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The Elder Scrolls Online

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By Kathy_McGraw17-03-2014
StuntmanLT (editor)
The Elder Scrolls Online

The Defence

Developer:
ZeniMax Online Studios
Publisher:
Bethesda
Genre:
MMO, Role Playing
Release Date:
TBA

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Core 2 Quad 2.3 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce 560 Ti
AMD Radeon HD 6950
RAM:
2 GB
HDD:
60 GB
DirectX:
9.0c, 11

While The Elder Scrolls Online doesn't break any new ground in its initial stages, it does put a definite Elder Scrolls stamp on an otherwise traditional MMO beginning. You start off as a prisoner (were you expecting something else?) in the realm of the daedric lord Molag Bal. Your escape, like in other Elder Scrolls games, lets you pick up your first weapon and choose your character's skills. There are plenty of opportunities for experience right off the bat - I was able to get to level two before leaving The Wailing Prison, where you begin the game. The mood of that place screams malevolence. The prison is dim and dark, lined in an eerie blue. In the background, the music thrums with malign intent. You just know that you're in a bad place.

You learn that Molag Bal is using things called dark anchors to exert influence over Tamriel, which he hopes to soon take over. It is your job to stop him, but first, you must get stronger and find friends to help you defeat him. Once you escape, you're transported to the starting island that corresponds to your race's alliance.

TESO takes place in the Second Era, 1000 years before the Skyrim story. The state of the world is very different from other Elder Scrolls titles, an element which you can explore as much as you’d like, or as little. True to Elder Scrolls form, you can choose how much of the game's lore you want to pursue. Most of the story is conveyed through lore books, which you can find as you explore Tamriel.

See what I mean about the lighting?

See what I mean about the lighting?

It's important to say here that TESO is not the next Elder Scrolls game. It is an MMO based in the Elder Scrolls universe. The other Elder Scrolls games are single-player games where you are the one and only savior of the world. In TESO, you're one of many saviors of the world. That difference is huge when you consider the overall story, and how your character interacts with the world. For instance, when you kill a certain NPC, he or she will not stay dead through your entire play-through. When you do an important quest, you're only one of many completing that same quest. It just feels different. That said, the Elder Scrolls influence is very much apparent.

For an MMO, the game is very pretty. Where TESO's graphics really shine is in the lighting; it is spectacular. It has many features that ENB mods add to Skyrim, such as a blinding sun glare that streams through the trees and turns everything a milky gold in the afternoons. Some of the armor is detailed, for example, you can see individual links on the chainmail. Unfortunately, other types look drawn on. Since the game is still in beta, this shortcoming might be rectified when the game releases.

It says a lot about the quality of the music in a game when I don't turn it off after an hour or two of play. True to other Elder Scrolls titles, the music in TESO blends seamlessly into the world and enhances the environment. Ominously deep bass tones reverberate through dungeons and other dangerous locations, while rich melodies enhance the beauty and majesty of the exterior world.

Shipwreck at Khenarthi's Roost.

Shipwreck at Khenarthi's Roost.

Most of the NPCs you encounter are voiced and, as expected, the voice acting is top notch. However, the companion NPC that helps you escape from the Wailing Prison is just as stupid as in other Elder Scrolls games – she fails to avoid obvious traps and simply stands over them, even though she is continually stabbed by spikes.

I only got to about level 8, so I only experienced a fraction of the content. Still, there are tons of quests to do, even in the starting areas. While most the quests have you killing things or gathering things, they aren't your typical "kill this" or "gather that" quests. Yes, that's still the end result of the quest, but the approach is more indirect.

Leveling is probably going to be slower than in other MMOs, which can be a good thing. Slow progression stops people from powering through the existing content. It avoids having the power levelers complain about lack of content too early. Of course, since TESO is still in beta, the leveling speed and structure may change when the game releases.

The crafting system, from what I saw, is a complex system that will take some playing around with to learn. The crafting skills in TESO are blacksmithing, cloth-making, woodworking, alchemy, and enchanting. Blacksmiths make the metal weapons and heavy armor, while clothiers make medium and light armor. Woodworkers create bows and staves. You are also able to fish in the oceans, rivers and lakes of Tamriel.

So pretty.

So pretty.

There were only a few scattered resource nodes on the starting island where I was, but that doesn't mean that there aren't more of them around. In fact, I am pretty sure that there are, or there will be on release.

There are two major bonuses for crafters in TESO. The first is that all of the characters on the same account share a bank box, and the second is that you are able to draw materials directly from your bank while you are crafting. This makes transferring items between characters very easy. It also removes the need to carry the necessary resources around with you. Unfortunately, the amount of bank space you have is quite minimal, so it’s very easy to fill up. You are able to purchase more bank space with in-game gold, however.

Combat feels fluid owing to above average combat animations. The acrobatic dodges and rolls gave a sense of real movement. The exhilaration of jumping around and scaling objects was pure joy. The one drawback that I could see was the aiming, which was a little clunky. Again, this is something that may get ironed-out in the final product.

The prophet prepares for our escape from Coldharbor.

The prophet prepares for our escape from Coldharbor.

As long as you have soul gems, when you die (and you will, muhahahaha!) you can choose to resurrect yourself at the place of your demise, or at the nearest shrine. If you have no soul gems, you'll only be given the latter option. This is particularly handy during those times when the quest you're on has taken you to a remote location.

My final thoughts about The Elder Scrolls Online are simple: I want to play more.

Comments (5)
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Posts: 1189

Sounds to me like a generic MMORPG with the TES-theme slapped on top. Not a TES-game that happens to be multiplayer.

Meh.

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Posts: 350

I played in the beta and it very disappointing. I hated the combat and that is putting it mildly. I wish they would have made an ES game with co-op instead. I am looking forward to Wildstar more than this game and I love ES games.

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Posts: 2

I also tried some of the beta. It was dissapointing that you couldn't complete main story quests together with a friend. Only side story quests were co-op :/

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Posts: 178

I played some of the beta the last couple of events. I was impressed, and I do want to pkay more, just not at $15 a month (plus the upfront cost of the game)

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Posts: 2633

HD 6950? It...doesn't really look like a game that needs something quite that beefy to be perfectly honest. 6850 I could buy, but 69?

I remain unconvinced