This past Friday we got a front seat, if sitting at our computers counts, to the live stream of Elder Scrolls Online at Quakecon 2013. A live stream of gameplay presented us with a more up close and personal look into how things are shaping up for the upcoming MMO. Graphically things are still looking nice and the departure from realism to a slightly stylized look is still holding up in my eyes. Slightly shiny new graphics aside, I was far more impressed by how well ESO mates adherence to canon with fluid multiplayer.
It's not the graphics which are truly grabbing my attention though, it's how close things feel to the source material without hindering the multiplayer aspect introduced.
We were introduced first to the character creation system, still looks robust as ever. Along the way we got a peak at the skill groups, I won't see trees because I didn't witness any branches. What's nice is the groups that are there. We have class skills which relate to the class you have selected. Weapon and armor skills going into the areas of weapons you decide to use in the game. A special note there is that no class is tethered to one weapon or armor group, all are available to players no matter their choice. Then we've got the guild related skills so if you join the fighter or mages guild this is where you will develop your skill choices from. Lastly is racial skills, we've seen this in a few MMOs over the years and it fits nicely here as well.
Elder Scrolls Online also has a way point travel system, a kind of instant teleport to places you have been. When I first heard of it I was a tad excited for the ability to quickly jump between locations and cut down on travel time. As a father of 3 I find that there are times when I benefit a bit more from a quicker access to the meat of a game. As I reflected on it with friends though I realized that this wasn't a feature in the end I'd enjoy. Every game that has added this feature has really started to kill the experience for me. The first time I recall this happening was when Everquest added the Nexus. No more TP calls at the druid rings, we all just went about ignoring each other in favor of this new mode. The next large change when this happened was in World of Warcraft when Dalaran was added to the game. Both added convenience at a cost of immersion removing the size of the world, something that so much thought an effort was put in place to create.
Still that aside one of the last items they showed in the video was related to the NPCs. First their tactics where they played off each other really dials up the interactive elements, the immersion of it. When one would dump oil on the ground another might come along and light that same oil on fire to trap the PCs. You could see the NPCs acting more like packs, working together for a common goal instead of each just a clone of the same script playing through for aggro based attacks. That's a nice change. At one point the PCs in the live stream overcame the king of the goblins in the cave they had been adventuring in. After this the remaining goblins joined forces with them to help them continue to clean out the cave. Again, another feature that gets me really excited about the future of gaming. Not just in the MMO space but all games. As a fan of the Elder Scroll series and quality gaming I can't wait to get my hands on this game.