Contrary to my earlier post we did manage to find some time this weekend for the Elder Scrolls Online beta. I played a templer healer, plus there was a dragonborn tank and sorceror for damage.
All told we played about five hours and managed to complete the Coldharbour starter zone, the starter isle for Ebonheart Pact characters and a few quests at the follow-up town by Davon’s Watch.
The game plays technically very well. It was even playable on an older work laptop that we had to press-gang as the third computer. Graphic quality and performance on my gaming laptop were excellent. As a friend commented this game’s beta client loads and runs much quicker than older MMOs like SWTOR. There are a few bugs that are encountered often enough to be noticeable. The ‘zoomed in’ bug where the game fails to exit the limited user interface for conversations or crafting is an issue. We did find an in-game workaround other than quitting – press esc for the system menu, choose Add-ons and press the R key to reload the UI!
Other than this the multiplayer experience was a bit mixed. All the content was very easy as, naturally, the quests are designed to be soloed. It’s a shame there doesn’t seem to be support for scaling difficulty to group size – SWTOR does much better here (thanks in part to heavy instancing). Quest goals are all individual; there are few shared updates. That’s a mixed blessing. It avoids you missing out on steps if someone in the group runs ahead but it can make group questing a bit slower.
The horde of other players running around isn’t generally an issue other than the game fails to clearly distinguish NPCs from player avatars. This can make it harder to locate quest NPCs when an area is busy. The quest quality and voice over work are good though not stand-out amazing. SWTOR stills holds the crown here for me. I also sort of prefer Neverwinter’s quests and lore object presentation though that may be simply because I’m more of a D&D fan than Elder Scrolls fan.
I’m more positive about the game than before this weekend – I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the character customisation for instance. The combat from the little I’ve thus far experienced was ok, although dodging felt awkward compared to Neverwinter. In any case it’s not good enough for us to abandon SWTOR for our levelling trio sessions. I also do not feel tempted to drop Neverwinter as my solo game in favour of this. I would be happy to try it at some point but only when I tire of the other games that, for the moment, I think are better suited to my gaming style.
I’d like to contrast this weekend’s experience of playing exclusively in a trio group with another weekend of some dedicated solo play. I certainly should give crafting a proper go as there simply wasn’t time this go.