Whatever Happened to… Cheat Books and Tips Hotlines?


In this instance, of course, we know exactly what happened. The Internet did. Still, the more decrepit gamers among us may get a tingle of memory-pleasure through their undercarriage at this brief retrospective.

At one time in the gaming world, print media was king. If you wanted a preview of Mario’s latest upcoming escapades, or a walkthrough, magazines were the way to go. They still exist, and have a certain following, but there’s a foul stench of the obsolete about them; like Grandma’s old record collection which will never see the light of day again.

Partly because they’re LPs, similar relics of a bygone age. And partly because who the hell ever wants to hear The Greatest Hits of the Jackson 5 again anyway?

But anywho, these magazines were the nerdly refuge of the Internet-less. Oftentimes, they’d include huge free ‘cheat books,’ which were the only manner of finding obscure codes and such. My family were probably the slowest in town to finally get online, so I was poring over books with maps of Final Fantasy IX’s Chocograph locations long after others had abandoned them.

"You're having Zelda trouble? Sure, I'll try and help, find nothing particularly useful, and prattle on for an age at a premium rate.
“You’re having Zelda trouble? Let me try and help, find nothing of any real use and generally prattle on for far too long. At a premium rate. Sound good, bucko?”

It’s a painful, painful pain a whole generation will never experience. If you’re stymied by a game today, a quick google search will bring you up ten different FAQs of the dungeon/boss/whatever at hand and a Youtube video tutorial or two. Back then, though, there were none of these newfangled thingamabobs. What we had were books full of Tekken 2 big head codes, infinite ammo codes for Doom, and other low-tech weirdness. A couple hundred pages full of PlayStation button combinations.

OR, the legendary tips lines. Before ‘Google it’ was the answer to any and all questions mankind will ever have, this was our only resort: a mysterious voice on the end of our phones. They may or may not know where we’re going and what the hell to do when we get there, but we’ve got no other bugger to ask. Begging audience with this oracle with a heavy Mancunian accent and seeking its wisdom was the only way.

Think on, younger gamers. The older, simpler times were much, much less simple.

Header image: Flickr.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Why the Character Animations Look So Strange?


I finally got the chance to try The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) and one of the first things I’ve noticed was the character animation weirdness. A MMO with gorgeous graphics and an innovative combat system featuring animations that don’t feel right – it doesn’t make much sense. So, I wondered why ESO’s character animations feel so wrong. And the answer relies on two simple words – realism and naturalness. Characters don’t move naturally and even the stunning detail quality can’t save them from looking fake, from a dynamic perspective. This is a well-known issue with older games, especially RPGs. And that’s when I remembered where I’ve seen very similar animations. In fact, after watching a few walkthrough videos I got the feeling that ESO imported some of Dragon Age Origins (DA:O) animations. Running, sprinting and even attacking movements look exactly like Dragon Age’s. This wouldn’t be a surprise if ESO had been released a few years ago. After all, most RPG games featured similar animations around 5-10 years in the past. However, we’re in 2014 and having a game that has character animations which resemble a game from five years ago, that’s quite shameful, I would say. But enough of pure opinion, let’s jump to facts.

The Elder Scrolls Online (2014) Female Rogue Run Animation
Dragon Age Origins (2009) Male Rogue Run Animation

Analysis: Why ESO’s Character Animations Look Weird?

I starting by pointing out the obvious, the animations are simply unrealistic and unnatural. Why? Well, as you can see in the gif image, the character moves like a robot – the torso remains steady, the arms barely move and all the work is focused on the legs. Now, we know this is not the real mechanism for running or sprinting. When we run, all our body muscles move according to speed, so if you sprint, there’s no way that your torso will remain still. Therefore, why it looks so weird – the character fluidness is just not there.

Bending over is the most common animation in ESO and DA:O.

The second strange thing about the animations is the fact that characters bend a lot. My assassin rogue had her back curved all the time while in combat mode, which is quite pathetic. Why would a rogue need to bend, unless for defensive purposes? This detail looks even more senseless with the mage class… Because, mages bend just to cast a normal hit. Just as it used to happen in DA:O. I spent hours and hours watching Morrigan bending her back and legs while casting any kind of spell on enemies. I never understood that logic, I just assumed it was all about programming limitations. But now, with complex technologies able to design dynamic and interactive skeletons, I can just assume it’s a designing problem.

