The Elder Scrolls: The Issue of Class

The Elder Scrolls: The Issue of Class

As a massive Elder Scrolls fan, I find myself listening to numerous Elder Scrolls themed podcasts (shout out to Elder Scrolls Off the Record, check them out http://www.elderscrollsofftherecord.com) and one of the common topics of late has been regarding that of how classes are portrayed in the series and what approach the next game in The Elder Scrolls universe should take.

To approach this question I will briefly explain the approach of the previous three TES games (TESO, Skyrim, and Oblivion) and discuss how the next game would be best off using certain elements within those approaches. On the whole there tend to be two sides to this debate, one side that argues a lack of classes allows a degree of freedom that simply isn’t possible for the player if classes are forced upon them, the other believing that classes give a template for the player to follow through the game allowing for better roleplay opportunities and helping the player learn the ropes of what can be an overwhelmingly large game if left to one’s one devices.

Let’s start with Skyrim, the game with arguably the most different approach to classes for an Elder Scrolls game, by virtue of the fact it completely lacks classes. Whilst this left the class style very much up to the imagination of the player, it allowed us to change how out character played throughout the game without fear of no longer levelling up or being punished for using magic when our character primarily focusses on melee. However this approach did take an element of bring the character from your head into the world, out of the game. If your character was a paladin, Skyrim wouldn’t recognise that, the world wouldn’t recognise it and that ultimately was detrimental for the hardcore roleplayers in the game.

Oblivion took a more rigid approach to classes, with numerous options for you to choose from and even to create your own. The class was build with primary and secondary skills which immediately gave a bonus to those skills and also helped your core character traits like strength, speed, endurance, luck etc. This allowed the player to really think about the character they wanted to play as and immediately pushed them into a roleplaying mindset which ultimate for an RPG makes it a better game experience. The downside was that your character would only level up through use of your primary skills. If you didn’t select Marksman, tough luck you better not use a bow and arrow because it won’t help your character progress. This led me, and others, to constantly re-make characters and meant exploring the world became a chore as many aspects of it would have to be done over and over with new characters. Fortunately enough, I loved every second of Oblivion so this wasn’t too much bother for me, but I know of others who have found it to completely end their interest in the game, which is a massive shame given the depth there is to explore in Oblivion.

Thirdly we have the Elder Scrolls Online’s method of dealing with classes. I’ll state it now, in my opinion is does the worst job of the three regarding classes but that doesn’t mean there aren’t elements within it’s systems that the next Elder Scrolls game shouldn’t look at including in the next entry to the series. Elder Scrolls Online limits you to just 4 classes and whilst the skills that the player has available to them is vastly different then in the single player series there is something worth taking note of. The unique skills that each class has is one of the finest additions that the ESO brings to the table and is something that could really benefit the single player series in a way to bring classes back without infringing on the free levelling that Skyrim introduced.

In the next Elder Scrolls game I would like to see elements from each of these three brought together. Bringing back the class options of Oblivion and even having those primary and secondary skills. However allowing the secondary skills to contribute to your overall level just like all skills in Skyrim do. The perk system of Skyrim also needs to be included but with the edition of unique class perks like we see in Elder Scrolls Online. I feel this would create a well rounded class and level system in the game that is more inclusive to roleplayers and makes the player really create a character, but also allowing the freedom for the player to adapt to the game making use of all the skills at their hands rather than just using the ones that would help their level as was the case in Oblivion.

What do you guys think? what would you like to see in regards to classes and skills in the next Elder Scrolls game?

Any feedback would be really appreciated as would sharing the article or following the blog or my social media.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Daily Gaming News – 31 July 2015 – PS4 outselling PS2, Battlefield Out 2016

The two quick snippets of news from today I have for you are regarding the PS4’s continued selling incredible numbers and the next Battlefield game being confirmed for 2016 by EA.

