The Elder Scrolls Online and AddOns
After recently watching several friends stream The Elder Scrolls Online, I have re-installed the game (funny how that often happens). I played quite consistently last spring and the game finally “clicked” for me. The narrative driven structure is something I enjoy, and I also like way you can pick and choose the content you undertake. So after letting the 70.9 GB game client download overnight, I fired up the game yesterday and found my level 50 High Elf Sorcerer in Auridon, where I left them last Easter. The first thing that immediately stood out was the plain vanilla default UI, which is minimalist to say the least. After a heavy sigh, I realised that if I wanted to continue efficiently playing ESO I would have to install a bunch of addons via Minion. The only minor problem was that after replacing my Hard Drive last November, despite backing up most data, I had not made a note of which addons I was using. Luckily, a friend who still had the game installed went through their current installation, so I was able to collate a suitable list.
I don’t feel inclined to debate the rights and wrongs of addons in this post, simply let it suffice to say that they are a necessary evil in the case of ESO. Not having them makes playing a lot less efficient and frankly less enjoyable. However, third party addons need to be regularly updated and maintained but as their creators are not paid professionals, contractually bond to do so, they effectively become a lottery, to say the least. Then there is the issue of conflicts, UI errors and poor documentation, all leading to hours of tweaking settings and loading and unloading each add-on to get it to work as described. At present I have this tedious chore ahead of me because as you can see from the screen capture, my UI is an absolute dog’s dinner at present. However, once I’ve sorted the issue out according to my preferences, the presences of 16 addons should enhance my gameplay experience and I can get on with enjoying ESO.
Considering that ESO seems to be doing well within the MMO market and that developer ZeniMax are regularly producing new content and expansions for the game, I find it curious that there is still a reliance upon third party addons. Surely some time and attention could be spent improving and upgrading the UI, officially. Could ZeniMax not take a lead from the most popular addons and create something comparable and officially integrate them into the game? Doesn’t Blizzard Activision have a similar policy with World of Warcraft? It seems odd in an age of corporate control and the monetisation of all aspects of a game, that there is still a relatively free and unregulated culture of third-party addons allowed in some MMOs. Perhaps it’s a cultural hangover from the success of Skyrim? In the meantime I’ll get around to tweaking my own addons in ESO and hopefully won’t have to worry about them for a while. Not until the next expansion Elsweyr is released on June 4th and promptly breaks them all.