So, I've been playing Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) for about two weeks now, and it's the best gaming experience I have ever had.
No game, single-player or MMO, has ever encouraged exploring as much as ESO does. Not only are you not bound by zones or level and can go freely anywhere in the world from the first moment and always have a fighting chance, but there are so many hidden chests, unmarked locations on the map, small abandoned campsites or other environment locations scattered everywhere that it is just a joy to wander around looking for crafting materials and stumbling upon these little secrets.
Each quest has a full story with voice acting, they have twists, you have choices how to play or end the quest, they all blend into the overall story of the game and lore, there is literally no fetch quest whatsoever, and the game rewards you with something small wherever you go.
What is especially refreshing for an MMO and something I have never had before is the game scales even the loot and things you can pick up from crafting material spots to your level, so you always find stuff you can use immediately, you never have to run around with a level 20 item while you're level 10 blocking your inventory, you can always craft something with the things you find and it will be useful right away, it's just a joy. And leveling up becomes so much more rewarding because you start finding new things in locations you've visited before, but you never have that experience of "you can't farm this material yet" or "this crafting spot is for lvl20 and above" messages like you have in FF14 or other MMOs, because you will simply never encounter such a thing before you actually have that level.
The monsters feel well balanced, the battle system is great and has a learning curve with blocking, dodging, interrupting enemy attacks and all kinds of other elements, and even though it is an MMO you can completely single-player through basically all of it. The few locations or super-hard bosses where you will need other players are awesome too, because you don't need to form guilds or parties, you just go there and if you happen to see someone fighting the boss you just join in, hit the boss and you'll still get the loot. This happened to me twice and the other players were always happy that they had one more guy buffing them and helping them with the boss, and if there's nobody there you just send a zone message and after a few minutes random people will come to the spot where the boss is and fight alongside you.
Same goes for the normal game, the other players are never a nuisance and don't disturb the single-player experience that I love, but it's actually a relief when you accidentally run into a group of monsters and some random person passing by helps you out with some frost magic, this also happened to me many times. In one dungeon that clearly was meant for groups and I went in anyway two dudes saved me from a group of monsters and then actually waited for me to tag along with them and I ended up clearing the whole dungeon with them patiently taking me from location to location so I could finish the quest.
But clearly the best aspect is exploration, because it is just so rewarding. Anywhere you look there is something worth looking, and the game has so many elements that encourage and reward exploration.
I always liked MMOs because of their scale and the sense of adventure, but ESO is the first one that doesn't feel grindy, it has the best story and the most amount of story of any MMO in my experience and it really feels like you're exploring Tamriel with a bunch of other people who are doing the same.
I just had to write this down because I am so happy about the experience this game offers. What a great time to be a gamer. Thank you, The Elder Scrolls Online
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