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  1. #1
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    Default The Elder Scrolls Online

    Having played the Beta over this last weekend, I jotted down some quick notes to record my own impressions, and these have somehow become a “review”. The NDA still applies to individuals (but not to the press) so I must leave out the details, but for anyone interested here are my impressions.

    The scenery.

    Gorgeous. Not just highly detailed and beautifully rendered, but they have right balance between 'Perfect World' style eye candy, and gritty reality. The landscapes, townscapes and everything in them are clearly the result of loving attention, and the results are somehow both stunning and plausible.

    I liked that they avoided the repetition that made Oblivion and Skyrim a little disappointing after Morrowind. Every region has its own ecology, architecture, culture and politics, and there is enough variation in building blocks not to notice that each cave is presumably made from the same tiles as the last one. The world is vast, and any explorers out there will have a great time.

    The Community.

    It was a highly advertised Beta weekend and the were apparently aiming at half a million online. The area chat was mostly goodnatured and often sensible. I got the feeling that there were TES fans, and MMO players, and that the former were generally happier than the latter.

    Lag and Bugs

    It took ages to log on, which is not surprising given the volume. In about ten hours of play I found and reported four or five different bugs, which seems fair for a Beta. Is it going to be clean when released on 4th April? Who knows but it seems pretty robust to me.

    The Story.

    Very familiar if you have played any TES game, and in complete contrast to WoW style “collect ten pigskins”. The Elder Scrolls lore is at least as deep as that in DDO, and in ESO was somehow more difficult to ignore than here. As usual, there are many side plots, but they all fitted in naturally to the progression, or so it felt to me. I deliberately avoided the main line after a bit, to explore sideways and to leave stuff for later.

    I am sure that just exploring the vast virtual world and the many story lines has dozens hours of play in it. There even appears to be some re-play value, as a number of quest lines have turning points that your choices change, presumably for different outcomes.
    Which brings me to the first problems.

    It is very story driven, the voice acting is great, and I have no problem listening to NCPs then getting carried from pillar to post to sort out their problems. If you like running around carrying the plots of half a dozen side quests in your head at once, you will love this. But I doubt this will appeal to as many MMO players. Even for me, there were times when I felt like shouting “I just want to go and hit some goblins!” (not that I saw any goblins)

    Secondly, how do you do this in a group? At least the NCPs support talking to many people at once, and you get used to each important NCP having a small crowd standing around them. Oddly, for a game so firmly targeted at immersion and role playing, homemade role playing in a group is going to be more difficult just because the game does it all for you.

    The Mechanics.

    You can always see every other player in sight, but the game handles the need for different players to be in different stages of a quest by hiding or changing the NCPs and interactive objects. In other words, you can see everyone else, but they might be looking at different things from you. It sounds messy but works surprisingly well. (It must have driven the devs nuts though!)

    The main world works like a DDO special event, such as Mabar or Cove. You get used to seeing other players running in the same direction as you and in my play I joined and separated from informal groups on the fly. At our low level, co-ordination was limited but effective enough to take down any mob we found.

    I don’t know how the “shards” work, but it is kept in the background. You are supposed to be automatically with your friends, and do not get to choose which instance to be in. The density of players in any area seemed very similar to say the Cove on a busy day. Phasing between areas is seamless and the use of gates, doors and bridges to demark them is skilful enough to be unnoticeable.

    Instanced dungeons come later on, and presumably need more thought in the makeup of parties. The max party size is only four, which I can live with. I only tried one dungeon, in a duo, and crashed early on so I can’t say much except it felt exactly like an Aleid dungeon in Oblivion.

    The menu systems are slick enough and better than in Skyrim. However, I detected the compromises needed to keep it compatible with consoles, which always slows things down.

    The Characters

    There are nine races, three in each of three nations, and there are ways to get round being the wrong race in a given nation. The differences are frankly, mostly cosmetic, although the cosmetics are great. Classes are more important, although, as with DDO, the devs make a big thing of “be anything, do anything”.