It was reported yesterday that the PS4 sales had passed 25 million. Whilst this news in of itself I found uninteresting, yeah we get it the PS4 is selling a lot, I feel numbers for numbers sake don’t mean a lot unless you’re an investor, for gamers it doesn’t really make a difference. So long as it’s selling well enough that it will be supported well we really shouldn’t care. However, the fact that the PS4 is still currently on pace to outsell the PS4 does show how healthy the industry is at this point for consoles, all this despite the fact there are still very few good exclusives for PS4 it still seems to be blowing away the competition. However things could change this winter with basically all the exclusives being that of Xbox’s it is plausible that it could catch up the PS4 with the help of good Christmas sales. PlayStation’s success has been undeniably impressive thus far, but I believe stronger Xbox sales will be to the benefit of all. It will push PlayStation to be better. Having Xbox and PlayStation really competing for our money means a better product for us all.

In other news it looks like we will be seeing a new Battlefield game in 2016. EA announced the news at an investor call, because that’s how you announced a video game ladies and gents! The news was later confirmed by Blake Jorgensen the CFO of EA. Whilst there was a Battlefield game released last year, the ever so slightly underwhelming Battlefield: Hardline, that was made by Visceral and not Dice which according to EA proves the franchise hasn’t become annualised… despite the fact that Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty also do the same thing yet are readily accepted as annualised franchises. Okay I’m harping on about it a bit, annualisation isn’t always a bad thing so long as the games remain of a high quality and it helps developers and publishers experiment more with other games in development when they can rely on a good income from some of their top franchises. However we have seen significant burn out for both CoD and AC in comparison to games like GTA which showed the benefits of long development cycles without forcing a franchise to market every year. To be honest a new Battlefield might not be a bad thing so long as it can wipe away the bitter taste left behind from Battlefield 4 and Hardline, but I do believe the annualisation of the series would prove to be a mistake from EA and would plateau the sales for Battlefield rather than help it. For the series to grow and to readily compete with Call of Duty it needs to be it’s own beast and I think long development cycles and letting fans grow a hunger for a new game would be the best way for EA to play things.

So that’s a quick look at today’s news for you guys and girls, as ever if you have any feedback please comment below.

This weekend I am hoping to have an article up discussing classes in The Elder Scrolls series and how the next game should approach the topic, so be sure to check that out.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Three Things Elder Scrolls Online Should Do To Improve

None of the news that came out today particularly captured my imagination and instead of just writing a bare bones information piece on whatever I could I decided to do something I could put my heart into a little more for today’s piece.

As you will know if you follow me on social media; @seanmobsby (nothing wrong with a self promotion right?) I have been playing a lot of The Elder Scrolls Online on the PS4. Now the game is an MMO and I would be straight up lying to you if I claimed to be some sort of fan of multiplayer games, so for this list I will try and avoid the aspects of the game that can be linked back to the MMO side of things due to my inherent prejudices against them for simply being what they are. So without further a due here is the three things that Elder Scrolls Online can do to become a better and more complete experience.

The first thing I will bring up is the distinct lack of traditional Elder Scrolls skills being available to players. Visually and even to a degree combat holds true to the values of The Elder Scrolls series yet the meat behind what makes the characters unique is largely left up to the imagination. Sure many games do this and it isn’t inherently a bad thing but I feel the skills should be more varied to allow us to really roleplay the character in the game and not just in our heads, even if ultimately useless to gameplay. Different kind of magics, speechcraft, stealth and plenty other traditional skills are missing, and whilst their loss is off-set slightly by the magnificent guild skill lines, it still feels kind of lacking in that department.

The second is books around the world being impossible to read. Many Elder Scrolls hardcore will agree with me in saying that the reading of lore books in the series is a central dynamic to the series and one that is tragically under utilised in the current game. Whilst having a easy to look up library of some tomes is appreciated and really fucking helpful in contrast to previous games, it is still impossible to read other non-collectible books in the world when half of them are in PvE areas with the game not pausing whilst you read. It sucks, and makes you wonder why they bothered in the first place when it is nigh on impossible to read these books in the moment or later in the game, as they’re not collectable.

