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Now That the NDA is Over...

Now That the NDA is Over...

  12:29:00 pm, by AKB   , 1525 words  
Viewed 4074 times since 02/15/14
Categories: Elder Scrolls

I liked it. Quite a bit, actually. Alright, I don't think I can get away with such a brief statement on the game, so please allow me to expand on that thought some.

Poorly Organized Thoughts That I Had No Expectation That I Was Going to Write Today, but Suddenly Had to

The ESO beta was somehow the least buggy Elder Scrolls experience I have ever had. It is not a secret that Elder Scrolls games are buggy, hell Daggerfall could not even be beaten at release due to bugs, so that is quite the prestigious claim since what we have seen so far are not release candidates as far as I am aware. That is not to say the beta did not suffer from a ton of problems. Constant crashes, non-finished assets, and complete shut outs were not uncommon. That is not to say that I didn't expect all of that, it is still a beta after all, but it still somehow played just better than the single player games. I've personally had to spend weeks sorting through possible bugs just to get past the title screen in the main series before, so having a more stable client was definitely a unique perk to the beta. Still, there is a lot that needs to be tweaked to make the experience truly stable. The good news is that one of the main purposes of these beta tests is stress testing their servers so they may remain stable at launch. However, the pandemonium created from a poor launch will be quite catastrophic, if these issues are not worked out now. As ES games have been mainly single player (Battlespire had multiplayer, but who cared about Battlespire), not being able to play the games due to server load capacities will surely trigger virtual riots. I know I didn't appreciate just being told I could not play the beta at the moment because I was in a waiting list an hour long, but once people have paid for the game, the reaction to this error will be terrible to see. I'm having trouble thinking up a good analogy to this, so please go read on about the Diablo III or the Sim City game outages, you'll eventually find a good one in the comments.

As for the gameplay itself, I had some mixed experiences with it. The actual game itself was fun, the combat was well put together, the interactions with NPCs were interesting, and the quests were varied enough to hold my interest. While I didn't get to experience much of crafting due to game crashing issues and my own time limitations, it did seem to be a nice way to play the game more passively. But for all the fun I personally had, there were a ton of gripes experienced alongside this. Here's a tip to anyone who is new to MMOs and is only getting into this for the attached franchise, as soon as you start the game you will want to change your chat tab to ignore all those players around you. Unless you specifically want something from them, you'll just get annoyed that your flower picking is getting interrupted by a bunch of amazingly literate goat creatures trying to work out how to ram people through that strange screen device they are in front of. That's not unique to any multiplayer game, but it will be quite irritating to the many people who are more interested in the RPG part of MMORPG.

Combat was probably one of the better parts of the game. It happily mixes some of the best parts of Elder Scrolls combat with the gleeful convenience of hotkey MMOs. The result is surprisingly well done. While I kind of dislike the clear warning every NPC gives you for their attacks (highlighted by giant red hit boxes to indicate any kind of special move so you know to block or dodge), it was still fun beating on the wildlife. I imagine that the player versus player combat is even better, although I did not get that far in. 

Now that I've brought it up, let's talk about the RPG mechanics built into the game. In most ways, it performed better than I would have expected. From the very start, the character creator is leagues ahead of what Bethesda has been putting in their recent games. You have a more options for manipulating your character's appearance than ever before, from name (Akba), to race (I chose Argonian), to class (I was a Nightblade as I imagined that would be the class most likely to secretly be Batman), to gender, (I played female) height (absolute minimum for me), to weight (eating disorder), to hair style (horns), to eye poutiness (EXTREMELY), to appreciation for local businesses (would say she would support them, but never truly found the time to spend her hard earned gold at them. She's a working girl, after all. Once a long day is behind her, she just can't run to a dozen different shops, she needs that little bit of convenience that large chain stores bring in her life). I was honestly impressed with the variety of character appearances possible, and that's coming from the kind of ES veteran who knows how to easily mess with the game to produce the kind of monstrosities that makes my family deeply worried for my mental health.

However, I nor anyone else played with the character creator enough I fear. There seemed to have been some kind of setting for "Fear of Water" I missed. See, by default it seems to be stuck on "Will enter water, but not dunk head". I would imagine the slider would go between "Hydrophobic" and "I don't know why I would be afraid of going underwater, I have gills", but I failed to find it to confirm this. So for my experiences, my naturally water-breathing lizard never actually did that. While I'm sure they'll add in underwater exploration at a later date, this was actually the first thing I tested out, and my first disappointment with the game. 

After my tweaks to my avatar were completed, my actual experiences with the game was... very linear. Character creation and stat choices was just about all I got to do. After the initial tutorial area in Molag Bal's Coldharbour, you move onto another tutorial area in Tamriel. The problem I experienced is that I never got out of the part of the game I'd call a tutorial. In most ES games, the distinction between tutorial and the actual game is obvious. Once you can ignore your main quest from the start of the game and walk a fairly huge distance in the other direction, the tutorial section is over. This did not happen here. The game seems to hold you hostage, with the world never opening up as much as one would expect from an Elder Scrolls game. Maybe I didn't get far enough, but after about ten hours of play and still not being able to just leave whatever was going on behind, I began to lose hope. By the time I stopped playing, I finally reached a section that felt like the game part of the game, but I was too disheartened and short on time at that point. From a role playing perspective, I was playing someone who just really didn't care about all the faffing about with the Alliance Wars and just wanted to fix her issue with not having a soul, but I never got to any section of the game where I felt like I was moving forward with the main quest.

I do want to acknowledge the quality of the Alliance Wars that I did play through. What could have been just a tacked on player versus player feature was woven into the story to an impressive degree. I was worried it'd be a lot more like the dreadful experience brought on by the Civil War and Skyrim, but they did put some serious effort into making it good.As someone who went in not caring, I cared much more afterwords. To talk more of its good qualities, the voice work in the game so far was, for the most part, above the average for the series. Additionally, while the graphical quality isn't superb at the moment, it is a truly pretty game. While I could easily pick at something for every good thing I found in the game, ESO is shaping up to be a very excellent experience.

Would I buy it? Well, I probably am going to have to get a copy, considering my position on this site. But truthfully, if you have any doubts about the game now, you have good reason to have them. While there is a lot to like here, it is still a flawed game. If you think you'd like it from what you've seen so far, the previews we've seen from it are not inaccurate, so I would honestly just suggest follow your instincts when choosing to buy this game. If you have any doubts in your head, waiting is probably your safest bet for now.

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2 comments

Comment from: [Member]
minor edits

While the beta last month was relatively unbuggy, in this weekend’s test, I could barely do anything without a game-crashing bug occurring. Talking to people, crafting, or just entering the wrong area at the wrong time all led to reboots.

03/02/14 @ 08:06 pm
Comment from: AKB [Member]
AKB

I barely got to play it last time. Surprisingly few crashes, actually. I guess I didn’t experience enough for it to bug out.

03/09/14 @ 06:47 pm


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