    There are only three attributes, not six, and they act as reservoirs of resources that get used up, not as multipliers. All classes use all three (yes, magic types need stamina, and hitty types need magica).

    In contrast to DDO there is one unified skill system which covers everything - spells, special attacks, defense, weapon use and even crafting. It is as if DDO Skill lines, Enhancements, Canith crafting skill and E.D.s were all rolled into one. And of course ESO does not benefit/suffer (depending on your view!) from the PnP D20 inheritance that both enriches and handicaps DDO.

    Is this a dumbing down? On balance, I felt it is more streamlined than dumber. The skill tree is intuitive to use, and yet appears to have possibilities for clever character design later on. But the numbers are hidden, as with the combat (see below).

    The Combat

    Here is my second pause for thought. There is a scale of say Tera and DDO at one end, where targeting and movement are part of the joy of the game, and WoW (small shudder) at the other, where tab, hotkeys and cooldowns rule. This game clearly aims to be up at the DDO end of the scale, and has a similar combat mechanism. Indeed, I was able to map keys to reproduce exactly my DDO actions. BUT the animations don’t quite support the same twitch skills. Combat is a little slower paced, with tiny but critical delays to each action that make it feel quite different.

    It has its own interesting features, (NDA excusing - block, dodge, power blow etc) and it felt more natural the longer I played. Still if, like me, you run DDO in 3rd person in mouselook, with characters that would die in seconds if they stood still in a battle, it will take you some time to get used to the different pace.

    And you cannot change weapons in combat. (Well, at higher levels you get a second set, “Big deal!”) What? My DDO tempest ranger has half dozen pairs of swords, a devotion set and three bows hot-barred all the time. The unfortunate reason, as far as I can tell, is that you don't need to. Complexities of mob DR and vulnerabilities just don’t appear. In fact combat as a whole feels simpler, although this might change at higher levels. Whether you call this streamlining or dumbing down may be personal taste.

    What is interesting is that it is all much less transparent than DDO. The mechanics are hidden, which adds to immersion but takes away from the intellectual challenge of improving your performance.

    It is not helped by the clumsy animations generally. The graphics for the characters, both meshes and textures, leave DDO in the dust. But the animations just reminded me how good DDO feels to play. For an eight year old game, the natural and responsive movement of DDO characters is still a joy, and it sets the bar at a height that ESO does not clear.

    Overall

    The declared aim is to attract both the Elder Scrolls fans and every loose MMO player out there. This is almost too much of a stretch but they nearly pull it off, and I am comfortable that the result is much closer to Skyrim than to WoW.

    My main doubt is a comment actually made in general chat several times over the weekend. “This feels like a great single person RPG but with you lot running around in it as well”. Whether this a good or a bad thing will be different for different people, and if you are not sure whether to stump up the cash to find out, that is the question you must decide for yourself.
    Last edited by Brunhildha; 02-11-2014 at 07:15 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Interesting read. Thanks!

    I haven't tried out the beta so it's nice to hear people's experiences. I remember hearing about it when they first announced it and most people I knew then were like "it's probably gonna be a generic MMO but just with Elder Scrolls lore". Did it feel like that to you too?

    The part about "an MMO that plays as a single player RPG" is exactly how SWTOR felt to me as well. I played that for a year after release before I grew bored and came here. And that was mostly because I was in a great guild with a fixed raid group to help keep me occupied.

    In fact have you played a lot of other MMO's? Because you compare every aspect to DDO, which of course makes sense because this is the DDO forum, but having played a lot of different MMO's myself in the past I would automatically compare it to all of those. But that's a personal thing.

    AFAIK it has only the 4 basic classes every new MMO starts out with these days. How did these feel like to you? Was there still enough room for customization and uniqueness?

    I'll keep my eye on ESO to see how it evolves.

  3. #3
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    You forgot one thing....

    Subscription ONLY. and an Expensive one at that.

