Tag Archives: Zenimax Online Studios

First gameplay trailer released for Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind

Morrowind

Bethesda have today released the very first gameplay trailer for the hugely anticipated The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind.

This next chapter of The Elder Scolls Online reimagines the legendary island of Vvardenfell. This trailer introduces us to the epic saga in which you will return to Morrowind and take up arms to save the world from ultimate destruction. This shows more of the massive new zone, revealing familiar locations, taken directly from The Elder Scrolls III. Places like Seyda Neen and Vivec City, as well as giving us a look at some of the new weapons, armour and weapons.

There is also a sneak glimpse of the new character class, the Warden, in action.

When the next chapter in The Elder Scrolls begins, you can expect over 30 hours of adventure in a brand new location, a new player vs player mode, a new Trial and the previously mentioned new class among other features.

The fate of Morrowind hangs in the balance and you must take up the mantle of hero to help Vivec, the legendary warrior-poet and Guardian of Vvardenfell. Together you must save the world from a deadly Daedric threat. Set roughly 700 years before the events of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, The Elder Scrolls Online’s new chapter takes you to familiar locations as you attempt to solve the mystery of Vivec’s strange illness and to restore his strength. Travel from the volcanic Ashlands to the mushroom filled forests and walk the streets of Vivec City, still under construction at this point in time.

Those who own The Elder Scrolls Online already can simply upgrade their experience, with the Morrowind Ugrade Edition, and simply jump into the new chapter when it launches and thanks to the One Tamriel update from last October. New players can also sail directly into Morrowind and play with other adventurers of all levels.

The new game modes offer a whole new experience, with Trial giving you the opportunity to take part in a 12-player challenge while exploring part of the Clockwork City or you can head to the Ashlands to take on other players in exciting 4v4v4 battles in arena-like environments.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind launches worldwide on Xbox One on the 6th of June 2017.

Elder Scrolls online free-play weekend

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This weekend you can play Elder Scrolls Online for free on Xbox One as long as you’re an Xbox Live Gold member, as well as PC.

The event will run from Friday the 12th of December until the morning of Monday the 14th of December.

If you decide to purchase Elder Scrolls Online during this free play weekend you’ll benefit from a massive 60% off the game, and all of your progress made will be carried over. Participating in this event will also grant you the chance to win in a sweepstakes draw for $1 million (USD).

Last, but certainly not least, everyone will be able to purchase crowns, the game’s own currency,  through Xbox Live at a discounted rate during the free play weekend:

  • 1,500 crown packs will be 25% off
  • 3,000 crown packs will be 33% off
  • 5,500 crown packs will be 40% off

Now that sounds like a great deal to me.

Be sure to check out the contest page to enter the sweepstakes for that chance to win $1 million.

ESO Imperial City Review

Charging-into-Imperial-City_1440773648In the MMO arena, most gamers have to wait approximately a year to 18 months before any major expansion is released for their RPG of choice. Due to the unexpected delay of Elder Scrolls Online on consoles, this standard has been broken as the first in a series of DLC arranged for Elder Scrolls has been released merely six months since launch.

For those who have ventured into the shadow of the white gold tower, to represent your chosen alliance, will know that Bethesda has done something slightly different with their PVP zone. Most MMO’s place a distinct emphasis on separating player vs player and player vs environment encounters. This can make the PVP zones feel empty, even soulless. Bethesda does not subscribe to this method. Throughout Cyrodiil you will encounter npc’s as they go about their daily business, providing you with quests and chores to perform, and the environment is littered with the same caves, ruins and events that populate the rest of the world.  This conveys a sense of life on the game that no other MMO currently attempts (to my knowledge).

It is with this in mind that we delve into the dlc, and take our first tentative steps into the Imperial City. With the release of this content, entry ways to the imperial sewers have opened up, (similar to your escape point in Oblivion), allowing progression into the city proper. These access points are also directly linked to the ongoing war throughout Cyrodiil, so if you find the nearby fortification occupied by an opposing force, entry to the Imperial city is barred. Should your faction hold the ground you may enter the sewers and meet with the vanguard that are pushing forward in to the territory now overrun by Molag Bal’s daedric forces.

