I thought I’d deliver an initial verdict on The Elder Scrolls Online. Its been a hectic weekend so I’ve only played the TESO beta for a little over an hour, hence the title of the review. So no flaming with ‘but you barely checked out the game!!’ comments. I have no doubt the bigger and better quests are further down the track, but all MMOs live or die on their initial areas, so but here’s my impressions for what they’re worth:
Character creation: Love it, lots of customisation options (although some don’t appear to be working quite yet), but you can skip them if you want to get set up quickly. I like the number of classes on offer too.
Graphics: TESO copped a hammering from the gaming community based on early leaked footage. Like many others have already said, TESO has come a long way from then and I liked the graphics a lot. Some of the facial features on NPCs are a little bit bland but that may improve further by launch. Loading times for screens seemed very good and I did enjoy the lighting and atmospherics I saw.
Sound: Kudos for both the soundtrack and atmospheric sounds – lots to like here.
Interface: Making a judgement on this is a hard one as I’m guessing a lot of people will like it, but I for one HATE the ‘point your mouse / reticule in the direction you want to go’ style of gameplay. I find it hard on the eyes even with a decent mouse and it doesn’t allow the level of free movement that I like. That said, it does making visual scanning of your surrounds a lot easier. As I said, I think I’m in the minority here, but this is one of the main reasons I won’t be playing TESO ongoing.
Gameplay: this isn’t a criticism, just a fact – TESO is another bog standard questing MMO. For Elder Scrolls fans, I have no doubt you’ll be enjoying the storyline. For me as a first-timer to the franchise, it neither disappointed or impressed me. I like the speed of conversations with NPCs and although the map looks terribly generic in the beta, I’m sure that’ll improve. The mouse-aiming interface annoyed me for combat but again I’m guessing I’m in the minority. Nothing particularly innovative in the quests, but again that’s standard MMO fare.
Performance: I’m impressed with the frame rate and speed of the game overall – I was using the Mac version and it seemed to run much better than WoW for me, and streets ahead of SWTOR and The Secret World, though given I run them on a virtual box it’s not a fair comparison.
Overall impressions: This is a solid MMO, but for me there’s nowhere near enough interesting stuff in it for me to pay a subscription. For our New Zealand readers, you’re being scalped on the subscription price as well. Even if my unreasonable hatred of the reticule / mouse pointing system weren’t an issue, I can’t see me playing this game ongoing – there’s just nothing unique for me to get excited about. For someone new to MMOs or a long time fan of the franchise – you should have a close look at TESO.
More impressions from the whole team next week on the podcast.
Did you play the open beta? What did you think?