ESO Preview

Ok so I thought I’d officially release my little ESO preview I gave a few weeks back that I hid in RSS for realsies this time. I got to play a little more this last beta weekend as well as a lot the weekend before it.

Combat

Same sort of skyrim based light heavy attacks with a 5 slot hitbar to slot in any other skills. around 15 you get a weapon swap as well. Block right button and you also have an interrupt ability that puts enemies into a stunned state if you do it properly. There is a huge range of weapons to choose from and a few within each weapon category. In 2 handed I had a great sword, axe, hammer and spear; each with their own animation styles and attacks.

It’s actually pretty much what my combat and customisation post outlined except there is also an interrupt ability on both mouse button press that will stun a mob if done during a big attack. Timing really has to be perfect.

Feels really polished and responsive. Animations are smooth (for an mmo) and you really need to be aiming your attacks quite well. Hitboxes seem large but the attacks themselves have a reasonable small arc. With melee the light attacks are easy enough but the heavy need to be right on. I’m not seeing the soft lock system with magic attacks either.

The ai itself is pretty dumb, very static and cycle the same attacks. As I’m going the seem to get a bit smarter as well as much tougher. It’s pretty good to block attacks where you can, especially the heavier attacks but they’re much easier to spot. MY biggest complaint so far is that ai attacks.. all of them seem to lock on you at the start of the attack so manoeuvring out of range or strafing doesn’t help

I’ve heard complaints about the combat feeling floaty and disconnected. The combat doesn’t feel as fluid and a bit disconnected than say GW2 but it still feels quite good when your fighting in the higher levels; timing attacks and dodging around. Where it makes up for this is the optimisation; it plays incredible, even on my ageing laptop and I’ve heard a lot of reports from AvA with large scale sieges where there is only a reasonable amount of lag and rubber banding. It performs promising, especially in comparison to the extreme Issues with GW2.

Levelling

Actually quite slow. Standard levelling system with experience but it seems like only very small differences in power. Each level you get to spend 1 point on a stat (health, mana, stamina) that improves things in obvious as well as hidden ways, and 1 skill point to unlock an available skill.

Your weapons, class, armor, guild, (fighters, mage), PvP and a couple other skill lines all level with use as well. Certain skills in their lines require you to be levelled a certain amount in that area to unlock. If you have more of a certain type of skill or wearing more of an armour type to level up them faster.

Questing seems to be rather limited with just a small amount of quests usually being active that all give a decent amount of experience and usually some coin upon completion. Some will be short and others will have many stages. There is one main story track and then many side quests where, around half will be in the path of the main quest. A lot of these quests will be more about interacting with objects or people and due to the rather light mob density you can avoid combat for a a long time if you wish yet still finish quests.

You seem to get decent experience from exploration, finding locations and such off the usual path; not many so far but they are out there and those hidden places will usually also have chests to unlock containing pretty good gear. You’ll also find many sky shards through exploration, letting you unlock even more skills. I also ran across a couple open world mini bosses and a public dungeon hidden in a cave and wow those areas are tough… going through solo is possible but you definitely want some company. There was one boss inside that I’m guessing would need a large group to complete.

There is heaps of lore hidden around the place too. many books on tables; bookshelves have heaps as well and will randomly increase a skill

Crafting

Actually quite good. You don’t seem to get much gear while questing which makes crafting more valuable. There are a reasonable amount of options: putting in more materials puts the level and damage up, additives for certain effects and bonuses, and also a way to change the style of the weapon based on the particular races.

Alchemy has the same sort of discovery system, each component has various benefits. Cooking has basic ingredients and then additives to improve the recipe, decent buffs as well.

Gathering itself requires a keen eye as well as lots of exploration. They’re very well hidden within the environment and have no markers pointing them out in the map or compass. They only show up when your pretty close and the cursor over them. You don’t need tools to gather though.

Oh and there’s FISHING, pretty in-depth as well although the second time I tried I got eaten by mudcrabs.

Issues

Now I would be lying if I didn’t have concerns. While the actual quests  themselves are well designed with good story there is very little variety in when doing your general levelling. You gain experience from a lot of ways but the actual action based content is just a lot of questing. If you love having a story in your mmo then this will be good. I feel like there just needs to be more open world action; random events spawning and changing the environment, open world dungeons to explore complete with mobs and bosses, and just creating more interesting ai patterns of behaviour.

Their mob placement in the world is absolutely ancient. Extremely static spawn design and you will constantly see mobs scattered across an open field. You will be attacking them one by one where and how you choose and they will barely stray from their path. While it does help for the stealth gameplay type as this design makes them easy to avoid, it makes the world feel very static and a bit boring.

Animations still need work. Some of the skills flow extremely well while other just feel off. The general character movement animations are rather janky as well and while I admire how much they kept with the usual elder scrolls aesthetic I do want this to feel a bit better.

The biggest issue I believe is going to be the Phasing. For some reason it is actually extremely restrictive and annoying. When doing the same quest with someone you will often get different phasing points or enemies and will have to deal with them yourself or split up for a time. being in a group also doesn’t guarantee you will be able to do the instanced areas together, some you’ll have to do alone and even with the public ones you might be phased into a different instance. It’s the worst parts of my experience with TSW again.

What this also does is stop much of group play if you’re not up to the same point. You wont be able to help with their questing, to join in and will have to catch up another way. There are a lot of other quests to do around the world that you could find together but I’m still not sure the kind of affects this will have on group play.

Overall it’s actually a fairly decent Themepark mmo with some smooth gameplay, good customisation with more of a focus on exploration (that isn’t signposted with neon lights) than we would usually see. It’s actually a rather immersive and enjoyable experience but for some reason it feels like there is something missing and I can’t put my finger on it. After trying it my money is on it rather than Wildstar now and that’s not bringing the AvA into it because, we all know which way I go there.

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2 thoughts on “ESO Preview

  1. Kind of hoping more posts like yours show up around the Web to counter some of the “news sites” and their take. Did you read Ten Ton Hammer recently?

    Final Q. Given 6 weeks before live do you think a) there’s a content patch before live to fix UI/art/animation and b) that what’s currently playable in the first 4 hours or so, is enough of a hook to keep people playing/paying.

    • I’ve actually stopped reading reviews now, just not worth it.

      no and no unfortunately. It will stay as is probably although over the course of the first month or so i think we’ll see animation improvements.
      Once that ridiculous nda is released after release we’ll get more solid info and opinions. The videos of higher areas and people streaming will help too.

      As for long term potential I absolutely have no idea.. decent mmo, gw2 potential going no where, or tespocalpse… nobody knows

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