Bethesda Softworks and ZeniMax Online Studios set about to create a game that would break the mold of massive multiplayer online role-playing games or MMORPG. In doing so, their approach featured something that had not been successfully done before: taking a popular single-player series and creating an MMORPG from it.
The result is the Elder Scrolls Online, set for release on April 4, 2014, for PC and for PlayStation and Xbox in June 2014.
The Elder Scrolls Online is birthed out of the Elder Scrolls universe, which is responsible for the award-winning games Skyrim and Oblivion. Though the ESO is set 1,000 years before the events that took place in Skyrim.
The last beta test was held over the weekend of February 28 through March 2. This was the third beta test I have participated in, and I will say it gets better every time.
The Elder Scrolls series is known and praised for its high level of customization. The race and development system of ESO keeps with that philosophy. Players are allowed to choose from nine of the ten races featured in previous games and are given full cosmetics customization. The Imperial race is available as a pre-order bonus.
Each race has its own set of own unique perks and crafting styles. What I liked most about exploring the ESO beta was the numerous opportunities given to players allowing them to create and play an experience unique to them.
I came in with a lot of initial skepticism — having played both Skyrim and Oblivion for countless hours. I was uneasy as to how a single-player game could be mashed into an MMORPG and still maintain the values that made the Elder Scroll series so good.
Coming out of the gate, ESO looks visually impressive. Even the paltry medium settings on my little laptop displayed a visually appealing and aesthetic world.
In keeping with the tradition of the Elder Scrolls series, the ESO has a number of talented voice actors including Malcom McDowell, Alfred Molina and Mass Effect’s FemShep: Jennifer Hale. Having non-playable characters voiced by talented actors and actresses offered an engaging experience versus reading endless boxes of text.
What the ESO looks to do is create a game where friends and strangers alike can quest together, go on adventures and take down enemies as a team. I was offered assistance more than once from a player passing by while fighting an enemy.
For my beta experience, I spent the majority of it alone. I wanted to see how this game held up as devout Skyrim fan. Enjoyably enough, I spent hours going around fighting enemies, collecting crafting materials and just exploring. The game, while being designed as an MMORPG, also plays enjoyably as a single-player game. Albeit, it is getting a little boring going from quest to quest by yourself, but the option is there.
For me personally, one of the greatest attributes in the ESO is the crafting system. There are many different traits that modify crafting and many different options to explore. Crafting is split up into five sub-groups.
The woodworking crafting system allows the construction of staves and bows. Cloth making lets players create robes as well as light and medium armor. The blacksmithing crafting system is where players can forge weapons and heavy armor. Each race has a unique style of craft look. With practice, a player can learn many different types of styles allowing a grand selection of customizable options.
The enchanting and alchemy crafting systems from Skyrim are both present though slightly different. The crafting in ESO is enjoyable and has the attributes similar to other MMORPGs but also has the unique flair known in the Elder Scrolls series.
My only concern at the moment is with combat. Left-clicking the mouse unleashes a quick attack, while holding and releasing it uses a heavy attack. Right click serves as block. While fighting groups of enemies, I noticed that the game would not always pick up my commands.
Sometimes it wouldn’t register when I tried to follow up a light attack with a heavy attack.
Overall, I was impressed with the ESO. Developers have stated numerous times how they want the player to be in control and not kept within the confines of a class system. If you start out as a mage and wanted to switch to a heavy armored bruiser, that isn’t a problem.
As an MMORPG, the ESO holds many attributes and qualities of the Elder Scrolls series. It is not just World of Warcraft with an Elder Scrolls mask. I am looking forward to meeting up with friends and exploring all of Tamriel. Whether you’re a Nord, Redguard, Orc, Khajiit, Dunmer, Altmer, Bosmer, Breton, Imperial or Argonian, there is something for everyone in the massive world of the Elder Scrolls Online.