Finally, viewing items and player accommodation. Okay is two points, are you really complaining? They are quick ones though. It’s impossible to see what items look like until  they’re equipped and for weapons that means equipping, closing, drawing weapon, opening, equipping. That breaks up play too much, give us a Skyrim or Oblivion style, in fact I would love to see an Oblivion style UI in general with all of the stuff we do in game kept in a journal for us to read in game. For social butterflies such as myself (said with my brilliant British sarcasm) this isn’t a problem, but player housing where we can escape from all the multiplayer stuff and maybe have a few bits and bobs to do on our own such as training and tutorials would be so cool and help convince other players like me that this game is as much for single player Elder Scrolls fans as it is for MMO fans.

So thanks for reading guys and girls! Will try give you a more news based post tomorrow but that is dependent on the news I’m afraid 🙂

Daily Gaming News – 29 July 2015 – WiiU reaches 10 Million Sales, PS+ for August Announced

My apologies if this post ends up being a short one. I am pushing this in before I install the recently released Windows 10 on my laptop.

The first bit of news that caught my eye today was the announcement that Nintendo’s, let’s be honest, failing console has finally hit 10 million units sold after both Xbox One and PS4 reached this total a long while ago despite WiiU’s considerable head start. Whilst the games on WiiU have been solid it has been clear that is has been unable to appeal to either the core gamer or the casual market and is being merely kept relevant by the Nintendo faithful, a group that grows smaller every year. The games on WiiU whilst not bad haven’t been able to change things but they have enabled the console to reach the 10 million mark largely in thanks to the incredible success of Splatoon which is reached around 1.6 million sales itself. To put things in perspective PS4 has sold over 23 million and Xbox One has sold nearly 13 million consoles to this point which shows how far behind WiiU is and also how far ahead PS4 is. The Gamecube, whilst universally adored, was probably the most famous failure of a console and that even reached 22 million sales in its life time. However it seems futile to compare the WiiU and the other current generation consoles simply because Nintendo has for a long time, for better or worse, done things its own way and seeks its own market as opposed to being direct competition with PlayStation and Xbox. With the Nintendo NX details approaching in 2016 it will be interesting to see and assess the direction that Nintendo takes considering the total lack of commercial success the WiiU has had.

Call me a fanboy, but PlayStation plus is fucking awesome. Yeah it sucks that the online play on PS4 is now locked behind the PS+ wall but on the flip-side is has opened up the incredible value of the monthly free games. Whilst there have been less AAA games provided during the PS4 era, for the simple reason that there aren’t that many about, the indie games have picked up the slack and if you haven’t checked out some of the awesome games provided well I suggest you start now. August will provide four games for PlaySation 4, this seems to be a trend now after it was introduced last month. The games on offer are Lara Croft: Temple of Osiris for PS4, God of War Ascension for PS3, Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones for PS4, PS3 and PS Vita, CastleStorm for PS3 and PS Vita, Sound Shapes for PS4, PS3 and PS Vita, and Limbo for PS4. Last months games will be leaving with the above’s arrival so better download them now if you want them. As for August’s games there is a nice selection with a fair degree of variety there for your tastes so get downloading guys and girls!

So that’s it for today’s quick post on news, now onto installing Windows 10. Let me know your thoughts in the comments, advice would also be welcome.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Daily Gaming News – 28 July 2015 – Bethesda: Fallout 4 “Basically Done” Before Announcement, Dragon Quest the first title announced for Nintendo NX

Daily Gaming News – 28 July 2015 – Bethesda: Fallout 4 “Basically Done” Before Announcement, Dragon Quest the first title announced for Nintendo NX

Today Gamespot published an article regarding an interview with Pete Hines of Bethesda who develop beloved franchises such as The Elder Scrolls and the recently announce Fallout 4. One key quote from the interview was that prior to the announcement of Fallout 4 the week before E3 2015 the game in terms of features was “basically done” and this got my brain ticking about the benefits of leaving an announcement to the late stages of development.

