Tuesday, April 22, 2014

More Thoughts on the Elder Scrolls Online

Rarely does any game leave me as conflicted as ESO. I like the questing, I like the stories, I like the exploration, I like the skill system, I like the crafting. I really like hunting skyshards, especially how they are listed in the Achievements section, but each is listed with a clue, and you can use the clues to hunt them down. That was very clever, and leveraged the Achievement system beautifully.

Almost every system in system in the game is enjoyable, save one. Unfortunately that one system I dislike is the combat.

Combat is just--I don't really know how to describe it well-- "doughy". It's not crisp, it's not satisfying. Fights don't seem to flow, like they should. I often feel like I am flailing rather than in control of the fight, with wild swings in health and resources. I guess it kind of works, and it is serviceable. But I really do not look forward to combat in this game.

Very often, I'll start a new quest, enter an area with many enemies and lots of combat ahead. My first instinct on these occasions is to log out.

Now, maybe it's my class. I'm playing a Templar with a 2H weapon and heavy armor. A little fire magic and healing, along with big melee hits. Maybe another playstyle would work better. I also haven't tried group combat. Perhaps that stabilizes things.

In so many ways, ESO is the mirror image of Tera. I can't help but think that if they could have been combined in some fashion, it would have been an amazing game.


  1. I'm finding that I really enjoy my DK that I've built as a fire wizard using an inferno staff. It's very AE-focused and so I enjoy looking for big packs of mobs to kill and get annoyed when there's only 1 mob wandering around on his own. Most of the AE's are centered on my character though, so I have to run into melee and start firing them off. When I do, healers and ranged mobs tend to move away from me so as to not be caught in my AE's so I have to pop a root to keep them in range.

    It's also fun when the mobs are also "on of the player classes" and use their abilities on me and I can recognize them and go "Oh that one's a dk, leave it for later. Kill the healer!"

    Conversely, my sorcerer (who I've built as a rogue, actually) is very good at single-target burst, but kinda sucks at AE so he prefers smaller groups of 1-2 mobs. If the group is larger, he has to survey it to see if there's a healer and if there is then burst it down fast and then worry about trying to take the others out faster than they can take him. Just got a nice mez spell, so that will also help going forward, I think. But still -- I have to be tactical in my thinking and it's definitely a very different play style than simply "run in, root, spam AE's" like I can do on my DK.

    Interestingly enough (to me, anyway) is that my nightblade healer is also my tankiest character right now. Can't really burst a mob down until it's low health and I can pop an execute on it, but my main spell attack heals me (and 2 group mates if I have them) and then when I do heavy attacks with my healing staff the final hit of the channel also pops a heal on me, and I haven't even touched my healing spells yet... and one of them when cast puts a large defensive buff on my which caps me out on spell resist and armor, so I can take a beating, I heal myself as I attack, etc. This one does feel a bit more "gushy" in the combat, but I think it's due to how the healing staff channel works with the mob seemingly unphased by it as it runs on in at me.

    So anyway, I guess what I'm saying with my anecdotes of 3 characters is that I can see where you're coming from, but I'm also finding the combat system surprisingly deep, with the mob reactions to be surprisingly intelligent for an AI. And the tl;dr is: I'm loving it and how the different characters have different approaches based on the skills I've given them.

  2. I play the same class and as a tank to boot. Same sort of feeling. It has 3 distinct attacks that I've seen so far. Throw a lance, throw some fireballs or stab 4 times in a row. My other attacks are tank related, so a charge, a stun and a debuff. Dragonknight has a more visceral experience.

    Sometimes it feels like I'm swinging a wet noodle around. There's just missing feedback. It gets really annoying in dungeons with lots of enemies and little idea what's going on.

  3. It's interesting that even with an entirely different developer and an entirely different engine, TESO still manages to have the exact same problem that other Elder Scrolls games do.

    Maybe it's just an indication of how "good" the idea of a FPS melee game is.

  4. @RJ, I'm playing it in 3rd person though. So it's pretty much the same as all the other MMOs.

  5. All Elder Scrolls games have always had a dubious combat feeling.

  6. I am REALLY loving combat in this game.

    I think it might come down to the mix of skills you choose and how they work with each other.

    I play a dragonknight and am using the chain pull (forget the name), Searing Strike, Cleave, Reverse Slash, Fire breath and my ultimate is Dragon Leap.

    It seems a natural progression from one skill to the next with l-click attacks thrown in to conserve magicka/stamina.

    Try shuffling your bar around or slotting different skills for a different feel. I bet you'll come up with something nice!

  7. I had a similar reaction; ESO had a lot of good points but the combat had a "floaty" feeling that made me feel very disconnected from what was going on. Even though it is supposed to be more "active" than others, I still feel more in-control of my character in games like WoW, and I feel like they give better feedback.

  8. Rohan: Even if you play it in third person, though, it still uses the first-person style to interact. Which is the same in other Elder Scrolls games.

  9. I disagree that combat is like this in all TES games... skyrim had much better combat.. you had the feeling that you were hitting the enemy... the weapon swings came naturally and on par with the button press.

    Also in TES games, various mods alter the combat, the animations, the characters and they do wonders... Zenimax forgot that ESO will not let moders to fix things in combat/animation/characters.

  10. Yup, combat was and is still the worst part it seems. I also didn't like the empty feeling of the world and the questing but combat completely killed it for me in the beta. :/ after watching AJ's review the other day, it seems the whole coop system in PVE is also really borked because of horrible quest management and phasing, so I'm kinda not sad I never got there. some things are too important for me to ignore.