The Elder Scrolls Online
This is the only “animation” I can get from my character if I remain inactive for several minutes.

Acting lively is also something that ESO characters lack. Other MMOs like Guild Wars 2 and Rift, feature a realistic system where characters pretend to be alive by interacting with the world around them, little things like expressing boredom or looking at other characters do make a difference. On the other hand, ESO displays a dull and static system. In this upcoming world, characters simply don’t connect with anything, they remain steady while immobile and the only actions are blinking and breathing. I acknowledge that living as a warrior is no easy task but that’s no excuse to implement robotic behaviors instead of human ones. I really thought we had surpassed that gaming phase, where characters were a bit like wooden stick toys manipulated by a few dynamic layers. The software does exist and other MMOs have already used them to create a more realistic and accurate system, so my question is: Why did Bethesda/Zenimax choose to use an overpast technology, especially when they had access to a 200M budget?

Thief: What Happened to Erin?


Square Enix’s Thief revolves around Erin and her mysterious disappearance after falling into an energy beam at the start of the game. Garrett’s attempt to save her was in vain and guilt has been haunting him ever since. As the storyline goes on, we learn about the existence of a magical entity with devastating powers, the primal energy, which is within Erin’s body since the incident. As soon as Garrett suspects Erin might be alive, he follows her old tracks in a desperate attempt to unveil the past and the truth itself. But in the end, no matter how many answers he finds, there’s always a ceaseless question – what has truly happened to Erin? That’s a question that has intrigued me endless times because everything related to Erin becomes an enigma, a supposition, a paradox… and the true facts only come out at the very end of the story.

One of Garrett’s visions, where Erin appears and challenges him to find the truth.

Signs: She’s Alive  

Garrett assumes Erin is dead but he knows something is not right. Since the incident things were never the same again. In fact, he can’t even remember where he has been in the past year. Eventually, he starts getting visions of Erin in a gloomy environment, where she is usually scared in pain and remembering him of how he let her slip away into the other side. At first, it appears to be signs of pure guilt kicking in but soon enough, we understand that there’s more into it. The supposed deluded visions are in fact messages from Erin herself that uses her primal energy to connect with Garrett. They were both exposed to the matter when it exploded, therefore Garrett’s eye changing to green upon his return.

Erin survived but she’s a mere slave of a new identity – the primal energy.

The Monster Within

Erin didn’t die but she’s surely not the same anymore. The primal energy within her body transformed her into something… dark and malicious. It’s true that Erin is alive but she’s nothing more than a dull shadow of her old self. She became a living weapon, a terrifying being at the verge of breakdown. Her thief skills were replaced by the imminent ability of turning humans into husk freaks. However, this enigmatic magic is suspected to hold incredible powers when properly attuned. As so, Erin was held prisoner by Orion at Moira Asylum. He conducted innumerous experiments in hope to extract the energy from her body in order to cure the people of the gloom. This traumatic experience turned Erin into a wicked monster unable to control any type of feelings and emotions.

The circumstances repeat themselves.

Saving Primal Erin

Close to the end, it is unveiled that Erin holds a death sentence and it’s crucial to extract the energy from her body before it becomes too late. To perform this ritual the caster must rely on the primal crystal and the sacred tools (book and wand). Garrett is not ready to lose her again and he’s forced to fight a Primal Erin, who’s completely blinded by hate. She thinks the master thief wants to steal the energy for himself, so she puts all her powers into stopping the ritual. The storyline closes with Erin slipping away again but this time Garret manages to save her by successfully extracting the energy. Erin’s fate is not clear but everything indicates that she fell into the water and survived. The very fact that The City wasn’t destroyed reveals that the primal energy didn’t go loose. Furthermore, Erin’s claw reappears embedded in the wood beam close to Garrett, meaning that someone had to place it there. If there’s going to be another Thief reboot, then Erin is surely coming back.