On the one hand there are benefits to announcing earlier such as the satisfying of loyal fans that the company is working on a new title and also allows the developer to implement features suggested by its core audience. But this tactic does have draw backs as seen in the two examples that I have for you. One being that the game being delayed is obvious and makes customers suspicious of what the final product will be, on the whole The Last Guardian has avoided the latter part and has somehow turned its development mess into increased hype for the game. The second being promises that can’t be kept as we saw with the ending of Mass Effect 3 where lead producer Casey Hudson promised a great deal more endings than we actually received adding more fuel to the fire of the incredible backlash that game and developer BioWare received.

On the whole I see positives in both methods but think that it is probably in the companies best interest to announce later in the development cycle and also means less cinematic trailers as there is no excuse to have something that’s not the full representation of the product as we saw being an issue with Ubisoft’s highly anticipated and highly disappointing Watch Dogs.

However this means we’re unlikely to hear about a new Elder Scrolls game until about 2019. Shit.

In other news we have our first announced Nintendo NX games. Dragon Quest 10 & 11 were officialy announced by Square Enix earlier and will be coming to Nintendo NX, alongside releases for PS4 and 3DS. Whilst we know next to nothing about Nintendo’s next gaming system. There’s no news as of yet as to when it will be arriving in the west. Dragon Quest 11 will be coming to PS4 as an MMO in an open world setting. Square Enix and Orca are developing the game using the Unreal Engine 4. The 3DS will have a different version that makes use of the dual screen with a 2D and 3D option to choose between in game. No release date as of yet but in all likelyhood we’re looking at a release date to work in tandem with the series’ 30th anniversary next year.

There was a lot more stuff today but I want to try keep these daily posts short and sweet so I settled on a top two. Let me know what you guys think about either of these stories or the series in general.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Daily Gaming News – 27 July 2015 – Vulnerable Steam Accounts, Terminator in WWE 2K16

Daily Gaming News – 27 July 2015 – Vulnerable Steam Accounts, Terminator in WWE 2K16

So this is hopefully the start of a new series where, after work, I will attempt to provide a quick daily update on any gaming news that has piqued my interest.

Today I will start off with the news that a number of Steam accounts may have been vulnerable to hijacking due to a bug regarding the resetting of an accounts forgotten password. The reports tell us that an account could be hacked into with nothing more than a Username last week due to a loophole that enabled the emailed code for verifying the account could be left blank and simply by pressing continue the hacker could access the account with a new password of their choosing. According to Valve the security issue has been fixed however it is looking as if the bug was impacting accounts throughout last week.

Kotaku were informed by Valve that that it is “resetting passwords on accounts with suspicious password changes during that period.”

“Please note that while an account password was potentially modified during this period the password itself was not revealed,”

“Also, if Steam Guard was enabled, the account was protected from unauthorized logins even if the password was modified.”

Whilst the likelyhood of any of our accounts being affected is slim, it still has to be worrying that such a simple thing could leave our accounts exposed for even a brief window. It’s probably nothing to worry about but if you think your account may have been a victim it would be best to contact Valve straight away. Hopefully this won’t happen again but it does prove the value of systems like Steam Guard, and if you don’t have it implemented already maybe this might change your mind. Either way, don’t let it happen again Valve.

The second piece of news circling the internet today was the news that Arnold Schwazenegger’s Terminator would feature as a playable character in WWE 2K16. I used to play every WWE game until recently, I have been unable to adapt from THQs to 2Ks versions of the game, but one has to wonder about the timing. It’s as if WWE is using this to distract from the drama surrounding them and Hulk Hogan. Nonetheless it’s a cool little feature that could be a recurring aspect to the games in the future, adding other film characters or actors etc.

