Trying TESO

Last weekend I had the opportunity to get my hands on The Elder Scrolls Online. On the downside, I only had about five minutes to play. On the upside, there was no NDA for those five minutes!

My sense is that the answer to almost any question about TESO is “Skyrim”. What is the character creator like? Skyrim. How does the UI work? Like Skyrim. How does the game look and feel? Tooootally Skyrim. You even have that little compass at the top of your screen that tells you which direction to go for quests.

TESO handles class specs slightly differently, and there is no giant skill wheel in the sky like Skyrim. Players still gain skill points through action, like earning Light Armor by being hit, but they can also purchase specific skills at certain levels. This is where you can start to steer your character towards magic or physical damage. The skills you buy are placed on your hotbar, and otherwise you have two attacks bound to each mouse button.

So what of the multiplayer part of this MMO? First, the other players are displayed in a way that blends into the environment well and doesn’t mess with immersion. (In fact, I spent a good half of my battle time fruitlessly hitting my fellow players, thinking they were enemies.) That was all well and good when you had another one or two people running around, but once you had a lot of players on your screen it genuinely started to feel a bit silly.

Although I personally never really enjoyed Skyrim, my understanding from others is that a large part of its appeal was the immersion. It was having random encounters happen, it was getting lost in the giant world, it was overhearing bits of gossip as you walked by someone in town. (There’s a reason first person view is so popular with players!)

Having played TESO I feel like ZeniMax Online got the mechanics of that same Skyrim immersion correct, but it quickly becomes trampled by the old MMO structure. It’s just hard to feel like a part of a virtual world when PlayerX zips in front of you and steals your quest mob, or when there are 15 people all running around the same area trying to find the same plant.

I admit that from the outset I knew that TESO was not a title that interested me, but I left their booth feeling that while the game played well and had that old Skyrim spirit the title would still have been much better served as a game you play with a couple of friends and not the whole world.

Author: Jessica Cook

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4 Comments

  1. Hearing “Skyrim” as the answer is encouraging. There has been worry that the TESO team might not “get it.”

    On the other hand, you brought up the very next thing on the list, which is, “Why an MMO and not, say, a Borderlands model co-op game?” The vibe I get is that people want to share in the Skyrim experience with their friends in a group adventure. More NWN2, less WoW.

    I hold not special outlook on the subject. I am not particularly an Elder Scrolls fan. But the bit of Skyrim I have played made me long for a co-op version.
    Wilhelm Arcturus´s last post: Out With Siege Fleet in Delve

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  2. I am weary of things that are a bit of everything. I look forward to TESO a lot, especially because of the Skyrim factor – but you have a point that Skyrim would’ve been better off as a coop game because ‘MMO’ always brings more things with it. I’ve the impression some people think TESO isn’t gonna be a ‘real MMO’ for this reason but then, what is it? an online RPG with too many people? …..

    The other thing that’s slightly worrying is that Zenimax idea of ‘endgame’ for TESO is more or less the same as GW2’s. they seem to believe that it will be enough to have questlines, dungeons, horizontal progression with different class skills and crafting (also, they’ve forgotten that TESO should really have housing, wtf!). given that this game appears to have zero sandbox elements so far, I have my doubts about its longterm appeal.

    And seriously, no housing??
    Syl´s last post: Green is the new Green! Why none of this really matters (but it’s fun all the same)

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  3. Hmm, your conclusion is exactly what I’m afraid for as well with TESO. Although I did enjoy Skyrim for a bit (somehow I never manage to ‘finish’ Elder Scroll games), I’m not sure what I think about this. A lot of MMO players are looking for ‘something different’ and there are no indications TESO is trying to provide this. The main target audience might be Elder Scrolls players who don’t play MMOs, but I’m not sure how large that pool is.

    From what I’m reading on blogs I’m not getting my hopes up, but I’m still curious and might take a look when it’s there (yes, I’m stubborn like that!).
    Ravanel Griffon´s last post: LOTRO: Popular among goats

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  1. With a Crying and a Laughing Eye: A Look at GOTYs of 2013 and MMOs for 2014 | MMO Gypsy – Wandering online Worlds - […] flaws (ugly character models, clunky UI) of Skyrim – game of games. All things considered, I choose to trust …

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