The Elder Scrolls Online is coming out soon.
The official release date is 2014/04/04 (totally unlucky numbers if you’re superstitious, but easy to remember) and there are 5 pre-release play days for those who have pre-ordered. There’s the standard and imperial in both digital and physical, but I don’t really feel like telling you more about purchases right now. Go to elderscrollsonline.com if you’re interested.
There’s a beta test next weekend, which I expect to be a part of. I have been beta testing for TESO for the last few months on and off (I’m not part of the 24/7 private test server group, sadly) and I’ve been seeing a lot of debate going on regarding many different aspects of the game, so I thought I’d talk a little bit about the topics that have gotten the most heat.
1) The User Interface.
I love it.
It’s simple, it’s clean, it’s not cluttered like any other MMO I’ve played. You can go into first-person view, and in that mode you become way more immersed in the world the developers are giving you, because you’re not looking at your character from above, but rather from the eyes of your character. It really brings out the RPG aspect of MMORPG.
The UI doesn’t give you a minimap and it doesn’t give you all the numbers and stats of everyone around you. Just a health bar, an aggro glow, and a level next to the name. The compass stays at the top of your screen. I’ve seen a lot of people complain about this in various threads, but in all honesty, I think it’s great.
The lack of minimap allows you to be more aware of your surroundings. You learn the layout of the city by running through it and looking for stuff, not making a beeline to whatever vendor you’re looking for without hearing the banter of the citizens. The map is easy to pull up with your M hotkey (which, of course, can be rebound), so it’s not like you’re stuck if you’re lost, either.
The lack of all the stats and numbers on all characters is also something I really appreciate. I know there are a lot of people that want all of these stats the way WoW and other MMOs have them, but I think this is freaking awesome. Buff and debuff timers remove the need for an internal, instinctual timer, and all mobs and players already give visual cues that are respective of their statuses. The player is forced, then, to pay attention to the actions of his opponents and allies, and listen and watch for things he must react to. It brings combat to a more immersive level. Players must make quicker decisions because they don’t know the casting time of their opponents’ spells and skills. They must know their own skills and their respective timers to make themselves as effective as possible, and they must use their internal clock to gauge the timing of their actions.
In real life, we don’t get timers on how long our sleepiness debuff lasts every morning, and we don’t get timers on when our caffeine energy buff will end. So why should we get it in this game? It is an RPG after all. Immersion is what RPGs aim for, right?
We also don’t have the luxury of finding things in our packs without having to search for them, with the exception of a single quickslot item. Again, I find this pleasing because it’s unreasonable to expect someone to find and quickly equip another item from your bag while fighting with both hands. I actually like that it takes time.
TL;DR I love the UI and I don’t want stats and numbers to be added.
2) The Skill Trees.
They’re great! But I feel something is still lacking: unarmed combat. I say this in every single one of my beta test surveys: I want an unarmed combat skill tree! I want to get better at punching things the more I do it. I want to make a Meowhammad Ali and just punch my way through dungeons. I want to be able to learn different ways to punch daedra effectively. I want to knock out the Veiled Queen’s teeth. In Skyrim you’ve got your Gloves of the Pugilist that give you fortified unarmed strikes, so why not in TESO? The “Fists of Steel” heavy armour perk enhances unarmed strikes with heavy gauntlets as well.
We NEED unarmed combat skills.
The other thing I sometimes have trouble with is choosing which skill I put my points into. I usually have something in mind that I want to build towards, but choosing the order in which I place my skill points affects how I fight. It also affects how I interact with my groupmates and how we can work together most efficiently. Thus, sometimes I just leave my skill points hanging for a while because I can’t decide what I want first.
In addition, I’m not sure how I feel about not being able to see the entire skill tree of a class. I can’t make any decisions on how my full build will be, and I don’t know how to morph my skills because I don’t know how my other skills will morph. I want my skills to complement each other, but I can’t be sure I’m making the right decisions.
I understand that at some point we can respec our skills, but I haven’t yet found a vendor for that (or maybe I haven’t gotten that far in the game yet; I have four characters and my highest level is merely 11). I’m curious to see how respec-ing our skills will work, as I’m not sure how morphed skills will carry over in that respect.
