ESO Layoffs And Its Future Console Release

esoAs reported this morning at IGN, Elder Scrolls Online studio Zenimax has been hit with layoffs.  As stated in the article, this is pretty much normal practice once a game has been launched into the wild and found its footing. Although strangely I would have thought that Betheseda would have tried to hang on to these staff members for the inevitable console launch, whenever that may be.

Given that the console version has already been delayed and no future release date seems to be on the horizon, it makes me wonder if things aren’t going as smooth as originally planned. And that’s saying a lot when you remember the big E3 presentation the game got in 2013 and the response it received at the time – it looked like this was one of the most anticipated games of the new generation of consoles. I remember watching the CG trailer with my housemate at the time, with both of us going Ooh and Aah at the same time, as we both enjoyed Skyrim in the past. But now after playing the PC version (looks gorgeous on PC too by the way), and not really enjoying the feel of the game, I thought to myself that maybe it will be feel more natural to me on a console? That was back in April. Now 4 months later after hearing about the delay and not much else, I’m wondering is anybody still interested in having this on console?  I had actually forgotten this was going to be on the console –  it had been that quiet.

So I ask you dear reader… are you still interested in ESO on console or like me had you forgotten about it after the lacklustre reception the PC version received and the long delay with no release in sight?

The Elder Scrolls Online: A First Hour Mini-Review

The_Elder_Scrolls_OnlineI thought I’d deliver an initial verdict on The Elder Scrolls Online. Its been a hectic weekend so I’ve only played the TESO beta for a little over an hour, hence the title of the review. So no flaming with ‘but you barely checked out the game!!’ comments. I have no doubt the bigger and better quests are further down the track, but all MMOs live or die on their initial areas, so but here’s my impressions for what they’re worth:

Character creation:  Love it, lots of customisation options (although some don’t appear to be working quite yet), but you can skip them if you want to get set up quickly. I like the number of classes on offer too.

Graphics: TESO copped a hammering from the gaming community based on early leaked footage. Like many others have already said, TESO has come a long way from then and I liked the graphics a lot. Some of the facial features on NPCs are a little bit bland but that may improve further by launch. Loading times for screens seemed very good and I did enjoy the lighting and atmospherics I saw.

Sound: Kudos for both the soundtrack and atmospheric sounds – lots to like here.

Interface: Making a judgement on this is a hard one as I’m guessing a lot of people will like it, but I for one HATE the ‘point your mouse / reticule in the direction you want to go’ style of gameplay. I find it hard on the eyes even with a decent mouse and it doesn’t allow the level of free movement that I like. That said, it does making visual scanning of your surrounds a lot easier. As I said, I think I’m in the minority here, but this is one of the main reasons I won’t be playing TESO ongoing.

Gameplay: this isn’t a criticism, just a fact – TESO is another bog standard questing MMO. For Elder Scrolls fans, I have no doubt you’ll be enjoying the storyline. For me as a first-timer to the franchise, it neither disappointed or impressed me. I like the speed of conversations with NPCs and although the map looks terribly generic in the beta, I’m sure that’ll improve. The mouse-aiming interface annoyed me for combat but again I’m guessing I’m in the minority. Nothing particularly innovative in the quests, but again that’s standard MMO fare.

Performance: I’m impressed with the frame rate and speed of the game overall – I was using the Mac version and it seemed to run much better than WoW for me, and streets ahead of SWTOR and The Secret World, though given I run them on a virtual box it’s not a fair comparison.

Overall impressions: This is a solid MMO, but for me there’s nowhere near enough interesting stuff in it for me to pay a subscription. For our New Zealand readers, you’re being scalped on the subscription price as well. Even if my unreasonable hatred of the reticule / mouse pointing  system weren’t an issue, I can’t see me playing this game ongoing – there’s just nothing unique for me to get excited about. For someone new to MMOs or a long time fan of the franchise – you should have a close look at TESO.

More impressions from the whole team next week on the podcast.

Did you play the open beta? What did you think?



The Elder Scrolls Online: New Zealanders Beware of Currency SNAFU

The evil Euro monster

The evil Euro monster

Today we had an interesting email come in from a New Zealand based gamer, who like a lot of people is gearing up for the launch of The Elder Scrolls Online.  It seems that New Zealanders are being billed in Euros:

After some back and forth with Customer Support at Zenimax I have found it’s now their policy to charge all New Zealand people their subscription fees and cost of game as well, in EUROS rather than in our own currency or in USD (both would be much cheaper for us).

Obviously it’s odd to charge us in EUROS anyway, we’re nowhere near Europe, plus it not converting very nicely for us to our own currency.

Here’s what we’re getting overcharged –

Subscription fees each month (we’ll be getting charged in EUROS) –

12.99 EUR = 21.422623 NZD

14.99 USD= 17.991116 NZD

So that’s a difference of almost $4 a month we’re being overcharged.

The cost of the game for me was 79.99 EUR = 131.920763 NZD whereas I should’ve paid – 79.99 USD = 96.006686 NZD – so I got overcharged around $36 NZD as well.

Customer Service has told me this is absolute and they are not planning on changing it any time soon (if ever).

Tried getting some attention in the beta forums and while a ZOS staff member passed by the post and edited out the @names of ZOS staff members I has added into the OP (she edited them out so they didn’t trigger notifications to other ZOS staff members) she did not bother answering the thread, so all out of avenues for getting help/getting this sorted for New Zealand people.

Need someone to draw attention to this situation for the New Zealand people. We are obviously a small country and probably not worth paying attention to on a financial level…so yeah, basically this is why we need some help and support. We’re going to be horribly overcharged every month and nobody cares to fix it.

In addition, the NZ gamer received a formal response from Zenimax Customer Support:

Greetings XXXX
Thanks you very much for your patience with this issue.
Due to NZ$ not being supported for now we can not give you an different option then to pay the game and the subscription fee in Euros. I’m aware that this is not the answer you were hoping for and I’m very sorry not to be able to help you with this.
Should we support New Zealand dollars at some point in the future we’ll update the storefront at for the appropriate regions.
I would be happy to help you with any further questions.
See you in Tamriel
[name of support staff member was here]
The Elder Scrolls Online Team

So it sounds like it’s going to take a bigger groundswell of support to get any consideration of a change. We’d be interested in hearing from any other New Zealanders – is this decision going to be a deal-breaker for you?