Friday Fun: Cities, Tamriel, and EVE Online

Yesterday I spoke at length about Cities: Skylines, a game that took way too much time out of my last week (up to 20 hours played now) and promises to continue taking more as I try to master the Way of One (i.e. nothing but one way streets in a metropolis). As such, I won’t speak too much more about Cities except to reiterate that it is damn good fun. I know I said in last week’s post that I was going to try and snag Sunless Sea, or play Sid Meier’s Starships – and I ended up doing neither of those things. Instead, I found myself consumed by the familiar:

Elder Scrolls Online got rebranded and went ‘buy to play’, which is to say it’s just a normal video game now by and large. Pay the box price and you can play the game as long as you like (or don’t). It also is now Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, which is a bit grandiose and more than a mouthful, so we’ll stick to calling it ESO around these parts. I mentioned awhile back that I was looking forward to ESO becoming playable again for me – I preordered the game, played it for my 30 days of included subscription time when it came out, and then promptly cancelled the service. I like Elder Scrolls Online – really, I do – but I couldn’t really justify paying 15 bucks a month to play a multiplayer shadow of an Elder Scrolls game.

There’s something slightly off about ESO, I must admit. Games like Morrowind and Skyrim (we won’t talk about Oblivion) were so impressive in their times because they felt so expansive. They were huge experiences, promising hundreds of hours of entertainment. The maps felt big, but the story felt even bigger, and the depth of systems at play was just enough to keep you coming back for more.

ESO isn’t like that, though it features the largest map and should feel like a vibrant, living thing with the addition of other people to the mix. Instead, I feel like the fact that you know, as you are playing it, that there are any number of other people doing the same exact thing right now is a bit distracting. It makes the game feel more like a game and less like an experience. For what it is worth, ESO still manages to nail a lot of the intangibles that make an Elder Scrolls game distinctive. It just doesn’t deliver on that good old Elder Scrolls feeling.

I downloaded ESO and logged into my old Level 16 Nightblade to get a feel for the game once more. There are now dailies, which are cool, and some better guidance in regards to crafting, which is also cool. The chat isn’t terrible (that I’ve seen) and the game is all around solid. It definitely didn’t lay any hooks in me but I’ll be giving it at least a few more shots. I kinda have to – it’s an Elder Scrolls game, right?

I also continued indulging my nostalgia trip in EVE Online. I’m working on a project that I hope to announce after Fanfest and have been tooling around doing boring stuff like inventory management. Next week I’ll be trying to get back to both exploration and some lowsec PVP.

What have you been playing? Any games I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below!