We had the opportunity to test TESO under exclusive press access allowing us to publish a preview of the beta up to level 15. The NDA remains in place, except for authorized sites.
During my recent adventures in Tamriel, I decided to join the Alliance of Daggerfall, in the guise of a Breton. Attention, if you plan to play in this Alliance, the sequel contains revelations on the history of the first 10 levels! Now that you are warned, we can go and discover the stories of this alliance of circumstance between the Bretons, the orcs and the redguards ...
My adventure begins in the murky jails of Oblivion alongside many other prisoners. My soul was extracted from my body which remained intact. It is imperative that I find my soul because otherwise, I would be damned for eternity. It is with this plan in mind that I will fight, my ultimate goal to keep moving forward and investigating against all odds. It is also through this that the game explains the death and resurrection of our character (since we are already dead). Death is only the beginning.
Once outside, a vast world opens up to me and immediately there are many things to do, dispatched all over the place. Characters will approach me to ask for my help, corpses will deliver strange little mysterious words to me or a sad dog will lead me to the corpse of his master so that I can investigate his death. So the content comes to me, as much as I go to the content by going to explore a tower or some strange ruins. On the map, we see in black elements that can be interesting to visit, allowing to have a track if we do not really know where to go.
In the first few levels, I was mainly asked to free members of Captain Kaleen's crew in order to carry out a heist at Bhosek's palace. I was able to choose between saving only one person, or all three. The choice is up to us, but from what I've seen in the sequel, it's in our best interest to waste some time to save them all. This is what I did and I will do it again. I even gave a poison villain counterpoison ... maybe I'll regret it later, but I couldn't let him die on the ground, the remedy on the table next to me!
Once saved, all these characters join my crew and help me as the adventure progresses. Each has special abilities: Lérisa is discreet and loves to steal disguises to enter enemy lairs with discretion, while Jakarn is a thief and an assassin who will bring lethal aid. But be careful with the choice of quest, it is important not to respond to chance. I have not directly tested but according to some options, we can sometimes kill or permanently abandon some potential companions. Beyond the companions, each choice really has its consequences even if it would be necessary to replay the whole to really judge. These NPCs will join us in the field, often when we are not expecting them, and put their special skills at our disposal.
Thanks to Captain Kaleen's boat, we go from port to port to help anyone who asks, whether they are dead kings or beggars worried about strange disappearances. We're even going to save a pig named Glutton. In addition, we have a main quest, a story quest, led by the Prophet. We must find this soul! I haven't really advanced yet but it promises to be risky and complicated ... The Prophet's quests that I carried out are original, taking us into dreams. We also have the guild, warrior and mage quests. I found the first Warriors Guild poster at level 6 and was able to join the Mages Guild right after! Still other things to do. Of course, it was missing.
The story is well done. The texts are short and do not put off reading. The characters encountered are atypical, rarely nice or mean, much grayer and therefore endearing. They often had to make difficult choices and have to live with them. And I have the choice to help them in my own way (or not to help them).
The content is rich, perhaps too rich, to such an extent that sometimes we do not really know where we are. The quest tracking system is not very practical, although it is very close to what Elder Scrolls license players are familiar with. We can only track one quest when we often have 4 or 5 in parallel. Suddenly, you often have to open your journal to know what to do and the world map to locate places.
I also regret the absence of a mini-map. We only have the compass at the top of the screen which indicates the points of interest, more or less nearby. To know where to go, you have to take a 360 ° turn and see when an arrow appears. It is not easy to know if it is far or not, and suddenly the order in which to visit the different places. And when you are near the point of interest, you can sometimes pass right next to it. Having the option to display a mini-map would be nice!
In parallel with the quests, to improve your character, you can collect celestial shards. Every three shards absorbed, you gain a skill point. Suddenly, when you see a large column of light, do not hesitate and click. You can also search full of baskets and shelves in all buildings. Sometimes there are good surprises in it!
Because the progress is slow, very slow. I played at least 5 hours to only go up to level 6. When we know that there are 50 levels, I'll let you do the count. Without forgetting that the progression is not limited to the level of the character, but also for each line of skills (weapon, armor, class ..). You will have to help a lot of people and travel miles to reach the maximum level (without forgetting that you can complete the stories of the other two Alliances) and optimize your character.
In its PvE component, The Elder Scrolls Online is above all a role-playing game with an exciting and rich story. I really enjoyed my ride but, for the moment, I lived it as a solo experience. Even if I met players at random during my peregrinations, I saw no interest in grouping or collaborating with them, not immediately noticing that they were players (basic, the interface does not does not put a health bar on PCs or NPCs, so it's not always easy to identify who is what). Admittedly, this is only the beginning but in these first 10 levels, only one boss really worried me (and I defeated it alone after two tries).
To see how the game will evolve on this side. It would be a shame that we only group with the other players to participate in the battles in Cyrodiil and I hope that Zenimax will find valid reasons (and not blocking for those resistant to group play) to collaborate with the other players!