Developer: ZeniMax Online Studios
Release Date: April 4, 2014
I had the opportunity to try out the Elder Scrolls Online Beta this weekend. It was amazing, I was always a fan of Elder Scrolls games since I first played Morrowind, and although I am not a huge fan of MMO, this will be a great game.
Since Bethesda chose not to make open beta, they made a beta weekend with codes. So after I redeemed mine, I was off to create my dark elf character. This is one of my favorite parts in a RPG, and Elder Scrolls always gives a huge variety of races, classes and features. I can modify the height, facial features (like in Sims), skin color etc., and the races and classes are faithful to the existing lore.The races are grouped into three big factions, I think later this will determine the starting point.
After my character is ready for action, I started off in a prison. I love how most Elder Scrolls games begin as a prisoner, and this one makes no exception. A mysterious Prophet needs my help, of course I'm the only one who can help him, so we escape. Then I wake up on a small island, they are in danger, and I'm such a great warrior, or wizard or whatever class you chose, that only I can save them. I can choose if I explore the whole island, do every side-quest, or rush through it. I'm am an explorer type gamer, so I had to discover every bit of the map. This is kind of a tutorial island, where you learn to fight, level up, etc.
The battle system is a little different than the usual Skyrim or Morrowind, it's more like in World of Warcraft, you have an action bar and have special attacks, from accumulated skill points. The player receives skill points while leveling up, or finding some special rocks. There are several types of skills, racial skill set, class skill set, guild skill sets, etc. so there are a huge variety of abilities to explore and try out on different enemies.
There is a kind of main questline, at least for the Beta, (I don't know how much they are gonna change it), the Prophet tells you the story of 5 adventurers, and later on you will find out much more. There are other questlines, you can find quests in every direction of the map, there are guild quests, side quests, so there is no aimless roaming.
Of course there are basic elements like crafting and mounts, but I didn't have enough time, I only played a weekend, and I focused on leveling up and quests. The interactions with the other players are limited yet, you can whisper to them, or use general chat, and trade with them. It would be nice to see some emoticons, like waving or dancing. I had some places with lag, bigger cities, but considered this was just a beta they really made a good job. There were a couple of bugs, I encountered only 2-3.
The environment was varied, although I hope to see more varied enemies and creatures, but the AI's were good. Plus there were those cute little guars, I hope they make a pet out of them. I encountered several daedra enemies, usual skeletons, wolves, etc. I wanted to meet a Mammoth (they are my favorite animals), but I didn't had the time to travel to Skyrim.
The locations, maps, creatures, races, lore, are loyal to the existing Elder Scrolls world, almost everything fits in. Although in the environment and scenes I didn't have that feeling of Morrowind or Skyrim, but I guess it's not easy to maintain that sentiment in a huge world like this, but I hope they will change a couple of things about it.
All in all, I think this will be a worthy enemy to World of Warcraft, if not even better, even if it doesn't give back Skyrim's or Morrowind's feeling, it is already better than most MMORPG's, I will definitely buy it.