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Upon entering the Imperial City you are instantly greeted to the two new PvE dungeons reachable from the sewers. The Imperial Prison has long been overwhelmed, with gangs of prisoners ruling the roost and driving out the guards until the Daedra arrived. Now the prisoners and the common people of the Imperial City, trapped within its walls by the Daedra, are being captured and sent to the Ayleid ruins beneath the prison. Furthermore Terran Arminus, a Moth priest has requested your aid in retrieving an elder scrolls for the now overrun White Gold Tower. Both of these 4 man dungeons have their own self-contained story and two difficulty modes; normal and veteran.

Those who have hit level 50 now have up to 16 Veteran levels instead of 14, and the harder instances of these dungeons hold new high level rewards to be collected.

Both dungeons are extremely complex, containing several hours’ worth of content and new enemy types to face. Those who played Elder Scrolls IV will recognise the other game areas revealed in this expansion. The Arena, Memorial, Temple, Arboretum, Nobles and Elven districts all make a return in ESO, each with their own distinctive enemies to face and challenges to overcome. These PvP/PvE environments contain numerous new foes including the Xivkyn, a race of Daedra that has taken up residence within the confines of the city.

So far, despite putting countless hours into the new expansion I would be surprised if I have seen half of the content contained within, and the balance between PvP and PvE within the city feels naturally challenging and makes each venture into a district both unique and familiar at the same time.

With Daedric treasure vaults to be found and collected, both new dungeons, a huge new PvP area filled to the brim with PvE quests there is plenty to for every type of player to do in the heart of Cyrodiil.

Including the DLC with my review of Elder Scrolls Online neither improves nor diminishes my original view, and as such my opinion is that the original score I gave this game still stands.

Thanks to Xbox and Bethesda for supporting TiX

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Elder Scrolls Online review

Good things come to those who wait. That’s what I kept telling myself when the console version of Elder Scrolls Online was delayed shortly before the official release date in April 2014.

The wait is now over, but much has changed in the interim. Like most MMOs, frequent updates have been released for the PC version and a decision was taken by Bethesda Softworks to do away with the subscription fees, bringing ESO in line with other successful Buy to Play titles like the Guild Wars series.

This meant that we received all of these changes in the ESO Tamriel Unlimited edition that hit shelves this month.

ESO continues the tradition of every Elder Scrolls game since Morrowind; introducing you to the game imprisoned in some fashion before revealing you to be the Vestige, the one person that can stand against (insert antagonist here). This time around, it’s Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of Domination, who through manipulation and subterfuge has torn the veil between Nirn, the realms of men and mer, and the realms of Oblivion. Further machinations from his subordinates has resulted in the fall of the emperor and set the Ten Races of Tamriel on a collision course to occupy the currently empty Ruby Throne, whereby distracting the races from the imminent threat from the Daedric Prince.

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Elder Scrolls Online is no “tour de force” in terms of its graphical fidelity, especially in comparison to recent titles. Given the delay in release, and the nature and scale of the game, I didn’t expect ESO to be a Witcher 3 beater regardless, and anyone who did is obviously not aware of the different requirements needed for a persistent open world single player RPG and a persistent open world massively multiplayer online RPG. That said, for a Console based MMO, the graphics are truly surprising, and easily surpass the visuals of Neverwinter, and in my personal opinion, firmly compete with the aesthetics that Final Fantasy 14 came to deliver after its relaunch.

Sun and Moon cycles illuminate the lands of Tamriel, while dynamic weather system brings the world to life. The console version obviously lacks some of the graphical punch that a heavyweight PC can produce, and the draw distance has obviously been turned down to allow for a balance between stability and fidelity, but despite some minor character and texture popping when things get hectic, the beauty of this massive world is apparent and eminently impressive.

Those familiar with an action MMO will be instantly familiar with the action bar set up, giving you space to hold six active abilities at any time. These slots can be filled with Racial, Class, faction or weapon based skills allowing for a wide range of variation to cater to how each person wants to play. These are further increased to 12 once you hit level fifteen and you unlock a secondary weapon set that can be switched on the fly.Fri_Jun_19_14-22-21_UTC+0100_2015

Add into this the “morph” skill system, which allows deviating paths for each skill as you utilise and level it up, this further increases the possibility for a more tailored and unique approach to building the character that you want to play.

During battle, enemy attacks are telegraphed with white and red representations on the enemies that indicate whether you can block or interrupt the ability, and attack range markers are displayed on the ground to allow you to evade the damage.

Much like the overarching Dragonborn / Civil War storylines from Skyrim, the ongoing struggle between each of the three factions plays directly into the multiplayer PvP facet of the game, with the central theme of the Daedric invasion giving focus and credence to the solo story of ESO.

