The Elder Scrolls Online PvP has potential, but suffers familiar problems

Friday, 14 February 2014 15:00 GMT By Dave Cook

TESO_Charge

Charge!
After about two hours of constant death, respawning and running across bland fields to rejoin a battle I couldn’t adequately contribute to, the west wall of Chalman keep crumbled under our unrelenting fire. Watching our allies pour into the breach to slaughter the players inside genuinely was thrilling, and not just because Angry Joe of YouTube fame was in there somewhere, although admittedly that was kind of cool.

The image above shows us rushing the keep and battling Dominion as we went. We captured the castle by slaughtering everyone in the area and that gave us another ‘spot’ on the Cyrodiil map, and also opened up a new Transitus fast travel route. Despite my initial trepidation; I was starting to get the right kind of feedback from the experience. Battles largely felt messy and seemed to favour whoever hammered their hot-keys fastest but then again I would feel a little cheated after all, given how feeble my Dragonknight was.

”I can’t see myself playing the PvP component come April. I know I’ll never be good enough to compete, and aside from the hubs of battle, there’s simply too many dull expanses suffocating what should be an attractive, visually arresting space. With the servers filled it could work, but I don’t have the gift of foresight, so I can’t make that call unfortunately.”

There are – thankfully – other ways to contribute to the war effort, should you find yourself too weak to enter the fray. Mission boards at base camps dispense alternative quests, such as scouting enemy locations, collecting bounties – kill twenty enemy players for a pay-out and so on – and sacking farms, mills or mines to steal resources from rival alliances. Some of these are shared across your group too. There was no way I was single-handedly defeating 20 enemies in battle, but everyone in the group contributed to the tally. I liked the teamwork aspect.

Perhaps; if I had levelled up a lot more – which was tricky considering this specific beta phase only lasted a few days – then maybe I’d have a better idea of how The Elder Scrolls Online’s PvP combat worked in practice, but I was being killed so fast it was hard to make sense of where I was going wrong. I saw a few players complaining about the Nightblade classes’ Assassin’s Blade move being over-powered, and a lot of complaints about the constant running, but largely; the participants seemed happy with how everything went down.

Unfortunately; I can’t see myself playing the PvP component come April. I know I’ll never be good enough to compete, and aside from the hubs of battle, there’s simply too many dull expanses suffocating what should be an attractive, visually arresting space. With the servers filled it could work, but I don’t have the gift of foresight, so I can’t make that call unfortunately. I’m keen to see what happens once the game launches though.

Many of my complaints regarding The Elder Scrolls Online’s PvE questing stand firm here, and I still feel that the visuals leave much to be desired, the wonky animation, clumsy UI decisions and odd quirks would have felt ‘quaint’ in a boxed Bethesda release. But here; in a game that must be bought for a fee then subscribed to per month, you, the paying customer deserve a better class of MMO.

The mass war format could prove inciting enough that you can overlook these flaws, but you and I are different players; different people with different values and varying opinions on what constitutes a worthwhile purchase. To me; Skyrim is still the better game, and the promise of grouping and PvP simply can’t change that opinion. There are many games out there doing this better already, and I’m not convinced that the Elder Scrolls name will be enough to help this game succeed in the long term.

Disclosure: to assist in writing this preview, Bethesda sent Dave a download code for The Elder Scrolls Online beta phase.

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