ESO works very hard to combine the push medium of stand alone games with the pull medium of player driven narrative online games. And it works if you enjoy being the silent protagonist whose actions serve to turn the page of an already written story.
Where it breaks down for me is that no game has context logic sophisticated enough yet to make the scripted version convincing.
Having played a Breton Templar….very proper fellow to VR7 I became rather captivated by Dunmer Dark Elf women. Their unattainable nature, fierce, humorless…well….you know. Perfect for a Nightblade. So I made one. I liked the way she looked and it fit with the combat style of the Nightblade.
But then the logic began to fall apart. A community was beset by Dunmer raiders yet everyone treated her instantly like an ally….a Dunmer dressed in a mix of Primal and Barbaric armor.
And the skill point quest, first rescue of King Emeric that sends you off to Rivenspire. The throne room scene plays wrong and looks wrong, again because the game logic is dumb to context.
But these are small points. Then came the clincher. Castle Verandis. What I call the Polonius scene….you remember Hamlet, when he says Polonius is at dinner, not where he eats but where he is eaten. The meal is a Dunmer man, a member of her own race. He seems a willing servant yet Verandis is unaware that the scene presents an issue for this Dunmer woman beyond what it might for a member of another race.
This is why I’ve never enjoyed stand alone games the way I have open ended online multiplayer games. Too many logic holes. They’re just not convincing.
In an online game there can be no logic holes. The story is created by players reacting solely to the behavior of other players. This is why it is so, so difficult to mix the push medium of stand alone games with the pull medium of player driven narrative.
But as I’ve said…..probably to the point that I’ve exhausted people with it, ESO is a game you play online. It is not an online game. It is in Cyrodiil but whereas story land is rigidly structured, Cyrodiil is entirely too chaotic.
Meanwhile I’m reduced to enjoying it mostly because I like the way Bella’s butt wiggles when she runs. And I admire the sheer ambition of this game. Finally, I don’t think any game has yet developed a quest engine with true, sophisticated context awareness. I salute the attempt.