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Hands-On with The Elder Scrolls Online - Page 3

Posted Mon, Oct 22, 2012 by Sardu

Out of Phase

Back when instancing first reared its head in the MMOG space, players and developers alike quickly took to the concept as a means of allowing massive numbers of players to share the same experience, but without constantly stepping on each other’s toes in the process. Over time, the overuse of instancing ended up creating segmented communities, and in the current era of the industry most gamers would prefer it be kept to a bare minimum.

And then came phasing.

When the concept was still new, it was put to great use for things like the Death Knight intro sequence in Wrath of the Lich King. However, just like instancing before it, overuse of phasing in Cataclysm did a lot of damage to the social aspects of the game, to the point where it might as well have been a fully instanced co-op game in some areas.

For better or worse, TESO makes prolific use of phasing. On the one hand, it helps individual players feel like their every action or decision matters, but that doesn’t negate that it is a fundamentally flawed mechanic in social gameplay settings.

Jeff and I were grouped up for the bulk of our hands-on time, and at various points the phasing created a major disconnect between even a two person group. Even when working on the exact same stage of the same quest, we had no way of knowing if an objective had been completed for the other player. In one instance, Jeff stopped and asked if I had helped a nearby NPC. I was a bit confused by the question since I could see her husband and dog sitting right next to her; a fact that Jeff had no way of knowing unless he stopped playing to ask me what I could see on my end.

Much of the time the phasing didn’t make a huge difference, though a quest bug on my end led to Jeff being in one version of an area, while I was stuck in another. We could see each other on the mini-map, but were quite literally separated in time and space and could no longer actively play the game as a group until I caught up to him.

The developers may need to tone down the phased aspects of the game in a major way if TESO is ever going to have a healthy in-game community. Shared experiences are paramount to the success of an MMOG, and I personally feel that even if phasing is used, it should account for groups as a social unit working on shared objectives.

TESO Dunmer Stonefalls

Overall Impressions

Deciding what to highlight for our first hands-on experience with The Elder Scrolls Online is an admittedly daunting task. There is a lot to the game that simply couldn’t be covered in a single article, so be on the lookout for additional coverage from the event later this week.

In the meantime, if I were to impress any one thing upon you based on my hands-on time with TESO it would be this: the game works as both an Elder Scrolls title and an MMOG, and will no doubt appeal to gamers from either background. That said, don’t expect that TESO is going to be exactly like Skyrim only with more players on the map, nor will it be exactly what you’d expect from your standard AAA MMOG. Instead, it represents a true marriage of the two.

Once you factor in the extremely smart design decisions behind the world PvP system (think another worthy successor of DAoC’s RvR), a robust character creation system, and overarching objectives like the mages and fighters guilds, The Elder Scrolls Online has all the makings of a game you’d want to spend time playing over a longer period. I’m excited to see how development progresses and we’ll be keeping you up to speed all things TESO related in the meantime.


Well that definitely makes me feel better. Some of the initial murmurings I'd heard had left me somewhat concerned that the game was going to turn into a WoW clone. I loved WoW back when I played it, but I don't think it's a good direction for a series like TES that has so much of it's own identity and feel.

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Yeah this sounds amazing, I am officially hyped about ESO, all you needed to tell me was they are staying true to the ES combat system. This and GW2 will be my life until I die of a blood clot from sitting at my computer too often. To hell with graphics, give us good gameplay. As long as it doesn't look like minecraft I really couldn't care less.

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Big personal fan of the Elder Scrolls myself. I don't care what they rolled out, I'd play it. I'm tickled to hear that there's be a thoughtful approach to meshing the two genres so well and that there's been real thought to the PvP and character development. So many games completely miss that aspect of making a great game.

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Just to read i will be unable to run around holding mouse buttons - best system so far and ever - I have lost completely, 100% all my interest in game. Yes, wasd ruled once. Once. In history. Nothing can even remotely compare to incredibly fine control possible only with mouse.

Good article - thanks TTH for a candid preview of hands-on with ESO.. I am eager to try it myself :)

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something i REALLY WANT is community inspired content additions, this can serve in place of modding, because modding an mmo in any substantial way is IMPOSSIBLE. but if the community is respected enough all sorts of things can happen to improve the experience. its an mmo anyway, so new content is a no brainer, but having new optional things like clever player homes and fun content like player owned vehicles [dwemer airship anyone]
community submitted weapon and armor models to be moderated and added as skins as the studio sees fit :) [tf2 does this]
potential pve only servers that have the entire continent DE-LEVELED and the 3 factions opened for roleplay :)

damn i had such high hopes for this game :((( holding the mouse will just get me stuck and limit my reactions and million of other problems.. 2nd: no way i have just 1-5 or 6 thats just lame lol... really had high hopes for this game even called lots of my old DAOC exc/pryd to let them know about this game that might be our salvation to all the idiotic games we had to try that came after daoc...dont get me wrong i played all elder scrolls games and loved em but this is mmo and should be different. still ill give it a shot just to check it out, still having hopes Matt Firor will give us what we crave for so long... if the mechanism sucks i wont give it any 2nd chances tho.

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