    I dont see how an MMO will survive this day and age without a Free to play option. and I certainly dont feel anything I've seen from ESO so far to be worth a $80 initial investment PLUS $15 a Month.


    I loves the early ES games. Have not gotten into the latest, but I was very excited to learn of ESO.. but the expense turned me completely off.
    So funny that a few $$ can completely change your perspective on a game......
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    I was probably a victim of my own high expectations - but I feel EOS was a bit of a let down. I'm no longer considering a pre-order, if I pick it up at all.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Impaqt View Post
    You forgot one thing....

    Subscription ONLY. and an Expensive one at that.

    I dont see how an MMO will survive this day and age without a Free to play option. and I certainly dont feel anything I've seen from ESO so far to be worth a $80 initial investment PLUS $15 a Month.


    I loves the early ES games. Have not gotten into the latest, but I was very excited to learn of ESO.. but the expense turned me completely off.
    So funny that a few $$ can completely change your perspective on a game......
    SWTOR changed to F2P within a year, so there is still hope .

    I agree though, nowadays MMO's should at least have the option of F2P.

  6. #6
    Community Member arkonas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brunhildha View Post
    Having played the Beta over this last weekend, I jotted down some quick notes to record my own impressions, and these have somehow become a “review”. The NDA still applies to individuals (but not to the press) so I must leave out the details, but for anyone interested here are my impressions.

    The scenery.

    Gorgeous. Not just highly detailed and beautifully rendered, but they have right balance between 'Perfect World' style eye candy, and gritty reality. The landscapes, townscapes and everything in them are clearly the result of loving attention, and the results are somehow both stunning and plausible.

    I liked that they avoided the repetition that made Oblivion and Skyrim a little disappointing after Morrowind. Every region has its own ecology, architecture, culture and politics, and there is enough variation in building blocks not to notice that each cave is presumably made from the same tiles as the last one. The world is vast, and any explorers out there will have a great time.

    The Community.

    It was a highly advertised Beta weekend and the were apparently aiming at half a million online. The area chat was mostly goodnatured and often sensible. I got the feeling that there were TES fans, and MMO players, and that the former were generally happier than the latter.

    Lag and Bugs

    It took ages to log on, which is not surprising given the volume. In about ten hours of play I found and reported four or five different bugs, which seems fair for a Beta. Is it going to be clean when released on 4th April? Who knows but it seems pretty robust to me.

    The Story.

    Very familiar if you have played any TES game, and in complete contrast to WoW style “collect ten pigskins”. The Elder Scrolls lore is at least as deep as that in DDO, and in ESO was somehow more difficult to ignore than here. As usual, there are many side plots, but they all fitted in naturally to the progression, or so it felt to me. I deliberately avoided the main line after a bit, to explore sideways and to leave stuff for later.

    I am sure that just exploring the vast virtual world and the many story lines has dozens hours of play in it. There even appears to be some re-play value, as a number of quest lines have turning points that your choices change, presumably for different outcomes.
    Which brings me to the first problems.

    It is very story driven, the voice acting is great, and I have no problem listening to NCPs then getting carried from pillar to post to sort out their problems. If you like running around carrying the plots of half a dozen side quests in your head at once, you will love this. But I doubt this will appeal to as many MMO players. Even for me, there were times when I felt like shouting “I just want to go and hit some goblins!” (not that I saw any goblins)

    Secondly, how do you do this in a group? At least the NCPs support talking to many people at once, and you get used to each important NCP having a small crowd standing around them. Oddly, for a game so firmly targeted at immersion and role playing, homemade role playing in a group is going to be more difficult just because the game does it all for you.

    The Mechanics.

    You can always see every other player in sight, but the game handles the need for different players to be in different stages of a quest by hiding or changing the NCPs and interactive objects. In other words, you can see everyone else, but they might be looking at different things from you. It sounds messy but works surprisingly well. (It must have driven the devs nuts though!)

