I’m quite the fan of the Elder Scrolls series, having played every game bearing the series name so far. Out of the lot the only games that I ever managed to not enjoy were the various The Elder Scrolls Travels games for phones and N-Gage (hah!) since those were just a bit too clunky for my tastes. So the idea of having an MMO set in the Elder Scrolls universe, a game with an incredible amount of content so that I never have to stop playing is always appealing.
A lot of people may balk at the idea of an Elder Scrolls MMO but honestly it really does fit. Considering how easy it is in this series to get lost exploring the wilderness for loot, getting distracted from the main plot by fetch quests or even just wandering around picking every sort of flower and herb you can find. It already has the feel of a massively-multiplayer RPG.
The player characters, all of them, are captives of Molag Bal when the game begins. The Daedric Prince of Domination and Enslavement’s minions are capturing people and sacrificing their souls to their dark God. After escaping from Coldharbour, Molag Bal’s realm of Oblivion, the player character must figure out a way to reclaim their soul as well as preventing Bal’s attempts to merge the human realm with Coldharbour by destroying various Dark Anchors.
While you start in Oblivion you will work your way back to the mortal realm. Once here you start with the main storyline but, more than likely, you will end up simply doing everything but the main plot. There are flowers to pick to make potions, runes to find that are used in enchanting, wood and metal to harvest to make weapons and armor, animals to hunt and fish to be… errr… fished. The prologue part of the storyline can’t really take any more than four hours to complete but it took me the better part of two full game sessions to actually finish it since I kept getting distracted by all the harvesting and crafting.
The only real concession to this being an MMO is the fact that instead of the chosen her being just yourself, there are plenty of them out there. But that actually fits with the storyline since what’s going on isn’t just confined to a small area like it has been in past games. This is a threat spanning the entire world and, from what I could see, the in-game world is absolutely tremendous. You have access to locations in the world that range from the Aliki’r Desert, home to the Redguards, to what appear to be parts of Black Marsh, home of the Argonians. So this is a threat that would require a large amount of people helping which, once again, really helps carry the feeling of the Elder Scrolls universe.
For my time with this current Beta I played a Dark Elf Nightblade, one of the four preset classes you can choose from. This gave me a good amount of skill with twin weapons as well as the ability to use all sorts of stealth attacks to bring down foes. Even with other players bouncing around like they’re playing World of Warcraft I was still able to sneak up on the enemies they were aggro’ing and drop them with sneak attacks. Since your class has no impact on what weapons you can wield I was freely able to swap between a bow, sword and shield and dual-wielding, to see which of them I liked best. You'll have to focus on a single style eventually since there are skills to purchase
One thing that did strike me as a bit odd during my time with the beta was how imprecise the first person view felt. Normally this is how I play my TES games but here I had difficulties parrying enemy attacks and even aiming my power strikes. It isn’t even especially helpful for archery anymore since attacks “stick” to a target if it’s even remotely in the radius of your crosshair, removing the need for any real accuracy. This was easily fixed by simply going into third person and playing that way and was absolutely no inconvenience to my enjoyment.
Honestly it’s kind of hard to really talk about TESO since its name is so indicative of what it is – an online version of any other Elder Scrolls game. While it may be set far in the past it controls much like any of the modern games with the one concession of the other players in the world. There have been gameplay tweaks but the whole thing is just so familiar and comfortable to any fan of the series that it just feels like home.