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Elder Scrolls Online MMO
The graphics seemed pretty realistic for an MMO, keep in mind that MMO's can not produce the best graphics available because they would alienate those that don't have the graphic cards to play it. One of the biggest problems I have had with some MMO's is they use graphics that are less detailed and more cartoon style graphics in the game, this is not the case with ESO. The time and detail that has gone into many of the areas of the game is clear, some of the items are extremely realistic and give the game a feel of realism. That said this game is not Skyrim and those playing it should not expect the same results, although some area's definitely rival the graphics of it. If you are used to playing on a consul system I felt the graphics were actually better in ESO; however, the PC version of Skyrim had slightly better graphics in certain area's, but ESO did a great job of adding more detail that left you feeling like the graphics were awesome.
Elder Scrolls online review
Lets start off with the combat system. The game play itself felt really fluent and the combat seemed to be pretty realistic. One complaint I heard was with archery, some of the players complained that when you did a soft lock on a target that you couldn't miss when moving around, which happens quite frequently when being targeted. I actually felt that this made the game play much easier knowing you could move and still hit the target, obviously you couldn't completely look away and still hit the target but you could strafe while firing, making the soft lock a great feature. I felt like my moves had solid effect on each NPC and players I fought. The stun's and knock backs were great assets, one of the best features I found was the sneak ability. If you were able to sneak up on a target and fire, your first hit normally crit making the first hit the most powerful. ESO allows skill points to be put in each area of combat, that can improve basic moves, armor, and skill tree's. These points are gained by leveling, collecting sky shards and completing specific achievements.
One key feature about the combat I found highly enjoyable and made the game easy to learn and fun to play was you didn't have 10-20 moves you had to do in order to learn a rotation in the game. The game offers 5 moves and a special with one weapon, and you can switch weapons mid fight and get another 5 moves and a special. Keeping your rotation small and easy to follow. I have played other MMO's with this type of rotation setup and found it lacked luster, ESO did not.
Starting the game
The character creation offers so many abilities, I won't bore you with everything you can do; however, I will say the thing that impressed me the most was the multiple voice options you had to choose from. If you're like I was during beta, I almost wanted to skip all this stuff and get right into playing, that said you can literally spend 10 minutes or more just creating your character. Keep in mind there is no wrong way to create a character because being short and fat or tall and skinny is not going to affect how powerful a move is, rather it will affect how you look doing it.
There are ten potential race's in this game; however, if you don't pre-order you will be limited to the three that are in the alliance you choose. Each race does offer advantages and disadvantages to the player, here is a link you can check out to see all the different advantages provided by race racial advantages. The key to picking the race you want is to make sure that it offers key advantages to your play style. For example suppose you like to run with a bow you would want to select a race that offers advantages to range, such as a Bosmer(wood elf). Where melee might want to choose a kajiit.
We created a guild called Aftermath which has chosen to run with the Ebonheart Pact, while their is no clear advantage to picking this alliance or any other for that matter except for starting story lines. We choose this particular alliance because it is more the evil faction and often times in MMO's the evil faction gets a lot of attention from the developer's. That said it is likely that we will run characters in all three alliances at some point just not in the beginning.
Classes much like your race will offer different advantages to certain characters. For example a Dark elf(race) has a lot of flame bonus's, as does the dragon knight (class) when using the ardent flame tree. Here is a link of the different class bonus's Class advantages. The more you match these advantages to your character the stronger they will be in specific areas.
The player verse environment(PVE) content was simply incredible. To start with almost every non player character(NPC) had some kind of interaction; however, only those marked gave missions in the game. One thing I did find very interesting with the NPC is, while they didn't all give you missions by interacting with them, some did unlock hidden places on your map. I won't go into what the story is about here, although I will say the game kept it interesting enough that you wanted to get to the next part so you could find out what happened or what you needed to do to free someone. One thing that amazed me the most about the game was the ability to explore and find different items, such as crafting materials, chest, and sky shards. Every MMO has questing while leveling, some more exciting than others of course but this game really encourages you to explore. I have played other MMO's where exploring really didn't do anything but unlock certain area's of the map and the quest felt more on a rails system, ESO made it interesting to jump off the rail and go explore. Another nice feature in PVE, that was nice, is often times you could jump in and help a stranger take down a mob or single NPC and both would get credit for it. So it wasn't a constant competition to hurry and kill something before someone else got there.
