The Elder Scrolls Online Impressions - Levels 1-10

Ron Whitaker | 11 Apr 2014 00:35
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Much like Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls Online offers players a wide variety of skills, regardless of what class you choose. Each time you level, you'll gain a skill point to spend as you see fit. You can also gain additional skill points by completing specific quests, and by locating "skyshards." These items are found throughout the world of TESO, and gathering three of them will net you a skill point.

As mentioned before, you can wear any armor and use any weapon, and as you do so, you'll increase your skill with whatever you are using. If you use your staff a lot, you'll level it up, unlocking more skills related to it. Same thing if you choose to wear lots of light armor. Class-specific skills, like the Sorcerer summoning a minion, also level as they get used.

By spending you skill points, you can unlock new abilities or upgrade existing ones. For example, the Sorcerer can upgrade his summoned minion from an imp-like familiar to a small dinosaur-like creature called a Clannfear. This is called morphing, and it allows you to even further customize how your character plays.

The Elder Scrolls Online delivers an experience that is simultaneously both familiar and different. For fans of the single-player Elder Scrolls titles, it will feel instantly familiar. The UI is quite similar, skills and perks work the same way, and even the art style is similar. The cities and areas are places you've visited in previous titles, and the lore is the same, of course.

The thing that will feel different to Elder Scrolls vets is how the game has changed with the addition of other players. The freedom to do just about anything you want in the world is somewhat curtailed by the fact that you're now cohabiting the world with thousands of other people. Still, the game maintains enough of the Skyrim feel to make fans feel at home. Just don't plan on offing that NPC that's been annoying you all through the starting area.

To MMO vets, TESO will also feel somewhat familiar. It uses the same camera-tied-to-mouse style of controls that games like Neverwinter do, and you'll be mashing hotkeys to fire off your abilities. There's crafting, cooking, and even fishing to distract you, and you can drop hours of gameplay time just searching through containers and reading the books you come across in your travels.

For both Skyrim and MMO players, this familiarity will be a boon. They'll easily be able to drop in, decipher the system, and get busy playing. There will be some learning curve, but it's mostly minimal. It could be a bit steeper for folks who haven't played any of the action MMO titles like Neverwinter, as the 'mouse-tied-to-camera' control scheme can be a bit unnerving at first.

Technically speaking, the game runs smoothly, and doesn't seem to require a monster PC to have a great experience. While there were some hiccups during the Early Access period that resulted in extended downtime, those issues seem to have been sorted out since the game launched officially (at least so far).

In the early levels, TESO seems to be just what fans of The Elder Scrolls might want in an MMO. It feels a lot like Skyrim, and in many ways it plays a lot like Skyrim. Skills and abilities are fun, and there are a ton of ways to make your character unique. I do foresee some complaints from people who don't buy into the need to explore to find your side quests, but all in all, the launch of TESO has been solid so far.

The first 10 levels were pretty enjoyable. The Elder Scrolls Online nails the feeling of making your way in a new world, something other MMOs haven't managed nearly as well. Wandering the countryside in search of adventure is a great experience, and the forced exploration helps you lose yourself in the world. Organically discovering quests has a much better feel than simply being handed them in town. As someone who's played the Elder Scrolls games in the past, the familiarity with the world was a nice plus.

You'll spend a lot more time getting from level one to 10 than in other MMOs, but the journey is worth it, at least so far. We'll be playing more, and telling you what we think, in the coming days.

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