PAX Day One Recap

Day one of PAX East has come and gone, and while most of it was spent surveying the general offerings of the show, it did reveal some interesting details regarding The Elder Scrolls Online.

The ZeniMax Booth

ESO Pax Booth

The ZeniMax Booth

The Elder Scrolls Online had one of the more impressive booth setups in the expo hall. They occupy three exhibitor slots, with a screened-off gameplay area which rotated players through for fifteen minute hands-on play-tests. The public demo allowed players to go through character creation, choosing either Templar, Dragonknight, or Sorcerer. Their character was automatically created at level 5 with some “veteran gear” and given free license to roam the High Rock countryside. Due to the brevity of the sessions, most visitors contented themselves with simply trying out the combat system. While I also was eager to check out some of the new mechanics since my last visit, I spent a majority of my own mini-playtest investigating skill trees and game configuration options. My main hands-on time is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, which will allow me to provide some much more detailed analysis of new gameplay features, however, some things did pop out immediately during today’s appetizer.

  • The new character advancement system was viewable in game, featuring spec-able skill lines along 6 weapon paths, three armor types, and three class trees. Additionally, Lead Gameplay Designer Nick Konkle who was on hand confirmed that a wide range of additional skill lines will also make an appearance, most notably of which are unique racial progression. This adds another facet to advancement and keeps ESO in the tradition of having racial choice be a meaningful first step in character development. He also hinted that AvA progression would feature not just one, but three separate skill trees as players improve their Alliance Rank through AvA combat.
  • The UI settings allowed fine tuning of a lot of interface options, including the display settings for friendly and enemy nameplates, quest markers, UI tooltips, and scrolling combat text. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this interface element from  past MMOs, scrolling combat text are floating numerical representations of damage dealt and other status effects like stuns, disrupts, or knockdowns.
  • There is an impressive variety of emotes in the game, including many varieties of /dance, as well as a bunch of maneuvers which should serve as infuriating ways to taunt your enemies after killing them in AvA, /pushup for example.
  • Combat dodging and disruption mechanics were added and felt very fuild. Double tapping a movement key would send my character into a dodge roll. The controls felt very responsive and useful in combat, although it drained a considerable amount of stamina.
ESO Food Truck

Food Truckin…

Food Truck

Fizzle, Byronyk, and I headed down to the ESO Food Truck to grab some lunch. The food was surprisingly good, although it was essentially just grilled cheese with dipping sauce and chips. There were also plenty of ESO devs on hand to chat with.

I joked with the devs that I was going to record the house/trance music that was blaring in the background and troll the TF community by claiming it was authentic in-game tavern music being played at the food truck…but ultimately I knew someone would actually believe me and cause a panic.

Future of Online Gaming Panel

The final Elder Scrolls Online related activity for the day involved listening to Matt Firor and his contribution to MMORPG’s Future of Online Gaming panel. The panel itself was all a bit politically correct. The panelists (all leaders of forthcoming MMO development studios) did their best to promote their own products without being too aggressive or disparaging towards their competitors. Matt Firor’s comments were all pretty sanitary, and didn’t really give much away about ESO. The good news is we got to chat with Matt a bit after the panel and we got discussed (briefly) the issue of endgame PvE with him.

Welcome to PAX

The future is…now?

When asked about his vision for raids and PvE endgame in ESO he explained the controversial IGN quote by recognizing that World of Warcraft is the best in the business at constructing competitive progression raiding. ZeniMax doesn’t want to become embroiled in a struggle to out-do WoW at it’s own game, and would rather develop it’s own brand of large group PvE which fits the Elder Scrolls context. Most WoW-style raids involve 20+ players hacking away gleefully at the ankles of a much larger foe, when Matt Firor claimed “That’s not Elder Scrolls” it was this type of confrontation in particular to which he was referring.  The developers at ZeniMax would rather pit a group of players against a much larger force of threatening NPCs to emphasize that heroic feel which is latent throughout the Elder Scrolls series. While nothing explicit is confirmed, it does sound like adventure zones are definitely penciled in as post-launch content. Hopefully there is at least one such epic endgame PvE encounter in the original launch version of the game, but if not, I hope we can look forward to adventure zones shortly after launch as a good compromise for  players which crave large group PvE endgame. We should have a better opportunity to talk to Matt further tomorrow afternoon, so I’m hopeful that we can get more juicy details then!

Further Thoughts – Fizzle

We had a great time playing the game today and checking out the rest of PAX. The ZOS team has done a great job with their booth; resulting in a line to get in that faded off in to the distance. Some interesting things I noticed today during the play-through were a really robust character creation system that allowed you to customize a character to extremes without requiring spending a ton of time to do it. A second noteworthy point was when we were able to get Matt Firor aside for a moment after the MMORPG’s Future of Online Gaming panel he confirmed that players will be able to distinguish progression of players through raid content and that there will be plenty of long-term goals to focus on regarding PvE. Overall day 1 was great and we’ll learn more in the next two days.

