ZAM visited ZeniMax as classic Elder Scrolls 1st Person Combat and more was unveiled
Delving into Spindleclutch
Housed in the area of Glenumbra, Spindleclutch is a level 15 instanced dungeon (all of them being for four people) full of eight legged terrors.
Every dungeon (totaling 16, not including open world dungeons) has a story to play through on the first occasion through, but that changes after the initial completion.
The lighting effects were very impressive, helping the spooky surroundings come to life as the shadows of spider legs were cast on the rock wall from around the corner, a creepy foreshadowing of dangers ahead.
As was very noticeable since the last time I visited the ZeniMax studios, the animations in the game have come quite a distance and the spiders of all sizes moved with unnerving, recognizable patterns.
When one spider died, an unattended nearby arachnid would run over and begin feasting on the corpse, regaining its health. This turned basic trash packs into something with a little more engagement due to having to keep an eye on even the mobs that had already been dispatched.
Combat was very fast paced, with the use of the Synergy mechanic proving important. It was mentioned that though having a tank is definitely a big boon, the team didn’t want to make all the fights static, tank and spank style encounters, even for trash mobs. Therefore, you will sometimes find the oncoming hordes more than even your friendly neighborhood meat shield can handle alone, though his/her ability to grab a large proportion of those dangers will be advantageous still.
As the team of devs moved through the caverns, an eerie voice echoed around, talking to the players as they engaged with the onrushing swarms. The Whisperer is the end boss, a spider-like daedra that cast disturbing shadows that ran up a nearby wall, emphasizing the atmosphere of the dungeon.
Letting off a series of AOEs, the boss was very evocative in its design. Think of a classic Medusa with a spider’s body, as it hit a few players with webs, its legs working individually to wrap the silk and entwine them.
All in all, Spindleclutch looks a solid early to mid level dungeon which benefits from excellent creature design and use of interdependent mob behavior to make a fun romp.
Going from A to Z to Morph
Paul Sage, ESO’s Creative Director, then stepped up to talk progression. One of the most important additions in my mind since I first played last year is the implementation of the UI for skill lines. Paul’s demonstration compounded my opinion and threw in some very cool teases.
As was already known, every armor and weapon type in the game is usable by all classes. There are both active and passive abilities gained by leveling up each type of item through repeated usage and by purchasing specific abilities with Skill Points.
For example, you could choose to focus on Medium Armor and go a route full of abilities and passives to maximize your stealth proficiency.
Abilities level up, then, once you have maxed level four, you receive the option to Morph, which opens up two ability branches to go down in order to specialize.
It was said that you will be able to respec your Morph at a cost that is being discussed as development progresses. You won’t be able to respec completely out of the points spent for the entirety of a skill line but, as you can just go and earn more of them, with no limit on the other lines you can go for, that doesn’t really matter.
Hitting level 50 does not end your ability to level items; which means you can quite feasibly master every singly armor type and weapon type in the game. This won’t make you a veritable god in and of itself, although you will have a broader scope of abilities than another player, you will only have those passives while wearing that armor type and the deck building nature of the hotbar means you must select your favorite assortment from your massive arsenal.
However, you do gain the ability to switch weapons in the middle of combat at level 15 (default key tilde) which opens up the possibilities further.
The opportunity for customization is huge and I have no doubt that ESO will have a thriving metagame as players test out not only the best weapon combinations but also class and weapon combinations which will prove to be enthralling.
Prepare for an onslaught of battlemages.
Though the armor, class and weapon lines were obvious, Sage added some more to the list including racial skill lines and guild skill lines.
One of the Mages Guild skills was demonstrated, Magelight, which casts a floating orb that orbits around the characters head, was summoned to add an ethereal glow to the surroundings and light the way. This ability would only be available to those who have unlocked it via Mage Guild rep.
There will also be AvA lines of skills (Alliance vs. Alliance) to add some RvR focused power but perhaps the most exciting glimpse was at one of the World Skill lines:
We didn’t really see what those were specifically, but this would confirm you can become a vampire and one would surmise that werewolf would not be long behind, news to delight any long time Elder Scrolls fans.
Check out my hands-on preview for more on my impressions of the way skills will be handled in The Elder Scrolls Online.