ZAM gives its impressions on The Elder Scrolls Online after a tour of ZeniMax studios.
It's easy to see how your preferred style of play will lead you into certain combat approaches and yes, as I'm sure you were wondering, the Holy Trinity is alive and well in The Elder Scrolls Online. Roles you will be able to practice in places such as public dungeons, Crows Rock being the first for the Ebonheart Pact, which seemed very open and great for fans of exploration.
Though the roles might be set, from what I saw of the progression system so far, there will be many choices in how you choose to fulfill them. The claim made by the team that you can make a character that isn't quite like any other, has been made by many games companies before, with few of them succeeding. TESO might just pull it off.
Of course, the immediate concern is that cookie cutter power builds will quickly rear their ugly, well-worn heads. The only answer, of course, lies within the long road of testing ahead for the game — in the impressive and ever growing studio, which currently houses 350 members of staff — but the flavor of the weapons and the styles of play they engender ensures a sense of differentiation even at this early stage.
The World as We Know It?
Anyone who has marveled at Skyrim's snowy peaks while chuckling at any mention of an arrow to the knee knows that it is the contrast between thrilling grandeur and the joy of the comically mundane that gives Elder Scrolls games their distinct flavor.
After character creation, players will run through a tutorial which explains the basics and introduces the story of your character and the world. The evil villain — well he's hardly going to be a charity worker — is Molag Bal, a Daedric powerhouse who has stolen your soul in his bid to dominate the world through demonic sorcery. It's your task to reclaim your soul — and return the funk to your dancing, no doubt — and save the planet in the process.
The tutorial wasn't ready for consumption, so I began my journey at level two in Bleakrock, a noobie zone situated in the Skyrim area.
The terrain is immediately recognizable and the small towns and dwellings are like returning home for more than just the stoic architecture. There is plenty of personality wherever you go, thanks to the well-designed NPC interaction.
Hang around after completing a quest, or just walk through town and you can hear NPCs mutter mournfully or trade barbs comically in a very deft variety of spoken dialogue routines. The characters are all fully voiced in a way that is focused on cementing immersion, with large helpings of personality.
Before the quest dialogue-phobic among you go running for the hills, ZeniMax has made a smart choice in how the player interacts with the chatty NPCs. As with the single player RPGs, quest givers — in TESO, signified by a green aura around them and a circle on the map in areas you have explored — have lip synced dialogues that are accompanied by quest text. Want to skip through? No problem, there's a handy quest tracker to show you where to go, or tell you later what you didn't bother finding out in the beginning.
If you like to get the character flavor with the quest, you can listen and watch and then be on your merry way. If you like even more immersion, there are additional dialogue options that will give a deeper glimpse into the life of the character, the area or the overall world — including plenty of things to make a Tamriel lore nerd happy.
You can dip in and out of the story of the world around you as often and as deeply as you wish, not just in the aspect of the main story and sub quests, but in the levels of content embodied in the NPCs.