Further Thoughts – Byronyk

Byronyk's Highlight of the Day

Byronyk’s Highlight of the Day

This was my first appearance at a PAX convention — I was not disappointed. The atmosphere of gamers and exhibitors drew a picture of the young and old, the themepark and the sandbox, the Call of Duty player and the Dungeons and Dragons players. PAX is one place you can go where gamers are void of dispassionate internet rhetoric. This was no different with the developers of The Elder Scrolls Online. Of anything I brought away today from PAX East, it was getting a chance to speak — multiple times — to a myriad of developers and community staff of The Elder Scrolls Online. While either at the ESO Food Truck, the Bethesda booth play area, or at the Future of MMO Gaming panel with Matt Firor, the staff of Zenimax was there. They were down to earth and some of the most friendly game developers I have met (I have met many).

A highlight of my day was hands-down the 15~ minutes of playtime in The Elder Scrolls Online. I froze my ass off in the snow, waiting hours in line, but you know Tamriel Foundry was there to test the new Blizzard trading card game Hearthst…. haha, got you! I got to play a level 6 Templar today! How about I rapid fire some facts to you guys?

  • Scrolling Combat Text (UI Option)
  • AoE Looting (UI Option)
  • Insane Character Creation Customization
  • Full Armor/Ability/Weapon Talent Trees

I am a very critical reviewer and it’s difficult to impress me (see: Raids). That being said, I was very impressed with the state of ESO from my brief playtime. From a min/maxer and Elder Scrolls fan perspective, the game is really shaping up to be the MMO of 2013. You guys are going to have to wait till a future podcast to get our full views on the game (That and I have a 2 hour play test on Saturday instead of just 15 minutes), but it will be worth the wait. Thanks for all your patience!

120 responses to “PAX Day One Recap”

  1. Profile Photo
    Xaroc

    Novice

    Total Posts: 12

    Nord

    Nice!! Thanks for the info.

  2. Profile Photo
    Tribe

    Expert

    Total Posts: 442

    “screened-off gameplay area”

    I take it that ZOS discouraged filming your own gameplay?

  3. Profile Photo
    Xaroc

    Novice

    Total Posts: 12

    Nord

    “Thanks for all your patients!”  Looks like you messed up there at the end man.

  4. Profile Photo
    Bromjunaar

    Master

    Total Posts: 622

    Nord Dragonknight

    Blood Of The North

    As many skill tree lines as they are going to have and with all of the customization options they are going to have with that, I hope the interface for dealing with all of that is nice to look at and use.

  5. Profile Photo
    Tarkus Black

    Adept

    Total Posts: 171

    Nord Nightblade

    Thanks for the Coverage guys, makes me all the more excited for ESO. Cant wait to hear what you have to say after tomorrow.

    Blood type: O negative

                                    - good to have around eh?

  6. Profile Photo
    gtox

    Grandmaster

    Total Posts: 1804

    Breton Nightblade

    When asked about his vision for raids and PvE endgame in ESO he explained the controversial IGN quote by recognizing that World of Warcraft is the best in the business at constructing competitive progression raiding. ZeniMax doesn’t want to become embroiled in a struggle to out-do WoW at it’s own game, and would rather develop it’s own brand of large group PvE which fits the Elder Scrolls context. Most WoW-style raids involve 20+ players hacking away gleefully at the ankles of a much larger foe, when Matt Firor claimed “That’s not Elder Scrolls” it was this type of confrontation in particular to which he was referring.  The developers at ZeniMax would rather pit a group of players against a much larger force of threatening NPCs to emphasize that heroic feel which is latent throughout the Elder Scrolls series. While nothing explicit is confirmed, it does sound like adventure zones are definitely penciled in as post-launch content. Hopefully there is at least one such epic endgame PvE encounter in the original launch version of the game, but if not, I hope we can look forward to adventure zones shortly after launch as a good compromise for  players which crave large group PvE endgame.

    I can’t help but to feel like this is a huge “told you so” from those of us who claimed from the start that the quote was intentionally misleading, either from IGN or ZOS.

    I am glad that they are choosing to go this route; I don’t remember seeing any 100 foot tall monsters in TES, so it makes sense that they would choose to have us “raid” large groups of enemies in a massive skirmish instead of cleaning the toe nails of a gigantic monster.

    While either at the ESO Food Truck, the Bethesda booth play area, or at the Future of MMO Gaming panel with Matt Firor, the staff of Zenimax was there. They were down to earth and some of the most friendly game developers I have met (I have met many).

    This is good to hear.  Rather than this being indicative of simply professionals putting on their best face, I hope that this is a sign of developers that truly love their job and are dedicated to their fans.

     

    Byronyk's Highlight of the Day

    Clearly Byronyk was confused when you guys told him to bring his suit..

    .. and lastly, “Thanks for all your patients!”  Your welcome, though I have to tell you… I am not a licensed doctor.  That quote made me laugh out loud.  Good times.

    Thanks for all the hard work guys, and we look forward to seeing more in the coming days.

  7. Member Avatar
    Hwrath

    Master

    Total Posts: 780

    Good info! Looking forward to your thoughts after you guys get two hours with the game.