What are your thoughts on the above news? also I’d love to hear your feedback on this daily news feature.

The Elder Scrolls Online First Impressions (PS4)

The Elder Scrolls Online First Impressions (PS4)

As a gamer, my passion for video games can be traced back to the Elder Scrolls games as the series that ignited my interest in video games. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was the first game I played that I became utterly enamoured with. After playing it for the first time, on my younger brother’s PlayStation 3, I was left astounded from the moment the game opened up from the sewer exit. Whilst I was originally drawn to the game for its character creation, I discovered a whole organism of a video game that left me in love with every aspect of it. It made me move on from my old PlayStation 2 and embrace a new era of video games from which I would discover franchises like Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed. From these my passion for video games exploded into life amassing a collection of over 300 PlayStation 3 games. So it would be a fair assessment to credit the Elder Scrolls series to video games turning into my passion. Putting it bluntly, I fucking love the Elder Scrolls, listening to countless podcasts to get me through work, constantly imagining new characters to build, trying to decipher lore of the series and creating theories for where the future games will take us.

Contrast the above with the one genre I have never been able to adapt to; MMOs. I hate MMOs. Not because they are inherently bad games, I have enjoyed MMOs as purely video games (I fucking love Destiny at times) but my defining characteristic as a person, if you ask my friends, would be my absolute intolerance to other people. Real life is a struggle enough, but for me video games are sacred and the intrusion of other people desecrating my passion, taking me out of the world I love and forcing me into the world I despise negates all of the positive aspects of MMOs I have played before.

However, The Elder Scrolls is something special for me. With over 3000 hours in both Oblivion and Skyrim, and having watched countless Let’s Plays and streams of the previous games, it would be a fair assumption to make that if any MMO could change the tune, surely it would be The Elder Scrolls. So I jump into The Elder Scrolls Online full of hope, but with the apprehension that my holy grail series could be tainted forever if this little experiment were to fail. So, enough with the backstory, onwards with the quest, and welcome to my first impressions of The Elder Scrolls Online (insert heroic Elder Scrolls like music.)

The game is split into three factions and eight races (nine if you include the Imperial race that’s available with certain editions of TESO). The character creation is fantastic, the best the series has provided yet. It has a number of voices for your character to choose from and an increased degree of customisation for the body including height and a more robust customisation of limbs and body part sizes and styles. Facial customisation in TESO is easier than in Skyrim or Oblivion and creates a nicer final avatar for character although there doesn’t seem to be as much variety. You will certainly come across a fair few characters who look like your own. Nonetheless the character creation is stellar and was an encouraging way to start the game, helping to settle into the idea of this being another Elder Scrolls game.

On the surface the gameplay is recognisable to those who are familiar with the Elder Scrolls with a number of changes to make it more suitable for that of an MMO. However this is due to the iconic altering between first and third person returning and is a vital edition to the gameplay, without it would be unrecognisable as that of an elder scrolls game. Fortunately another great feature of the TES games returns in the form of the levelling of skills through use, it’s a great system that is iconic of Elder Scrolls games and a welcome addition to the online form of Elder Scrolls. The skills take a different form in TESO compared to that of the single player series. There are less skills than ever, however the perks from Skyrim comeback. The skills are lacking the variety of the single player skills but having skill trees for the guilds is a great idea and almost makes up for the lack of the other much loved skills of the Elder Scrolls series. The combat feels floaty, it doesn’t feel as if there is any impact to your strikes, however this is ultimately something that has to be chalked up to being part of an MMO. The ability bar whilst definitely there for MMO players as opposed to Elder Scrolls players makes more sense as it is needed for effective player collaboration and the traditional Elder Scrolls form of combat simply wouldn’t be as effective in MMO form, so this is forgiven in my books.

