ESO – When Zones Look The Same

The technical difficulties seem to have fixed themselves. Shrug.

I have one more criticism about ESO, although it’s not exactly a “criticism” so much as it is merely an “observation of the way ESO does things.”

Most of the zones look the same.

Stonefalls, near the beginning of the Ebonheart Pact.
Stonefalls, near the beginning of the Ebonheart Pact starting point.

Not exactly the same. Some of them have jungle trees and some of them have deciduous trees. Some of them are more rocky and some of them are more grassy. Some of them have oceans and some of them have swamps.

But as far as the basic color palette goes, in the Ebonheart Pact zones, each looks basically identical. There is some green and some brown and some gray in various mixtures.

The second zone: Deshaan, just outside of Mournhold.
The second Ebonheart zone: Deshaan, just outside of Mournhold.

Previously I have said that I prefer “realistic” looking MMOs, and it’s certainly more realistic to have each zone look similar, because that’s how the real world is. You have to travel quite far to see a change in the basic geography of your surroundings.

But.

When you finally finish a zone and travel excitedly on to the next zone, it’s a bit of a let-down to see that it looks pretty much the same as the last zone.

Ebonheart Zone 3: The swamp.
Ebonheart Zone 3: The swamp, Shadowfen.

It’s quite a contrast with games like WoW and Rift, where changing zones means a totally different color palette and a totally different biome. I can still recall going from Gloamwood (a gloomy old forest) to Scarlet Gorge (a wide open desert river gorge) in Rift for the first time. And every time you change zones in WoW it feels like you get a whole new way of mixing up random colors for a sky, ground, and trees. It’s like a feast for the eyes. There’s that moment where you feel like you’re truly entering a new phase of the game, stepping across a threshold into unexplored territory.

Gloomy Gloamwood
Gloomy Gloamwood.
And the vast Scarlet Gorge, 30 seconds later.
And the vast Scarlet Gorge, 30 seconds later.

But in ESO, your first reaction is something like, “Oh, this is a new zone but wait, it kind of looks like more of the same. That sense of completion I had in the last zone was a lie, because now I see that there is a whole new zone here I need to work through that looks like an extension of the last zone, rather than a whole new zone.” Okay, you probably don’t really think that until you’ve analyzed your feelings for a while.

A lesser person would rage quit the game and write scathing forum posts about it. But I seem to counter that initial new-zone disappointment by taking a break from my main and playing some alts for a while before coming back to the new zone.

(My “main” alts are a Breton Sorceror, an Argonian pure healing Templar, and an Orc Dragon Knight.)

After a break, you realize that what really makes the new ESO zone different is the NPCs and the story more than the visuals and the environment. Each zone has a big over-arching plot that must be solved. (Well, can be solved – you don’t have to do them I suppose.)

Leave a Reply