Elder Scrolls Online – “Be Who You Want to Be”

Gare – Thursday, December 5, 2013 1:36 AM
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I suppose it comes as no huge surprise that the Elder Scrolls franchise, known for its massive open worlds and limitless possibilities, has spawned an MMO, titled – quite aptly – Elder Scrolls Online. The title, focusing on exploration of vast landscapes in a multiplayer world, will be arriving as soon as next spring.

The game was first announced in 2012 after being in development for over 5 years, and appeared quite ambitious indeed in terms of the amount of landmass covered, allowing players to explore the entirety of Tamriel, something that hasn’t been done in the series since Daggerfall: Morrowind focused solely on the island of Vvardenfell, Oblivion took us to Cyrodiil and the capital, while Skyrim took place in its titular Nordic homeland. Story-wise, the game takes place a good thousand years before the events of Skyrim, in a land ravaged by war, thus forcing players to choose sides and join one of the three major factions available – the Aldmeri Dominion, the Daggerfall Covenant or the Ebonheart Pact.

Large-scale battles between hundreds of players

The Elder Scrolls OnlinePlatform: PC, PS4, XBox OneGenre: MMORPGDeveloper: ZeniMax Online StudiosPublisher: Bethesda SoftworksRelease: 04/04/2014Although TESO is undoubtedly an MMO, the developers made sure to include as many of the familiar Elder Scrolls characteristics into their project as possible. One of the first things to notice is most probably the inclusion of a first-person view reminiscent of the great single-player predecessors – it also plays as one would expect an Elder Scrolls title to play, with characters swinging their weapons with the left mouse button while blocking attacks with the right. Another goal is for the player to never be bored, with always something to do or see – a compass in the upper section of the screen, much like in Skyrim, will lead us into the direction of nearby points of interest. If we ever get tired of the lone wolf lifestyle, the built-in “Looking for Group” feature will allow us to quickly and easily find team members and jump into the action straight away by teleporting to a safe zone near their location. PvP is also very much present in the game, appearing in the form of large-scale battles between hundreds of players, all fighting in the colors of their respective faction. Our primary goal will be to either take over our enemies’ fortresses and settlements while defending and reinforcing our own – the alliance that can conquer the capital will rule over the land, with its highest-ranking player crowned Emperor and given special abilities as a reward.

Werewolf? Guardian? Vampire? - “Be Who You Want to Be”

As far as skills are concerned, we will have access to a variety of them, all organized in a number of different skill sets, as shown at this year’s QuakeCon demo. These sets (or skill trees) can be acquired in a variety of ways: by wielding a specific type of weapon, joining a guild, or even by becoming a vampire or a werewolf. Skills level up as we use them, at which point we’ll be able to determine the way we want that specific skill to evolve further by choosing one of two different versions with their own benefits (much like in Mass Effect 3) – the game calls this the Morph system. TESO also builds upon the well-known Skyrim motto of “be who you want to be” and allows all characters to use any weapon and armor they wish, as well as develop into the direction they desire, regardless of their initially chosen class.

Much controversy surrounded, however, the fact that the game is being developed by a new team, and not series creators Bethesda Game Studios. To be fair, it is hard not to realize what Zenimax had in mind with the game: garner the attention of both veteran Elder Scroll players and fans of the MMO genre, being fully aware of the potential overlaps between the two. The game would therefore combine to joy of online multiplayer with the immersive exploration of single-player Elder Scrolls games – and yet, this very venture might turn out to be a potential double-edged sword. While it’s a great idea to play an Elder Scrolls title side by side with friends, if the game is too simplified to give back that feeling of overwhelming vastness and unique atmosphere found in the originals, old time fans will be disappointed.

At present I would very much refrain from coming to a final conclusion – there is still a decent amount of time to perfect the game and iron out its potential flaws. The Elder Scrolls Online, as we have mentioned above, is scheduled to be released at the beginning of next year for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, while a closed beta testing is currently still ongoing.

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