Player vs Player (PVP)This is an area I am extremely excited about, not because I pvp a lot but because I am not a pvp player. The pvp world is much like the pve world in the fact that everything in pve is there in pvp. For example crafting mats, gear, sky shards, dungeons, and chest are in both areas equally. You can level in PVP and then turn around and join a group for a PVE dungeon because the gear is the same. You have skill points you can gain in PVP and use them for PVP bonus but you can also be geared through PVE and walk into PVP and not be at a disadvantage. PVP also allows hundreds of players on the screen at one time. So far from the reviews the only lag issues have been with people's computers themselves, caused from not being able to handle all the action on the screen at once and not with the server. Some of the guys video's I have watched, these guys have had to turn their settings down to low and then back up when they rejoin PVE. PVP match's don't end in minutes they can last up to 48hrs, so once your in a match you play as long as you like.
One factor I absolutely don't care for about PVP in MMO's is that its just an area to go in fight each other and die, bragging rights go to the person with the most kills. ESO changed this by giving everyone key objectives such as capturing other players "Keeps". They allow players to earn points and buy siege weapons such as trebuchet's to help break down walls and doors. Ok so that's not for you? well you can also go explore the PVP areas and find all kinds of new items, along with being able to group up in PVP area's and go do dungeon's, or raid a keep with your friends.
Defending the Keep
Skyrim VS ESO
One thing to keep in mind is this game is not skyrim, nor should it be looked at as such. Skyrim was a single player game that had a lot of content; however, you paid one price and got to play it until you did everything and the game was done. ESO has a monthly subscription after you buy the game because it is a never ending game. There are places in the game and gameplay that has the feel of a single player rpg, that said ESO offers a lot of options to group up and play with friends. I have heard many complaints from Skyrim fan's about the 14.99 a month subscription and because of it they claim they wont buy the game, this of course is not an issue for MMO players, who are used to this fee. According to the developers of ESO they plan to add new content every 4-6 weeks. If you have played MMO's with the free to play option you know that most of the new content is based on selling points to get players to spend more money for items. ESO being subscription only based will be adding content that is valuable to everyone rather than a money sink. ESO has been successful in capturing a true feel of an MMORPG.
Biggest question I have researched is how the end game is and is there enough to keep me interested? Between dungeons and adventure zone's there is over 160 hours of game play. So if you play straight through without sleep every week you can play for over 6 1/2 days a week before completing everything, which would be ridiculous to even try. Keep in mind that once you hit 50 you gain veteran levels that also give you additional skill points you can use. ESO also allows you to go play the other two alliance story lines at level 50 to earn even more skill points for you character.
So what is an adventure zone and how does it work. Adventure zones are set up for large raids, from what I have heard groups of 12 is going to be the standard, this has not been confirmed. Adventure zone's allow anyone to enter and can be partially cleared in groups of 4; however, at certain points they will be warned that they are walking in to an area that requires a larger group in order to complete the missions. Keep in mind while the NDA has been lifted Adventure Zone's are still covered by it and not much information is out there, so I have no clue how many adventure zone's are in place, how often they can be farmed or what type of loot they will drop. It has been stated in the ESO forums that there is going to be rare drops in game that have to be earned, although I have not yet seen anything that can't be researched and crafted to this point.
Being the game is still in beta I am hoping things are still in the works like the grouping options, we ran into multiple problems when trying to group and it needs to be fixed. While this is not a problem for me this may be for some, the game promotes exploration a great deal and if your not into exploring you will probably miss a lot of skill points and different crafting bonus's. The game also marks everyone that has a quest for you so you don't have to run around and talk with everyone, although randomly talking to NPC will also unlock secret area's on your map, and you may miss that if you are rushing through. If you fail to group for boss fights and dark anchors you may miss out on gear and other items while leveling. If you choose not to do PVP, there is no question you will lose out on skill points that others may have, that said you may not need them extra points with all the options there are to gain them. I anticipate this game as being very challenging, extremely intensive with the content, and it will bring a new way to look at MMO's. If you are interested in playing and would like to join and experienced guild, feel free to register at aftermatheso.com, we utilize mumble voice and we are a very friendly community.
The main story lines in this game are only about 6-7 hours; however, it is level based so you can't just blow through it. There are a ton of side missions that will require you to do multiple steps before getting paid, making it seem like it has multiple side story's as well. To me this game is not going to be one I power level through, I know for a fact I will not be the first to 50 and I won't be bored when I hit 50. If you are thinking this is skyrim it is not, if you are thinking this is just like any other MMO it is not. This is an MMORPG in every sense of the word, there is a ton of content to go through while leveling and even more when you hit 50. So your probably not going to just run raids at level 50, not saying people won't be running them but people will have so much to do that they won't only be running raids.