This year marked yet another hugely successful QuakeCon event with the defining aspect for MMO players being the first Elder Scrolls Online livestream. The event saw a number of developers take to the stage to showcase the games current build and features, with unedited footage shown across the world. I was there as the event unfolded and today I thought I’d discuss my opinions as I analyze The Elder Scrolls Online livestream. If you’ve yet to watch the video it can be seen at the top of this post.
As with all MMO games the developers began with character creation and customization. Although this wasn’t new to many of us that viewed the previously leaked closed beta footage, it did showcase a feature that some people have yet to experience. In true Elder Scrolls fashion players are given complete control over the physical appearance of the chosen race. Everything is customizable, from the build of your muscle to the size of your forearms. Although this isn’t anything ground-breaking in the MMO world it’s a vital part of today’s top titles. It’s often the first thing a player experiences and lackluster choices can often mean adventurers start with low expectations.
Following that the developer walks players through a new zone for the first time, showcasing an area familiar to those that frequent the world of Morrowind. It’s instantly recognizable with its swamp like terrain and inhabitants, something I was personally concerned may be overlooked. We see it too often today, developers looking to fill their world with as much content as possible, losing any personal charm or appeal on the way.
The character progression also seems to be far more detailed than many of us expected it to be. As shown in the video players get access to their class skill tree, with 3 distinct progression paths, but they can also get skills from joining Guilds or belonging to a certain race. The Fighters and Mages Guilds are clearly in the game and Soul Trap can also be seen in the ability menu, giving credit to rumors of enchanting and combat. Also sticking with previous Elder Scrolls games is the ability based progression in the form of Morph Skills. These skills allow players to improve a certain ability based on usage, the same experience system used in recent Elder Scrolls titles.
Travel was also highlighted in detail as players have multiple choices when it comes to getting from A to B. Wayshrines return as a method of teleportation, allowing players to return to discovered locations without having to drudge through previously explored terrain, something far too many MMO games of today overlook. Horses also make an early appearance although we weren’t treated to any mounted combat footage.
A vital part of every Elder Scrolls game has been the combat and based on the video it appears they’ve duplicated that element almost perfectly. The combat featured heavily in The Elder Scrolls Online livestream, and showcased many aspects of the previous titles. The developer begins using a bow while sneaking, hitting the enemy with the fabled sneak strike. Before engaging in melee combat duel wielding two different weapon types. Magical spells also made an appearance alongside a large 2handed weapon.
Following that they showcased the dungeons and looking for group feature. Using a simple interface the developer was able to instantly locate other people looking to raid the same dungeon and thanks to the teleportation feature, he was able to get in on the action within moments. We’ve all had that experience; waiting outside a dungeon entrance for 20 minutes because a single player is late or too far away, that won’t happen here.
The dungeon did leave me with a few unanswered questions. You may remember an article I wrote detailing the “mob mentality” features, a dungeon feature that was said to hold all enemies in a single area under the same aggression bracket. However, in the video it’s quite clear that a single enemy can be pulled from a group without attracting their attention.
Another aspect of the same Q&A session involving dungeons explained how enemy units will work together to create a more difficult challenge. This is demonstrated perfectly as the entire party beats on a single unit without being able to take it down due to enemies healing in the background. That fight is an engagement versus very basic enemies in the game but with the wrong approach, it can still become highly difficult. The rest of the video follows the group through the dungeon as they encounter many familiar foes.
I’ve made it quite obvious with previous articles that I’m concerned about the potential to fail with ESO but following the livestream event, I feel positive. The compass, the conversations with NPC’s, exploration and quest objectives all displayed using very familiar on-screen prompts, each contributing to the overall feel of The Elder Scrolls Online. The character progression seems deep enough to offer some real food for thought and the versatility of each individual player should mean dungeons and other group content should be more accessible and enjoyable. My doubts have not been squashed completely but there’s at least one fan with a more positive outlook following the stream.
What are your thoughts?