Weekly Screenshot – First Person Combat

This week, it’s lucky number six in our weekly screenshot dissection series. Every week I meander through the wilderness of ESO video footage to pick the most interesting single screen capture I can find, breaking it down to provoke community discussion! This week gives us an initial look at the implementation of first person combat in Elder Scrolls Online.

First Person Dwemer Spiders

While the fidelity of this image may not be as high as it’s ancestors in this series, it’s significance should not be understated for a large portion of Elder Scrolls fans. The immersive first-person interface and control scheme is a major selling point of the franchise, and it’s original omission from Elder Scrolls Online was enough to get the fan community up in arms. The folks at ZeniMax were able to conjure up a compromise between their internal design requirements and the desire to have a fully functional first person view in the game. Their artists and animators have been working hard to adapt the game’s items and attacks to look fluid and realistic in first person view. This still image stolen from a few seconds of The Escapists interview with Paul Sage depicts one of the first samples of their progress.

This screenshot displays a player in the heat of combat with two Dwemer Spiders. These mechanical sentries prowl the hallways of ancient Dwarven ruins, automated to defend against intruders of all sorts. I selected this particular frame out of a number of possibilities as it demonstrates a few interesting features of the Elder Scrolls combat system. First, we see that the player is wielding a one handed mace and shield. This allows him to take advantage of special weapon attacks in the “sword and board” skill tree. In addition to the weapon attacks available to the player based on their current weapon set, you are able to cast a variety of deadly spells while simultaneously wielding your weapons in combat. As demonstrated in this screenshot, the player is in the midst of hurling a magical projectile at the closest spider, while it returns the favor by electrocuting our hero.

We can see two other Dwemer constructs in the background. It is difficult to make out, but a centurion sphere advances through a gap in the stone wall towards the rear of the picture. In the more immediate vicinity, a second spider construct starts to “supercharge”, surrounding itself with a electrified sphere of energy. This is a great example of one of the many synergies which enemy groups will utilize against the player in ESO. When a Dwemer Spider deploys a charge field, other constructs in the area can enter the area and become supercharged, gaining increased speed and damage. As an additional hazard, if a supercharged construct is slain, it’s remains will explode! The only safe way to combat these foes is to prevent constructs from obtaining this charge in the first place!

The artists at ZeniMax are still working on developing high-definition textures for hands, gloves, weapons, and objects to accommodate the changed perspective. Hopefully their hard work will pay off with a rewarding first person experience that has the potential to redefine the way gamers think about MMOs. For years the industry standard for MMO gaming has been a third person, over-the-shoulder perspective accompanied by an busy user-interface. Could ESO’s first person gameplay and minimalist UI be successful enough to change people’s minds regarding the fundamental nature of MMOs? Let us know what you think about this week’s screenshot, and the potential for first-person gameplay in the comments below!