First off, I would like to say that this article will be using the popular World of Warcraft as an example; however it is not aimed at hardcore World of Warcraft fans, who likely will not stop playing WoW, or hardcore Elder Scrolls fans, who are likely to play ESO regardless. Rather, this article is geared towards those players of WoW that are also Elder Scrolls fans, but have an inkling that they might like to give ESO a try instead. Likewise, players of other MMOs may be able to relate to some of the issues discussed here and willing to jump on the ESO bandwagon.
[ Character Creation ]
Character Creation is one of the most important parts of an RPG. You’re playing as your own, unique character, and to a lot of people, myself included, how the character looks and stands out from everyone else is an integral part of the game. WoW’s Character Creation is one of the most primitive character creation screens on the market. While there are no less than 13 races to choose from, you are not able to choose any class freely, instead each race only has a certain number of classes available.
Customising your character is rather limited: faces, skin colour, hair style, hair colour and facial hair have a number of pre-generated options, but that’s pretty much it. There are no options to customise your physique, height or age; tattoos or earrings are restricted to certain races and genders. For example you can only have tattoos if you play a female Night Elf, although the Pandaren facial markings technically count, and the only males allowed earrings are Goblins. Also, you cannot adjust your facial dimensions. This results in you constantly running into clones of yourself, as players and NPCs have the same limited facial options. So what’s the character creation like in ESO, and are there more customisation options? ESO’s character creation eclipses WoW’s in every way, and you can check it out here: http://youtu.be/Qr4KnUSGOtI
[ Questing ]
WoW’s PvE Questing system revolves around walls of text. “Walls of Text” is one of those gaming terminology phrases that as soon as you hear it, you cringe in terror. And for the most part, WoW’s out of date questing is something to be afraid of. Unless you simply skip the text and rely solely on the quest objectives, questing is carried out by reading a wall of text in order to find out details about your mission. In fact, for some quests you won’t have any idea what you’re meant to do unless you read that annoying wall of text. Forcing players to read walls of text in a video game is frowned upon, it’s not really interacting in a virtual world.
While books, such as those in Elder Scrolls games, and the like of which will indeed be included in ESO, add detail and immersion to the game world, ideally the player should never have to read a wall of text. Granted, some quests in ESO will probably involve reading a scrap of parchment you found on the corpse of some adventurer at the bottom of a dungeon, therefore discovering a new quest, but the majority of quests in the game will be fully voice acted. Blizzard should really hire more voice actors and implement full voice acting in all new quests for future expansions.
[ Healing ]
Unless you have some significant healing abilities, healing in WoW can often be a frustrating and disheartening experience. As a rogue, I have next to no healing skills – the only one I do have relies on combo points, which I can only generate by attacking enemies. Each one heals me of a certain amount, but it’s less than adequate in the heat of battle. Having the First Aid secondary profession lessens the blow slightly, but I can only really use my windwool bandages out of combat. In other words, rogues are squishy. In ESO this problem is solved – anyone can practice healing regardless of class.
[ Combat ]
Combat in MMORPGs is one of the major aspects of the game. With WoW’s out-of-date, clunky combat system, it’s understandable why many players have abandoned the game. While ESO will come with an optional soft locking system, players will be able to simply target using a reticule, similar to action-based RPGs like Skyrim. This will keep your focus on the world itself and the battle you’re fighting in, rather than staring at your action bar and waiting on cool down rotations.
[ Dungeons ]
Dungeons in WoW are pretty much the same the world over: gather a group of friends, enter the dungeon, run through killing enemies, and collect loot, rinse and repeat. The stories associated with dungeons are weak, and there is no replay value whatsoever. Once you’ve done a particular dungeon, chances are you’ll never do it again (but maybe you enjoy grinding a dungeon over and over again for a phoenix mount loot drop.) Harkening back to the games such as Dungeons & Dragons and HeroQuest, when I think of dungeons I think of three things: Traps, Treasure and Monsters. In WoW’s dungeons, there are certainly monsters and treasure in the form of mobs, bosses and loot, but traps to avoid or disarm and locks to pick on doors or chests are nearly non-existent. ESO’s dungeons will be far superior, with more detail, actual AI on monsters, replay value and locks on chests. Hopefully traps will be in there somewhere too.
[ PvP ]
I haven’t had much experience in a player versus player environment, but what I have had in WoW has not been enjoyable. In addition to the fact that the game is infamous for griefing in PvE, there are a couple of abilities that turn me off PvP completely. These are abilities or spells that stun or cause other players to be affected by fear: they are so debilitating that a player can have complete control taken away from them for massive amounts of time. One of the things gamers hate in video games is losing control of their character, whether that’s due to too many cinematics, scripted events, QTEs, or suffering from abilities that stun or fear them. In WoW PvP stuns and fears take the entertainment value out of the game completely. For ESO the PvP looks a lot more promising, with the player being able to break out of a stun by simply using Stamina.
[ Post Launch Content ]
While WoW does a good job of patching the game on a regular basis, with a lot of new content each time, some of the more recent additions include the worst content ever released. Scenarios, introduced with Mists of Pandaria, are one of the most frustrating and difficult challenges I’ve faced in a video game. In theory they sound like a really cool concept: short instances that follow a simple story for small groups of players, resulting in epic rewards. In practice they are brutal, maddening and soul-destroyingly difficult affairs, often resulting in the player walking away empty handed.
The Thunder King patch is another example of frustratingly difficult content. Once again it sounds good at the beginning, with a questline that takes you to a completely new island filled with new content. But after a few quests, including being swamped by a multitude of top level raptors, resulting in a fight that was 10 against 1, I don’t understand how the developers at Blizzard came to the conclusion that this was “fun.” Some of the quests are solo instances, so for a rogue with minimal healing and defensive capabilities, they are next to impossible to complete. You can’t ask a friend to help you out, so if you’re not able to finish a quest, there’s nothing you can do.
While there are things to like about the Timeless Isle, which is part of the Siege of Orgrimmar patch, overall I think Blizzard’s post launch content is a bit hit-and-miss. Sure, there have been many quality updates throughout the years, but a lot of it is only accessible if you’re into large scale raiding or PvP, or seemingly designed for players who have tons of friends. I myself love to play socially, but I only play with a couple other friends; I will never really experience much of WoW’s new content. It is commendable that Blizzard’s updates focus on their main player base, but practical and useful things such as updating the primitive map system is constantly pushed aside in favour of new raids.
With a crime system, the Thieves Guild and the Dark Brotherhood, ESO has some promising post launch content on the horizon. Coupled with the fact that ESO can be treated like an Elder Scrolls game that you can play with your friends, I believe new ESO content will be appealing regardless of your style of play.
So will you decide to quit your MMORPG in favour of Elder Scrolls Online? The ball, my friend, is in your court.
[ Further Reading ]
Is Subscription the Right Choice for ESO?
Will Elder Scrolls Online Redefine the Holy Trinity?
Elder Scrolls Online Preview: The Bosmer
Andy Lex Bain is a 31 year old writer who resides in Tasmania. He enjoys writing, reading, writing video game reviews, gaming, writing fiendish campaigns for his roleplaying club "The Blades of Valour", cosplaying, bushwalking and watching movies, DVDs and anime. He aspires to be a full-time published author and basically spends his days slaving away at his computer, ShadowLord.