Due to the time of year, I’ve been looking through the various games that I own and considering whether I should revisit any. To cut a long story short, I’ve decided to give The Elder Scrolls Online another go. So, I duly downloaded and installed the client only to find myself utterly confounded by it. In a nutshell, I have completely forgotten how to play the game. This problem is further compounded by two other factors. Firstly, the controls and layout are more akin to that of Skyrim than of a typical MMO. Secondly, this is a game that relies on mods to significantly enhance its user interface. The plain vanilla client is somewhat lacking. Therefore, a new or returning player has to do a considerable amount of “homework” to before they can effectively enjoy the game. However, this is not a problem unique to this MMO. Putting aside the issue of mods, I have a case of what I shall term “gaming amnesia”, a malady that becomes increasingly common the more games you play.
Much of this problem stems from my absence from the game. I haven't touched ESO for over a year. In the intervening time I have played several other MMOs and numerous single player games. My brain is filled with multiple keyboard controls and UIs, all conflicting with each other. Apart from some basic commonality such as WSAD keys for movement and the number keys bound to various attacks and heals, the subtleties of ESO have been completely lost to me. As any teacher will tell you, you need to immediately put into practise what you've been taught, if you wish to retain it. Obviously, MMOs can't all share an identical control interface, so I usually learn how to navigate through a new game’s systems by repetition. So, it is hardly surprising that I have forgotten so much under the circumstances.
This problem manifests itself all the time with my gaming activities. If I have spent a few months playing an FPS, then I'll often find myself holding down the Left Shift key in another game and expecting my character to sprint. Or mashing the wrong keys to bring up a HUD or induct a skill that is not even present. Whatever is the most recent seems to be the information that persists. This in fact raises the question as to whether games have too many skills options; a point that has been addressed with more recent, action combat driven MMOs. Both Guild Wars 2 as well as the ESO, restrict the number of skills on the hotbar. It’s a far cry from the chronic skills bloat seen in such games as SWTOR and LOTRO. Both those titles have some skills that are so negligible to game play they can be ignored. However, there is a risk with a more limited number of skills to use that combat can become somewhat mundane and arbitrary. This is a flaw that remains unchanged in Secret World Legends despite its recent revision.
The best solution for my “gaming amnesia” problem in ESO is to roll a new character and start the game from scratch, rather than try to continue from where I left. This is often the case with most games, unless you have invested a substantial amount of time and effort in your previous alt. Then the solution is to do your “homework” by readings guides and watching “let’s play” videos. Furthermore, a variant of this problems can occur with game sequels. I played Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor right up to the release of the Shadow of War. Although about two thirds of the game controls and skills remained in the latest instalment, the introduction of new and advanced variants of existing abilities caused confusion. I would frequently press a key when playing the sequel and find that it didn’t do the same as in the previous game. Overall, it would seem that the more games you play the more there is too learn and subsequently forget. Again, perhaps the solution to this issue is to focus on one game at a time.