When I had initially heard that there was going to be an Elder Scrolls MMO, my initial reaction was ugh no! I always play a sneaky thief type and I love being on my own in these games, to the extent that I never used the companion in Skyrim and didn’t even want a co-op version to play with Dimzad (I would say ‘sorry Dimzad’ but he doesn’t read this anyway :P) I’ve always found the games very immersive so the thought of other people sharing my experience was absolutely terrible. However, the slow drip drip of information and the screenshots started to get me thinking about whether it would be fun to play with my friends and whether I could get over my reluctance to share the game world with others. I decided that I should at least give it a go and was lucky enough to get invited to the latest stress test. The highest level I managed was 8, and I’ve heard that the game opens up considerably once past level 15.
I highly recommend reading Isarii’s Comprehensive Review (Tamriel Foundry). It is a very thorough review and well worth reading, especially if you haven’t had a chance to get into beta OR haven’t got past the initial chain of starting areas (like me). Honestly, after reading that review I’m not sure what I can add… so I’ve just added some brief points about various aspects which really caught my attention.
I had a good first impression as I liked the character creation, I was very pleased to find out I was a prisoner and if you let yourself get caught up in the momentum of the escape story, the starting area is quite fun.
Generally I’ve liked the npc scripts and voiceovers, the quests feel organic and feel as though they have a proper purpose. My favourite quest has been one where instead of killing rats you use a magic wand to turn skeevers (rats basically) back into people. One of the quests involves you making a choice of which area to defend, the area I didn’t defend had heavy casualties, so my choice felt as though it had ‘real’ consequences.
I like the crafting system and that you can skill up all crafts on one character if you wish. It will probably best be split over 2 or 3 characters though as firstly in those early levels you will likely want to spend your skill points on combat skills on your ‘main’ rather than splurge them on crafting, secondly storage is going to be a real issue if you try to max *all* crafts at once (at least during the early levels). I like that you can craft with materials straight from your bank storage. The items you produce are useful – armour and weapons can be improved, enchanted, research bonuses added. I love the look of the female armour models, although please note, the below is a mish mash of low level armour.
It is absolutely gorgeous, with a great attention to detail. although the questlines are semi-linear, you can just go and off and explore (and like Skyrim, find places which are too dangerous at your current level). As you explore you will find other quests, there are chests to pick, crafting mats dotting the landscape, skyshards and points of interest to find.
I love that when players are reading books or looking at their maps, their character mirrors their activity (it was great seeing other players standing around rooting through their bags, holding a map etc). There are books to find which grant a skillup. I was very pleased to find my first Nirnroot too 🙂
I found using the keyboard for both movement and for firing off your skills very awkward at first (and am not yet proficient with it). However, I now have a gaming keypad (in time for the last stress test) and this has made things much easier. I have also found the lack of feedback in combat (no floaty numbers, no stream of combat text in window) both very immersive and at the same not very informative. I have heard that the community will be able to mod the UI and I believe this will include combat feedback. The skill system is pretty complicated, it can be reset (for a cost) if you want to change your setup later. There seems to be a lot of customisation both with skills and weapon/armour choice, I expect this will degenerate into ‘must-have’ optimal builds but hopefully the encounters won’t be designed for such and you will be able to maintain some individuality.
bah to not launching with housing. Did they not see the insane amount of housing mods for Skyrim?
I’m happy about this to be honest. It is going to be refreshing to pay monthly and then just be able to enjoy the full content of the game (ok well, barring the imperial race if you didn’t pre-order the collector’s edition). I know they are going to have a cash shop – I thought initially for services only (e.g. name change) but I think they may have expanded on that to fluff items. If it remains purely fluff, I would be sort of OK with that.
So after my time in beta, I ended up really enjoying it and have pre-ordered. It was initially quite strange seeing other players around but if you’re going to play the MMO version it’s just something you’ll have to get used to. The game also has an open tapping system which is great for helping out on the fly (and avoiding having to wait for repops :P). Although the game does not bring anything particularly revolutionary to the MMO genre, it does feel fresh and different to me, although I do tend to play the ‘older’ MMOs so that may be why. I’m not sure as yet how long it will hold my interest as that will strongly depend on the group pve content. As I don’t PVP, I’m glad that the pvp content is optional, although I have to say it does look interesting. However, I hope they bring a marketing push for the PVE endgame as if this game becomes PVP-centric (something I have never associated the Elder Scrolls franchise with), I won’t be playing long-term.
So in summary, it looks as if in the short term it’s going to be a fun MMO and naturally, as it’s new, I have some concerns over long term playability.