For this month’s MMO Co-Opportunities, several of the staff will be imparting their impressions of the upcoming MMO based in the world of Tamriel: The Elder Scrolls Online. Just how impressed were we with this hotly anticipated MMO?
Our impressions are based off of beta weekends that ZeniMax has been running for the game, which means that many of our experiences could be subject to change, or may have been incomplete. Elder Scrolls Online (henceforth ESO) is an interesting MMO to preview, since those interested in the game are likely from one of two different camps: MMO fans and Elder Scrolls fans (though there are certainly interested parties that are fans of both). Our staff comes from various points on these two scales. If you'd rather watch a video of our impressions instead of reading, head to the bottom of page 3 of this editorial.
TALLY: I’ve played a lot of MMOs, and while I’ve dabbled in Elder Scrolls games before (Morrowind was one of the first PC games I really became immersed in), I’m by no means obsessed with the franchise. At PAX East 2013, I heard about all the new and innovative things that ESO boasted about. I had a few friends who played it, and they came back raving about how great it was going to be. I didn’t have a chance to play it myself back then, but I wasn’t too broken up about it - I knew I’d get a chance in the future.
Fast forward to a couple of months back. I was accepted into the beta, so I downloaded the game and logged in for the beta weekend. I made a Dunmer Sorcerer, and was quite impressed with the physical character customization on character creation. It’s very robust. As soon as I loaded into the game, however, the game felt weird from a controlling perspective. Third person had my character running around very stiffly, and first person felt much too limiting for an MMO (I want to be able to see as much around me as possible). Concerning the skill system, I saw a lot of potential there (while each class has a small set of class-specific skill lines and abilities, most skill lines are open for all classes); however, in the end I was disappointed that instead of feeling like I could build my character to be unique, instead I felt like everyone was very similar because of this largely shared skill pool.
I must say that ZeniMax successfully made ESO feel like an Elder Scrolls game; the world felt huge and it felt like the same world that Skyrim or Oblivion takes place. That being said, however, I came away feeling like I might be better served by just playing one of the single-player Elder Scrolls games. While adventuring with friends is certainly great, I wish that ESO had instead been a LAN or co-op Elder Scrolls game, not a full-blown MMO. I’m not just saying this because of subscriptions and all that sort of MMO baggage - I actually felt like ESO was at times hindered by being an MMO. Instead of the stories of quests progressing smoothly, my party members and I had to prompt cutscenes to progress. Random players running around in the world made the setting feel much less immersive. Tasks often felt trivial and not important from a story perspective. All in all, while I feel that ESO will certainly appeal to some people, it wasn’t really my type of thing.