    The main world works like a DDO special event, such as Mabar or Cove. You get used to seeing other players running in the same direction as you and in my play I joined and separated from informal groups on the fly. At our low level, co-ordination was limited but effective enough to take down any mob we found.

    I don’t know how the “shards” work, but it is kept in the background. You are supposed to be automatically with your friends, and do not get to choose which instance to be in. The density of players in any area seemed very similar to say the Cove on a busy day. Phasing between areas is seamless and the use of gates, doors and bridges to demark them is skilful enough to be unnoticeable.

    Instanced dungeons come later on, and presumably need more thought in the makeup of parties. The max party size is only four, which I can live with. I only tried one dungeon, in a duo, and crashed early on so I can’t say much except it felt exactly like an Aleid dungeon in Oblivion.

    The menu systems are slick enough and better than in Skyrim. However, I detected the compromises needed to keep it compatible with consoles, which always slows things down.

    The Characters

    There are nine races, three in each of three nations, and there are ways to get round being the wrong race in a given nation. The differences are frankly, mostly cosmetic, although the cosmetics are great. Classes are more important, although, as with DDO, the devs make a big thing of “be anything, do anything”.

    There are only three attributes, not six, and they act as reservoirs of resources that get used up, not as multipliers. All classes use all three (yes, magic types need stamina, and hitty types need magica).

    In contrast to DDO there is one unified skill system which covers everything - spells, special attacks, defense, weapon use and even crafting. It is as if DDO Skill lines, Enhancements, Canith crafting skill and E.D.s were all rolled into one. And of course ESO does not benefit/suffer (depending on your view!) from the PnP D20 inheritance that both enriches and handicaps DDO.

    Is this a dumbing down? On balance, I felt it is more streamlined than dumber. The skill tree is intuitive to use, and yet appears to have possibilities for clever character design later on. But the numbers are hidden, as with the combat (see below).

    The Combat

    Here is my second pause for thought. There is a scale of say Tera and DDO at one end, where targeting and movement are part of the joy of the game, and WoW (small shudder) at the other, where tab, hotkeys and cooldowns rule. This game clearly aims to be up at the DDO end of the scale, and has a similar combat mechanism. Indeed, I was able to map keys to reproduce exactly my DDO actions. BUT the animations don’t quite support the same twitch skills. Combat is a little slower paced, with tiny but critical delays to each action that make it feel quite different.

    It has its own interesting features, (NDA excusing - block, dodge, power blow etc) and it felt more natural the longer I played. Still if, like me, you run DDO in 3rd person in mouselook, with characters that would die in seconds if they stood still in a battle, it will take you some time to get used to the different pace.

    And you cannot change weapons in combat. (Well, at higher levels you get a second set, “Big deal!”) What? My DDO tempest ranger has half dozen pairs of swords, a devotion set and three bows hot-barred all the time. The unfortunate reason, as far as I can tell, is that you don't need to. Complexities of mob DR and vulnerabilities just don’t appear. In fact combat as a whole feels simpler, although this might change at higher levels. Whether you call this streamlining or dumbing down may be personal taste.

    What is interesting is that it is all much less transparent than DDO. The mechanics are hidden, which adds to immersion but takes away from the intellectual challenge of improving your performance.

    It is not helped by the clumsy animations generally. The graphics for the characters, both meshes and textures, leave DDO in the dust. But the animations just reminded me how good DDO feels to play. For an eight year old game, the natural and responsive movement of DDO characters is still a joy, and it sets the bar at a height that ESO does not clear.

    Overall

    The declared aim is to attract both the Elder Scrolls fans and every loose MMO player out there. This is almost too much of a stretch but they nearly pull it off, and I am comfortable that the result is much closer to Skyrim than to WoW.

    My main doubt is a comment actually made in general chat several times over the weekend. “This feels like a great single person RPG but with you lot running around in it as well”. Whether this a good or a bad thing will be different for different people, and if you are not sure whether to stump up the cash to find out, that is the question you must decide for yourself.


    while i liked what you said its still bethesda. So who knows if anything will get fixed. look at oblivion, skyrim etc. they had some major bugs. they didnt bother to fix it. Instead you had modders fixing them. that is why im not so sure about a mmo.

