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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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Comments
  • this will probably be the first mmo i can get into

  • What did it taste like?
  • I want this game so bad! Although I will miss the mods (I highly doubt they'd let people mod an MMO :P).

  • Undeniably pretty? From what I've seen, the graphics don't look too great.

  • This game will take many hours of my life.

  • If you think your gonna have fun playing an MMO on a console...

    your gonna have a bad time.

  • I'm getting that old MMO itch gain, and ESO looks to be shaping up nicely.

  • "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." - It sounds like you were on your own running through single player quests.. How does that translate to feeling more like a massively multiplayer online environment than a single payer game? MMO should apply to the gameplay as related to other players, interaction, community, cooperation and grouping. Running through a chain of quests able to be played on your own sounds a lot like a single player game with co-op options that you can ignore if you so choose which supports the proclamation made by Zenimax that ESO is not an MMO but a multipler ES.

    It sounds fun, don't get me wrong and I will definitely play but this is not an MMO and it doesn't sound like it wants to be. It sounds like a co-op online game with a very short shelf life unlike an MMO where community and cooperative challenges are the draw that inspire dedication and desire to return and "live" within the game. I've got almost 600 hours in Skyrim but that's a drop in the hat for any of my MMO's and from everything I've seen it looks like that's the aim here too.

    It's disappointing that they've turned their back on the players that have the drive and dedication to carry it through years of success and instead decided to target the very fickle mob of console players. I fall under both myself but I rarely play a console game longer than a couple months where I subscribe and play a range of about 20 MMO's that I've been with for up to 10 years or more.

    The only real hope I have left for this game is if it's open to the modding community to somehow build a true MMO worthy of return and investment but even then there are plenty of games on the horizon who see the value of the MMO community who can play 10 hours a day for hundreds of consecutive days and drop hundreds of dollars a week on the right experience and love every minute of it.

  • Sorry, not getting this game. not after the whole DLC wait you pulled on ps3.
  • I am super excited for this game.  I like it is coming to consoles, with their expanded infrastructures and better hardware I think we can see great improvements over the messes we have seen in the past on console MMOs.  

  • Just take all of my money and let me play it now!!!!!

  • I'm glad we'll be able to go back there without having to play TES II and the older ones...

  • This game is releasing on PS4 and XB1 also... right?
  • This and Destiny are the reasons I want a next-gen system. Can't wait to try this.
  • I was really surprised to see that this game is played in first person. I've never played a fantasy MMO that wasn't 3rd person. I imagine you can play it in 3rd, but I'm really glad they stayed true to the series and left in 1st person for those of us who enjoy that. I was really hesitant about this game, but all the news about it that's come out has really made me hyped for this game now.
  • Shall be getting this on ps4 :D

  • It's a mediocre MMO at best with broken combat mechanics that becomes more boring as you progress. The environments on the other hand is the most fascinating part of the game. The game plays nowhere close to Elder Scrolls.
  • This will be a great game, even better on console.

  • PS4 here I come! (I just gotta start saving up $$$ in the meantime)

  • Consoles = interested.  I assumed it'd be PC only and was not interest at all.  Throw in PS4 and I'm interested again.