Elder Scrolls Online - Beta Impression @ Leviathyn
While the tutorial was an annoying reminder of gameplay mechanics we’ve been revisiting for well over a decade and the forced extended tutorial in the form of a segregated island further delays the jump into the proper game, I actually came away from my weekend in Tamriel quite impressed. The more action-oriented combat was fun and fluid – reminding me more of Kingdoms of Amalur than World of Warcraft, and the world building of even just the initial zones was varied and interesting.
Make no mistake though, this is not multiplayer Skyrim. The Elder Scrolls Online is very much a MMORPG in all the traditional ways, and the evolution from “you’re the hero, the entire world reacts to you” in a solo experience to “you’re the hero, the entire world reacts to you….but also there’s hundreds of others doing the exact same thing” is incredibly awkward. It’s a problem for most MMORPGs but as the main Elder Scrolls series is particularly known of its wonderful freedom and Choose Your Own Adventure playstyle it makes it all the more painfully obvious here.
It’s a bit like that South Park episode where Cartman is given a theme park all to himself – he can ride and do whatever he wants all the time, but adding more people suddenly takes everything away as he’s forced to wait in lines and put up with everyone’s crap. That’s a pessimistic look at what MMORPGs can offer, and I hope that TESO’s public quests and PVP can help sustain the social interaction, or at least create one. I never once had to so much as talk to another real player during my play time, and often felt like these other people were simply in the way of my exciting return to Tamriel.
A $60 box plus monthly subscription fee is a very hard sell these days, and many of the last struggling modern wave of MMORPGs that have tried have quickly had to abandon the model for a more sustaining free-to-play model with microtransactions. It’ll be interesting to see if The Elder Scrolls license is enough to convince gamers to pony up the cash, but I fear most folks will simply see a derivative, albeit high quality and well-made MMORPG and wait for the next true Elder Scrolls title.
Information aboutElder Scrolls Online
SP/MP: Single + MP