During our appointment with Bethesda Softworks, we were shown a quick trailer and introduced to the game. Immediately after, we were offered a chance to play The Elder Scrolls Online in its current beta format within a private area of the Bethesda booth on the show floor. Playing on what looked to be a mid-to-upper level PC, our staff dived into Level 5 characters and started running around Tamriel.
Overall Feel of The Elder Scrolls Online
For Elder Scrolls fans and specifically for the masses who are coming off hundreds of hours of gameplay in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you can rest assured that this is not a generic MMO skinned to act like an Elder Scrolls game. Many, including this writer, were very concerned when the project was announced that something along the lines of Star Wars: The Old Republic would just be given a makeover and given an Elder Scrolls name and put out there for fans. Fortunately, those fears turned out to be unfounded as the game immediately felt much more Skyrim than a traditional MMORPG.
The Look of The Elder Scrolls Online
The game looked gorgeous and there is no question it fits perfectly within the Elder Scrolls universe. Kudos to the art team behind the game as everything looked authentic and eerily familiar when being shown off. While playing in the game, everything seemed to fit and nothing looked out of sorts. There’s been a ton of work paying attention to the details in the game to make sure The Elder Scrolls Online stays authentic to the series. Graphically speaking, the game looked good with the landscapes clearly standing out as lush and vibrant.
Controls and Combat of The Elder Scrolls Online
The game behaved similar to Skyrim when interacting with the mouse and keyboard as opposed to something one would experience in World of WarCraft or The Old Republic. While there are abilities that are unlocked through the course of play, combat is not the mundane slamming of number keys to get through battle. Fortunately, it’s much more RPG than MMO in this regard as players will have to aim, move and click at the right times to have success during combat. Holding the mouse button down longer will increase melee attacks but will also be much slower to execute. More powerful abilities are loaded into the number keys so there is the element of using special powers traditional to MMOs, but at the same time, don’t give the boring, grinding feeling normally associated to killing mobs.
Those lucky enough to get hands-on time at E3 didn’t get too much of the backstory behind The Elder Scrolls Online, outside of an impending (or current) Daedra invasion, which clearly sounds like a pretty horrible world event for those of you familiar with Elder Scrolls lore. Specific to the hands-on preview, players were dropped just outside a city and encouraged by on-site staffers from the development team to make their way to a nearby castle. Once there, a dog approached that kicked off a quest chain that ended in a large battle inside the castle to save the King’s life. Once saved, players are made into a protector of the city, which kicks off more quest chains. There does seem to be a main storyline to take part in but there are tons of side quests that should keep players busy to gain experience, loot and more story.
Like all modern MMORPGs, and unlike World of WarCraft, The Elder Scrolls Online seems to have spoken dialog assigned to any NPC that can be interacted with. Many will speak interesting tidbits of information and can be asked a series of questions with players picking one of several responses. The interaction with these types of NPCs (there are some that just walk around and do nothing) feels very traditional to the Elder Scrolls franchise.
Should Fans Be Excited?
The game passed muster on a few fronts during our gameplay preview at E3. First, The Elder Scrolls Online is not a simple skin of every other MMO out there that gamers have already played. Players will not go in and think that they have already played this MMO a thousand times before. Second, the game feels very authentic as an Elder Scrolls experience. For those of you that are like us and enjoy the lore of the franchise, this prequel extension of the lore feels authentic and well placed. Third, the game is pretty fun. While we only played a handful of missions, at no point did it feel like grinding and rewards were more in the form of more story than just loot.
Overall, The Elder Scrolls Online is shaping up to be an excellent MMORPG that fuses together a great big giant scoop of Elder Scrolls goodness into the MMORPG genre. It’s true to the lore, handles more to an Elder Scrolls game than an MMO game and looks great. As more breaks about this game in the coming months, be sure to stay tuned to our site for more information and news.