NICK: For me it’s sort of the opposite of Tally. While I’ve played my share of MMOs, for the most part I’m a casual player in that realm. On the other hand Elder Scrolls titles I’ve enjoyed and played through all the way back since Daggerfall. Since Morrowind the Elder Scrolls Series really brought that open world feel to players, making it almost a “single player MMO.” Many thought this would naturally translate into a multiplayer version. And while I feel ESO has a lot of the look and lore of a typical Elder Scrolls game, it just doesn’t quite have the same flavor as the series.
Graphically ESO should impress, but it’s not a huge step up over Skyrim. The biggest change, in my opinion, is the character models themselves feel a bit more stylized. Like any typical Elder Scrolls title you start as a prisoner and are slowly introduced to the game’s controls. As Tally said, something is off about the third and first person perspectives. In first person movement feels muddy while in 3rd the character looks almost disconnected from the world.
Bethesda has retained, for the most part, the Elder Scrolls progression system. You level up your character’s traits by simply performing actions with those traits. Unfortunately I don’t think the interface tells the whole story here as to exactly what’s going on, and after 8 hours or so with the beta, I still wasn’t comfortable figuring out my character progression. If I had to equate the skill system to another Elder Scrolls title, it would be the recent Skyrim, which allowed you to put multiple points in an ability to strengthen it. The interface in general is a bit obfuscated, and in my opinion is one of the game’s weakest points.
Ironically what I think is the biggest problem for ESO, might not be a problem for the game at all. I think it feels a bit too much like an MMO and not enough like an Elder Scrolls game. The quests themselves feel very cliche, and while the full voice acting is definitely nice, the simple goals boil down to running from person to person and talking. In one quest you literally have to talk to people in the same room to complete it. The other problem with these quests is the lack of freedom on them. Sure some will give you a choice in either the dialog to go one way or the other, or perhaps give a wise-crack answer via intimidation - but a lot of the experimentation of Elder Scrolls games is gone here.
I miss simple things like the ability to steal anything within the game world, attempt to pick pocket or kill random townsfolk. The AI seems to exist in a very small box, only reacting a very small distance around your character where as a typical game doing something could yield reaction across the entire town. To put it simply, the lifeblood of an Elder Scrolls title simply doesn’t exist here from what we’ve seen.