You're the first person anywhere who has had anything positive to say about TESO.
Up until now, there had been only one MMO in my life, but now I think I might have to become polyamorous. The Elder Scrolls Online beta has had me up every night recently, bashing my way to level 10 so I can PvP in my nifty lava spike armour. During the course of just one week in which players were allowed to try it out, the …
> Seriously, how does one manage to say for sure either way when it's only just been opened for beta?
How much do you seriously expect to change with just two months before release? The answer is usually none at all, unless the game is so horrendous that it would be reputation-ruining for the publisher to push it out the door.
MMO betas aren't usually betas in the traditional sense. If there is already a release date set, then it is absolutely not a beta in the traditional sense. It's a free(?) preview; a taster; a demo. AFAICT what you see in a "beta" is more than likely what you're going to get at release.
Seriously, how does one manage to say for sure either way when it's only just been opened for beta?
It's just been opened to the public for beta. Beta testing has been going for about a year (I was invited in August) but the NDA has just been lifted.
Now I'm seeing in the press the exact same range of comments I saw from new beta testers, and they fall into basically 3 groups:
1. Elder Scrolls gamers complaining that the world isn't as open as they're used to. This is correct, but necessary -- you can't adjust the game world for a single player when you have thousands of players;
2. MMO fans complaining that the game was missing common UI elements of MMOs (e.g, combat log, minimap). This, while also technically true, ignored the facts that you can play the game quite effectively (and achieve better immersion) without them, and that there is an add-on API for which add-ons are already being developed to provide these features; and
3. Players who treated the game as a new experience and took the time to learn how it was designed to be played.
Group 3 was invariably the most pleased with the game, and in my experience provided some of the most constructive feedback (which, BTW, I can tell you has definitely been incorporated into the game.) However, even groups 1 and 2 usually ended up liking the game despite their initial complaints.
In short, don't expect "Skyrim Online" or "WoW in Tamriel".
It's interesting that MMOs tend to be very non-linear, letting you choose how to progress, where to explore and what to focus on. This has traditionally been one of TES's biggest strengths. With ESO, they completely switched to a quest heavy form of leveling that would have been more at home in a single player game. You can level and progress through killing stuff, but it takes a lot more time and pvp only allowed leveling through quests, i.e. kill 20 players and report back, which either took 30s to complete or 30 minutes depending on how much running your group had to do.
As a WoW player pretty much since day 1 I became disillusioned when the Panda's showed up, as did soooo many other players, but I have seen the future! Like the writer I have been on the beta's and earned my monkey (that's a pet, not a euphemism), and have to say I think ESOL is way ahead.
I will admit to finding the crafting mechanism somewhat clunky but it is still a beta and Bethesda/Zenomax are actively picking up on the testers comments.
If you enjoy MMO games based around hitting things with sharpened metal then this is the game for you.
Bring on the 4th of April!!
"As a WoW player pretty much since day 1 I became disillusioned when the Panda's showed up..." In my case it was even before the Pandarin mess. I only bought the Cataclysm upgrade to play infrequently with friends who were still there, it just didn't have the same appeal. That and the masses of - frankly - irritating noobs that were simply power-levelling to 85 ASAP rather than playing the game. In the old days the WoW endgame was worth the quest grind because you got to play with others that had done the same and played the game. With Cataclysm the endgame became mixing with abusive, ninjaing, power-leveled noobs who had no interest other than running the same dungeon/raid until they got a particular drop to add to the other items they bought (not earned) in the store. Blizzard boosted their profits and runied the game, I only hope ESO avoids that pratfall.
Have you played Fallen Earth? It reminded me a lot like Fallout. It's F2P on Steam too. I enjoyed the game while waiting for Guild Wars 2 to be released. The monthly fee for TESO is a little steep for me. Now if TESO went the online store only for support, I may reconsider.
I was going to try this but then I saw the download size. I didn't have 24 hours for my network connection to be maxed out in time for the weekend.
Those of us living in or near the sticks (as defined by BT, which, in my case, means "the new estate the wrong side of the railway line, where we could have put fibre as we'd already done so for the rest of the town, but why bother) can't deal with attempting to load a whole DVD, thank you.
I bought Skyrim on DVD and the installer went ahead and downloaded the whole game without touching the DVD content. I wouldn't put it past TESO to be any different. Anyways FYI TESO can be downloaded at your leisure. The installer picks up where you leave off. I had to take several breaks getting TESO and had no problems.
