Hands On: The Elder Scrolls Online

ZAM gives its impressions on The Elder Scrolls Online after a tour of ZeniMax studios.

Speaking of ninjas, fans of Sneak in Elder Scrolls will be happy to know that a very similar ability is available to all characters. Hit C and you crouch, turning your reticule into an eye with an initial 3 second cool down before you are fully stealthed. As you move, you use up Endurance, to encourage strategic choices of when to pause and look around shiftily. Detection is shown through the iconic widening eye deployed so memorably in the single player RPG predecessors of TESO.

As not all of the classes were available and armor type is locked in at this point, my light magic wielding, heavy plated toon wasn't exactly born to backstab. A dev told me that it was much tougher to pull off effective stealth finishers due to my clanking pants. 

Still, though it certainly wasn't always easy, I did manage to execute some sneaky kills utilizing a main hand dagger — poisoned, naturally — with forethought and careful choices of approach. 

In a Q&A later in the day, I asked the team if Sneak would have its own tree or whether it would rely completely on armor ability unlocks to enable players to live out their Snake Eyes fantasies. I was told that was one of the aspects of the game currently under discussion; whether to further add to boons like Endurance when stealthed, that are expected to be unlocked through armor "leveling," by having a separate, specific Sneak tree. 

The level of customization for each player and style is certainly a core tenet of the design philosophy of the game.

Screenshot

There is a hot bar with abilities numbered 1 to 6 which are populated by the skills earned from using weapons. The more you use a weapon, the more abilities you unlock for it until you hit a branch in your tree called "morphs" where you can specialize, to choose one of two paths. Any class can use any weapon, there are no restrictions —  something not yet available for armor in the current build, but a definite for the future.

Want to play a caster in heavy plate, wielding a two hander with all the chaotic glee you would imagine a battlemage to have? Go for it. 

As Matt Firor stated, "giving everyone access to everything brings balance," and the potential for customization, due to the many options through all the weapons, each weapon tree, the three armor types — light, medium and heavy, naturally — and their respective ability paths, is very intriguing.  In fact, once you hit level 50, you can continue earning XP and unlock every branch of every weapon and armor type in the game.

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Subscription model
# Nov 26 2012 at 8:46 PM Rating: Default
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83 posts
I hope its monthly subscription just because that supports the company to continue their updates and content at a fair rate without making players feel like they need to pay to enjoy the game fully.

Edited, Nov 26th 2012 9:46pm by dreamgreed
Great article but...two questions
# Oct 22 2012 at 11:51 AM Rating: Decent
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In the opening paragraphs you describe the first-person, reticule-based combat.

This is a HUGE improvement from what we were told at E3.

Firstly, when in first-person, can you see your arms/weapons like in Skyrim, or is it more like WoW where its just a blank view?

Secondly, would you say there is any form of hit detection in the combat, like aiming sword swings, spells and arrows, or is it still dice rolls, tab-targetting and numbers flying out of enemies?
Great article but...two questions
# Oct 22 2012 at 7:47 PM Rating: Decent
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Hey Capitol, thanks for leaving a comment.
The first person doesn't have the arms in front of you from what I saw so far (and this is so far as there is much to come).

In regards to the dice rolling aspect, you don't have a block rating stat, you have to time the block correctly before an attack lands (somethng you're best saving for when a mob is powering up a heavy attack).

You select your enemy by moving the reitcule over it, this highlights the mob. Face the wrong direction and you're swinging at fresh air. The only numbers I saw were from the Finesse ranks.

I hope that helps!
Great article but...two questions
# Oct 22 2012 at 8:39 PM Rating: Decent
2 posts
Thanks for the response!

Hopefully they get those hands in before launch, so much better for immersion.
My wallet is suspicious...
# Oct 22 2012 at 11:46 AM Rating: Decent
1 post
Yeah it sounds good but what is their business model? If they want a subscription fee they better have something a fair bit more epic than just another MMO with action combat and a few ideas copied from LoL and GW2. And if they say it is still undecided then I’ll pass. We’ve all seen MMO publishers and developers have to change their business models in the past, and fail miserably because what they chose didn’t suit the game, leading to absurd and unfair restrictions and making the game, in some cases, even less welcoming to new player than if it had just kept a sub fee. Fact is if these guys didn’t know exactly how they were going to charge for the game before they started development it will hurt the game. Period.
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