     

     

  8. Profile Photo
    GrisNaught

    Novice

    Total Posts: 24

    Breton Sorcerer

    Great to hear what you guys think of the game after having gotten at least some hands-on time with it. Can’t wait to hear what you bring us from the 2hour play test tomorrow.

  9. Profile Photo
    Rifkis

    Scamp

    Total Posts: 8

    Nord Dragonknight

    Glad to see that an endgame progression system is hopefully still in the cards. Also, as a fellow min/maxer, hearing from Byronyk that ESO seems like the MMO of 2013 just puts a lot of my personal reservations about the game to rest. Can’t wait to read more tomorrow. Excellent post.

  10. Profile Photo
    Morkulth

    Expert

    Total Posts: 425

    Altmer Sorcerer

    Entropy Rising

    So PvE Raid content will be constant groups of little mobs IE trash mobs from the instance… Different….

  11. Profile Photo
    Phoenix

    Adept

    Total Posts: 116

    Dunmer Dragonknight

    Thanks for the info! Definitely looking forward to your next update! If I’m unable to get a beta invite I’m eagerly waiting for PAX Prime to come to town (I live in Seattle) to get a taste of this!

    ”I’m Batman”

     

  12. Profile Photo
    Saint Walker

    Novice

    Total Posts: 17

    Dunmer

    Without trying to sound like a suckup,  this is a great write up. This site is freakin awesome.

     

    Nicely done guys, please keep up the good work. A good array of info, a bunch of stuff ‘other’ sites totally and completely missed…

     

     

    All Will Be Well…………..

  13. Profile Photo
    Saint Walker

    Novice

    Total Posts: 17

    Dunmer

    Oh guys please comment on the combat….

     

    Is the skill animations/particle effects done well? Is the combat fluid? Do the animations ‘feel’ powerful? When a fireball/whatever hits its target, does it EXPLODE (sound) strong? When you bash someone over the head with a sword/axe, does it feel like your smacking the shit out of them? Does the sound effect support the animation?

     

     

    Hate to go there, but WoW did this very good. When a mage casts a fireball, the windup looks/feels great. When it hits an object, and you hear the explosion, see the effect, it feels powerful.

     

    How did you guys feel about those things?

    All Will Be Well…………..

  14. Profile Photo
    Saint Walker

    Novice

    Total Posts: 17

    Dunmer

    Um last thing, promise lol………

     

    Can you guys ask about the achievements/leaderboard rankings?   Are they indepth? What are they planning to have? Will it show kills, deathblows, kill/death ratio? Stuff like that….

     

    Warhammer did this extremely well, as did AION and AoC…. I love those types of statistics, and it adds to content very cheaply and easily..

     

    Hopefully you guys read this and can get a few questions in about it?

     

    /fingers crossed

    All Will Be Well…………..

  15. Profile Photo
    Reach

    Apprentice

    Total Posts: 44

    Bosmer Nightblade

    Great bunch of info guys, keep it coming. Wish i was at PAX but you know…cash…anyway enjoy yourselves and report for us  :3

    Join The Order of Aeternus! We are a kind and friendly RP guild!

    ~Visit our site take a look around if you like it then stay a while and maybe even join our ranks~

    http://www.OrderofAeternus.guildlaunch.com

  16. Profile Photo
    Aillorian

    Adept

    Total Posts: 102

    Imperial Nightblade

    Thanks for the info, wish I could have been there this year :(

  17. Profile Photo
    Brisingr

    Scamp

    Total Posts: 6

    Orc

    Thank you very much for this info!

    Really wish I could have been there too…

    ”Let us spare the lives of a few, so that they may return to their homelands to tell their fellows the fate they met at the hands of the Daggerfall Covenant!” – High King Emeric

     

    ”My world had been shattered. Without purpose I wandered, without hope I drifted; unable to wield a sword or swing an axe. I lost my faith in the people of Nirn, yet when they found me, I knew I could fight again. My faith had been restored, and my purpose clear to me.” – Brisingr

  18. Profile Photo
    Braxx

    Adept

    Total Posts: 140

    Aldmeri Sorcerer

    Pantheon

    Looks like trash mobs could be somthing of the past with TESO.

  19. Member Avatar
    Kades

    Scamp

    Total Posts: 9

    Great write-up, mates. Thank you.

     

    Sounds like endgame PVE is there for sure. It’ll be a change to be fighting larger groups rather than a “boss” but this will not necessarily make it worse… just different. It might even re-emphasise CC, debuffing and positioning. It will certainly make tanking more interesting.

     

    Can’t wait for the next installment.

  20. Profile Photo
    Jaelin

    Expert

    Total Posts: 382

    Imperial Nightblade

    I am really concerned that the statement “that’s not Elder Scrolls” is the same as what was heard before SWTOR, except it was “that’s not Star Wars” at that point. To hear very similar things said raises concerns.

    Also, if its not too much of a problem, can you identify the class skill lines for the different classes, particularly the Templar which I have not seen even the names of the three class skill lines.

    Can you also check if the racial skill lines are in play and if so, check what they are?

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