"....WoW, for example, is 10 years old and clocks in at nearly 14GB." A friend's son wanted to try WoW recently so I lent him my install discs for everything up to Cata and it STILL took him 18 hours to install the rest of the updates over an ADSL line! Another one of my friends admits he takes his rig into work (he's their network admin) for downloading games off Steam. Still can't bring myself to trade slow-download Surrey for inner-city deprivation bandwidth, but download speeds are pants for a lot of the UK. Anyone know if ESO will offer an install disc in the shops to cut the download wait?
21 GB is only the first part of the download. There's another patch that comes after that, so it's closer to 30 GB. If you get another invite, I'd suggest starting your download as soon as you can, so that it's ready by the time the beta actually opens. They've given a few days of warning before the last couple open beta weekends.
Spectacularly pretty. Character appearance customization was excellent. Exploring the world was the most fun part.
First 6 levels were mostly just running from A to B and talking to NPCs. Very little combat. Character customization and combat seemed quite limited compared to Dungeons and Dragons Online, which is the only MMO I have really played before. Yes it's "active" combat and you can block, but with just 5+1 possible moves it's quite simple. I guess the console market dictates this.
What?! So there is finally an Elder Scrolls game where it is possible* to make a human character that looks normal?
To me the character creation in Morrowind, Oblivion and (to a slightly lesser extent) Skyrim was odd in that it gives you so much choice, which is a bit much for some people (and easy to make odd-looking characters) but the presets are almost universally rubbish.
* - Without mods.
My experience from playing the first 12 levels of the game was the the combat (meele at least) was atrocious.
I found it to be a rehash of tired MMO idoms with dull questing and sub standard fighting. A massive dissapointment after being exposed to the refreshing take GuildWars 2 brought to the format.
I've heard that the endgame is meant to be a lot better - but I CBA to grind to the end and I'd rather save my monthly fee for steam sales.
Actually most MMO tend to be just multiplayer with a world-integrated player matching lobby. Very few use the massive aspect in game play. GW2 manages this for some of it's open world/living story content, though all forms of dungeon play are just 5-player multi. Any MMO with a party system is just a multi-player game.
> Up until now, there had been only one MMO in my life...
How about finding a reviewer who's played more MMOs than just WoW so they can do a proper comparison to other games such as Neverwinter, The Secret World, LOTRO... you know some of the games that are innovative and well designed (well okay I did mention Neverwinter there but you know what I mean).
Reviewing an MMO with the only previous experience being WoW is pretty pointless really.
Made a few mistakes got one char to 12 one to 7 and another to 3, very pretty world and interesting PVP tho it was laggy during the test.
Haven't been in an mmo since vanguard launched, dabbled in f2p crap but it always ended up costing something.
But this is looking very good and plays very well on my existing hardware 560 1gb + decent CPU and ram, so alls looking good its defiantly in the possible bracket for me atm, and the next beta will decide it for me, as i tend to play games for a while was in SWG (yes pre CU and NGE and yes it still hurts) for 2.5 years
I've played Everquest 1 and 2, Vanguard, WoW, GW2, that crusader one he mentioned in the article relating to melee combat and several other MMOs that I have forgotten...
I was mildly impressed. I love how they finally made cleric characters worth playing, there are some nifty non-combat abilities and "streamlining" - like sending your crafting junk to the bank when you're in the field.
Any character can lockpick, wear any armour and wield any weapon. This is awesome. I think they have made a pretty good game overall, but it feels a bit soulless. I don't see any drive to complete tasks, there's no vested interest, some of them gave dialogue that made it seem like there was a timelimit... but there wasn't. So it made the actors sound a bit silly when I ran off to quest elsewhere for an hour and didn't fail the quest to find a cure for a fast acting poison.
All in all, pretty good. Worth $15? Only if you're rich.
I swore off WoW having been an EQ junkie for years by the time it came out. However, I played the last couple of ESO betas extensively and I'm seriously considering signing up for the finished game. Innovation in MMOs is rare and I'm not convinced ESO pushes back the frontiers very far but there are some promising touches. Frankly, I'm a fan of the minimalist UI (you do get additional function bar slots at higher level, incidentally).
I even found some of the bugs entertaining. Upon logging in on one occasion, my character fell through the game world, plummeted screaming through the sky until he splashed down in a vertically wrapped-around ocean, was promptly eaten alive by slaughterfish and won an achievement for it!
I am intrigued by your comment about adding "...function bar slots at higher level(s)" I have been poking around the ESO website and cannot find where they said that. If you had a source for it, I would love to see it. I only ask because I am thrilled with this news but I cannot find any substantiation for it. :(
I apologise for some unintentionally misleading wording. I was referring to the fact that, at level 15 (I think) you can select a secondary weapon that you can switch to in combat. In fact, this secondary weapon can be the same as your primary but it is assigned a separate five skill slots. As a result you can effectively have up to ten slots available, although not all at exactly the same time.
