Next year we will be enjoying the arrival of the next instalment into the Elder Scrolls series, The elder Scrolls Online. This is the first game in the series that decides to change from an open world role playing game, into a massively multiplayer online role playing game. Fans have been begging for an MMOG in this series for the longest time, but does the title live up to players expectations? Let us put on our helmets and find out.
One of the things you will immediately notice about the game is its art style. Everything from the environments to the characters seemed to be dumbed down from Skyrim’s standards but look much better in comparison to Oblivion. This means that it sits in a nice place in between these two titles and actually looks rather appealing. The demo itself had you choose between three different races, Argonian, Dark Elf and Breton, and five different classes. The classes had their own preferences to combat, whether it be stealth, brute force or magic, but there was no sign of a ranged archer. This was a shame as it would be great to see ranged combat in action.
There are a lot of aspects of the game carried over from Skyrim. These include the compass at the top of the screen, journal updates that pop up underneath it and even the bleed out effects that occur when your close to dying. However there are also key changes to the game such as a brand new progressive lock picking system. Similar to Oblivion, you have to lock pick in real time long enough to fill up a progression bar. Once the bar has been filled, your chest/door is opened. It is unsure whether this progression bar will also be apparent with enchanting, bartering and other passive skills, but it would be interesting to see if it is.
Along with the interesting character models, the game has fully voiced NPC’s that help immerse you into the world. You get taken into a one on one conversation with your quest givers as they explain to you the situation. One thing that slightly bothered me about this was that some of the side quest givers seem to lack animation in comparison to the storyline quest givers. They just seem a lot more static and clunky, which breaks immersion only if it bothers you.
So how was the gameplay? Simply put, it was interesting but also lacking. Like Guild Wars 2, the game is very action orientated. This means that you will be freely running around your targets as you attack and block them. However, the combat seems to lack the polish of GW2 and instead feels like dodging and blocking isn’t as viable as going all out. This in turn creates a weird feel for the combat in game, that just seems to feel underwhelming at most. One huge loophole, that was found during the demo, is that you can utilise stealth too well when there are two or more people working on a single target. One person simply takes the aggro from the enemy as the other sneaks around and gets a guaranteed stealth attack. This means that he deals way more damage than normal and makes a seemingly challenging fight incredibly easy. This method seems to be a massive flaw if it is usable on dungeon bosses and bigger encounters as it will make any epic fight seem incredibly easy.
Although the MMOG looks great when it comes to aesthetics, the overall immersion and gameplay style of the game is lacking that much needed polish. It feels clunky, some of the NPC’s are lacking in animation and character, there were many exploits to use in combat and the immersion broke way too often. For a demo that was trying to sell the game to me, it sadly did the opposite. Luckily the title is still in beta phase, so these problems can be addressed and the game could be made better by the time of its release. Whether that happens or not, we are going to have to wait and see.
What do you think of The Elder Scrolls Online? Have you put down a pre-order? Let us know what your thoughts are in the comments.