A few weeks prior to the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo, I was invited to join other journalists at a swanky Santa Monica hotel to preview Bethesda’s upcoming The Elder Scrolls Online (as well as some other titles, but those will be written up in separate articles). I entered a darkened suite at the Loews hotel where the game was being demoed and sat down at one of the game stations. A developer came over, sat down next to me, and walked me through the character creation process they had available to us. I was impressed with just how much customization a character can have – especially with the game being a full-on MMORPG. You can customize just about any part of your character’s body in some way or another. If all goes to plan, this should mean that you will be hard-pressed to find someone else in Tamriel (the fictional continent on which the game takes place) that looks exactly like you.

After customizing my character’s physical attributes, I was able to select a race and class. It is interesting to note that there are only three classes in the game – and these classes just control which basic skills and abilities you start with. Players can choose the Templar (a paladin type), Dragon Knight (a warrior type), or a Sorcerer (a mage type). Additionally, race selection is mostly about aligning your character with one of the three in-game factions (all are at war with one another): The Aldmeri Dominion, Daggerfall Covenant, and Ebonheart Pact. This will, of course, matter greatly when faction vs faction combat breaks out. If you have friends that you do not wish to fight against, make sure you all choose races in the same one!

My Dragon Knight had a very cool fiery blade ability which caused some additional damage to enemies when hit. Combat is handled in more of an action-MMORPG fashion, as players can left-click to attack and right-click to block or parry. Additionally, skills and powers can be used with numeric keys. The combat system reminded me a lot of Perfect World’s new MMO, Neverwinter, set inthe D&D universe. One aspect of The Elder Scrolls Online which I hope does not become too repetitive is that of its quests.


While I found quite a few that were interesting and story-based, some turned out to be your standard, run-of-the-mill “fetch” quests in disguise. My hope is that the reason for this was that I only played for about an hour and barely scratched the surface of the game world. Getting better with a particular weapon is nicely implemented as you simply have to use it to increase effectiveness with it. I love that part of this game – anyone can use anything they like. Just like in real life, however, they suck at using it initially.

I was impressed with a lot of the voice over work when NPCs would interact with my character. On a lighter note, some of the NPCs were being temporarily voiced with “robo-voice”, in which the game uses a text to speech synthesizer in lieu of a real person. I was scratching my head when one NPC told me of her daughter’s grizzly death with no feeling whatsoever – completely monotone. I had assumed that perhaps the NPC was just in shock – apparently, it was the robo-voice at work! 🙂

I was concerned that, being an MMORPG, the game would lose some of the elements that made its single player RPG counterparts so engrossing and, to some degree, it seems to have. Of course, this is unavoidable as they are two completely different gameplay experiences. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the game was still chock full of lore books to read and makes several references to fables in the history of the game world – many of which will be familiar to Elder Scrolls veterans. It is striving to strike a balance between the games – something that will appeal to both casual players coming over from a game like WoW or perhaps never having played an MMO before, as well as those of us who have been playing Elder Scrolls games since Arena!


How successful it is in doing so – I can’t entirely say yet because, for one thing, I only played it an hour and, secondly, the game is still in closed beta testing and subject to change. My hope is that the game will meet its aims of bridging the divide so that everyone is happy. Maybe that’s simply my optimism typing… I will say that, after killing some Spriggans and looting their taproots, I was fondly reminded of when I did the same thing the previous day in another play-through of Skyrim!

As far as micro-transactions are concerned, no one I would ask about it would give me a straight answer, although from some of the expressions I saw, I get the feeling that they are a possibility in some form or another.

I do know, however, that the Zenimax Online team working on TESO is fervently in love with their in-development creation and I have a lot of faith that they are doing their absolute best. Overall, I am looking forward at seeing more of The Elder Scrolls Online – both on the E3 show floor (in just 13 days from now) as well as whenever the game makes it into open beta testing.

Event Press Kit Screenshots

Related Articles

About author View all posts Author website

Jerry Paxton

A long-time fan and reveler of all things Geek, I am also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of GamingShogun.com