I'm sure that making an MMO based on the popular Elder Scrolls franchise seemed like a really good idea, that would attract the huge number of people who loved Skyrim.
Unfortunately that ignores the huge differences between RPGs and MMOs.
In the former the player is totally immersed in the story, without distractions to break immersion. You are the lone hero around which everything revolves. Progress is measured by advancement through the plot.
In the latter, the player is surrounded by possibly hundreds of other characters. It is impossible to feel that you are the central character when there are several other players gathered around a quest giver, and impossible to maintain a sense of immersion. Progress is measured by grinding for levels.
While there are some who like both RPGs and MMOs, I suspect that number is not huge. Speaking for myself, I had never before tried an MMO when I signed up for the ESO Beta, and by the time I had reached level 8 I was firmly convinced that I would never experiment with MMOs again.
The lack of immersion, the auto aim bow (yuck!), the fact that some dungeons cannot be tackled alone, etc. meant that I was never going to pay money for this game. It was pointless trying to use the Elder Scrolls franchise to try and tempt this RPG player into paying money for an MMO.
Hell, I still wouldn't play it if they paid me.
You seem to be labouring under the delusion that Elder Scrolls games are RPGs. They're not, they are (at best) *C*RPGs.
The C is important. It stands for 'computerised', and it distinguishes them from "real" RPGs, which are played by a group of people getting together and talking to one another. 'Skyrim', for all its best intentions, is not and never will be an RPG - it's a glorified puzzle-solving game, where you jump through preset hoops in a determined order to 'win'.
MMOs are arguably closer to 'real' roleplaying, in that they do at least involve other people as players. However, the DM is still a computer, which is always going to be limiting. (Until the Singularity, I guess. Then they could start running some *really* cool games.)
"It is impossible to feel that you are the central character when there are several other players gathered around a quest giver, and impossible to maintain a sense of immersion."
THIS. For the love of all that is holy, will players and developers ever realize that having a whole bunch of people independently do the same quest retrieving the same damn necklace for the same damn vendor, over and over and over, is a lot closer to that Star Trek episode where they got stuck in a hotel that was constantly repeating events from a gangster novel than it is to anything multiplayer or RPG?
Since Ultima Online - thanks largely to WoW, which really put the nail in the creativity coffin - pretty much every MMORPG I've seen is essentially a single player game that has a whole lot of other dudes running around you for no reason. Because, yeah, in a real fantasy world, everybody would hang out by a dungeon saying, "VERILY, 'TIS THREE MINUTES AND ONE HALF UNTIL THE DRAGON RESPAWNETH AND WE GET FAT LOOTS!", right?
And remember when MMOs were supposed to be interesting because they had persistent universes? Yeah, so much for that, too - they COULD make it so players can actually have an impact on the environment, but instead, we essentially get a 3D version of 'A Link To The Past'; slice up some shrubbery and it grows back by the time you turn around; kill some guys in a dungeon and they magically reappear when you walk through the door again. Adding another few thousand people to the mix doesn't make this into a compelling game experience. If Skyrim players suddenly could all see one another and were running around buying shit from the same guy and talking to people who didn't remember they'd talked to anyone else, it would be seen as a horrendous, game-killing bug. But if you call it an MMO it's supposed to be a feature?
I don't buy it. And as long as MMOs fail to provide actual persistent worlds, and provide *even less* immersion and internal consistency than did the multi-server co-op Quake 1 experiments I tried out in the mid '90s, I'm not buying the games, either.
I personally this is going to be a great MMO, because they've remembered something most of the so-called WoW beaters forgot. A story keeps people entertained requires good writers. Whether it ends up free to play is another matter, because that will depend on the other thing game developers either ignore or forget.. which is if the story of the game ends with leveling, so will your subscription income.
To date there have been two differences between WoW and pretty much all the others. The first is an MMO is supposed to be a game in which people interact with each other, make friends (insomuch as you can make friends online) and form communities that play together. Some MMO developers understand this, most do not. If they don't then what you get is an MMO consisting of randomly spawning stuff that pits itself against dozens of silent players standing together in a big group around it. Yeah keep telling yourself how great that is. The second is that with WoW the endgame continues the story. You may not like the story, think it's stupid (cartoon dragons, pandas, etc) but it is what drives the game after you've reached max level.
If the story is well written, like WoW's Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, the number of subscribers increases. If it's badly written, like Cataclysm and Panda Express.. sorry Mists of Pandaria.. the number of subscribers falls. The environments, extra features, PvP etc can be great. The number of things to do can be beyond count. None of that matters if the story sucks donkey's balls.
