Hands On: The Elder Scrolls Online

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

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It's easy to see how your preferred style of play will lead you into certain combat approaches and yes, as I'm sure you were wondering, the Holy Trinity is alive and well in The Elder Scrolls Online. Roles you will be able to practice in places such as public dungeons, Crows Rock being the first for the Ebonheart Pact, which seemed very open and great for fans of exploration.  

Though the roles might be set, from what I saw of the progression system so far, there will be many choices in how you choose to fulfill them. The claim made by the team that you can make a character that isn't quite like any other, has been made by many games companies before, with few of them succeeding. TESO might just pull it off.

Of course, the immediate concern is that cookie cutter power builds will quickly rear their ugly, well-worn heads. The only answer, of course, lies within the long road of testing ahead for the game — in the impressive and ever growing studio, which currently houses 350 members of staff — but the flavor of the weapons and the styles of play they engender ensures a sense of differentiation even at this early stage.

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The World as We Know It?
Anyone who has marveled at Skyrim's snowy peaks while chuckling at any mention of an arrow to the knee knows that it is the contrast between thrilling grandeur and the joy of the comically mundane that gives Elder Scrolls games their distinct flavor.
After character creation, players will run through a tutorial which explains the basics and introduces the story of your character and the world. The evil villain — well he's hardly going to be a charity worker — is Molag Bal, a Daedric powerhouse who has stolen your soul in his bid to dominate the world through demonic sorcery. It's your task to reclaim your soul — and return the funk to your dancing, no doubt — and save the planet in the process.
The tutorial wasn't ready for consumption, so I began my journey at level two in Bleakrock, a noobie zone situated in the Skyrim area.
The terrain is immediately recognizable and the small towns and dwellings are like returning home for more than just the stoic architecture. There is plenty of personality wherever you go, thanks to the well-designed NPC interaction.
Hang around after completing a quest, or just walk through town and you can hear NPCs mutter mournfully or trade barbs comically in a very deft variety of spoken dialogue routines. The characters are all fully voiced in a way that is focused on cementing immersion, with large helpings of personality.
Before the quest dialogue-phobic among you go running for the hills, ZeniMax has made a smart choice in how the player interacts with the chatty NPCs. As with the single player RPGs, quest givers — in TESO, signified by a green aura around them and a circle on the map in areas you have explored — have lip synced dialogues that are accompanied by quest text. Want to skip through? No problem, there's a handy quest tracker to show you where to go, or tell you later what you didn't bother finding out in the beginning.
If you like to get the character flavor with the quest, you can listen and watch and then be on your merry way. If you like even more immersion, there are additional dialogue options that will give a deeper glimpse into the life of the character, the area or the overall world — including plenty of things to make a Tamriel lore nerd happy.
You can dip in and out of the story of the world around you as often and as deeply as you wish, not just in the aspect of the main story and sub quests, but in the levels of content embodied in the NPCs.

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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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