Elder Scrolls Online Beta Hopes

Zenimax is having another beta event for the Elder Scrolls Online this weekend. I can tell you that I have a code and that I’ll be participating. But there is an NDA, so I can’t say anything more about what’s going on.

I can, however, mention that, as of this moment, I don’t intend to buy ESO — which I went on record about a little while ago. But as I mentioned at the time, I haven’t seen the game yet, and doing so stands the best chance of getting me to change my mind. If it does I will be very pleased. I can also talk about exactly what I will be looking for in ESO.

TESOAs someone who has been playing Oblivion and Syrim recently, I’m curious to find out how much ESO feels like an Elder Scrolls game. I’ve heard folks say that it does, but from the video I’ve seen the graphics style is different and the animation flows differently, which I see as potentially jarring. Will the world and its NPCs be as interactable as they are in Skyrim? Do I get thrown in jail for stealing from the shopkeepers or murdering the guards? Can I even murder the civilians or do they have NPC Immunity? It the world riddled with zoning and instancing? Does it feel as rich and deep as the Tamriel of the single-player games? As big and expansive despite far more players in it?

How well will it run? I can tell you that EverQuest Next Landmark (which is not under NDA) runs like crap on my laptop… but that’s an Alpha, completely unoptimzed. ESO should be much closer to a releasable state, you’d think. How buggy is it, two months from release?

Does balance feel terribly off? This is one of the major long-term concerns I have for ESO. I worry that with a (relatively) open build system there will be a very small handful of optimal builds and playing any other way is a quick route to getting constantly owned. Truthfully, I have pretty low hopes for ESO’s PvP.

How much does ESO’s “epic story” dominate the game? Becuase when I am playing an Elder Scrolls game, their main plotline tends to run about #4 on my list of things I want to do. Can I do it at whatever level, or do I have to wade through three or ten hours of linear crap before I can become the interpid wanderer and explorer that I want to be? How much autonomy from the rails do I get?

Is it worth $15 a month? With so many free options, that will be hard to justify. But not impossible, and there’s always the hope that I’ll really like it. I’ll be sure to let you know what answers I find, as soon as I can.