Crafting is done superbly well and is a massive improvement from previous Elder Scrolls games with every armour and weapon type having unique racial styling. It is absolutely one of the most positive aspects of the game and I’m looking forward to getting to explore the crafting mechanic further in the game. Bringing back leg armour and adding shoulder armour and belts is something that Skyrim was missing and it feels like a nice little addition that gives the player even more to customise regarding their character.

On the other hand, classes. They’re a mainstay in many a RPG however it’s a shame classes have been forced into the game, in what feels like an attempt to appease traditional MMO players. I feel the strides Skyrim made in breaking down the traditional and restrictive ideas of classes should have been built upon instead of broken down.

Working with other players is not as painful an experience as I had feared going into Elder Scrolls Online but it can grow tedious after a time with other players killing the big bad guy for a quest for which, until that moment, you had done more or less on your own. The opt-out voice chat is annoying. Every time I log into my character the first thing I hear is some shitty pop music or some child screaming their head off or heavy breathing into the microphone. Fortunately the system in place isn’t as bad as it could have been and it is something that does not really detract from the overall experience.

Graphically the game looks some way in between Oblivion and Skyrim. For every texture that is of an acceptable standard there is one that looks like it comes from the PlayStation 2 era. The art style, which is reminiscent of Oblivion, is enough to make up for it though. The sun glare in particular looks very impressive when gleaming past trees, mountains and buildings making for some picture perfect screen shot moments in the game. Whilst the graphical fidelity is far superior in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the art style is superior and carries the game to be the best looking Elder Scrolls Game so far.

The UI takes liberal inspiration from that of Skyrim. It doesn’t work for the game. It looks cheap and lazy considering the game is almost a fresh interpretation for the series. The UI is one of the first things the players see and it’s a shame they couldn’t do their own thing.

The soundtrack is again excellent, as we should expect coming from an Elder Scrolls game and is reminiscent of Oblivion for me. The soundtrack feels more like it’s an accent to the beauty of the game world rather than a heroic feel that was more prevalent in Skyrim. The sound design is fine, there’s not much more to say about it, however it is frequently let down by lag in the game. The voice acting is again improved from the previous Elder Scrolls game as Skyrim was to Oblivion. My only issue with it is there are numerous examples of the voice acting not fitting the race or personality of the character you are speaking to in game.

The quests are fairly standard Elder Scrolls and MMO style quests and I don’t really have much to say about them. It would be cool to see more quests that integrate the lore of the Elder Scrolls series. I feel so much of the series law is held in books within the games and not enough people playing the games have an inclination to read them and it is to their loss that they don’t. There are a fair number of quests around the game, I do wish there were more but due to the size of the game and time constraints the development would have been under I feel it can be forgiven, especially when considering there is going to be more and more quests added throughout the life of the game. Speaking of lore, it is incredibly frustrating to not be able to pick up lore books. The game doesn’t pause so it is simply not practical to have books you cannot pick up, this says more about me than the game but this one of the most frustrating game design decisions I can recall. Unfortunately when you see ten other players doing the same quest as you, the quests lose a degree of the epic feel you expect from the questing in an Elder Scrolls game.

On the whole I am thoroughly enjoying The Elder Scrolls Online. Is it perfect? Far from it, but it isn’t the embarrassment to the series that I feared it could be. It feels like an acceptable interpretation of the Elder Scrolls in an MMO format and hopefully it will only improve in the future. This is only my first impressions, and I have only scratched the surface of what the game has to offer and hopefully I will enjoy playing it for months and possibly years to come in the time I wait for the next single player Elder Scrolls game. I have yet to join a guild or adventure into Cyrodiil and have only experienced two of the three alliances so far so expect to see a more rounded and final review of the game in the future.

The Elder Scrolls Online is a good game, and one worth playing for even hard core single player Elder Scrolls fans such as myself. Have you been playing the Elder Scrolls Online? Let me know below, whether you have or haven’y for whatever reason I’m interested to know your experiences regarding the game and the series in general.