We tested Elder Scrolls Online
The moment has finally arrived! We have been lucky enough this weekend to get a couple of runs in on Elder Scrolls Online at Eurogamer Expo. This epic MMORPG has been tipped to be one of the best upcoming MMO's and a combination of everyone's favorite aspects of the other titles in the Elder Scrolls Saga.
Set in Cyrodiil, the Heart of Tamriel, we began in a Guild Hall with some basic character selection; gender, race and basic attributes. We were told that since we were taking a part in a test, we'd been set to start at level 2, which meant we had gained a development point. These points will become available as you level up and can be spent on special attributes; in my case, a range attack, which I assigned to key 1. There were 6 slots for assigning these specials to, and as your gallery expanded you could swap them in and out as you pleased. Once you have selected your race and class that's it; there will be no class-swapping within ESO, you will have to continue along the line assigned to your setup. This will be a popular decision for those who appreciate lore, and not so much for those who like to experience a game fully in a single play-through.
Unfortunately since the game was set at a low level, and the staff couldn't reveal anything, there was no way of telling how a player will develop a classic DPS/Range/Support archetype, or even if it will adopt archetypes at all.
With characters made, a brief story and a first quest point were annotated on the Skyrim style compass-ribbon and it was time to see Cyrodiil. Cyrodiil is rumored to be the PvP area for Elder Scrolls Online, but try as we may, we could not engage in friendly-fire. We could, however, set up a party with other testers we found and embark on our quests together.
Although the quest was done in a party, their key points were exclusive, meaning each player had to interact at each checkpoint, before continuing on their journey. This seemed a little unnecessary but was understandable, since it demanded participation from the full party, preventing any ghost-acheivers. Another thing that was exclusive was loot! 2 players could pick up the same loot, from the same creature after killing it. Duplicate loot has caused shenanigans in other MMOs, but will hopefully be safeguarded in ESO.
Quests were quite straightforward, easy to initiate and fluently opened up, step-by-step. If you saw somebody else in-game struggling in a battle, even if it was a quest enemy, you could step in and help out without an invite. The combat was really smooth. You could schedule in your assignable specials and passive abilities, mixing them in amongst normal attacks. The assignables had no noticeable "cool-down", so to speak, but were more governed by the length of their animation, meaning they could be timed and combo'd in quite smoothly, making for some cool looking mix-ups, in both first and third-person. In addition to your offensive moves, you have your dodges and rolls, that are simply initiated by double tapping a direction. This too, can be timed well to dodge an attack, but there didn't appear to be any crit-factor bonus for doing it.
Although the combat was smooth, it was not clear how it will transfer to PvP, but for PvE it feels very well polished.
The Elder Scrolls team have done a great job of giving the fans what they want, but with a solid professional boundary. It would have been easy to simply make a "Multi-player Skyrim" but the team have adjusted the combat and created an interaction foundation that makes the multi-player fair and less overbearing to play. It just feels great to run around Tamriel with others running alongside you, interacting with you, and battling people off in the distance.