Ryan Mottola & Ashley Crocker 15’ / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writers
This weekend, two Emertainment Monthly writers sat down and tested out Bethseda’s Elder Scrolls Online (ESO). There’s a lot to sift through but here’s a glimpse of what we thought of the next installment of the Elder Scrolls legacy.
Visually speaking, this world is beautiful. Despite its transition to a new platform and a new game-type, the Elder Scrolls world is magnificent. It lacks some of the refined graphics seen in Skyrim, but this can be expected as it is now heavily reliant on a users hardware and internet capabilities. It easily trumps other popular MMO’s graphically speaking. While it may not satisfy the traditional Elder Scrolls gamer we think the visual appeal of the world should be praised.
Another important aspect of the game is the ability to switch between first person and 3rd person view points. While many MMOs give this ability for a game like The Elder Scrolls that has quite a history it means that players have the option to play the game like a traditional Elder Scrolls but also like a traditional MMO.
The Elder Scrolls games have long been celebrated for the mundane. Pointless items, ludicrous side quests, and of course mudcrabs. While the world is still lootable, it is certainly much less so than its predecessors. This may be a nitpicky detail, but the mundane is what makes open world games so immersive and its certainly important to the Elder Scrolls experience. Hopefully, as the game continues to develop after the release, more of these kinds of features can be added to contribute to the world.
If you’re not a fan of Elder Scrolls lore, ESO boasts a strong PvP element. Massive skirmishes take place throughout the battlefield of Cyrodil as the three pacts fight over territory. Players can build and operate siege weapons to bring fortresses to rubble, while defending their machinery from enemy players. The skirmishes are truly of an epic scale. Watching a sea of enemies charge towards you, knowing you have an army of your own is truly exhilarating.
ESO is fully voiced, so you won’t find any robotic npc’s or repetitive quotes during boss fights. Each quest description, dialogue, and even vendor pitch is voiced. The detail that Bethesda used in this game is impressive and says a lot about how much their care.
The items from crafting in ESO are just as good, if not better, than world drops and you can choose how they look. Each race has its own style of weapon and armor, with a few extras yet to be released. All items are upgradeable and can be enchanted upon being crafted. It’s a very satisfying system with a high payout and minimal farm.
It’s not a main part of the game, but the customer/player support is on point. Whenever there was a bug or glitch (which there were plenty, being as it’s the beta), a game master fixed the issue within the hour. Even the phone support team is friendly and helpful, and don’t mind talking to you about your day or video games in general.
The Elder Scrolls is buggy. Surprise, surprise. It seems that Bethesda is determined to hang on to everything it’s known for, including the bugs. Switching between camera modes, going from the water to the land, and opening a menu were just some of the places bugs popped up. Sometimes, after talking to someone or entering a new room, the game can freeze, forcing the player to quit out. Secondly, we found that if the Internet crashed, the game would freeze the entire computer, forcing a hard restart on some computers. In a world where Internet connectivity can drop easily, this is a major bug that Bestheda should look into. Nevertheless, a game without bugs is a miracle in itself, and the game remains more than playable at the moment. However, as more people crowd the servers, the bugs may prove fatal to the game.
Zenimax, the company behind the online aspect of ESO, decided to use “megaservers,” instead of a group of servers for each region. This leads to massive lag problems, especially in PvP. Many players found themselves unable to use abilities, or even move, simply because the server couldn’t handle the amount of information being processed.
Another problem was the lackluster quest-lines. After playing for a good ten hours and completing a series of quests, none ended up being particularly riveting or rewarding. They were no different than the sort of quests you would find in World of Warcraft. While some of them revealed a lot about the history of the Elder Scrolls universe, quests should have more rewarding payoffs.
Another problem in PvP is that you need a group of twenty or more players in order to get anything done. Without a massive group, it’s impossible to take down objectives, let alone get from one point to another. This also causes a back and forth between raid groups. A fortress will be attacked, defended against, and then the defending team would go on the offensive; this would repeat ad infinitum.
A minor drawback, but one worth mentioning, is the pricing of mounts in ESO. It’s incredibly time consuming to acquire the gold necessary to buy a horse, but the payout is brutally unsatisfying. The mount moves slower than a player sprinting, and can only dash for a total of five seconds. Then, if you want the next level mount, it’s five times the price. It’s not a player friendly system.
Questionable. The game’s a work in progress, but there’s only one month to go before release. It has fun and satisfying combat, but at what cost? And although it’s a beautiful game, it’s not all that gripping; it feels like your run of the mill MMO. However it is clear that ZineMax and Bethseda have put a lot of effort into this game. If money is your problem, we’d caution on buying and subscribing but if you’re a dedicated Elder Scrolls fan it’s worth the investment.