While the preview demo was showcased on PCs, I was assured that the console version of The Elder Scrolls Online would feature no changes except to the control scheme, which is a testament to the power of the next generation of consoles. Setting up my player offered a ton of different options to choose from such as nine different races that include all of the Elder Scrolls classics. From there, I was shown how to select and set up the large variety of skills exclusive to that race and chosen class. Note that the final version may include more races or classes. This comment was overheard, not told directly to me so I have no additional details on that.
The amount of customization for your character goes as deep as anything that you will find in Skyrim, and I was told by a Bethesda rep that what I was seeing for this preview was not the full scope of options that would be available in the final build. Once our characters were built out, Dan and I partied up immediately and easily to take on Tamriel multiplayer.
The mechanics of the game are fairly similar to most other MMORPGs. You find people in distress, take on their quest, complete them, earn experience points, and level up. It seems that ESO is taking this tried and true route to their game, and it doesn't markedly differ.
With the exception of the camera views you can select - it was confirmed for me that first person mode would be available and gamers would be able to select it if they wished. This more tightly ties together the ESO experience, along with the classic Elder Scrolls style of combat that singleplayers have enjoyed so far.
The game behaved similar to Skyrim when interacting with the mouse and keyboard as opposed to something one would experience in World of WarCraft or The Old Republic. While there are abilities that are unlocked through the course of play, combat is not the mundane slamming of number keys to get through battle. Fortunately, itís much more RPG than MMO in this regard as players will have to aim, move and click at the right times to have success during combat. Holding the mouse button down longer will increase melee attacks but will also be much slower to execute. More powerful abilities are loaded into the number keys so there is the element of using special powers traditional to MMOs, but at the same time, donít give the boring, grinding feeling normally associated to killing mobs.
My personal expectations for The Elder Scrolls Online change with every announcement and gameplay reveal but very few stories have had the negative impact I felt after that comment. Iím tired of the typical approach to MMORPG games. Iím tired of having to endure weeks of quest grind to reach the only aspect of the game thatís enjoyable and Iím tired of developers claiming innovation when all they truly offer is the same ingredients in a new recipe.
I have no doubt that The Elder Scrolls Online will be a solid MMORPG experience. However, I have serious concerns that it will fail to feel like an Elder Scrolls game. An Elder Scrolls game has never really featured any multiplayer aspects but I would be ecstatic to get a co-op or multiplayer Skyrim. However, Bethesda are constantly pushing the PvP and RvR at the fan base, two features that have never been in place in previous titles.
Will they sacrifice too much of the wonders that make the franchise great? Will The Elder Scrolls Online have enough of the franchise charm to appeal to those used to such a solo experience? Only time will tell for sure but after reading the opinions of those from E3, my hope is dwindling.