Re­turn to Tam­riel

We ex­plored The El­der Scrolls On­line Beta to let you know what we think of this much-an­tic­i­pated MMORPG.

HWM (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS - WORDS BRYAN CHAN

When The El­der Scrolls On­line (ESO) was an­nounced in 2012, the re­ac­tions from fans were mixed. As a fran­chise that had al­ways been a sin­gle-player ex­pe­ri­ence, many doubted how ZeniMax would be able to faith­fully cap­ture the essence of this fran­chise and port it into an on­line en­vi­ron­ment.

Two years along, and the MMO ti­tle is about to go live. We man­aged to get into the weekend-long beta and spent many hours ad­ven­tur­ing in Tam­riel to get a feel of this game. Read on to find out what we think of this much-an­tic­i­pated MMORPG.

Fami­lar Foot­ing

As with any other MMORPG (or RPG for that mat­ter), you’re first re­quired to cre­ate an avatar that will serve to rep­re­sent you in your vir­tual ad­ven­tures in Tam­riel. Thank­fully, the char­ac­ter mod­els in ESO take af­ter those in Skyrim, so they look more be­liev­able when com­pared to char­ac­ters seen in older El­der Scrolls games, such as Mor­rowind and Obliv­ion.

When it comes to char­ac­ter race and class, you’re given the choice to join three dif­fer­ent fac­tions that will de­ter­mine which races you can choose from. They are bro­ken down as fol­lows:

Nat­u­rally, each fac­tion will have unique quests and a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on the main story arc. Un­like most MMORPGs though, ESO will give the high­est rank­ing player from an al­liance the chance to be crowned Em­peror, if his or her fac­tion man­ages to take con­trol over the Im­pe­rial City dur­ing an Al­liance War event, which is some­thing that we did not have the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence in the beta.

As for classes, there are four base classes that are open to ev­ery race. Each base class is gifted with starter points in a par­tic­u­lar weapon, so spe­cial­iz­ing in this type of weapon is made eas­ier. How­ever, sim­i­lar to other El­der Scroll games, play­ers are free to wield any form of equip­ment, as long as they have the pre­req­ui­sites. The longer you equip a cer­tain type of ar­mor and weapon, the more adept you be­come with the equip­ment. Nat­u­rally, skills and abil­i­ties are unlocked depend­ing on how adept you are with the equip­ment you have.

This is per­haps the best thing about ESO. With this mech­a­nism in place, you’re free to shape your avatar as you see fit. Our char­ac­ter, for ex­am­ple, was an archer with heavy ar­mor and wields a two-handed sword as a sec­ondary weapon. Be­ing able to spe­cial­ize in a par­tic­u­lar set of weaponry does make it in­ter­est­ing when it comes to PvP events, as you’ll be able to see how well your char­ac­ter stands out to other builds.

A Tam­riel Pop­u­lated by Real People Feels... Over­pop­u­lated.

In ESO, you are thrown into a Tam­riel that’s be­sieged with chaos and vi­o­lence. A mys­te­ri­ous ex­plo­sion of ar­cane en­ergy has al­lowed pow­er­ful su­per­nat­u­ral be­ings from Obliv­ion to in­vade Tam­riel. Known as the Dae­dra, these be­ings were led by the Dead­ric Prince, Mo­lag Bal, whose hellish scheme is to merge Nirn and Obliv­ion into one.

You take on the role of the “cho­sen one” – an in­di­vid­ual whose des­tiny is to stop Mo­lag Bal and his army of Daedric forces. The prob­lem with this is that ev­ery other per­son play­ing ESO is also the “cho­sen one”. This leads to sev­eral other is­sues: you don’t need to be in a party to fully ex­pe­ri­ence ESO, as a ma­jor­ity of the quests that I man­aged to com­plete did not re­quire a party and was eas­ily com­pleted with the aid of an NPC.

While on the sub­ject of quests, ESO does not have in­stances, so you’re pretty much “com­pet­ing” with other play­ers to com­plete quests in a sin­gle, shared world. While this isn’t such a big deal, it does get an­noy­ing when 10 or more play­ers are try­ing to de­feat a boss that respawns once ev­ery 10 min­utes. Hav­ing said that, as ESO is non-lin­ear, you do have the op­tion of com­plet­ing other quests, while wait­ing for your turn.

The other great thing about ESO is this non-lin­ear­ity. As men­tioned above, we some­how man­aged to spend hours on end merely roam­ing around and com­plet­ing the as­sort­ment of side quests that the game had to of­fer. If you’re a per­son who likes to com­plete all the side quests be­fore tack­ling the main story, you’ll def­i­nitely love ESO.

T’was a Fun, Yet Dis­sua­sive Fling

In a nut­shell, my ex­pe­ri­ence with the ESO beta can best be de­scribed as “fun while it lasted”. It’s a pol­ished game that of­fers great game­play and a strong sto­ry­line. How­ever, as an MMORPG, ESO can be played alone with­out the need to join a party; the so­cial el­e­ment is sim­ply not present.

Do note that we were only able to ex­plore a small per­cent­age of this game, and de­velop the char­ac­ter up to level 10, so there may be a lot more to ESO than what we were ex­posed to. With what we ex­pe­ri­enced though, we’d rather spend our time in Skyrim.

You have the op­tion to play in third-per­son or first-per­son per­spec­tive.

Like any other El­der Scrolls ti­tle, there’s plenty to ex­plore in ESO.

There are plenty of char­ac­ter cus­tomiza­tion op­tions to be found in ESO. • The El­der Scrolls On­line launches world­wide on April 4, 2014 for the PC and Mac, and in June, 2014 for the PS4 and Xbox One. • The game can be pre­pur­chased now, in sev­eral edi­tions that of­fer dif­fer­ent in-game bonuses. • A sub­scrip­tion to this game will cost US$14.99 (ap­prox­i­mately RM49) per month.

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