Hands On: The Elder Scrolls Online

ZAM gives its impressions on The Elder Scrolls Online after a tour of ZeniMax studios.

There has been a lot of conjecture about The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) since it was announced. Would it work as an MMO? Would it feel like an Elder Scrolls game or would it be just another bog-standard MMO with a well-known name?

Speaking to Matt Firor, TESO's Game Director and other devs at ZeniMax Online, they didn't feel that they had completely assuaged concerns with their presentations and messaging so far. 

Walking around ZeniMax and hearing the passion felt by all concerned on the project, there is little doubt the team feels very strongly that they have something special on their hands. 

So confident are the developers in TESO, they decided the best way to get people to understand what's in store for the game is by letting it speak for itself.

I'm happy to say I was among the lucky few to get a solid four hours of gameplay with The Elder Scrolls Online — and it certainly left an impression. The game is still in pre-Alpha stage but there was enough there to get a good feel for the world and its systems, including combat.

Screenshot

Them's Be Fightin' Words!

Firstly, yes there is first person view with the signature targeting reticule to quickly settle Skyrim, Oblivion and Morrowind fans into this new expression of their beloved world.

The controls also feel like slipping on a pair of comfortable slippers.  Left mouse for weapon attack — held for power moves — right click for block is close enough to Skyrim et al to feel immediately familiar and engaging. Holding right mouse and quickly tapping the left button initiates an interrupt on casters; all of which becomes second nature incredibly quickly, thanks to the NPC character animations and telegraphing employed on all mobs, giving a clear indication of when to attack, when to block, when to move — to avoid incoming AOE or cone abilities — and when to go for the kill.

Timely attacks and efficient strategies are rewarded by the Finesse system. Well chosen moves to destroy the massive array of creatures give a Finesse rating which awards percentage XP bonuses depending on just how splendid you are.

As you level through the game toward your destination of 50, you unlock Ultimate abilities. These powerful hotbar attacks aren't dependent on Magicka or Endurance like other abilities; instead they are replenished with Finesse. Slaughter your foes like a clumsy oaf with banana fingers and it will take a while to unleash that shiny Ultimate again.

After getting a feel for the cut and thrust — or crush and flambé — of the combat style, I was soon pulling off combos to block power moves from enemies which put them in a vulnerable state — again telegraphed by a character animation and an additional iconic prompt — then let rip with a charged up finisher. Execute your foes with maximum precision and you will get a slow motion kill animation — to give you enough time to marvel over your ninja-like skills.

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Subscription model
# Nov 26 2012 at 8:46 PM Rating: Default
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83 posts
I hope its monthly subscription just because that supports the company to continue their updates and content at a fair rate without making players feel like they need to pay to enjoy the game fully.

Edited, Nov 26th 2012 9:46pm by dreamgreed
Great article but...two questions
# Oct 22 2012 at 11:51 AM Rating: Decent
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In the opening paragraphs you describe the first-person, reticule-based combat.

This is a HUGE improvement from what we were told at E3.

Firstly, when in first-person, can you see your arms/weapons like in Skyrim, or is it more like WoW where its just a blank view?

Secondly, would you say there is any form of hit detection in the combat, like aiming sword swings, spells and arrows, or is it still dice rolls, tab-targetting and numbers flying out of enemies?
Great article but...two questions
# Oct 22 2012 at 7:47 PM Rating: Decent
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Hey Capitol, thanks for leaving a comment.
The first person doesn't have the arms in front of you from what I saw so far (and this is so far as there is much to come).

In regards to the dice rolling aspect, you don't have a block rating stat, you have to time the block correctly before an attack lands (somethng you're best saving for when a mob is powering up a heavy attack).

You select your enemy by moving the reitcule over it, this highlights the mob. Face the wrong direction and you're swinging at fresh air. The only numbers I saw were from the Finesse ranks.

I hope that helps!
Great article but...two questions
# Oct 22 2012 at 8:39 PM Rating: Decent
2 posts
Thanks for the response!

Hopefully they get those hands in before launch, so much better for immersion.
My wallet is suspicious...
# Oct 22 2012 at 11:46 AM Rating: Decent
1 post
Yeah it sounds good but what is their business model? If they want a subscription fee they better have something a fair bit more epic than just another MMO with action combat and a few ideas copied from LoL and GW2. And if they say it is still undecided then I’ll pass. We’ve all seen MMO publishers and developers have to change their business models in the past, and fail miserably because what they chose didn’t suit the game, leading to absurd and unfair restrictions and making the game, in some cases, even less welcoming to new player than if it had just kept a sub fee. Fact is if these guys didn’t know exactly how they were going to charge for the game before they started development it will hurt the game. Period.
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