First Impressions of The Elder Scrolls Online
I was recently given the opportunity to participate in The Elder Scrolls Online’s beta. My thoughts when first logging in covered a wide spectrum of emotions: fear, hesitation, excitement, confusion, nervousness, and then back to excitement. I had no idea what to expect from Bethesda and Zenimax Online, given the fact that this was my first time playing the game, and first impressions are key. I had little to no knowledge about the game’s mechanics, since I wanted to be completely surprised my first play-through.
I had a general understanding of the lore behind Elder Scrolls Online, but I think it’s safe to say that you learn a lot about the lore of the game, from actually playing through it yourself—at least I believe so. When arriving at the home screen, where you’re given the option to create your character, my first impression was: “Holy freaking crap. The backdrop.”
For someone like me, who pays attention to even the smallest of details, I felt like just the environment shown in the main menu was enough to draw me in even more.
The first thing you’ll do in the game, as in all MMORPGs, is create your first character. The character creation within the past Elder Scrolls titles was never that great. You were able to choose your race (Khajiit, Wood Elf, Dark Elf, Orc, Argonian, etc), gender, hair style, hair color, facial markings, etc. With MMOs, generally, they’re a lot more in depth—seeing that you can alter things from your waist size to piercings. So, given the fact that The Elder Scrolls Online is an MMO, it was a safe bet that there would only be a crap-ton more customization options, and I can safely say that they delivered on this front.
When you first get into creating your character, you choose your alliance, and there’s three to choose from: the Ebonheart Pact, the Daggerfall Covenant, and the Aldmeri Dominion. The Ebonheart Pact brings together the Nords, Dark Elves, and Argonians. The Daggerfall Covenant fights enemies with the Bretons, Redguards, and Orcs side by side. The Aldmeri Dominion feature the High Elves, Wood Elves, and the Khajiit. All three alliances differ greatly, and yet they tie within one another to bring down a common enemy. After choosing your alliance, you then go on to choose your race, which depends on what alliance you chose previously, seeing that certain races are a part of different alliances. Once the alliance, race, gender, and class are chosen, you’re able to dive deeper into customization. Players are able to change their hair style, hair color, chest size, leg size, arm size, nose length, mouth definition, muscle definition, piercings, facial markings, and so much more. Zenimax and Bethesda wanted to make sure you create your character exactly how you imagined it would be.
Cosmetically, Elder Scrolls Online is rather beautiful. What’s striking is how different the art style is compared to Skyrim, which is fairly was realistic, whereas Elder Scrolls Online is more cartoon-y. Let alone the art style itself, the color palette used in Elder Scrolls Online is much, much brighter. You’ll see brighter greens, brighter yellows, and brighter blues. Some of you might like the changes while others won’t, but at any rate, I still felt like they captured the essence of Elder Scrolls.
One thing I didn’t find very appealing was the variation of the armor. I felt it looked absolutely no different than armor in previous games. The armor just looked plain. I completed a crap-ton of quests, too, where I received armor for a reward, and it all just looked the same—it seemed as if only the color changed. While we’re on the topic, the weaponry appeared the same way as well. There was absolutely no variation in the different weapons I came across. All of the staffs, bows, axes, and daggers looked identical. The only weapon that showed slight variation would be the different swords. But, for the most part, the weapons looked quite boring. As harsh as that may sound, it’s true. In an MMO, everything is about customization. Bethesda and Zenimax nailed that to the ‘T’ with the character customization, but I definitely felt like they slacked in other areas that are also just as important.
Of course, since it is a MMORPG, the vast majority of your time in The Elder Scrolls Online will be spent fighting, so let’s talk a bit about the combat. In Skyrim, I primarily was a two-handed weapon kind of gal, but I occasionally dealt a sword, shield, and bow as well. So I understand the speed of a two-handed compared to a one-handed weapon. In Elder Scrolls Online, I felt the combat was improved in comparison to previous Elder Scrolls titles. My absolute biggest complaint in Skyrim was the combat—it was stale, it was boring, and it was just not engaging. I really appreciate that Bethesda and Zenimax stepped it up, and brought the Elder Scrolls combat to the next level. I primarily used a bow while playing through Elder Scrolls Online, and it was definitely swift, and definitely responsive (which is incredible given the fact that betas are typically buggy).
The two handed weapon I used even was an improvement (speed-wise), compared to that in previous Elder Scrolls titles. As far as exploration goes (‘cause let’s be honest, we all love that aspect in these games), the world seems huge at a first glance. There’s plenty of caves to satisfy your exploration urges, and plenty of small things to catch your eye as well. What I loved was that there was a variety of animals that you come across. There’s not just the deer, bear, fox, and rabbit. There’s snakes, harpies, thunder bugs (which are a b*tch, by the way), and tons of other creatures.
From the countless hours I’ve invested into Skyrim, I felt that nothing would appropriately narrate my life like that soundtrack, but The Elder Scrolls Online’ sure does come close. It stays true to the Elder Scrolls sound, but it also draws influence from Lord of the Rings, I feel. The variety of voice acting took me back, too. In previous Elder Scrolls titles the voice acting was decent, but also completely over-used and I eventually I grew tired of it, which lessened my appreciation. Given the fact that I invested about 5-6 hours into this beta, I think that it’s a very good sign that each and every NPC I came across, sounded unique in their own way.
The fact that the cast of voice actors made such an insane effort to sound different for each character, was astounding. One quest that I thought was fun, to say the least, was when I was asked to capture a thief who stole documents from the Queen’s men. The guards were basically having a cow, and explained that the thief would be able to bypass the Queen’s security when in possession of these documents. I investigated the city, and came across the thief in a barn. He was on his knees, while some mysterious figure scolded him, and the thief proclaimed, “I did what you asked me to!”
In a short instance, the mysterious figure killed the thief, and vanished after spotting me. The quest then took me deep into the investigation of the thief’s murder, and why the guards seemed so disinterested, and suspicious. Overall, after giving you a somewhat brief overview of the game, I can say that Bethesda and Zenimax definitely surpassed my expectations with this game. Skyrim was a game that’s always been near and dear to my heart, and I’ve always argued that no other game will come close to beating it, but The Elder Scrolls Online may do just that.
This isn’t a game that will reinvent the wheel within the genre, mind you, but those of you who cherish the idea of roaming Tamriel with friends should find what they’re looking for. There’s a lot more we’ll have to cover on The Elder Scrolls Online, including higher level content and PvP, so stay tuned on Worlds Factory!