The Elder Scrolls Online Preview

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As any MMO veteran will tell you, it’s pretty hard to judge any game in the genre based solely on a short play session, but what I can do is give you my unbiased opinion of what I’ve played so far.

Presumably to keep me from spending two hours in the character customisation windows, we were given a pre-made character staring at level six and thrown into the land of Tamriel right outside a village. With two options Explore whatever monstrosities that might await me in the open world or enter the village, I chose the more mundane approach and enter the village. Upon entering a dog runs up to me and asks me to follow it (apparently my character can understand dog language). As it happens the dogs owner has been attacked by a bunch of bandits this unweaves a plot that is affecting the village as a whole. A typical take on the MMO story template, but I did appreciate the NPC coming to me for once. In a world where most MMO NPCs stand in the exact same place for years on end while you rush around like a lunatic creating a fetch and give mechanic, it was at least different. Alas let us rewind a little, the aforementioned dog owner, dead with cliche note alongside him also comes with a randomly spawning batch of enemies ready to ambush. Finally, I get to kill stuff!

What I got here was a healthy dose of World of Warcraft inspired battle with added Elder Scrolls bells and whistles, which isn’t a bad thing depending on your viewpoint. All the efficiency and demeanor of World of Warcraft is present, from the slightly unrealistic animations to the skill bar at the bottom of the screen. The Elders Scrolls side of the equation brings you upgradable weapons, which is actually a nice touch. If you wish to it seems like you can become a master of a few weapons and proceed to mix and match. Maxing out a weapon will obviously net you an ultimate skill. The only question, is how deep this system goes, how big are the weapon variations etc…

The other immediately noticeable thing is the first person camera, which you could conceivably stay in all game if you chose to, but I’m not sure why you would want to. Just like any other combat game that tries to split its attention between two views, one always suffers. In this case it would be first person. Your hits have no real meat to them and you never really feel convinced you are hitting your target. On the brightside, auto attacks seem to be non-existent in the game, making for some nice sword and board play as you swing and block in realtime. Spells work much the same way but with a little auto-aim for balancing purposes no doubt.

Ultimately, solo-play felt like a been there done that experience, but a major injustice would be done if we judged such a broad game just on that. It’s promising, with the usual series’ feel there, but only more time with The Elder Scrolls Online will tell the whole story.

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