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

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:

I’ve been disappointed with a lot of the games in MMORPG space since 2008
My free time is limited – my job as a digital product manager has kept me busy in RL
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).