[ESO] MMO Tropes in re: ESO
In the fantasy MMO genre there are certain tropes which pop up about gameplay, mechanics, and classes. On the one hand they allow movement from game to game without needing to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, but on the other hand they also lend themselves to accusations of sameness, copycatting, and even blandness. The latest trope to try to get some differentiation is in the stories being told as you move through the game. SWTOR made a huge deal about their “4th pillar” of story for each class and planet. TSW actually has a much better story arc overall, I think, but there’s also really only 1 story regardless of the faction you choose. ESO is also going on with the “big stories” idea, but as I mentioned in passing the other day, there’s something of a sameness even here. The hook for the quests generally are something along the lines of “My ancestor did something bad and now I’m cursed, please help me break it.” This does take many forms (our village is being overtaken by corrupted magic, a werewolf is back from the dead, we’re all skeletons please free us from undeath, *I* am the moron who bought the curse on us, etc), but the overall gist is really the same. J3w3l at Healing the Masses has noticed this too and posted about it in more detail. Since I’m playing multiple factions simultaneously, I’m seeing it across the factions as well. I don’t mind it — it does give a motivation for going through the game, not just “hey let’s slaughter everything that moves and call it a game” but it does lend itself to after a time skipping the quest text becuz “blah blah heard it before.”
I’m not sure how this can really be combated by the devs who make the quests, though. There are only so many ways to put a story hook on kill x number of mobs while delivering this package over there while escorting the person to this other place, after all. I like how ESO tends to put the quest NPC near your location when you finish up, so you don’t have to go running back to their static location halfway across the map for your turn-in. That’s a nice little annoyance from other games that I’ve not had to deal with here. I also like how they do breadcrumb quest to send you to the next little town or whatever, but there aren’t breadcrumbs for every location so you still have to go looking for the holes in your map and explore a bit as well to get “everything” out of the game.
I guess what I’m working up to for a point here is that yes, ESO is most definitely an MMO and falls prey to many of the various tropes of MMOs, which puts off the people that wanted multi-player Skyrim, but it’s also trying to be something more as well with their megaserver and phasing, moving the NPC’s around to assist your quest flow, exploration points, and of course the stories as well. ZOS isn’t quite hitting all the right notes, but they’re hitting enough of them that for me, I’m having a hell of a good time and plan to stick with it for quite a while.
Edit to add: Just ran across this PC Gamer review of the game by way of Tobold’s Blog and the TL;DR of the review is “I wanted multiplayer Skyrim and all I got was this MMO, so therefore I must trash it for being a MMO!” I felt as I was reading it that what I just wrote here was more or less about the same things (the MMO Tropes) but that I came away with the opposite reaction as this reviewer. Diff’rent strokes and all of that. I just found it amusing that this reviewer and I had such opposite reactions to the same thing.