E3 – The Elder Scrolls Online: Hands-On Preview

At Sony’s E3 Conference earlier this week, one of the low lights for many people was the trailer for Bethesda’s upcoming MMO, The Elder Scrolls Online. While it didn’t make the best impression in that context, we had the opportunity to play a bit of it and see if it was any better in practice. While the build that Bethesda showed us was missing some features (which they acknowledged), this game was actually looking pretty fun.

We were treated to a gameplay trailer which showed off some of the varied environments from a variety of regions of Tamriel. Additionally, it showed some examples of high-level combat skills being used against bosses. This level of play obviously wasn’t available to be tried out, but the point was that there would potentially be plenty to do for the beyond-endgame raiding crowd.

The demo we played dropped us into the middle of Daggerfall City. As with all Elder Scrolls titles, this is an exploration-based system where you are free to pretty much do whatever you want. As with all games from this franchise, my first instinct is to find a cave and start killing. On my way, I tested out my movement within the space. One of the most striking differences between The Elder Scrolls Online and existing games such as Skyrim is that Bethesda has made some real improvements with its physics. For the first time in this series, your character’s animations look and feel a lot more natural. Also, everything in the world feels a lot less ‘floaty’.

I finally found a cave and forged ahead. There, I ran into two bandits who promptly killed me. Combat in this game is pretty much what you’d expect from an Elder Scrolls game; hack away until one of you is dead. After respawning a few times, I managed to get one of them killed but gave up after a few more tries of getting frozen by their ice spells. I could’nt quite get the timing down, but to be completely honest that’s on me.

All in all, rumors of the awfulness of The Elder Scrolls Online have been greatly exaggerated. This is shaping up to be a fantastic game. What it really comes down to is whether or not you’re into this series.

The Elder Scrolls Online is coming to PS4, XBox One, and PC in Spring 2014.

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