Despite being an avid fan of anything Bethesda, I have to admit I was filled with a moderate amount of apprehension when I first heard the news; The Elder Scrolls was being made into an MMO. My initial concerns were mainly around the level of content that the game may have; traditionally, Bethesda have done an amazing job at including as much back-story in the Elder Scrolls series as they could manage. In Skyrim for example, you can barely explore a room without coming across a book to read about Tamriel’s past. It would certainly be interesting to see if Zenimax could stay true to the rest of the series.
So with this in mind, I set out to sign of for the Beta testing that was being offered. What better way was there to decide if the game would live up to it’s former cousins? Some time passed, eventually I found an email – Beta test application successful; I was in. The next test was not due for a week or so and I can honestly say that time moved very slowly. I should also note that the install time was around 3 days (with a standard broadband connection. You lucky fibre optic users will have much less of an issue with download time!). After that painful hurdle I was finally loading up. And then it hit me. Would the character creation process be as in-depth as it has always been?
Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised. There is just as much customisation as I had seen in the likes of Skyrim and Oblivion, probably even more so (it’s been a while since I started a new character on either). Height, weight and all of the usual parameters were present, but I can’t begin to explain just how much customising is available to you as a player. As drastic or as minutely as you like, everything can be altered, from nose size shape and position to skin complexion, scars and even the positioning of your eyes. In a nutshell, if you wanted to (and had plenty of time) you could easily create a replica of yourself in-game. On top of that you must decide which faction you are going to play as; The Aldmeri Dominion, The Ebonhart Pact and The Daggerfall Covenant. Without giving too much away, depending on which faction you choose will determine which race you will able to make your character.
Now, I was a little strapped for time as my installation of the game ran over into the test weekend (grr), so I made a quick Nord (which incidentally made me a member of the Ebonhart Pact) and jumped into game. Just so you know, it doesn’t matter which race or faction you are at this point; every player will start their adventure, as history would dictate, as a prisoner of unknown origin. ESO begins with the player in a place called Coldharbour, the realm of the daedric prince of domination, Molag Bal. After this short introduction to the controls and basic storyline, each different faction has it’s own “starter area” for what could be seen as the advanced tutorial. After that, you’re free to go wherever you please, and do whatever you want.
And that’s no exaggeration. For example, right from the start you can use any weapon type in the game, or you can use magic, or both, or even your good old fists (although I wouldn’t recommend it). You’ll start at level one in everything, obviously, but you could be using a bow for the first couple hours of playing, decide you don’t like it and switch to a battleaxe if you want. It’s the most relaxed MMO that I’ve played in terms of what you are and aren’t allowed to do with your character. I should mention this includes armour; you can be a heavy armour wearing mage, or a light armour wearing tank (again, probably not recommended unless you like a quick death).
I won’t go into too much detail about the game itself, as I’m not entirely certain if there is still a content embargo until the game’s release, but in short; If you are a fan of The Elder Scrolls, chances are you will really enjoy yourself and be proud of Bethesda and Zenimax for sticking to their ideals.