Over the past year or two I've read a couple of books and watched a couple of films that personally I think would make epic video games.
Leaked Elder Scrolls Online Gameplay Impressions: A Ways To Go But The Forecast Is Favorable
Just a few things to note before I begin here:
1) I am not in the Elder Scrolls Online beta.
2) I have not played the game myself.
3) I have no idea which version/build of the game this footage comes from.
With that out of the way, earlier today the YouTube account “worst” uploaded a video containing leaked footage from the Elder Scrolls Online. The video is nearly 20 minutes in length and shows off character creation, the intro to the Daggerfall starting area, menus and options, the interface, questing, and yes, combat. That’s basically everything you’d like to know about an unreleased and still largely mysterious game. I don’t expect this video to last long so check it while you can.
While Bethesda has given us a lot of info over the months concerning the Elder Scrolls Online gameplay, it’s nice to be able to see it in person — even if it is a rough version of the still in testing MMO. The 20 minutes we get of the Elder Scrolls Online unfortunately does not tell us the version or date of the existing, playable game so you should take this in stride as Bethesda still has tons of time to polish and modify what’s seen. Also, it’s common knowledge amongst MMO fans that devs never let you play the most up-to-date version during alphas and betas. They release a well patched and looked over version while the in-house team tests the new stage. Due to this, we can really deduce that this version of the Elder Scrolls Online could be one or even two months old.
Still, there’s plenty to take away from this leak so let’s delve into it.
This is extremely detailed for an MMO. It borrows a lot from the Elder Scrolls series, which is nice to see and caters to existing fans. This seems to be the overall theme of the game as the other features we’ll talk about also borrow heavy from the main series.
From what we see in the video, this player is in a limited alpha/beta phase. He can only choose Dragonknight, Sorcerer, and Templar for his class. However, he does have access to all of the races which is unusual in what seems to be a selective feature test. The player chooses to create a male human Sorcerer and goes through the menus.
We see tons of sliders that even put Skyrim to shame. It looks like the character creation system in Elder Scrolls Online may be the next evolution for the series overall. The models are very good looking with tons of design choices to implement during creation. The amount of choices here remind me of Rift’s system where nearly everything about the face was modifiable but this game also takes into account the rest of the body. The models may not look like the bulky or defined ones we’re used to but it has a healthy mix of Morrowind and Skyrim as you play with the sliders, it seems.
You can have two words in your name as the player chose “Worst Youtube” as his character’s name before shipping off to the Daggerfall starting area. Aside from the detailed face and body sliders, it’s very standard fare and features everything you’d expect in a 2013 MMO character creator. It’s just nice to see some extra choices thrown in there to really let your character look unique.
Interface & Menus
Silly that this should be its own section but over the years UI has become extremely important to MMO players. While some games give you tools and the choice to change the interface, a lot of them are static and will only change by the developer’s hands which means you could be stuck with a pretty crappy UI on your screen.
Speaking of the Elder Scrolls Online’s interface, I have to say that they did an amazing job with it. Right off the bat you notice the influence of the main series. You have your iconic three bars of health, mana, and stamina. Above that is a short action bar to house abilities and utilities. Way above that at the top center of the screen is your menu bar. It gives you access to your inventory, character screen, options, achievements, and other such screens.
Aside from that, you have your mini-map to the top-right and your chat screen to the bottom-left. Below the mini-map houses your quest tracker. That’s it. It’s a very simple interface and it screams Elder Scrolls. The only static thing on your screen is the mini-map. If no one talks, the chat screen goes away. The three status bars and the action bar disappear if you aren’t in combat or being damaged, just like Skyrim.
The menus are pretty basic stuff. They house all the necessary options you’d need to properly customize your experience. Unfortunately the player doesn’t go more in-depth here so I couldn’t get a good luck at the interface options.
Since this player was in the Daggerfall test, that’s the only starting area he could choose. He starts off in a docked boat and then heads inland and talks to a Captain NPC to receive a quest. Pretty basic stuff but it starts you off quick and gets you into the nitty gritty of the game. You’ll be headed into combat quick and start earning XP to move forward in your adventure right away. That’s more than I could say for a different game that I actually am beta playing.
Anywho, we didn’t get a great look at the beginning story in Daggerfall but overall it’s nice to see the Elder Scrolls Online throwing you to the wolves without 40 or so minutes of intros, fetch quests, and wondering around a town looking for something to do. This may change during the testing phases to include a more fleshed out intro but as of right now, it seems pretty cut, dry, and to the point.
I was surprised to see combat flowing this well. The Elder Scrolls Online gameplay takes a bit from established MMOs and mixes in the expected Elder Scrolls charm. You can play in either first- or third-person views, though you won’t be seeing your characters hands like in the main series. Combat isn’t tab-targeted, either. This is a pretty free-form style as you target your foe by ensuring you are looking at them before initiating an attack. Your character has free movement during attacks, at least from what we saw in the video, and it really feels just like Elder Scrolls while playing in a much better third-person view.
The Sorcerer’s first spell is a fireball which looks like you can combo into a bigger attack. The player shot off one fireball then attacked again to have two fireballs fly out. The attacks seems like it arcs a bit but it didn’t always do so. The spell effects looked nice and combat has a relatively quick pace about it. When you die you either resurrect in place or go to the nearest Waypoint. I’m guessing the point resurrection will have a cooldown attached to it.
I definitely got an Elder Scrolls vibe from watching the combat unfold, which is great to see. If you don’t mind killing things in Skyrim while in the third-person view but wished it played more smoothly, then you’ll get it here.
I’m pretty positive about the Elder Scrolls Online. I’m not too positive about this selection of leaked Elder Scrolls Online gameplay, however. The player picked possibly the most boring footage to show, he wasn’t very good at it, and given that the game is still rough and in beta, it seems this leak isn’t dazzling many people.
Still, the Elder Scrolls Online and this footage makes me feel like they are on track to produce something that can contend with the existing juggernauts in the MMO scene. It didn’t feel overly unique but I do believe that the opening to Daggerfall may just be unfinished. Personally, the fact that music wasn’t constantly playing also bothered me. I need some sounds in my MMOs to keep me tapping my foot and clicking on my mouse. It was largely silent during this video and I’m hoping there’s some sort of “Loop Music” option I can toggle.
You can’t judge the game by this video, in my opinion. As I said before, this is unfinished footage with a build possibly months old. MMOs aren’t like other games where you see some footage and know exactly what you’re going to get. MMO teams work insane hours at the office and these games can change nearly every week. If they smooth out the animations, add some more NPCs to bring more life to the world, and add a bit more pizzazz to Daggerfall’s intro then we’re looking at a pretty good product so far.
Again, the selected footage to leak wasn’t the best of choices but given that this is the first Elder Scrolls Online gameplay leak, it’s something to talk about. There will be more and we’ll no doubt be hearing from Bethesda for some more updates concerning the game’s progress.
To the naysayers, try not to judge and forget this one already. The footage wasn’t amazing but it let us gaze into potential. Daggerfall is in its testing phase as is the rest of the game so I doubt this is anywhere near the finished product. I still believe we’ll be seeing a delay to the Elder Scrolls Online soon to push it to Q1 2014. To be honest, that seems like a good idea. There’s work that needs to be done and small leaks like this can really help devs improve their product.
If you get a chance to view the leaked footage, then give some constructive criticism. Let Bethesda know what you’d like to see. They have time. They can do a lot more before launch comes around.
I was content with what I saw but there’s some rough edges and some things I’d like to see done. Hopefully we head into beta soon so we get some hands-on experience but until then, this was a giant tease and I can’t wait to see more.