Elder Scrolls Online E3 2012 Preview
For the first time in history, players will be able to explore Tamriel… Like all of it.
While we didn’t get to actually play The Elder Scrolls Online I did manage to get backstage with Zenimax Online and see exactly what is going to make the game tick. The devs could only spare us about half an hour and so obviously everything we were told was the hyper-condensed version and with a game that looks to cover the huge universe that is The Elder Scrolls, 30 minutes is not a lot of time.
It’s Dangerous To Go Alone…
Immediately out of the gate the devs were quick to impress on us the importance sociability is going to play in The Elder Scrolls online. They want the game to be primarily about players interacting with other players, either by assisting one another in the world or bu brutally murdering one another in the games player vs. player.
The Elder Scrolls online will employ a bunch of features to encourage players to work together without actually forcing them to group and as I’m a bit of an antisocial Anthony, these what I found most exciting about The Elder Scrolls online. Traditionally, there is always some competitiveness in the PvE side of MMOs. Players will fight for the priviledge of killing an enemy because in most instances the first player to hit the enemy (or whoever does the most damage) will get the credit and reward for that enemies death. With The Elder Scrolls online players are encouraged to help one another and any player who damages a monster will receive full experience and loot rewards.
The World is Changed
The Elder Scrolls Online takes place in the second era of Tamriel, or, for those of you who aren’t steeped in Elder Scrolls lore, about a thousand years before Skyrim took place. The world then looks pretty much as grim as it ever has. The King of Cyrodil has been under pressure from three warring factions and to regain control of the land has turned to the Daedra lord, Molag Bal.
The varying races that players have come to know and love in their Elder Scrolls games are all there and are all (presumably) playable. A players faction depends on which race he is and all the factions are constantly at odds with all the other factions. It wasn’t stated whether competing factions will be able to group and co-operatively play with one another.
Like any Elder Scrolls game, ESO will feature dungeons. Lots and lots of dungeons. And like any other MMO, many of them will be separate instances that only the player and his or her group can enter. Many, but not all. “Public dungeons” will also apparently be plentiful and while they won’t require players be in a group to enter they will still be extremely challenging. The public dungeons seem like a cool idea but they are just essentially an area of the game where the enemies are tougher. The tag “public dungeons” seems a bit misleading. Regular instance style dungeons will also be plentiful, as they are in almost every other MMO.
POIs (points of interest) were also shown to us. While adventuring through Tamriel and collecting cabbages (or cheese wheels if that strikes your fancy) the mini-map may randomly indicate that a “POI” is near you. These are totally optional areas that will have some sort of attention worthy event going on. Again, giving random quests scattered around the world a title (one with capital letters on it, no less. It seems like the POIs will play out exactly like normal questing throughout the game but instead of being led to them, you have to find them.
So I’ve Been Doing Some Thinking…
The Elder Scrolls Online looks like it’s not going to do anything that hasn’t been done again and again in just about every iteration of massively multiplayer gaming before it. The combat is in “real time” which boils down to “the character has no auto attack”. There are some attempts to keep it interesting, such as a finesse meter that will gauge how effective you are in combat and then offer increasing rewards based on how effectively you block and dodge, but even the somewhat innovative features feel like they will get lost in the monotony of what looks to be an extremely long and boring grind.
Everything I saw of The Elder Scrolls online makes it look boring. I’m no stranger to the monotony of bad MMOs and even with the “exciting” features they showed off to us, ESO still doesn’t look to do anything that hasn’t been done before. Over and over and over.