It’s not everyone who gets the luxury of having a second chance, for Garrett a second chance to save his friend and for Erin a second chance to live. Even if the whole concept has several loop holes, this is a great story of how friendship can move worlds and change lives. It’s also a remarkable lesson of redemption and attunement.

Rift: A Lesson of Survivability


Rift is celebrating its third year of existence and great success. But what keeps the game running? What’s so special about the world of Telara? Rift is no World of Warcraft but it certainly has many strong aspects that should be considered for future creations. The MMO genre envisions a world where instability reigns – keeping players’ interest over time, thus a constant population rate is the main key towards continuity. However this is no easy task to be accomplished. Even though enduring time’s challenges can be tough for MMOs in general, Rift has made it through. Trion Worlds has effectively ensured Rift’s prosper life innumerous times and in various ways, as Google trends indicate:

But keeping players interested requires a huge reciprocity effort. Attending to players’ needs, desires and wishes seems to be crucial in this particular gaming sector. A strict balance between PvE and PvP is also essential for a general satisfaction. Let’s take a closer look at Rift’s case and why it’s a lesson of survivability for all MMOs.

1. Access Evolution: From Pay-to-Play to Free-to-Play

Rift had a tremendous release success and players didn’t mind the monthly subscriptions, after all it was worth paying for a fresh new game, with new features and a spectacular world to explore. However, after the first year the global population started decreasing significantly. Trion World tried to emend this issue by adopting a hybrid system, Rift Lite, where players could play for free until level 20. Regardless this measure, the population rating kept decreasing and on June of last year Rift became free-to-play. Therefore, the rates became more stable.

Rift Screenshot2. Constant Updating: Refreshing Telara Every Week

The introduction of new events and further content reassures the vitality of the game. In fact, it creates an enthusiastic aura that reassures players’ motives to keep playing. There will be always something new to explore and experience. The constant attempt to create a balanced gameplay through bug fixes and class stability is another proof that Rift is not forgotten and it will keep attending to players’ needs.

3. Online Shop: In-Game Currencies vs. Real Cash

The online shop is fantastic in many ways, first because it allows players to buy a huge amount of items without the need to visit a certain place or talk to a specific NPC. The usability levels are incredibly high as well; players can easily browse over all the categories and sub-categories and easily find what they’re looking for. Finally, the hybrid payment mode allows players to decide which model they prefer to use to acquire a certain item – in game currencies or cash.

Rift_1.9_0104. Action: Duels, Massive Battles, Open World PvP or Warfronts?

Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of action in a MMORPG? In Rift, there are several distinct options that vary with numbers, tactics and objectives. Ultimately, there’s a feature for every taste. For a more competitive approach, players can duel, join warfronts or even try to find enemies in open world maps. However, if they prefer massive PvP encounters, they can either join Conquest or Battle for Port Scion.

5. Environment: Endless Ways to Create Your Own Journey

Leveling in Rift can be done in multiple ways. In fact, it’s on players’ hands to decide how they wish to obtain experience. The game itself rewards players for doing basically any activity in-game. For loners, questing alone and following the story line might be the best option. While for action lovers, warfronts is undoubtedly the most exciting method. But there are many other ways, including dungeons and journeys that give huge amounts of experience.

rift_1.8_world_event_PCs_v2_046. End Game: A New Game Begins at Maximum Level

Reaching maximum level in Rift doesn’t take more than one week of regular playing and that’s probably because a new whole game starts upon reaching level 60. Besides new features such as Chronicles and Conquest, players can start doing daily quests and farm specific currencies that will allow them to purchase unique gear. Furthermore, they can upgrade and customize their builds in endless ways.

7. Customization: Create Your Ultimate Unique Look

Customization is one the most extensive features in Rift – it’s unlikely to ever meet another player that looks alike. The character creation system is quite wide and versatile but that’s not the main core of customization. Rift offers innumerous costumes and gear skins that players can use to mask the real appearance of their combat equipment. Furthermore, they can purchase unique mounts, pets and companions.

Does Vita’s ‘Toukiden: The Age of Demons’ Beat Monster Hunter at its Own Game?


