Also there is very little annoying running back and forth like in SWTOR. The quest chains flow nicely and there is little busywork. The solo questing is actually like playing Skyrim minus the killing friendly NPCs.

    I am holding off on PvP, because based on my experience in every MMO ever, a lowbie in PvP is just fodder. But watching youtube videos it seems they fixed the lag problem: 100s of players onscreen with explosions everywhere and no slowdown.

    Oh and taugrim, about Wildstar: LOL. At least TESO is trying to do something new with MMOs, and should be played to see whether those innovations pan out. But everything I’ve read of Wildstar is that they’re trying to make a copy of vanilla WoW for the “hardcore” nostalgic crowd, like 40 man raids when there’s a reason Blizzard dropped them for 10,25 and 20-man. Then the previews came out on massively, and all I’ve heard is bad things about Wildstar: boring kill and fetch quests, being set in the future yet still having to walk around instead of you know having a car or buggy from the get go (something Defiance got right).

    • kharnamatic says:

      (By not having a mount very early on in Wildstar, I mean to say that the game is sticking to old and tired MMO time-wasting conventions that don’t make any sense in its setting, but it’s there … just because WoW did it)

  24. acesoul says:

    I would love to see you do a TESO version of buildcast. That was my first thought when researching all the viable options per class.

    The first few betas I tried didn’t really interest me that much but after lvl 10 I really started to enjoy the game. They made improvements between each beta that kept me coming back so I preordered and have been enjoying my limited playtime immensely.

    I’m having a lot of fun tinkering around with different class, weapon and armor skills to find the combination that suits me best. I like that there is the flexibility in how many extra skill points you’ll have at max level to be able to fill multiple roles by swapping gear/weapons if you’ve invested them wisely.

    The melee combat is growing on me and doesn’t feel as unsatisfying as per collision beta. The game is buggy sometimes but quickly patched and I feel the devs are really listening to the player base and responding adequately.

    • vkejai says:

      I hated ESO beta, I lasted a few hours tops, I have now bought the game at my sons nagging , and I must say it is a lot better , and tbh I cant wait to get on it. I think its a high learning curve to traditional MMOs , but I think you should really give the game a chance .

  25. Sam says:

    Ed my recommendation is to give it a try. I have played both ESO and Wildstar BETA and I hands down prefer ESO. ESO clearly has very high production values which are evident in almost every aspect of the game. Although it does have its share of bugs, Zenimax has been fairly quick to address most problems. The world PVP is excellent, and is really reminiscent of DAOC. The only complaint I have is the time it takes to travel to enemy structures and strongholds.

    To be fair, one of the big reasons I prefer ESO to Wildstar is that I am strongly averse to anything that bears significant resemblance to WoW. It’s not that I think WoW is a bad game – I devoted more than 5 years and thousands of hours of my life to the game. However, like you I am a very busy working professional, and I felt that WoW demanded far too much of my time to be competitive. If a huge focus of the endgame is on raiding – which seems to be the case with Wildstar – I tend to stay away.

    • Aakek says:

      Time to travel between structures/strongholds is part of what made DAOC rvr work and part of what made it fail in other games (because travel time was too short thus making open field actions highly limited)

      The endgame in Wildstar for PvP revolves around Rated Battlegrounds, Rated Arena, and yes Raid (ie Warplots).

  26. Pitrelli says:

    I have to disagree with the quote from massively I actually found Wildstar got progressively better as I played and the game opened up more. 1-10 was very much on rails and after that it feels like it opens up a lot more and by my second beta I’d been convinced enough to pre purchase.

    I just love the style and humor that Wildstar has and found myself just exploring the different zones and enjoying what they have created. I did have bug bears around the questing model however can overlook this due to the fact the combat was so fast, skill based and most importantly enjoyable.

    ESO I cant comment on as I didnt play any of the betas and gave away my beta keys. From watching streams/ reading blogs etc I dont have the feeling I missed out though. Combat and animations look weird and there is no open world PvP which is an automatic deal breaker for me. PvPing in one zone only just doesnt float my boat.

    At the end of the day opinions will differ but for me Wildstar is the superior game and has more to offer long term with an impressive amount of varied content at launch.

    • Dinkle says:

      I agree, I was a little crestfallen when I found out ESO was another game that compartmentalized PvP from the open questing world.

      That takes some fun out of it for me, but I still like the game overall.

  27. Brewstir says:

    ESO player here. Bout 32 right now and I am enjoying this slower levelling game. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a few guidies that are 50 already but they don’t have lives and didn’t craft at all. I think you should try it Taugrim for the sheer reason you can theory craft something completely ridiculous and make it work.

    I agree that the pvp qualiy is based on finding a stable base of players to play with and against but when you do, the big battles are truly epic if your computer can handle it. On the sides there are fun little skirmishes you can get into with stragglers or small units trying to get to objectives.

    Combat speed is a little lower than I like but there is no GCD so I’m not constantly staring at a cool down button. It’s a trade off but I do like the unlimited combos of attacks versus defensive abilities and heals or ultimates.

    Dungeons have been fun as well and we have taken 3 DPS plus heals or Tank plus 3 healers or 2 off healers with all of us focused on DPS. If ya play smart you can win the dungeons.

    So anyway, I vote try it and re-evaluate at level 20.

  28. Kayne says:

    Save your money for Wildstar. No battlegrounds on ESO would concern me. Big fan. I really enjoy your articles and miss your streams.

  29. Danrex says:

    Hey Taugs, Frizzle here. I still think you should give ESO a try. It does grow on you and and WvW is amazing.

  30. My two cents : ESO only has one type of PvP. If you like the idea of unstructured zerg festivals where the majority of people just stand at 40 yards or w/e max range is and then shoot then ESO is for you. One of my least favourite types of pvp is two groups of 40 players all standing at max range spamming each other so I would say don’t even consider ESO until some *proper* structured and balanced PvP is put into the game.

  31. vkejai says:

    What would you call structured PvP lol ? Real life battles are normally started at range and then you push the enemy . It normally takes good leadership to get things going , otherwise battles would be like world war 1 .

    If you like capture the flag and mini games Eso is not the game for you, but you cant say Eso’s PvP is not how it should be … The game is about big battles and such , not your typical WoW clone.

    • Danrex says:

      (Frizz here again). Completely agree and also I would add that there are plenty of people who go solo and kill people passing by to get to the zerg. And actually this is quite an effective strategy. There are also small groups doing this. I also like it because you can use cover etc to stay out of the attacks and get people that are drifting away from the pack if you are melee. It’s all about situational awareness. I find that this is not like GW2 at when it comes to the zerg. I have seen plenty of times where a big zerg gets nailed by a smaller group that has bottlenecked them. In fact, I have seen very few players do this to large groups.

      I completely agree with what the guy said about ESO. It is very slow going at first but just keeps getting better and better for me.

  32. Albertoski says:

    Dont play it, is a 2005 MMO, stupid way of gaining skill points, crap UI, robotic movements… and AvA doesnt excel gw2 RvR. I guess you wont ike it.

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