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.

PAX Swag Giveaway!

September 6: This giveaway is now closed and codes have been sent out! Thanks for entering. :)

You (probably) want swag! I want to feel more ephemerally loved on social media! LET’S WORK TOGETHER.

I have the following goodies:

  1. A PAX-exclusive Kali skin for Smite
  2. League of Legends code for Arcade Hecarim skin
  3. League of Legends code for Riot Blitzcrank skin
  4. 5 invites to the Dawngate closed beta (a new MOBA)
  5. A code for 50% off the awesome indie game Beatbuddy on Steam
  6. A full copy of Escape Goat 2 once it releases later this month
  7. 2 invites to the Card Hunter closed beta (PS: this game is super fun!)
  8. A code for a Crystalline Chaos Dragon in Dragon’s Prophet

Here’s how to get a piece of the action: Follow Cat Context on Twitter or Like us on Facebook, then tweet/post which item(s) you’d like. I’ll randomly draw names on Friday morning and send out codes!

(Sorry to be all shill-y, but apparently that is how the magic happens.)

Post-PAX, Part One

Hello!

I have returned from PAX and even caught up on my sleep a bit. This morning must be dedicated to non-PAX life things, and I will take the time later to write more about what I saw. For now, though, here is what I’ve written already about the convention over on the newly released Junkies Nation:

PAX Prime Experts on the Future of MMORPGs – I attended a panel with a bunch of important MMO dudes talking about the future of the genre. This is a relatively straight forward retelling of the panel.

WildStar Shows Off Player Housing – Player housing was the hot topic at both the WildStar panel and their party, and to be honest in theory it all looks pretty cool.

Hands On With the Oculus Rift – It’s not just a gimmick! The Rift is technically impressive and I think something we’ll be seeing more of in a few years.

Indie Game Highlights from PAX Prime – One of the coolest things about PAX is all the indies, and they were out in full force this year. I wrote about a few of my favorites.

Okay, I have to go dig out from under a pile of laundry. More PAX talk soon!

[Editor's Note: I arrived home last night to discover that Gabe from Penny Arcade was saying stupid things again yesterday. I want to talk about this more in-depth, but suffice to say that I totally respect anyone's decision to not attend or support PAX because Gabe is a hurtful person who says bad things.]

 

Cat Context 33: WildStar has a payment model, FFXIV launches, Saints Row blows everything up
Aug28

Cat Context 33: WildStar has a payment model, FFXIV launches, Saints Row blows everything up

Hey, did you know that I’m going to be at PAX Prime this weekend? Well you do now! If you are gonna be at PAX too tweet me @Liores and we can meet up and, like, high five and stuff.

Or watch the LIVE Cat Context from PAX, Sunday September 1st at 5pm PST on Twitch. We’ve got stuff to give away, and you should come get it!

cat context vertical Cat Context 33: WildStar has a payment model, FFXIV launches, Saints Row blows everything up

WildStar announced their payment model last week, joining the unexpected movement back towards subscription MMOs. This episode we’re talking about whether subscriptions are a good idea for WildStar, if the $60 box price is in fact a little steep, and overall if the announcement affected our excitement for the game. (And really, do we have unrealistic value expectations from our game dollars?)

It’s also been a good time for new games with the arrivals of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and Saints Row IV. Liore has been playing the former, and reports on catgirls and catastrophic launch server failures. Meanwhile special guest Mangle has joined the Saints Row franchise by jumping into IV, and he is understandably a little confused.

Also, Liore whines about not being in the Hearthstone beta! Mangle gets berated into buying Gone Home! Elly tries to become the Magic: The Gathering King of Oakland!

Like to watch? This podcast was also a Hangout on Air:

It would be downright awesome if you gave us a vote on iTunes. :)

* Jimquisition talks about Saints Row IV and inclusion.
* Jesse Cox plays Hearthstone.
* Forbes on what Gone Home could do better.
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years

3 Game Songs to Take to the Gym

I started running three weeks ago, and in that time I’ve already gone from stopping every 15 seconds before I die to running a full kilometre, or about 10 minutes. Hey, it’s a start!

(Here is where I give mad props to the Zombies Run version of Couch to 5k. The app is well designed, interesting, and makes it simple to train via sprints.)

I originally tried listening to podcasts while I run because part of my problem with exercise is that I’m really easily bored and I HATE being bored. But while the podcasts give my brain something to chew on, they also don’t really help pump me up for that next step. The fact is that I run faster and further with a little music.

So, I tried game soundtracks. No, not the sweeping orchestral sounds of most MMOs, although those are fine in their place. (And if you enjoy them, check out the Battle Bards podcast!) What I need are upbeat tunes with a slow but steady beat.

Below are 3 of my favorite tracks. Hopefully they help keep you moving through whatever you’re doing, and have a great weekend!

Jet Grind Radio / Jet Set Radio – That’s Enough

If you don’t start grooving to this, you may have no soul.

WipEout – Cold Comfort

WipEout (the 1997 original) was one of the first games ever to have an electronica soundtrack. It has some great tracks by established artists like Chemical Brothers, but most of the soundtrack including this track was created by a lesser known dude named Cold Storage. It’s awesome.

The Binding of Isaac – Sacrificial

Every track of Danny Baranowsky’s Binding of Isaac soundtrack is amazing, and overall this is the album I listen to the most while running. The official 8-bit version of Sacrificial is super fun, as is The Clubbing of Isaac, the offical dance remix of the game’s main theme. The classic Sacrificial wins out for me though because what it might lack in speed or thump it makes up in drama. When you are out being grimly determined and running off a bad day in the rain, this is absolutely the track to listen to.

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