The Elder Scrolls Online Beta

ImageLike many MMO fans, I signed up for and was invited to the Elder Scrolls Online beta.  Recently the NDA has been lifted, so I thought I would share my experience.

The first time I had participated, I was very disappointed.  However in recent beta tests I have found a new interest in TESO.  My experience in this game so far are based off of  my first impressions and what my views are on this game compared to other MMO’s and RPG’s I’ve played in the past.  This also isn’t a review by any means, and I know it is still beta, so I will have to hold off on too many complaints I have until the actual release.

The game itself is beautiful and feels very much like an Elder Scrolls game.  The graphics, music, enemies, and atmosphere have that Elder Scrolls feel that we’ve all come to know and love and the world is filled with all the lore you could ask for.  The story and quests are all voiced over and are easy to pick up or decline based on what you as the player want to do.  There isn’t a lot of hand-holding or forced quests aside from the main storyline, so your character is free to roam and do things as you see fit.

That being said however, there are some MMO elements that make this feel very different from traditional Elder Scrolls games.  For one, areas are divided up by zones based on level ranges.  If you try taking your level 2 mage too far from the starting area, you’re gonna have a bad time.  Another difference is the lack of elements such as pickpocketing NPC’s, town guards, stealing items, killing NPC’s and looting corpses.  (Yes, corpses have some loot, but if you’re used to finding a full set of armor on a corpse, tough luck.)  Rather the world is set to be protected from the epic heroes running around and most of the content can’t be manipulated with as in other games.

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One thing they really need to work on in my opinion is the UI of The Elder Scrolls Online.  The minimal UI in Skyrim worked great for a single player game, but for an MMO, people like to have a “cluttered and interactive” HUD.  MMO players like to track quests and friends and events and items and statuses.  The quest tracker thus far is limited to one quest at a time, there is no mini map to see where I am going, and the chat box is very basic.  Another major complaint I have with the UI is that I can’t see the overhead names of other players.  I am unable to tell a fellow player from an NPC or an enemy, so I have no idea of that character I am approaching will help me out, try to kill me, or try to sell me some crap I don’t need.

Gathering and crafting in TESO so far seems to be on par with other MMO’s.  Items are scattered throughout the world and you can collect anything from basic food ingredients, to insect parts, to ores, to wood and plant fibers.  It seems very similar to the gathering/crafting system in Skyrim.  Of course I can’t think of many people who would have the time to go out and gather all those supplies, so I’m hoping to see an trading post in the game at some point.  Personally I was confused with the crafting system and would have liked an NPC quest to help walk me through how to do some basic crafts.

My impressions of TESO beta is that is is shaping up to be a well-made MMORPG and should appease the fans of The Elder Scrolls who want to try playing with other people instead of going the game alone.  However, I don’t believe this is going to last as a subscription-based MMO unless they do more catering to the existing MMO crowd.  I feel like this game is going to be worth the pricetag for the game itself, but not worth the monthly fee as there is not a lot of social content/interaction I am seeing available at this point.  I’ll keep reading updates though and see if they add more elements in the future.

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