I was fortunate to participate in the Welcome Back Weekend for Elder Scrolls Online. I was invited to download the game and play because I had been in the beta test in 2013. The reason I didn’t stay are no longer relevant anymore. I am glad they gave me a chance to look at the game in a new light. A lot has changed since beta and from what I can see it was for the better that those changes were made. So many changes that I can’t wait to play again, even with me having to use the WASD keys, yuck!
Even though I had a great time with the event there were a few hiccups along the way. The download was over 35 gigabytes and on a high speed instead of broadband connection it took me about 3 nights of downloading to get it all. So I was all set when the event started except when I tried to log in they have a computer verification system. If the game or their servers, happens with the website as well, does not recognize your IP as one that should be connected on your account, the system will send you an email with a verification code. That was a real pain but I submitted a support ticket and within a couple of minutes support called me back to help me with the problem. The email that was supposed to be sent never came in. There was an intermittent problem with their automated mailer and took them 2 hours to get it fixed. So even though there was a problem they were there immediately to get it fixed and working. To date I know of only one other MMO that was that quick to get something fixed.
Like the other Elder Scroll games that you may have played, this one is rather addictive. Once you start playing you can lose all sense of time and before you know it several hours have passed by and you find yourself tearing yourself away from the game to do other things, like eat and sleep. The game is also user or rather player friendly in that there is no need to worry about kill stealing. If you help in the killing you get a credit and xp for the kill. The fact that more than one person might be doing the killing does not seem to affect the amount of xp that you receive which is really nice. That kind of environment promotes social gameplay and not just grieving or single play elitism that you see in some games.
There is a rather interesting locked chest system in the game. Those that have played Oblivion will be totally familiar with it but unlike the single player, the action keeps going on around you. One thing to note is that only one person is able to unlock a chest at a time but it is possible to grab what is in it before the person unlocking it has a chance to claim it all. During beta this was a problem but now I see people waiting their turn instead of just rushing in to claim what someone else has unlocked. Once the items are claimed the chest despawns and you have to wait a minute or two for it to come back. When it does come back you won’t be able to use it if you had already unlocked the chest at that location until sufficient wait time has passed. I would guess probably a day till you could unlock that chest again.
The character creation for the game is rather detailed and intricate. Not only do you have 10 different races to choose from, 3 different factions and 4 different classes but you also are able to change just about everything as to your character’s appearance. You can set your character’s weight, height, shoulder width, hips, waist, chest, legs, hands and more and that is just for the body. For the face you can micro adjust the shape, chin, jaw, eyes, hair, eyebrows, lips and more. You could literally spend an hour just making the character, if you are trying to go for a specific look. Being able to fully personalize your character just adds to the game and makes it more your own in how you play and interact with it. The bodies are not overly exaggerated but follow a real life form and shape. I say well done Bethesda!
As to the social aspect of the game, there were many times that I would randomly be invited into a group or party if they saw me working on the quests as them. At first I found this a little odd but as I kept playing it seemed to be the norm. Its nice to see that players want to be able to better interact with each other and are not just trying to get it all done before everyone else and just for themselves. It just makes the game that much more playable and a please to be in.
One thing from beta still stayed but at least it is now not a blatant slap in the face, that is how I viewed it at the end of beta. When you get out of Coldharbour you wake up in a room with the prophet, a moth priest, talking to you by psijic projection. He tells you that others saved you and that if you want you can try and find them and see what you can do to repay them. The person they are talking to is actually very close to the door when you exit the room or house that you wake up in. If you talk to them they will tell you how to get to the starter island and what you can do to help those there. As to the starter islands themselves I would highly recommend that you check them out. They are full of resources and is a great way to introduce yourself to the game and get familiar with it.
Another part that has been fixed since beta is the fact that you now have a greatly improved control of your camera. Before those controls were available your character was almost all the way to one side of the screen and not at all like other MMO’s third person views. The new controls allow you to center your camera and change your field of view and other tweaks to both the first person and third person views. With these new options I find the game that much more playable and even more fun.
One of the main reason that I gave the game such a good graphics rating is that they are just stunning. I even tried setting the game to the max on the graphic settings and had no problem at all running it. For some they might think I might have a top of the line card but I am actually using a GeForce GTX 460 Fermi. That makes the card I am using 4 years old and definitely not top of the line any more. Even with all the settings maxed out I saw no tearing and no video lag at all when I was playing online which was a pleasant surprise considering how spectacular all the visuals and landscape are in the game.
While the world in not completely open world it does come close. The world is broken up into many different sections with each of those being rather huge. You could spend hours in one section, and if you didn’t go into a building by a door, could spend hours without seeing a cut screen or cut screen. This allows for a deeper immersion into the game and you can literally loose yourself to the game before you know it. The section for the PvP area is even bigger but I am not reviewing PvP in this review, I am focusing on the PvE aspects of the game.
This is one addictive game and one that you will find yourself playing over and over as you loose all track of time. True, having to constantly use the WASD keys can be a pain at first, it in no way takes away from the game as a whole. I would say that this is now one of the top 3 MMOs that are online today by what I saw during the first Welcome Back Weekend of Elder Scrolls Online Tamriel Unlimited. Hope to see you inside.