Sunday 16 February 2014

TESO: Beta Weekend 2 Review

If you are reading this, then the NDA has been lifted fully on The Elder Scrolls Online and I am finally free to talk about my experiences with the game about it during their 2nd beta weekend stress test. At least I think it's the 2nd weekend...

Initial impressions? It is pretty cool and fantastically beautiful. I obviously played a Nord since they come from the country of named after me and after escaping a not too dangerous daedra prison (guarded only by weak, crazed souls) I found myself traipsing around an island that seemed pulled straight from Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and later still was reliving my memories of Morrowind.

The combat was decent enough for the class I used (I played in first person as a Dragon Knight) and the clean interface was pretty much copied out of ES:V, with minor tweaks for hot bar abilities. Skills individually gain level as you use them (and sometimes when you don't - which is weird), and at certain points each can "morph" into a different variation of the same move, for example choosing between additional range or damage. There's no going back up the skill tree as far as I know so while everyone may be using a "slash" attack, each would have variations of the same move. The optional first person perspective also helped add to the immersion.

There were some negatives of course. Being a Beta there were missing textures, text mismatching the voice acting (all lines are voice acted - that must have been expensive), missing quest givers, people falling through cracks in the world into ... space? Can't say Oblivion because that's actually a place in this series. :P The enemies have very simple AI and sometimes it feels like you just have to press "E" to win. Also the instances were very "phase" heavy. If I was playing with a friend and I happened to finish a quest before or differently as to how he did in an area then we wouldn't see each other despite standing in the same spot. This is to keep with our individual immersion I guess, but I can see how that will be problematic later.

More worrying were reports that the further settlements were simply just not done yet, which given their release schedule, is a bit of a worry for all those who purchased the pre-order stuff. They may end up racing to a world not yet ready for them. My main gripe however is the login queue. One hour and a half is a bit rich. Hell, even 5 minutes is unacceptable to me, so that was my queue to go play something else.

In the state I experienced the game at, I'm forced to only score it 2 dragons out of 5. Hopefully Zenimax fixes up all the broken pieces before release because this would easily double its score. Will I pay to play it though? That's a silly question. Of course not.

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