The more I inspect the world of Tamriel in The Elder Scrolls Online, the more I'm filled with a sense of slight unease. It is as if instead of romping across the mountains of Skyrim or wading through the marshes of Vvardenfell as in previous games, carving out a niche for myself in a living, breathing world, I find myself in a museum or sorts, or a grand theatrical historical experience, surrounded by actors and other tour audience members. Tamriel in TESO is beginning to feel more like a showroom (a very big one) than a world that's actually alive.
The presence of other characters is beginning to grate when it comes to PvE, being out in the big wide world. It just doesn't really fit, and I'm having to suspend an enormous amount of disbelief. Having played WildStar for hours on end, I have to say that NCsoft's game made sense -- you're on a frontier world, scrambling to do everything that you can to carve out a niche. It would follow that certain pillars of the community would be in demand, and I could more easily ignore multiple characters swarming about the place. There are obvious benefits to having fellow adventurers alongside you for certain areas that absolutely require a group, but on a moment to moment level, it's sometimes a little disconcerting.
Part of that has to do with the fact that the game seems to not know exactly what it wants to be. Exploring the frozen tundra of Bleakrock, having persevered with the Ebonheart Pact, occasionally feels a lot like playing Skyrim, and there are moments when I've found myself wandering the wastes in relative solitude. But often the constructs are a bit of a lie, with objects and bodies that might otherwise be interactive rendered inert here, like window dressing -- serving the showroom vibe rather than contributing to the world.
That said, I rocked up to an abandoned fishing camp and got out my rod and stayed for ten minutes or so, catching fish to later sell. By the time I left, five more people had arrived, and there we were, angling in snowy serenity. Then we teamed up and went off to deal with the Frozen Man and his riddles, only one member of our group glitched out and couldn't complete the quest and wasted half an hour thanks to a bug.
There's so much I'm enjoying about TESO, but it always seems like there's a caveat just around the corner.
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