The Elder Scrolls Online: Beta Discussion


Our take on Bethesda’s ambitious MMO

Just like many gamers out there, we here at OXCGN can’t get enough of the Elder Scrolls series. We jumped at the chance to be able to take part in the latest beta test held this past weekend like thousands of you out there. But instead of providing readers with a stock standard preview or impressions piece, both myself and Jayden have combined our powers to present a discussion relating to our experience with the latest from The Elder Scrolls Online.

Daniel: It’s safe to say that the Elder Scrolls games have been a popular series over the years, even more so with the release of Skyrim in 2011. It seemed like gamers from all walks of life found enjoyment in Bethesda’s highly-detailed worlds. It’s no surprise then that once The Elder Scrolls Online was announced, fans old and new couldn’t wait to travel across Tamriel with their friends. Being an MMO, I think most people were a bit hesitant to see how Bethesda would transform a historically singleplayer experience into a multiplayer one. There’s no argument that the worlds created by Bethesda afford it, but I was a bit sceptical, expecting the game to lose some of it’s shine to accommodate an MMO experience. I’m happy to say that I was proven wrong here. It still feels like a lore-rich Elder Scrolls game, but with an added addition of being able to interact with people across the world.

Jayden: Indeed, at it’s core the game looks, feels and plays like an Elder Scrolls title. From the snowy mountains of Skyrim to the outlandish deserts of Hammerfell the world is populated with the beasts, structures, landscapes and people that make the Elder Scrolls lore so unique. Even in the very beginning, situated in Molag Bal’s Daedric Realm, other players pour through the dank dungeons alongside you, a constant stream of escapees to aid you in the fight against the hordes of daedra. It felt good to be surrounded by other players once you arrive in your chosen faction’s home province. It adds real life and a sense of business to the world, seeing such a diverse range of characters all hunting, questing and forging in the world around you. There’s a great spontaneity to be found when you see a group of enemies and without a word you and a few newfound companions are able to take them down utilising the various classes and abilities to dominate the field.

Daniel: That’s what the Elder Scrolls still retains. At the heart of the series, is creating a character to representing you in this great big world. You’re still able to customise a character to suit your tastes, and while it is nowhere near as deep as the previous Elder Scrolls titles, there is still a lot of sliders to play around with, which no doubt will have players spending the first hour or so perfecting their chosen character (I should know, as this happened to me).

Jayden: One of my favourite things about the Elder Scrolls stems from this idea of having your own, unique character. As a part of the in-game crafting system for weapons, robes and armor there is an option called “Style”. By finding lore books around the world you are able to craft items in the style of a race or culture found in Tamriel instead of the usual early game ‘steel’ or ‘leather’ armors, giving you a little extra personality and choice right from the word go. There are no restrictions in relation to styles going together. If you like the look of the Dunmer Cuirass you can craft that, then add Daedric greaves, Imperial pauldrons and dual wield some curved Redguard scimitars. Each of these pieces can then be improved and built upon so what once may have been early game armor can now become something that holds back the toughest of endgame enemies. It’s all about making your character as you want, then taking them out and exploring the world how you see fit.

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Daniel: And you’re given pretty much free reign to do things as you please. While as you said, everyone has to go through the obligatory ‘tutorial’ in the from of the prison in Oblivion, you’re then let loose into the world of Tamriel, depending on the race of your character. My Nord, The Hammer of Talos, belongs to the Ebonheart Pact, and begins his quest just off the coast of Skyrim. As you start to find your feet, you soon start to see players from across the world trudging across the land. After doing a few obligatory quests to open up the game’s backstory, I found my way to Morrowind. It is here the game really started to open up in my opinion. Not only are there more diverse quests, where you can pick and choose to undertake at your discretion, but your given information on your faction’s enemies, which filled with other players across the world, form the base for future PvP encounters. Just wandering around the town of Davon’s Watch, many people were doing things there own way. Some were questing, others were enchanting items, crafting armour and weapons, while others were experimenting with alchemy. It makes the world feel so much more immersive, how every Elder Scrolls world should be.

Jayden: Much like your Nord, my Breton Templar, a member of the Daggerfall Covenant, wound up in the city of Stros M’kai, a tropical oasis. After a similar amount of introductory questing I found myself on the Orcish isle Betnikh, where the game really does allow you to start your own journey. I played through the introductory story for both members of the Daggerfall Covenant and Aldmeri Dominion. Despite the basic introductory story similarities, it was quite a fun introduction to the faction you were about to become a part of. The characters you meet here are the ones that really shape the traditional Elder Scrolls world, managing to keep the story in the forefront of your character’s exploration and development without hindering the more open ended nature of the title.

