The Elder Scrolls Online's final beta event has just ended, and it's looking a lot more cleaned-up and polished than it has in previous visits. There are still a number of persistent bugs - the annoying UI glitch, for instance, where the character gets stuck in Vendor or Workbench mode and has to reload the UI or toggle the mail window to fix it - but there's still time to get those patched up and working for a smooth launch. In general, I felt a lot less lag-stutter this time around. Combat felt more responsive and movement was smoother.
I noticed a few other improvements, also. The ability to skip the starter island was actually implemented in this build, which was refreshing but also kind of weird. The first encounter with Molag Bal was also tweaked - instead of a giant transparent ghost and a snake-woman daedra, it's now a black-smoke demon crawling out of a hole, and a bone golem. The new Molag Bal is definitely creepier than the old shimmering ghost.
The big fun for players this past weekend, however, was the Imperial Edition and Explorer Pack goodies. Welp, me being the genius that I am, I used the codes incorrectly and never ended up getting the in-game mail with the vanity pet, but I did get to experience some of the other elements of the bonus stuff.
The best part for me was getting to play as an Imperial. I've always liked the Imperials, not just in the Elder Scrolls games but anywhere there's a big Empire and a bunch of little guys fighting it. They always have the coolest-looking stuff and are a bunch of badasses. In the Elder Scrolls, the Imperials are clearly based on the ancient Romans, which is also awesome.
Being a big fan of HBO's Rome, I decided to roll up First Spear Centurion Lucius Vorenus of the Thirteenth Legion, as potrayed by Kevin McKidd.
One of the neat things about the Imperial Edition is that the player can use any race with any alliance. Want to be that one rare Orc who agrees with the Aldmeri Dominion's anti-human agenda? No problem! That lone Bosmer who thinks the burly Nords, dodgy Dunmer and savage Argonians can put aside their differences and unite Tamriel? Go right ahead! The wayward Imperial electing to join a foreign alliance to fight against his own corrupted people? Absolutely!
Gunkus Vorenus joined the Ebonheart Pact. The Nords are kind of like Gaul barbarians, and it seemed like the story would have Gunkus Vorenus marching against his homeland in open rebellion, much as it displeased him to do so, after campaigning in the north. If you've seen the show, that all makes perfect sense. I got Gunkus Vorenus as Kevin McKidd-like as possible:
As per usual, the Imperials have the best-looking gear. So far, the other racial motifs that I've seen - for level 1 - 10 gear, anyway - have been mostly uninspiring and bland. But the Imperial armor looks pretty good. It has that Roman-style influence with later medieval-period tech, and makes the character look tough and burly without being bulky and slow. It's my favorite racial motif for the low-level stuff, but that might change at later levels when new materials become available.
Another benefit of the Imperial Edition is the glorious white Imperial Steed, available for the princely sum of one single gold at your local stable, as soon as you enter the city. This alone is worth the upgrade for me, especially considering the cost of the other regular mounts.
I discovered some minor tweaks to the crafting system - nothing functional, but the UI has been slightly rearranged to be more user-friendly, and the time taken to complete a crafting action has been reduced.
While I didn't get to try out the Explorer Pack toys, I did end up finding a neat treasure map somewhere.
I had to kind of guess where the location might be, and never actually found the landmarks illustrated on the map. But my guess was a good one, apparently, because I found a heap of dirt roughly where I thought it ought to be and dug me up a buried treasure.
The build wasn't bug-free, by any stretch of the imagination. I ran into a couple of them myself, but they seem like the kind of thing that can be fixed before launch.
Firstly, there's the Vendor UI glitch. I first encountered it when trying to sell a 0-value item (fishing bait of some kind, worms or guts) to a vendor in the Argonian village crafting hub. The store locked up and became non-responsive, and when I exited out of the dialogue, it stayed in the same POV and I had to toggle the Mail window to fix it. After that first glitch, it happened every time I opened a vendor or crafting dialogue. Reloading the client seemed to help, but a fix of the buggy code would be much better.
The other bug I encountered was missing NPCs during the evacuation through the tombs on Bleakrock Isle. There were a few instances where I was urged to wait for escaping villagers who never came. Those instances were timed, though, so once the timer reached 00:00, the quest advanced anyway.
Overall, I felt that the game had improved significantly from the previous beta event. Yes there are still some bugs to work out, but the overall experience is definitely better. What was your impression of the final beta? Let us know in our comments!