  7. #7
    Founder & Hero cdbd3rd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brunhildha View Post
    Having played the Beta over this last weekend, I jotted down some quick notes to record my own impressions, and these have somehow become a “review”. The NDA still applies to individuals (but not to the press) so I must leave out the details, but for anyone interested here are my impressions.....
    /Props for the write-up, B.
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  8. #8
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    Good write up and from what I have seen, I can agree with most of that. However, the cost is going to prevent me. A full priced product and a monthly sub? Is this the last decade? They need to be some level of f2p or produce such a high level of quantity and quality that the sub fees seem reasonable. And even WoW can't do that (for me).

  9. #9
    Community Member Grosbeak07's Avatar
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    I've been mucking around in that beta since last summer. The game has vastly improved from when I started the beta to today. That being said, it will end up being a lot more like DDO, in that there are only a handful of "acceptable" builds that can do everything, and anything else would be considered "flavor". Character development is also shallow and generally uninteresting.

    The game looks great, combat is fluid like DDO, but it just sort of lacks... something, I can't quite put my finger on.

    It's also has some rather famous voice actors, which is neat, but I"m not sure it is worth the box + sub price they want. It basically plays like every other elder scrolls game, only I can't pick it up and play from time to time, without having to pay again.
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  10. #10
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    Default I'm fine with the sub!!!

    Yeah i spent over a grand in ddo in 3 years , So im fine spending 180 a year , Call it what you will but they can get it off asking for that !!!

    What do you think it should be ?

    People complain about free to play all the time !!! Get it through your head everything in life ain't free !

    I'm a smoker and a drinker i think i can smoke 2 packs less a month to afford this game !!

    Now im sure there will be a 30 day free trial somewhere after it's launch , If you decide it ain't worth it then don't pay it !!

  11. #11
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    Firstly massive Elder Scroll fan, loved Morrowind, Oblivion was ok, Skyrim had me hooked for months then I discovered DDO which has had my full attention since.....

    Played last two ESO tests have to admit by the end of this weekend I was hooked.....

    Sleep has been minimal

    The cost is a major factor in all this......

    High start off outlay(if you want Imperial) + monthly sub....

    OUCH!!

    Will it stop me.....

    Probably not

    For me I think DDO and ESO will make a perfect pairing, DDO is WAY, WAY more complex and atm appears to have a far better replay content but for easy to learn character and skill progression ESO will be a less mentally taxing option and the world is stunning, even on my ageing PC. Will it have replay possibilities? Not sure but it's still early days and I've only seen a tiny portion of the game.

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    Stop being so cheap it's communities like these that ruin games , If you can't afford it then you obviously have money problems and shouldn't be playing mmo's maybe !! Or if it ain't worth it to you follow your favorite mmo till it crashes and burns !!

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    Quote Originally Posted by xXbikergirlXx View Post
    Firstly massive Elder Scroll fan, loved Morrowind, Oblivion was ok, Skyrim had me hooked for months then I discovered DDO which has had my full attention since.....

    Played last two ESO tests have to admit by the end of this weekend I was hooked.....

    Sleep has been minimal

    The cost is a major factor in all this......

    High start off outlay(if you want Imperial) + monthly sub....

    OUCH!!

    Will it stop me.....

    Probably not

    For me I think DDO and ESO will make a perfect pairing, DDO is WAY, WAY more complex and atm appears to have a far better replay content but for easy to learn character and skill progression ESO will be a less mentally taxing option and the world is stunning, even on my ageing PC. Will it have replay possibilities? Not sure but it's still early days and I've only seen a tiny portion of the game.

    Oh dear just not enough hours in the day
    Pretty much !! I don't mind being subbed to a game like eso , While buying all the ddo content one and done !!

