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Preview from our stay @ GamesCom 2013!

Posted by Staff on Aug 29, 2013 13:09 (Aug 29, 2013 13:09)

Written by: Staff
GamesCom 2013 Preview: The Elder Scrolls Online:
I have loved the Elder Scrolls series since Morrowind, and always keep a close eye on what Bethseda are doing.

And the chance to play Skyrim online seemed too good to be true, but yet next year you’ll have that opportunity. You will, however, be forced to pony up $15 a month for the privilege, but there’s a mix of content you could play yourself, a more story-driven approach than most MMOs, and a whole host of public quests.

I had the chance to play for a good hour or so, levelling up a few times and trying out many of the story quests from the start with a group of 16 other lucky journalists in the Bethseda booth.

The game initially feels more like an Elder Scrolls game than I’d have expected, with a familiar UI, quest log and world, which is all excellent. Soon, however, things certainly get more like what you’d expect, with a number of hot-keys, a death system and an atmosphere that isn’t quite what you’d want. People run around in circles, prance about, don’t listen and generally get pretty annoying.

At least the quests seem a bit more epic – there’s no fetch or collection quests, and the plot seems to be a fair bit more involved that a traditional MMO. However, for those who are thinking they may just play by themselves – be aware that the combat is very, very much standard MMO-fare.

Enemies have a guard zone, aggro, and specific exploits in order to try and win a combat. It’s also, as a result, far less natural and much more stilted than combat has been in previous Elder Scrolls games. All of this, in my opinion, takes away rather than adds to the game. Also, the fact that the vast majority of the game can be played by yourself makes me struggle to see why the developers have not gone for a free-to-play model.

After all, the game will still be a full-priced disc-based purchase at launch. Frankly, after arriving super-excited for the game, I left slightly baffled by many of the choices that have been made by the developers.

There’s also no cross-platform play, so as the game is due out in the spring of 2014, the install base of the new consoles is likely to still be fairly low, and thus getting the critical mass needed for a successful MMO is rather unlikely. Hopefully the final game will be more social and the combat in higher level areas more satisfying.

I came away from Gamescom somewhat concerned about the game, but that’s more around the payment model than the gameplay, so hopefully Bethseda will have sorted everything out in time for the eventual launch in a few months’ time.


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