Daniel: That’s another thing that surprised me. I was fortunate to play the game at E3 last year, and while I thought the characters we well voice-acted, they didn’t seem too fleshed out. Over the following months Bethesda have had developing ESO, I’m pleased to say that the characters have a bit more life now. While you can recognise some repeated voice actors, each character feels different, each going on with their daily routine. You can extend that to the world itself. From what I’ve seen, the world is quite beautiful and detailed. While ESO was never going to have as polished graphics as Skyrim (which some people absurdly thought), it’s definite adequate enough to make you remember journeying through the previous Elder Scroll lands of Skyrim and Morrowind.

Jayden: Too add to that, unlike in Skyrim, the combat has been dialled back a little from previous instalments. It was a little jittery and inaccurate in parts, but I assume that the overall control accuracy and movement will be polished a lot more in the final build. Using magic and abilities generally provided the most accurate and useful damage dealing, with area of effect attacks and guided attacks reliably hitting home. Dual wielding and melee works pretty well too, but blocking is generally not overly useful. Archery is the real hit and miss in the combat, with sneak attacks and proper aim rewarding the player with one hit kills. In open combat, however, it’s a little less reliable thanks to the beta being a little inaccurate with hit detection. Overall the combat and abilities, whilst being a little simplified for an MMO format, are still quite effective and fun, and will only get better in the final build.

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Daniel: I have to agree. I am playing as a Dragonknight, the Warrior class, and for the majority of the time it feels like all I have to do is keep swinging my sword until the enemy is dead. I never got anywhere close to being in any danger. There really was no incentive to use my unlocked abilities from levelling up, as my primary weapon was working too well. Overall though, I’ve been impressed with ESO. Although I feel like it would have been far better to showcase the PvP elements a little bit more. Hopefully in future Beta tests we’re able to dive right into that. If you had to pick one feature as a favourite so far in ESO, what would it be? For me it has to be the emotes. Silly little interactions that enables you to perform all sorts of actions in the world. I spent a good hour in the middle of Bal Foyen with my shirt off, doing jumping jacks and push ups. Needless to say, it wasn’t too long before I was joined by 20 other people.

Jayden: That’s what makes Elder Scrolls Online so great, the other players that populate the world. My favourite thing was the openness and diverseness of the world. You can keep walking and walking, past the story mission objectives, and you’ll keep finding side missions, players and exciting new sights and enemies. There’s just so much to see and do, and when you think you’ve found the end, there’s a whole new continent to continue into.

Daniel: That’s what will bring ESO to life, the ability to explore Tamriel. I think linking back to the previous games through stories and tales will make it feel like a huge, living breathing world. But it’s not without any faults. There were a few bugs to do with the UI, I’d be stuck in the Dialogue Menu with NPCs on a few occasions, which was only fixable by reloading the UI. While not game-breaking, it was still an annoyance. I was fortunate to not encounter anything harsher than that. I guess my least favourite feature is the sheer amount of people complaining in the side chat, but over time those people who simply jump online to flame the game will leave us Elder Scrolls fans to enjoy Tamriel ourselves.

Jayden: Once the game has been in the hands of the community for a little longer the developers should have enough feedback to fix the minor issues and bugs that have popped up in the beta. I too got stuck in a few menus and conversations, but found no other major issues. The Elder Scrolls Online’s Beta has only cemented my faith in the series. To have a chance to relive my experiences with the previous titles and revisit iconic locations all over Tamriel with a new character and new companions is very exciting. I cannot wait to get my hands on the final build of this game and just get lost in this diverse fantasy universe once more.

Daniel: It’s plain to see we think Bethesda are on the right path with ESO. While I have enjoyed my time so far with the Beta, I’m yet to be 100% committed. Certainly Bethesda have crafted a fantastic and deep world, and will continue to do so with continued testing and feedback, but I’m still waiting to hear the final word on their subscription model. I need justification on spending money for the game, plus a monthly fee. While interactions with other players have been fun, it’s more a question of asking myself whether I want to pay a monthly fee to experience the whole of Tamriel.

Jayden: It will be very interesting to see how the subscription will work on the Playstation 4 and Xbox One and how the accounts connect with the PC version. I’m pretty excited to see how the game progresses and develops up to release and how Bethesda will continue the Elder Scrolls Online universe in the future!

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Be sure to check out ESO’s official page to check out the latest on any future beta tests. The Elder Scrolls Online will be available on the 4/4/2014 on PC, with console releases to follow shortly after.

©2014 Daniel Geikowski

OXCGN’s Dead Space 3 Review


dead space 3 review

OXCGN’s Dead Space 3 Review

A ‘visceral’ stomp?

by Daniel Geikowski

©2013 Daniel Geikowski

dead space 3 3It seems that during the course of gaming, various trends come and go, much like everything nowadays.

Whether they are visual styles, aesthetics, themes, mechanics or gameplay styles, many publishers attempt to incorporate these current trends into their games and franchises, with mixed results.

The Darkness II altered its visual style from a realistic to cell-shaded effect, reminiscent of the game’s comic origins.

