Finally to tough on the cooperative aspects of the game. There are promised four player instanced dungeons with specific quests and bonuses for completing them. In about eight hours of play, I have yet to find one. That said the game is also inherently co-op, just by completing actions with other players either in your party or out, all players get credit for the quests. So if you need to kill a certain wizard to gain an item, and another player is attacking the wizard too, you can join in on the battle and you’ll both get that item.
All in all it’s hard not to be disappointed with the game in its current state. As a premium MMO I fear there’s a large uphill battle for Elder Scrolls Online. I’ve heard the later game content is much more interesting, but the early game stuff is quite boring. And that’s something I’ve never said in the series.
MIKE: I've been eyeing Elder Scrolls Online for some time, since I was privy to a closed-door presentation at E3 2012. Since then, it’s evolved into something more closely resembling an Elder Scrolls game than the generic Hero Engine MMO it seemed to be. The problem, as Nick mentioned above, is that it has begun to set unrealistic expectations for itself. Where games in the Elder Scrolls franchise offer unprecedented player freedom, the structure of an MMO means artificially gating content behind zones, quest progression and your character’s own level. The zones also seem relatively empty, because they have to be large enough to accommodate a sizable player count.
These things are a necessity when you stick with the structure of a traditional MMO, but I had hopes that ESO would do a little more to break the mold. There are other bizarre decisions, such as the obfuscation of most of your actual stats, and the (at this time) lack of tutorials regarding how your skills evolve. I feel like the game is torn between its two identities - it presents itself as an Elder Scrolls game, but is missing a lot of what defines those. It also wants to be an MMO, but it hides a lot of the things that high-level MMO players want to see.
There are also a lot of things to like. First, this might be the first Elder Scrolls game with character models that don’t obviously look like they were crapped out by a character generator, and the lightly stylized visuals appealed to me personally. I also enjoyed the combat - it does a good job of splitting the difference of traditional Elder Scrolls combat and hotbar-based MMO combat. Certain abilities also prompt teammates or nearby players to combine attacks of their own to create more powerful combo attacks. Full voice acting on everything may affect the ability of the developers to rapidly create new content, but it goes a long way for pulling players into the world.
Hopefully everything I’ve heard about the mid to late game content holds true, and a lot of the issues with the early zones disappear. Unfortunately, it seems like I’ll need to wait for the retail release to find out.
Well, there you have it - those are our impressions of ESO in its current beta form. Additionally, we put together a video with Nick talking about his impressions of the game if you'd like to see our impressions demonstrated with accompanying visuals.
So what do you guys think of Elder Scrolls Online? Any impressions of your own you'd like to share?