Elder Scrolls Online Beta – Our thoughts

[News] So, we finally got to play the beta, "how was it" you ask? Well pop inside and have a peek!

I am a massive Elder Scrolls fan and had really high hopes for this.  I rushed home to play it at 5pm Friday evening and even swapped my shift at work Sunday to be there at the end.  It was a magical weekend, one that took me away from life’s problems and placed me in the land of Tamriel.  A place full of hatred, friendship, mystery, dragons, guilds and  mud crabs.  But is it your typical Elder Scrolls or is it your typical MMO?

First and foremost, I will let you in on a little secret – it really does feel like you are playing Skyrim, with thousands of other people running past you, all after the same goal.  The silly thing about MMO’s, is that you are all the ‘chosen one’.  This is what I find hard to grasp.  In all the Elder Scrolls games it has been you and only you.


Even the early spells are pretty and fun to use. They gain power quite quickly, leaving your foes with quite the sore bottom.

The game plays in first person and third person mode, the latter being somewhat pointless.  The character in third person sticks constantly to the left hand side of the screen, and I really don’t recommend going in this view when it comes to fighting.  First person was the mode I constantly stuck to, only popping in and out of third person view to check out how I looked!  Although, you do have your characterization screen to be able to do that in.  Here you will have your inventory, your character, your skills and abilities.  Each time you level up, you get awarded points that you can use on putting up any of these skills.

Levelling up was bit of an annoyance for me.  For example, as much as I hate to compare MMO’s, on Final Fantasy Realm Reborn, it likes to make a point of letting you know that you have levelled up by doing the famous Final Fantasy end fight music and splashing level up across the screen.  However, here, there wasn’t really anything to indicate I had levelled up apart from a little icon in the top left of my screen that told me to spend points.  Sometimes it wasn’t until I happened to check out my skills and stats I noticed I had level up points.  A little bit more wow factor when you level up would be nice.

How’s the combat?  Sometimes I found it a little sluggish, but I think this all depends on the good of your weapon because when I found a better sword it improved.  I’m guessing this goes on how quick the sword slashes in its stats.  To be honest with you all, the fighting for me felt a lot like it does in Skyrim.  However, I only played with sword and shield.  I do not know how bow and arrow or magic feels in this game.  You have the same attack slot buttons as you would find in most MMO’s down the bottom of your screen.  I found that I could attack normally like in the other Elder games with my left mouse button and block with my right, but I also had these extra moves I unlocked with my skills to use at the push of a button.  I actually thought the skill moves combined well with the normal fighting we are used to in the series.

Praying to go home...

Teleporting to a wayshrine costs you money for some reason, but not mana. I checked my character for a coin slot, but didn’t find one…

Okay, one major annoyance, and one I left Bethesda feedback about, was the constant dismissal of the god damn weapon!  You will happily be fighting away, run down a corridor, and you sheave your weapon away every damn time!  You feel as though you are constantly having to take your weapon out of your pocket every time you have stopped fighting for two minutes.  I really hope this is a problem they will address in time for launch.

Graphically I don’t think it looks as good as Skyrim.  In fact, I think Skyrim just manages to out-do it in the graphics/art department.  To me, this is the least of its worries though for graphics aren’t important unless you are playing a game just to gawk at.

I had an issue with the audio.  When you are talking and walking alongside an NPC, the audio can go pretty muffled and quiet.  An option to use subtitles would be nice, but I heard this was a common problem with everyone and it is something they are looking to address.

Pretty Pretty!

The scenery is quite delightful.

Did I encounter any game breaking bugs?  Not as many as some, is my answer to that.  I did run into a quest breaking fighters guild mission though, where the person I was meant to see didn’t spawn.  I logged out and in again a bit later and it worked fine.  But these are all things I imagine will be ironed out.  We keep our fingers crossed.  We pray.  Missions that you can’t complete due to bugs sounds all too familiar with Bethesda’s games, and for a game you pay around £8.99 a month for, you expect perfection.

There are invisible walls.  Yes, I know there is in WoW too but that is so big you hardly notice they’re there.  In ESO, there was an island on the map we wanted to go over to and explore.  The bridge to this island was all broken and there was no way of getting across there without carefully jumping.  Oh does the jumping feel clunky.  You seem to drop down at such a slower pace than you jump up and you can’t control where you land.  There was no possible way of being able to jump over the bridge, for you wouldn’t land where you aimed.  Plus, if you did manage to make it, the invisible wall was there to stop you.  Shakes an angry fist. (NaytoE: “I did actually manage it. It took 9 attempts in total and I was greeted by the invisible wall, much to my frustration. It seems stupid to block out areas that are clearly visible in a game that insists its focus is on adventuring and exploring. I adventured and was given nothing but frustration in return, make up your mind Bethesda!!”

The bridge of the invisible wall.

The bridge of the invisible wall. Don’t try to get across, there’s nothing there. Exploring is/could be/wants to be here, but it isn’t. Bethesda needs to either embrace exploring, or simply go with the current MMO style of quest hubs etc.

The main story line is quite engaging, and one I hope to get more into when I have the game for real.  I was sort of whizzing through it quickly with the short space of time I was given.  The exploration is fun, reminding me of GW2.  If you explore all of the map for the place you currently are, you gain an achievement for it.  A lot of quests are hidden so I recommend you explore places you haven’t been to a lot.  Don’t just follow the roads, cut across greenery and mountains, there is always someone lurking about needing assistance.

There are horses available to buy to use as mounts at the stables, although they are very expensive and poor little level 8 me (that’s the level I reached before being cut off) couldn’t afford one.  I played as a Dragon knight Redguard  called Tibesh.  The Dragon knight is one of four classes available.  I didn’t really like her but didn’t have the time to create another character I could care for.  I think it’s going to take a lot of time to find the character you grow to love.  Saying that, there aren’t that many races or classes to choose from, but mixing it up a little is fun.  It’s just all about finding that right combination.

To sum it up, it felt as though I was playing an Elder Scrolls game with other people just getting in my way.  It was hard to figure out who was an NPC and who was a player at times for the players didn’t have any name tags above their heads.  It feels a bit like the MMO elements have just been thrown in there for the sake of it.  We shall see how it all unravels when it is released in April.  The game improved for me personally when I entered Daggerfall, so I am hoping it will be onwards and upwards for me again when I reach there.  I just hope Bethesda can keep this MMO up and running because the potential is there.  But they need to work out if it is an Elder Scrolls game or an MMO.  At the moment, it feels like Skyrim on steroids.

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