But the debate over whether WoW is crap, boring or dying is irrelevant to this MMO. The Elder Scrolls has enough of a following and a rich enough history to last as long as the developers want it to, as long as they put the effort into keeping the subscriber base entertained and keep downtime to a minimum.
For those that think that MMOs need uptodate 3D engines driving photo-realistic scenery and effects.. yeah.. no. Every game that tried this is free to play for all of the obvious reasons.
Conclusion first for those who don't want to read all the way to the end:
My final conclusion is that ESO looks like it'll be a fun game to play for the stories it tells, but probably not before Christmas. I wasn't terribly impressed by the PvP aspect, but I heard lots of people in game proclaiming how much they loved it. Mostly, I want to wait for the bugs to get worked out and either the controls will get fixed or someone will release an add-on that implements decent controls.
After my first beta weekend, I walked away with the feeling that I wouldn't be able to play this game more than 3 times through: once for each faction. After that, there wouldn't be much left to do--which would make it a pretty poor MMO. But, the quests were good enough to get me to come back for two more weekends. The biggest problem with quests was that it was easy to miss a "side-"quest. The major quest line took you through the zone, but if you tried to focus on that, you would quickly get in over your head. The quests were rather evenly distributed over each zone, so it was easy to tell where you'd probably missed a side-quest, but it was still annoying to find out that you were suddenly unprepared for the next part of the quest line you were focusing on.
The first zone--the prison--is mainly there as a tutorial. It introduces the basic buttons and RPG mechanics, then throws you loose in your faction's newbie zone. Due to the tutorial nature of it, this zone was completely linear. Stop and open as many pots and crates as you can or can stand to.
I really enjoyed the quests in the first two zones for the Aldmeri Dominion (Elves and Khajiit.) The zones presented a single cohesive story that lead you from level 2 up to level 17. I never felt like I was being sent off to collect 10 tiger eyes from blind tigers; each of the quests felt like it contributed directly to the overall plot... though with the usual caveat that my level 5 character was just casually introduced to the queen--who is having trouble with political backstabbing--and nobody thinks twice about it.
Unfortunately, the quest line for the Ebonheart Pact (Nords, Dark Elves and Argonians) didn't feel nearly as good. I liked the first zone: lots of nice snow, which made it easy to find materials for crafting, but the second zone started to feel more like other MMOs. I only got through half of the zone, but I remember getting sent off to fetch random stuff for people a couple of times. The main antagonist here was the Daggerfall Covenant, but I never really felt that they made their presence known. Sure there were a few quests early on about them attacking the city, but the troops never felt like a real threat and the human consequences felt out of whack with the rest of the results of the battle.
Since I haven't played any of the races from the Daggerfall Covenant (Humans and Orcs,) I can't speak to the quality of that quest line.
The crafting aspect of the game was pretty much required. This might change when more people start to play the game, but there is no auction house only guild merchants. Since the quests don't give players any choice about their reward or tailor the reward to the player, you're likely to end up having to make a lot of your own equipment. However, I only found crafting for equipment to be of any use. After a few levels of crafting +1-2 hp/sec food and drinks, I gave up on that. Enchanting looked interesting, but there were literally dozens of pieces that you could pick up even in those first 15 levels. After buying a few enchants from the vendor to disassemble for materials to play with, I gave up on that idea too. Unfortunately, alchemy had a similar feel to it, the system wasn't too much different from Skyrim's. Normally, I'd just stash all of the materials in a bag or bank until I could make stuff, but I found that with an upgraded 60 bag slots and 40 bank slots, I was just filling up too fast just keeping stuff for my two equipment professions.
PvP was the last thing I tried, since I usually don't have much interest in it. I did stick around long enough to gain 3 levels from doing the PvP quests though. While there are some normal quests in Cyrodiil, most of the quests are oriented around PvP activity. There's quests for capturing forts, elder scrolls, and resources. There's also one for scouting an enemy held position. However, the one that I did the most was kill 20 players. The PvP combat largely felt boring to me, as it consisted of two parts: either running from your respawn point to a battlefield--which could take 2-3 minutes--or mindlessly spamming my few attack skills to do as much damage as possible to the oncoming wall of players. For the last beta, PvP was complicated by massive lag since it was a stress test, but it didn't feel like there was a whole lot of strategy involved. Ideally, there should be more strategy involved in selecting which forts to attack and defend, but I watched my team ignore a single fort for 4-5 hours when capturing it would have provided 6-7 bonuses to stats. The combat was somewhat fun when it only took a few seconds to run back to the front lines, but the design of respawn points made those battles rather rare. PvP was setup to even players out, so even the level 10 players seemed to do just fine. At level 20, I don't remember doing any better against level 10 players than I did against level 40 players. (Though there weren't a whole lot of the latter around.) The most memorable part of PvP for me was when about 20 of us decided to kill a large dragon that was guarding a bridge that we were running past on our way to another fort. The dragon certainly gave the impression that there could be some interesting high end PvE in the works.
