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First look at Elder Scrolls Online

Published on Jul 21, 2014 5:42 AM
First look: Elder Scrolls Online

Elder Scrolls Online is a massively multiplayer online role-playing (MMORPG) video game based on the popular Elder Scrolls franchise.

Gamers who follow the series by Bethesda Softworks will remember titles such as Morrowind, Oblivion, and the more recent Skyrim.

Elder Scrolls Online is ZeniMax Online Studios' first project and has been in development for almost seven years. Recently, players and reviewers got access to two weekends' worth of beta tests. The reviews were mixed.

I had no problems logging in to the game and there was no option for choosing a server. I suppose ZeniMax had a network infrastructure prepared for the beta but the true test of network stability will come once the game is launched.

Creating your in-game character is a lot like in any Elder Scrolls game. You choose from races and classes and customise your character's appearance with the tools available. The races available include Bretons, Nords, the humanoid cats of Khajiit, and the lizard-like Argonian.

When it comes to character progression, forget what you have learnt from previous MMO titles such as World Of Warcraft, EverQuest, or even Final Fantasy XIV.

Elder Scrolls Online has a unique type of character advancement. This is intended to give players the liberty to play their characters the way they want. This took a while to get used to, on top of the time taken to learn the game.

I chose Nightblade, a stealth-based class, and expected my character to be running around in leather armour with two daggers in my hands.

I quickly found out that the skills available for learning were separated into class skills, weapon skills, armour skills and so on. So the more I used my dagger, the more skills I unlocked. The longer I wore a particular kind of armour, the more skills I would unlock from it.

Eventually, I went the unconventional route of putting on heavy armour while wielding a sword and shield.

I could still sneak around and stab others in the back with my Nightblade skills and I had better protection than most stealth practitioners. This system opens doors for everyone to experiment with different combinations of skills, weapons and gear.

With a star-studded voice cast that includes John Cleese, Kate Beckinsale, Bill Nighy and more, the game does its best to live up to the expectations of gamers.

The high quality of the production shows in the detailed graphics, entertaining dialogue with non-player characters and the effort put into crafting storylines to provide quests for you to complete.

My experience during the two weekends of the beta is probably only a sliver of what the game has to offer. However, the game has yet to give me that urge to keep playing it.

The makers of this game may have covered the aspects of what an MMORPG should be, but that is not enough given that the Elder Scrolls franchise has a huge legacy and a wealth of content.

Michael Khoo is a freelance writer

This article was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life on March 12, 2014.