While in a bit of a daze our crew stumbled towards a gigantic statue of Sonic to snap some pictures, only to have an even larger ouroboros rotating 30 feet in the air catch our eye. “No way…” we thought to ourselves. Elder Scrolls Online is at E3 too?! We quickly rushed over and managed to talk our way into the press only demo area to give the game a try. It’s evolved so incredibly far since my early playtest late last year.
The movement has become much smoother. The equipment progress monitoring systems have been streamlined for easier access. The content seems to have been buffed in difficulty quite a bit and plenty more rogue and mage archetype classes have been added to the game.
I had the pleasure of playing as what I believe was an elf mage during the session. First off, the auto attacks themselves offer skillful decisions in that you can hold them down for a charge without losing movement speed, unleashing two to three homing fireballs should you charge past given thresholds. The class had an arrange of skills at their disposal from summoning familiars to setting stun traps to summoning lightning strikes and teleporting. It was fantastic as so many games basically give the mage the same skill set 3 times with only slight differentiations and say ‘You Haz Element Damage. Use it on the monsters Pokemon style.’ Nay says Bethesda. The mage is meant to be a thinking man’s class and Elder Scrolls Online is certainly making that a reality.
And if you want to talk beautiful details well… this game takes the cake. My associate Jesse Moore said it best when glancing over James’ shoulder as James was accepting a quest from an NPC. During quest retrieval, the game zooms in on the NPC who speaks in an animated fashion with actual voice actors. Jesse commented during this that ‘Elder Scrolls Online has an impressive character customization. How’s it going?’ Yup, the NPCs look that damn good.
One final mention on my playthrough with Elder Scrolls yesterday was the choice of making mobs much less predictable than most MMORPGs. While the game isn’t as action oriented as say TERA, due to the large number of unavoidable homing skills, it does introduce plenty of random mob patterns and plenty of variety in skills to keep you guessing and occasionally get you killed when you thought you had figured a certain mob out. It certainly makes for the ‘kill 5 of these guys’ quests a lot more exciting when you might take out four of them only to find the fifth way devastates you through a series of attacks the others didn’t attempt. One particularly nasty mob I believe was called a Fire Sprite even went invisible and would circle around you, causing confusion since you might not even know what’s attacking you or where it’s attacking you from! Nothing says good game design quite like when a player is frightened and has to jump off a cliff face into a pool of water just to escape an unknown fire demon!