I was rather disappointed that they did away with the general skill mechanics of the single player TSO games in favor of a set of classes. Players are given a choice of four classes, warrior, rogue, mage and healer--with ESO specific names, of course. While the skill allocation was still mostly open--each class had three specific lines--the design for each class largely forced you into using specific trees. Yes, your mage could wear plate and wield a two handed weapon, but you'd get more relevant bonuses by wearing cloth instead. Sadly, the races were also designed so that each faction had one race that was specifically suited to a single class. The healer was the odd man out here, since it is a hybrid class, but is generally still going to be played like a mage (cloth armor skills give mana regen.)
The biggest problem I had with playing ESO was the controls. It looked like they took the basic controls from Skyrim, which focused on using only two skills at once and tried to meld it with the wealth of abilities that MMO players have traditionally had. The result was really terrible though. Your 5 skills are mapped to the 1-5 keys by default and you're expected to move around by using the WASD keys. The mouse is used for turning, using a basic attack and blocking. Additonally, the quickslot is mapped to Q and interacting with NPCs and objects was E. There were far too many times where I felt that I was being constrained by the controls. It was really hard to try to move around and dodge enemies while still using abilities. Since the basic attacks aren't very good unless you can get 3-4 seconds with out any interruption, I spent most of my time using instant cast skills. Unfortunately, there were also a number of times that I thought I was hitting the E key to interact with something, only to find out I was using skill #3. I do get the feeling that the controls might work just fine on a console though.
The bugs, well they haven't changed much since I first played in December, so I'm sure some of them have been worked out in the code that they're actually shipping as opposed to the stress test code. However, given the large number of bugs--including major bugs that impeded progress--that were present in the first 15 levels in December, I expect that it'll be at least as buggy as Skyrim was at release.
The graphics were nice enough I thought, they didn't seem too special compared to other games I've played in the last few years. I couldn't quite put them on maximum, but I only have a 1.5 year old gaming machine with a single graphics card in it. Yes, the major stand out here is the zoning. Every time you enter or exit a building or dungeon, you're greeted with a loading screen. This is probably another artifact of making this a console game. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked the music though. I almost invariably turn off the music in games and just listen to something on my media player, but this was a rare occasion that made me feel like leaving it on. The music seemed to work really well: it was pleasant, sat in the background and didn't have any of the jarring transitions that most games have. The sound effects were also well done. I never felt like I was getting overwhelmed by them, even with hundreds of players smashing into each other.
dodging and blocking have saved my life on several occasions but it does take heaps of stamina.
It's the first Elder Scrolls game where stamina was as important as the other two. I thought that was good.
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Review or advert? and their first paygate.
Overall I had a blast, huge Elder Scrolls fan, from Arena all the way through to Skyrim, MMO newby, only Star Trek Online (and now SWTOR to get used to MMO's).
I loved the crafting, the environments, mostly the quests - tho' they started to feel a little samey after level 7, I found fighting better in third person, exploring in first - awesome sunsets.
Didn't get to PVP.
Dislikes: The three realms felt very... similiar; no Argonian marshlands, no wood elves deep forests, the high elves buildings fusing into the landscape, Redgard deserts. Also the 'You're the hero who will save everyone just like all the other bunny hopping wannabes surrounding you.'
In Star Wars: The old republic, it gives you eight totally unique storylines to play thru for each class, ESO has three (two of them fairly similar up to lvl 10). The Mage, Fighter and Undaunted guilds share the same storyline no matter where you come from.
Swtor gives you choice in quest rewards - or sell for a decent price, ESO appears to delight in giving you great equipment that you can't use or sell for a fraction of it's worth (green text heavy armour sells to you for 650 gold, sellable by you for 8 poxy gold), the economics feels broken. Tho I did craft a really nice medium armour for myself - the crafting looks amazing and deep.
Also, I thought Tamriel was going to be one entire continent - it's not, you can't even walk from zone to zone, I tried, there's an invisible wall blocking your progress - so much for my desire to walk from Daggerfall to Morrowind.
Will I buy it? At £40 and no sub - yes, at £10 a month and free download - yes. But at £40 primary rental price (you stop paying it stops working), £10 a month plus a £20 paygate to get extra's (before release) - no!