Some of the crafting skills, I think, can be rebalanced. Provisioning levels so quickly and easily that it’s kind of ridiculous, but other skills like blacksmithing and woodworking level much more slowly. Part of the problem is that anything you do in provisioning will give you experience/inspiration, while creating refined materials from the raw in blacksmithing and woodworking will give you none, even though a lot of materials are being used.
I think this is probably one of the most difficult things the developers have to do, because game balance will make or break a game. They’re doing a great job from what I can see so far, and I hope they continue to take steps in further levelling the playing field.
I love that you can’t just get to level 20 in a day. I guess it’s probably tedious and boring for some people because they don’t feel like they’re being rewarded enough for their work, but honestly, I think we get enough instant gratification from defeating bosses and hard mobs. Gaining a level actually feels like an accomplishment. And though it takes a while to gain a level, it’s not the only way you can gain skill points; you’ve got skyshards.
I noticed that the majority of the experience gained was from completing quests, and the amount of XP gained in combat was quite small. As a lazy person, though, I also noticed that keeping up with your group-mates meant you had to do as much work as they did, or you would slowly fall behind. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing; it makes me do stuff and be useful in the group.
Getting to level 6 is kind of a big deal because your deaths begin to actually have penalties (armour durability and the occasional soul gem). Getting to level 10 is also kind of a big deal because you’re allowed to PvP for the first time (though one must first arrive in Cyrodiil to do so). And getting to 15, from what I hear, is another milestone, but I haven’t gotten that far yet because I’m having too much fun making new characters while my group-mates are sleeping. There’s this “veteran” thing I keep hearing/reading about, along with legends told of players crossing into the territories of other alliances… this sounds like stuff the PTS players get to experience during the beta (and I’m totally jealous), and I’m sure I’ll have an opinion on it when I get there.
Those hints in the achievements journal are fun! The skyshards make you explore the land; you can’t just power through the main quests without missing a good chunk of the game. It helps slow down those only interested in power-leveling, I think, because skyshards give skill points, and if you’re trying to advance your character, you have to equip him with better skills. Besides, wandering around Tamriel is such a wonderful experience.
I’m sure people are making a list of the skyshard locations as we speak, but I’m going to do my best to find them all myself (or with friends) and not cheat with outside help. It’s way cooler to do it ourselves.
I personally am not the biggest fan of mods. I don’t want to be pressured into installing an add-on so that I can keep up with the rest of the population. It seems that the devs also don’t want add-ons to create an imbalance, so that’s great. I’ve also read about mods that have auto-interrupts, and I don’t think those should be allowed at all. Looks like the devs agree.
I see a lot of people complaining about the UI being lacking and using mods to fix that, so I guess you can go back to my first point about UI if you want my opinion on that. I haven’t been modding my client at all, so I don’t have much to say on this besides the fact that I just don’t want them to make the game imbalanced.
Okay, nobody is arguing about this. I just want to mention that they’ve done a great job with each interactable NPC’s personalities and quirks. Here’s an example that got me giggling:
Yeah I know, having to pay monthly fees to play and having to buy the game at full price are not the most ideal situations for anybody’s wallets (especially not mine!). But it keeps the game focused on the game. It isn’t about buying overpriced items to stay competitive. It’s not about finding in-game sugar daddies to pay for those competitive over-priced items. You can play the game and be sure that everyone else in the game is not overpowered with that item that just came out today in the store costing US$30. You’re helping keep the server up and supporting the developers in creating new and exciting content. You don’t have as many trolls to worry about. The developers don’t need to make items for the sole purpose of making money off of players.
US$15/mo isn’t all that much, considering how much content the game has already and how much potential it has for new content, in my opinion. That’s about 116.25HKD for me, which is not too bad, but I have no idea how I would pay for it anyway, since I don’t have a credit card here.
8) “This game is too much like this or not enough like that”
Oh stop it.
There are more issues out there, but I’ve written a long enough post for now, and I’d be impressed if you actually got this far. Sorry for the wall of text; I said I’d write “a little bit” but this is way more than that!
I really like this game. I have some suggestions to improve it, and I’ll probably copy and paste parts of this in this week’s survey. I’m really looking forward to the next beta weekend.
Thanks for reading!
Bonus: Tellywelly Softrobes!
this is a thing