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The Elder Scrolls Online

Exploring Daggerfall

An extended session of hands-on time with the hotly anticipated MMO brought us to the familiar city from Elder Scrolls II, and we got a taste of combat and questing.

Hot on the heels of the announced console versions of Elder Scrolls Online, we've had a chance to once again sit down with an early build of the game here at E3. A few weeks back, Tim Turi explored one approach to the large demo space, so I took a different route this time around, and spent some extra time exploring the character creator, abilities, and a separate quest line.

First, I dug into the detailed options for the character creator. In addition to choosing a race, face and body morphing options help to assure that each character should look distinct within the game world; these options are significantly more detailed than many MMOs. I opted for the Dragon Knight class, which appears to be a multi-purpose fighter class with a wide variety of ability options.

The demo popped me a little past the starter area of the game, right into the heart of Daggerfall, though the game's setting several thousand years before the other Elder Scrolls games means that the city looks decidedly different than it does in later years (in Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall). My character begins at level six, so I immediately hop in and explore the game's level-up and ability screen. Here, I'm greeted by abilities spread across three distinct trees. For my dragon knight, I can select abilities in the Ardent Flame, Draconic Power, and Earthen Heart groups -- each of which has multiple abilities that can be leveled up. Powers map to a small action bar at the bottom of the screen, keeping your options limited to a small number of five or six special moves in each battle, in addition to a standard left-mouse click melee swing. As I move through the city and begin a series of quests, enemy combatants regularly arrive, and help show off the fast-moving combat. Battles are highly focused on movement, blocking, positioning, and smart power use; the whole affair feels more action-oriented than most MMOs.

During my hour of playtime, I make my way through a number of small sidequests, as well as an extensive mission chain that sees my character thwarting an assassination attempt on the local king. Questing feels more directed and story-driven than many MMOs, and less focused on "kill this many foes" or "collect this many objects." Even so, in the balance between traditional MMOs and the familiar Elder Scrolls games, the game undeniably feels closer to an MMO than its single-player RPG forebears.

As my demo ends, the king has been saved, and I head out of Daggerfall to help save a nearby hamlet from attack. The Elder Scrolls Online is an undeniably pretty MMO, with great looking characters, monsters, and environments, and the established world of Tamriel should be an exciting place to explore. After finally getting some hands-on time with the game, I'm most enthusiastic about the combat mechanics, and the way they combine strategic use of powers with a decidedly action game feel. Like any MMO, even an extended demo only scratches the surface of The Elder Scrolls Online's feature set. Nonetheless, I came away excited about what I played, and eager to see how Zenimax Online continues to build out the ancient history of one of my favorite fantasy worlds. 

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  • I love the MMO support on the next-gen consoles. It's great that Bethesda and Zenimax decided to share this experience with everyone.
  • I'm pretty excited to hear some of the finer details of the game, like what types of magic will be available and how important the racial traits are if there are any. I'd also like to know more about the the vampire and werewolf afflictions. If I remember correctly, they won't just be huge buffs like in skyrim and will have noticeable drawbacks well as perks. Overall, I'm happy every article I've read so far on the game has been positive.
  • I love Elder Scrolls. But! I'm a pretty jaded MMO gamer. I find it hard to get excited about any MMO anymore. So I guess we'll see how this one pans out.
  • I'm glad this is coming out on console, as I doubt my computer could run this very well. I'm not a big MMO fan, but I like the Elder Scrolls series, so I'm keeping my eye on this.
  • ........Boards of Canada's new album came out today......
  • ........Boards of Canada's new album came out today......

    Sorry, accidentally hit the publish button twice.
  • Is this game entirely in first person, now? I thought I recalled from Gameinformer's reveal issue that the combat mechanics worked differently.
  • when I heard this was coming to consoles, I nearly lost it!!
  • Why cant MMOs look as good as games like BF4 and Watch Dogs they are big open world games too...lazy bethesda?
  • This is going to be better on Xbox one with the voice  commands.  The reason should be obvious to everyone.  Especially since the playstation Kinect look alike is not in the box.

  • daggerfall can in no way be as big as it is in the pc game.
  • Can't wait!!!!!
  • The future is looking bright for gamers everywhere.

  • Not a big MMO fan, but I will likely play this just because it's The Elder Scrolls.
  • I'm only getting this because it's coming to consoles; not because I don't like MMO's, but because my Lap Top could never do this game any Justice.
  • cant wait to play this game

  • I was skeptical when this game was first announced, but it keeps sounding better and better with all the previews. Plus, it's awesome that it's coming to next gen platforms!

  • Thank you for playing and reporting you lucky dog you. I don't have a PC and attempts to play on one in the past have been underwhelming. I get why PC players come off as elitist because they're usually right but still I like console play even with it's limitations. When Sony announced a console version of this game I was so surprised because I thought it was PC only. It makes sense the way the consoles are gearing towards online connectivity more. I just never thought the game I wanted to play so bad but couldn't would be available now. This was way happier news than anything else I saw yesterday. This will be my first commitment to a MMO. Skyrim changed gaming for me. Who knows what this will do..

  • Can't wait to see how this turns out... I'm actually excited about a mmo O_o
  • I'm still skeptical, but seeing this on consoles makes me somewhat excited. When PC MMO's have never been appealing (or an option for that matter), to see them start appearing on consoles would make playing with friends a bit less stressful.

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