Escaping the grasp of Morag Bal with the uninspiringly named “The Prophet”, you are returned to the realm of Nirn where upon you are tasked with aiding him in relocating and freeing the Five companions in order to face and depose Mannimarco, the traitorous lackey of Molag Bal and leader of the Necromancer‘s Cult of Worms.

Each Faction has its unique quest lines and side quests that run alongside the main solo quest, with the Fighters guild and Mage’s Guild quest lines identical for all 3 coalitions. Like its predecessors, the world is littered with locations, dungeons and quests that reward you for straying off the beaten path and the instantly recognizable Compass at the top of your screen is forever full of undiscovered destinations.

Each of these quests are fully voiced, and the scope of this undertaking is truly impressive in its own right. I have yet to encounter dialogue in over 60 hours of gameplay that sounded “phoned in”.

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Once you hit level 10, you can venture into Cyrodiil and take part in the faction battles to claim the empire for your own faction. Most of the core of Cyrodiil is present, and has been separated into sextants, two zones for each faction.  The Ebonheart Pact dominate the lands in the North East around Cheydinhal , the Daggerfall Covenant taking root in the North West near Chorrol and the Aldmeri Dominion holding sway in the South of the map from Skingrad to Bravil.

The ultimate goal, is to capture specific key strongholds in the warzone in order to have a member of your faction crowned emperor. To do so, you must assault enemy forces and fortifications to break their hold before reinforcing and defending the captured points.

If any of you have previously played Planetside, there are a lot of similarities and the instance in which you participate is in a constant state of flux as the tide of battle ebbs and flows.

The thing I did not know about Cyrodiil, is that it does not force you to fight other players head on if PvP is not interesting to you. Scattered throughout the area are quest npc’s, who send you to dungeons and against mobs that inhabit the world, and alongside these you also have quests that your faction can provide to aid the war effort indirectly.

As a Nightblade I focused on scouting the enemy strongholds; sneaking behind enemy lines, eliminating key npc’s in my path and avoiding players, before sending back tactical reports to reveal troop composition and strength. I can honestly say my heart was in my mouth the entire time!

I happened to stumble upon a cave on my return, and after defeating the wolves that inhabited the grotto, I made my way via Cheydinhal where the local militia asked for my aid against the imperial army that remained in the area. After killing their commanding officer and returning the militia leaders stolen heirloom, I made my way back to base and handed in my quests. Not once, during the hour I was questing in the PvP Zone away from the front lines, did I encounter an enemy player.

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True to MMO tropes, ESO has its own crafting classes; Woodworking, Blacksmithing, Enchanting, Alchemy, Clothier and Provisioner. As you go about your travels, killing Daedra and Cultists, rescuing peasants or uncovering lost history, you will encounter resources and chests in the wilderness. Unlike most other MMOs, you do not require a specific tool with which to harvest these resources, (except the treasure chests – you need lockpicks for those), but they are shared with everyone in the world so it is first come, first served.

Returning to town, you can then refine the materials you have gathered in order to craft your own weapons, armour, potions. Most interesting is enchanting, with a system similar to the 3 syllable dragon shout from Skyrim – you combine runes to refine your own enhancements.

Elder scrolls wouldn’t be Elder Scrolls without a plethora of goods stored in bags, crates, barrels, sacks and on corpses throughout the world, and once again taking its cue from Skyrim, the provisioner skill takes advantage of this abundance of food items to create buffs for use while adventuring.

Sadly, it’s not all rays of sunshine, as ESO still has many bugs that impact the performance and enjoyment that can be derived from the game. Busy areas of the map, and magic filled battles can cause perceivable frame rate drops that can, at higher levels, mean the difference between life and death. (Thankfully I always hold some filled soul gems for revival, just in case).

Vanishing npc’s and featureless players are more bugs that have transferred from the PC version, and although Zenimax have confirmed they are working on a patch to rectify this issue, it happened frequently enough during my 60 hours of play to know this must be impacting a large portion of the user base.

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Being a seasoned MMO gamer, I personally take these issues with a pinch of salt, but those that are taking their first foray into the world of MMORPGs may not be similarly inclined, so forewarned is forearmed.

All in all, Elder Scrolls Online delivers a large swathe of the lands of Tamriel for you to explore at your leisure, with thoroughly competent MMO mechanics blended seamlessly with tried and tested elements from their legacy Elder Scrolls games.

It’s not Skyrim with friends. It’s so much more.

Thanks to Xbox and Bethesda for supporting TiX

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