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E3 2012: The Elder Scrolls Online preview

You might recall a piece we ran not so long ago, talking about 10 reasons why The Elder Scrolls Online isn't necessary. While it was an opinion of one person, I couldn't help but somewhat agree. I love the Elder Scrolls series and the beauty about them is being able to explore vast lands, collect immense treasure and conquer monsters and dragons on my own. After 20 years of being a single player affair, the Elder Scrolls are ready to make the jump online.

The timeline of ESO is about a 1000 years before the events of Skyrim. The land is divided into three playable factions, with the fourth faction being the main antagonist. You'll still find all your favorite races that you've grown accustomed to however.

I'll outline some things that I loved about our presentation, and some that I wasn't too crazy about.

What I loved:

The environment - Even without knowing, you could clearly tell this was the land of the Elder Scrolls. While it didn't look exactly like its console and PC counterparts, the graphics engine made them very recognizable.

The exploration effect - The best thing about the Elder Scrolls series isn't the story, it's the thrill of exploration. It's finding that random dungeon that turns out to be an hour long quest to liberate a band of slaves. ESO will continue this trend, much like Oblivion and Skyrim before it. As you roam the environment, you'll be presented with various points of interest, that more often than not have some sort of quest you can partake in.

Hundred player PVP - While this wasn't completely outlined, the developers did stress that hundreds of players will be able to fight each other in large scale PVP battles. Glorious.

A story of my own - Yes, ESO is an MMO, but much like SWTOR before it, it will feature an engrossing storyline that's specific to your character. While many scoff at this idea, especially since an MMO is meant to play with other people, I appreciate the fact that there is a story arc that players can explore.

Helping others is rewarding - Much like Guild Wars 2, ESO will encourage players to help each other out, rather than just trying to kill on their own. Players jumping in and helping others defeating a band of thugs will result in an XP reward, and they don't even have to be partied up.

What I hated:

The character design - ESO's character design is somewhat confusing. The world is rendered so beautifully, and yet the characters all look very caricatured, and not at all like they fit inside this world. Picture taking a toon from WoW and placing it in the world of TERA. It just doesn't look very good. Not to mention the Elder Scrolls usually pride themselves on portraying their characters very realistically.

The combat - By far the the most disappointing aspect was the combat. I do have to mention that I didn't actually get hands-on, this was all part of the presentation, and the game is still in its early stages, but if the combat isn't updated from what it is now, ESO might be in big trouble. Opting for a more action based experience, a la TERA, the combat is more hack and slash, but what we've been shown today was rather bad. Slashes to the enemy would register even if they weren't right next to the character, and just felt very slow and sluggish. For a series that prides itself on fast action combat, this was definitely a let down.

While the pros certainly outnumber the cons, ESO stlil has a long way to go, so we'll see how the game progresses. In any case, if you're a fan of the Elder Scrolls series, this next step might just be your new obsession.

Charmander
Mike Splechta GameZone's Editor-in-Chief, retro game enthusiast, savior of kittens. Follow me @Michael_GZ
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