A Skyrim-ish MMO? What's not to like? Well....now that the NDA has been lifted on the beta, I can tell you!
Actually, I have been enthralled with this game. It is gorgeous, as you will see. Yes, there were tons of bugs, but that is kind of the whole point of the beta. And even though some of them kept me from progressing, I still enjoyed playing immensely. So here is a little peek at what you can expect from ESO:
One of my main pet peeves about Skyrim...and the entire Elder Scrolls franchise...is that it is incredibly difficult to make attractive looking characters. I guess it sounds shallow, but I want to be able to make a pretty heroine. Yeah, she can kick some butt, but she should look good doing it. Needless to say, the character creation of ESO makes me very happy!
There are tons of sliders that allow you to truly customize your character. You can adjust the size of the hands, arms, chest, waist...even the butt. And on the face, there are plenty of options to play around with...even the tilt of the eyebrow. I was very satisfied with the kinds of female characters I was able to produce...which is a first for me with this series. Heck, even the Orc characters looked pretty good, and you know how hard that can be. In fact, I saw someone griping in-game that they felt the Orcs looked too good. Pfft!
Although I don't play male characters, I was curious to see how the guys fared. Lots and lots of facial hair, for one thing. A hipster's dream of beard and mustache choices, scars, sideburns, and more were available to make the men manly. That being said, I didn't feel like it was possible to make a hunky hero. But maybe the guys don't really worry about that?
All in all, there are 9 different races to choose from. Between that and all of the sliders and options available, there should be something for everyone. I had so much fun making characters that I spent most of my first beta session doing nothing but that.
Once I got into the world itself, I was delighted by how beautiful it is. Your character starts out in a "tutorial" like area that is the same for everyone, but once you get out of that...there are very different environments depending on which race you choose. I was able to visit the Khajiit homeland, an Argonian village, a coastal Norn fishing village, a shipwreck ridden Elven island....all of which were distinctive, evocative, and lush.
(now that is what a castle should look like!)
the water textures are lovely
One thing I did not care for regarding the environment is the repetition of interior sets for the buildings. The world environments are so lush and varied, but the interiors of the buildings are highly repetitive and too homogeneous. Detailed and beautiful to be sure, but very much the same. If you know the layout of one house, you kind of know what they all look like inside. All Orc long houses look the same on the inside, all Elven cottages are pretty much the same, and so on. Exactly the same. I am sure this has something to do with cutting down the rendering time, but it would be nice if there were a little more variety. In any case, the lighting and detail gives the interiors tons of atmosphere. Dungeons are gloomy with richly textured stone, homes are warm and cozy, castles...well...exactly what you want from a castle.
The UI was clean, simple and minimalistic. No special effort here but it gets the job done. I appreciated that it was fairly unobtrusive during game play and didn't encroach on the screen more than it needed. Here are a couple examples
The inventory system
So, there you have it...a small glimpse into the massively entertaining visual world of ESO. I am so looking forward to this game! Elder Scrolls Online drops on April 4th, 2014.