The Elder Scrolls Online — you can’t go home again

I think it was Divinity: Original Sin that rekindled my desire to play MMOs. I don’t know what it is about “leveling” that I find so appealing but damn, I love to do it! D:OS has leveling but they’re so miserly in dishing out new levels that it was creating an itch that needed scratching. So where can a person scratch the leveling itch? Pretty much any MMO.

But which one? I’ve been dabbling all week. Re-installed both The Secret World and Guild Wars 2 and dipped my toes in. Last night I went back to The Elder Scrolls Online. I loved this game just a short time ago, but then I had something bad happen to me and had to wrestle with customer support over it. I got my issue resolved but it took a few weeks. Between that and the failed experiment of playing Wildstar my TESO cadence had been shattered.

Part of the resolution of my problem was that Zenimax gifted me an additional month of access, so I’m paid up for something like 60 days of TESO at this point (I’d signed up for the 3 month plan). I figured if I was paying for it I should play it, right?

I logged in and my immediate reaction was joy. I love how realistic TESO is. I love that everyone isn’t wearing technicolor armor fighting bright pink killer teddy bears or whatever. I love the lack of sophomoric humor. I popped open my quest journal and spent some time remembering what I’d been doing. The nice thing about TESO’s limited number of active skills was that I hadn’t forgotten how to play yet (when I go back to EQ2 I spend about 2 hours just remembering what all my 30 or so skills do).

Within just a few minutes I was back out there fighting bad guys. Rolling out of danger, hitting them with a life siphon, then charging back in to send them flying. Combat in TESO just feels SO good. When you stagger an opponent and then wind up for a powerful hit that just knocks them flat it feels SO…DAMNED…GOOD!

But that joy didn’t last. After about an hour I felt like I’d had enough. Somehow the game just wasn’t the same for me, and I’m not sure why. The little annoyances (like managing inventory) were bothering me more than they used to. Combat started to feel rote, quests were feeling stale, and then I started thinking about spamming zone chat with LFG shouts to do the next dungeon and… I just logged out.

When I was in my 20’s and still living in my home town I spent a lot of time in bars. I had my favorites where I knew the bartenders and ‘the gang’ and walking in after a bad day was just uplifting.

A few years after I’d moved out of the area I went back to my home town and visited some of those same bars, and at first it was awesome. Lots of the same bartenders, lots of the same gang, warm welcomes from all. But I never stayed long. Nothing had changed really, except me. I wasn’t ‘connected’ to that world any more, I guess.

I feel the same way about The Elder Scrolls Online I guess. I no longer feel connected to what’s going on. I’ve been away too long. I do think I could re-connect if I just focused on playing for a few days but I’m not really ready to seriously commit to an MMO right now. I just want to dabble. I’m still playing Dragon Age: Origins on the PS3, and once the weekend comes I’ll be back into Divinity (that’s not a weeknight game…it plays too slowly to try to enjoy it in hour-long sessions), and next week the Destiny beta starts up and I’ll be playing that.

It’s a shame to let 60 days of game time run down without playing but that might be what I do, and it’s another good reason not to subscribe to an MMO unless you’re wholly committed to it. (To be fair, I’d convinced myself I WAS wholly committed to TESO when I subscribed.) I think I’ll go back to ‘dabbling’ in Guild Wars 2. Why is that better? I think because I’ve been away so long that it feels ‘new’ and I’m having to re-learn its systems. Sometimes I think I get more enjoyment out of learning about a game than I do from actually playing the game. Maybe that’s way I start so many and finish so few.

One thought on “The Elder Scrolls Online — you can’t go home again

  1. Leveling is one of my favorite things too. I don’t know why as it can be so tedious, but in some games, my end game is to make a new toon and level again! I might challenge myself to do it differently. As fast as I can, or maybe by only doing quests X levels above me…

    As for the ESO problem… I’ve had similar experience in other games.. Almost an “I want to love it, but having a hard time doing so”. I did discover that if I had taken a break from it, sometimes starting a new toon for a few levels just to get a fresh perspective is what was needed. Other times it doesn’t work out.

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