    When it's a ghost town on ddo in between updates or just in general , Ill switch over to eso and have fun at least they will have a pvp system to enjoy when im bored with quests !

  14. #14
    Community Member Aliss7's Avatar
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    Thanks for the writeup.

    Got to this part...

    Quote Originally Posted by Brunhildha View Post
    However, I detected the compromises needed to keep it compatible with consoles
    ... not interested.

  15. #15
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    Having just played a bunch of Skyrim, I was kind of excited to get a Beta key for last weekend in EMail.
    Tried to get in a couple of times over the weekend, but the waits were insane. Finally got in Sunday
    night and played for a couple of hours.

    Game looks and plays almost exactly like Skyrim which is all good.
    Bad news is that there's nothing to recommend it over Skyrim - which you can get for $20 or less
    these days.

    This is totally going to go the way of SWTOR...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by murf201 View Post
    Stop being so cheap it's communities like these that ruin games , If you can't afford it then you obviously have money problems and shouldn't be playing mmo's maybe !! Or if it ain't worth it to you follow your favorite mmo till it crashes and burns !!

    Ya might wanna step back and take a look around at how pretty much all of the major MMO companies are price-setting (and thriving) these days. The grass is pretty much green no matter how much you insist it's purple.


    /sidesteps the bait to get into a "your money is my money to tell you how to spend it" debate.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by murf201 View Post
    Stop being so cheap it's communities like these that ruin games , If you can't afford it then you obviously have money problems and shouldn't be playing mmo's maybe !! Or if it ain't worth it to you follow your favorite mmo till it crashes and burns !!
    What? I don't see how "not worth the asking price" = "I don't have money to spend."

    If that's the case, then I have a 2001 Toyota Corolla in my driveway, doesn't run. I'll sell it to you for $75,000! Don't be cheap, if you can't afford it, maybe you shouldn't drive cars!

    BTW - I've had a DDO sub since October 2007.

    (been a long time since we had a car analogy on the forums)
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  18. #18
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    I've been a part of nearly every beta test they've put up. There are a couple of annoyances, but overall I am liking what I am seeing there.
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    Default I played ESO off an on since the 2nd wave os betas

    It is a beautiful game, but its wridden with glitches, most of which I found in the terain. Alot of world falling and wall sticking. To be fair my first couple week ends playing I was looking for these as in TRYING to find them trying to go places I shouldnt.....beacuse to be honest we all do... "I wonder if i cant jump up that mountain" so mabe finding them is my own fault but it is a beta and we are open sorce testers so thats what I did. The story seems clunky as does the game play if you use KB andM however once I set it up to use a 360 cont. It smothed out a bit. It feels alot like skyrim2 lol. To be 100% honest it did not, to me get on the lvl of hype and anticipation it flooded most people with. IF I WERE to play it, it would be a filler.

  20. #20
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    It is a tad expensive, but it can be really comparable to VIP subs here (I only found ESO info something around 14.90/month, subject to change with possible discount for multiple months bought at a time).

    Payment methods
    There will be several ways to purchase the game. I believe MasterCard, Visa and PayPal will be available.

    This news can disappoint many ESO fans, but it is the truth. Matt Firor told that the reason they have chosen Subscription is because this model fits TESO.

    And it's important to state that our decision to go with subscriptions is not a referendum on online game revenue models. F2P, B2P, etc. are valid, proven business models - but subscription is the one that fits ESO the best

    Elder Scrolls Online is a huge game where a lot of quests, huge world and interesting gameplay must be available for all players without any exceptions. Everybody should receive the same services and the same game. Every player should have equal access to all content and quality customer support. You can play Elder Scrolls Online and do not worry about being "monetized" in the middle of the game. You pay a fee every month and do not bother about anything. You receive 100% access to all content and features.
    The last bolded paragraph is key for me. I would pay a little extra to avoid the annoying monetization of everything in the game.

    I will definitely try ESO out if this new update falls flat.

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