[PAX] Hands-On Preview: The Elder Scrolls Online – Don’t Roll Your Eyes, Mister!

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I think a lot of people got excited when they heard the announcement of the The Elder Scrolls Online. Finally, we would be able to play Skyrim with friends! However it was cleared up that it would be a new MMORPG set in the realm of The Elder Scrolls. I don’t think I was alone when I rolled my eyes at the thought of another MMO trying to take down the un-movable object that is World of Warcraft. I got to spend some time with the closed beta here at PAX, and I can honestly say, boy do I have egg on my face!

I think the thing that really blew me away is how much of the The Elder Scrolls spirit this game has. It might look kind of generic at first glance, but if you spend some time with it, you slowly realize that this is a legitimate The Elder Scrolls game. There are several MMO standards that are included in the game. Questing is pretty basic stuff, but you have the familiar lore behind the game. This makes the quests a bit more interesting since it takes place in recognizable settings that fans will be familiar with.

Combat is a bit MMO-ized, but it is more active and fun than your run-of-the-mill MMO. You have a couple of quick slots that you can put abilities on, but combat is actually more active than just spamming the “1″ key. The combat is dynamic, just like the single player ES games. The game plays in third person (although first-person mode will be available eventually, but was not in the current build) and all of the animations just oozed of The Elder Scrolls. The way my character ran around with his two-handed weapon drawn was super reminiscent of Skyrim. There aren’t any cooldowns either; you have Magicka and Stamina bars in addition to your health bar, and your abilities use one of those resources.

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As you level up, you gain skill points that you can use to customize your character. You will be able to choose new abilities to learn based on your class, and your class has three different trees with different abilities. The character I created was a melee fighter that also used “Light” magic; I could whack on people with my weapon, or I could use magic to blind and damage enemies. Your character can wear any weapons and armor, and can learn new abilities specific to your gear in addition to your race and class abilities.

The game will feature three separate Alliances: The Daggerfall Covenant, Ebonheart Pact and Aldmeri Dominion. Each of these factions is made up of three of Tamriel’s races. The game’s story has the three Alliances at war, each vying for control of different parts of Tamriel, including the throne. This war sets up the PvP element of the game. Honestly I was surprised there even was a PvP element of the game. I was unable to play the PvP portion in my demo of it, but I had to find out more about it. The PvP is going to be Alliance vs. Alliance. Instead of having a traditional setup of one faction versus another, The Elder Scrolls Online will have a third Alliance to spice things up. The PvP war zones are going to be of massive scale, they are hoping to support 15 to 24 thousand players. That is including siege weapons. PvP is going to be insane if they pull it off correctly.

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The Elder Scrolls Online is going to take a lot of people by surprise. I cannot wait for the game to become an open beta, just so people can see how much The Elder Scrolls charm oozes out of it. Time flew as I was playing because of how engaging the game play was. There wasn’t a moment where I was bored, which is rare when MMO’s these days are a dime a dozen. Definitely keep an eye out on this one!

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Trey is a delightful, colorblind writer for the site. He enjoys playing electric guitar and bass, professional wrestling documentaries and writing about video games & the industry. Favorite games include Persona 3: FES, Final Fantasy Tactics and Castlevania. Feel free to follow him on twitter @radiopools!