Splinter Cell: Conviction ditched its primary focus on stealth and silence, opting to turn to a more “Bourne-like” action theme.

dead space 3 screenshots oxcgn #1The Fallout series was originally a top-down RPG, however Bethesda mixed things up in Fallout 3 by utilising a first person perspective, used in titles such as Oblivion, and later Skyrim.

Some hit the jackpot, while others damage their franchises by incorporating something which feels seemingly out-of-place.

Dead Space 3 is no different.

Dead Space 3 review

Folsom Prison Blues: Gaming’s Greatest Prison Levels


Folsom Prison Blues

Gaming’s Greatest Prison Levels

by exterminat

©2012 Nicholas Laborde

When this time of year comes around, our thoughts begin to condense and our vision begins to narrow: E3 is right around the corner.

If we choose to come out of this daze, we may not enjoy the circumstances in which we may find ourselves, such as an annoyed OXCGN Editor in Chief demanding that I produce an article that isn’t a review.

My thoughts immediately read, “I feel as if I’m trapped inside a journalistic prison.” And then it hit me!

Here are, in no particular order, some of gaming’s best prison levels (also known as “Places I Hope To Never Visit”).

View the best of gaming’s worst…

QUAKECON® 2010 Announced For Dallas Texas 12th August


QUAKECON® 2010 12th – 15th August

After putting in a heroic effort at E3, where Bethesda’s excellent booth took out several awards, and showed off several of the show’s best games, they are at it again.

This time they are hosting the 2010 QUAKECON which is being held in Dallas Texas, on the 12th – 14th August inclusive.

And it’s FREE.

Yes-sir-ree-bob, it’s free people. So if you want to get down to Dallas Texas, around early to mid August, and want to partake in some serious gaming with fellow gamers from across the globe, then this will be the spot you’ll be wanting to rest your backside for the 4 full days of fun-n-games.

Yeehaaa, it’s time to head off to Texas boys-n-girls . . .

Game Narratives: Losing the Plot?


How interactivity can kill the narrative

by AXIS of Reality

©2010 Alex Baldwin

I like a good story. Something with characters I can relate to, genuine people with their own hopes, dreams and fear.

Something with a plot that twists and turns, surprising at every turn but always making sense. Something personal, as if it was constructed only for me and my unique journey through the game.

Something I will never see.

It’s a simple fact: the perfect narrative does not exist.

I can’t be anymore blunt than that. Try as I might, I have yet to find a game that can connect with me on all the levels.

A great story may fulfill one or two of the criteria, but it can never provide all due to the simple thing that separates games from passive media such film and novels. Games are interactive.

What drives you in a game . . . ?

What the hell is Hellion: More doom and gloom?


Sounds interesting-

If it avoids falling into the derivative abyss

by dkpatriarch

© 2010 David Hilton

Have you heard about the upcoming game Hellion: The Mystery of the Inquisition by Polish game-maker Flying Fish Works and to be released sometime later this year?  Probably not.

In fact I thought it was dead, like so many other independent studio games lately.

Apparently it is alive and well and the details we have of a medieval sword wielding Dominican Inquisitor battling in the 13th Century against the rising evil of heretics, possessed, witches, Templars, assassins, animals, demons (sigh) and zombies (double sigh) in a ‘historical fiction’ first person perspective hack ‘n slash have me both interested but also confused.

Game Style: Confusion #1

What I’ve seen of the game so far looks a bit like Oblivion and Dark Messiah but the game will have more timing based hack n’ slash qualities of the action-oriented titles, complete with third person view finishing moves.

So there will be 1st person perspective, RPG elements, and a focus on hack ‘n slash. That sounds good actually. If it works. Continue reading What the hell is Hellion: More doom and gloom?

Gaming’s Most Original Soundtracks Of The Decade


by Axis Of Reality

© 2010 Alex Baldwin – Features Editor

We’re only a few days into the second decade of the new millenium. To celebrate what has arguably seen gaming take over as the dominant entertainment medium, I thought it appropriate to honour one of the most overlooked elements of games that has seen tremendous growth in recent year: its soundtrack.

Specifically, games with original soundtracks (that is, not licensed music) composed around the gameplay and events. These are often later released as full albums.

While there have been many amazing soundscapes created for games both big and small, I’ll be covering some of the most noteworthy in various game genres including what is my pick of the best this decade has produced.

Come check out the huge list of Soundtracks Of The Decade . . . >

Old Games: Should Downloadable Content Be Free?


Old Games: Should Downloadable Content Be Free?

by dkpatriarch

© 2009 David Hilton

I would love to see sales figures for downloadable content for games that were released 1-3 years ago.  Some of this content hasn’t ever changed in price and competes with new release games’ downloadable maps and features.

Old Game Content Should Be Free

In a world where everything, including the retail games themselves, depreciates does this make any sense?

No it doesn’t.

But of course those in charge are certainly not obligated to lower prices or, even better, make the added content for older games free.  But it would be both logical and, well, nice.
More free content here . . . >