Monster Hunter, as we know, is a uniquely Japanese phenomenon. The franchise gained some modest acclaim in the West with Monster Hunter Tri, but before that it was certainly obscure around these parts. In Japan, though, it is the biggest of big deals. It couldn’t get any bigger or… dealier. Those guys can’t start their day without jabbing a large dragon or two in the eyeball with a lance. That’s just how it is.

These Hunterholics never did embrace the Vita. A lot of this can be attributed the fact that Capcom’s action RPG has never made it to the console. But there have been similar releases. The wonderfully creepy Soul Sacrifice brought us hunting with a hideous that-thing’s-got-a-mouth-where-its-stomach-should-be feel, and a nightmarish aesthetic. Already a success with a sequel confirmed, the genre is gathering momentum on the handheld.

Next up is the spangly new Toukiden: The Age of Demons from Tecmo Koemi. The setup will be instantly familiar to anyone who has ventured into Monster Hunter before: you are a novice hunter, moving into a small village plagued by… demonic nasties. Your goal is to work your way up through the ranks, from simple quests against small fry to dispatching huge slavering death-beasts. Of death.

Toukiden 2

Scavenging items from defeated foes will allow you to forge new weapons and armor sets, thus ‘upgrading’ your character until they are a match for bigger, toothier, angrier beasts. In between quests, you are returned to the village ‘hub,’ where you can listen to the prattle of the NPCs, visit the shops, all the usual RPG trappings. There is a small assortment of different weapons to master, longsword, bow, spear and such, each of which perform a little differently and cater to different combat styles.

It’s all very Monster Hunter, in short, but much more than a simple clone. In Toukiden, as in Soul Sacrifice, there is a substantial narrative to follow. The story focuses upon the Slayers (hunters) and their war against their enemies, the demonic Oni. Said beasts’ assaults have become more coordinated, and the warriors of the village suspect there is a new ‘leader’ of sorts in their ranks. While it’s hardly The Da Vinci Code levels of intricate plotting, it’s a welcome addition to the game that is lacking elsewhere.

In the missions themselves, Toukiden is again different. You can’t bring a limited satchel of items, or set traps or bombs for your opponents. You rely solely on your weapon and your equipped Mitami. This is the soul of a departed warrior, which you can affix to your chosen stabbing stick at the blacksmith. It will grant you different abilities in battle, and there is a huge selection of them in each of the eight disciplines.

Toukiden 3

These determine the powers you can use. The Attack style bolsters your power, for instance, while the Healing style allows you to remove status conditions and revive teammates on the fly. With the more combo-heavy combat style, quests in Toukiden feel rather more streamlined than Monster Hunter. As does the game as a whole.

Without much of the between-mission micromanagement, this new Vita effort has rather more of an arcade-y feel to it. It is all around more accessible, I’d say, and brings a Feudal Japanese charm to the genre in its aesthetic and some of the weapons choices. Inspired enough to appeal to fans, certainly, but with some unique touches all its own. Whether these are for the better or worse will be down to the player’s feelings.

Source of images: sgcafe.

Mario Kart Memories

Mario Kart

Take a regular, non-lunatic racing game. Thrust it into the ridiculous-fun-o-matic (whatever that is). What emerges from the bottom? Mario Kart, that’s what.

The first installment was released in 1992 for the SNES. It wowed the world with its funky Mode 7 sorcery, its wonderful presentation and its bite-your-own-face-off-in-fury, cheaty cheaty A.I. Here was the moustachioed maestro himself, introducing us to a genre that would soon explode with terrible pretenders. Need I remind everyone that even the Crazy freaking Frog got his own kart racer?

Super Mario Kart brought us the magic formula, and it has stubbornly changed little in two decades. Sure, the series has begrudgingly allowed spangly propellers and gliders and such since, but the core experience is mostly untouched. It’s pure, crazy couch co-op fun, toon-tastic chaos that is pure Nintendo.

Remember that pitched battle that erupted in your living room in the nineties, after some cad stole your star in the last turn of Mario Party? That’s very much the vibe here. Family friendly and wholesome as Nintendo may profess to be, it’s all filthy lies. The Blue Shell is still among the most ungodly villains in video games, and the whistling that heralds its approach… oh, the whistling. It’s like Indiana Jones running from that big ol’ boulder, only even more impending-doom-ier.

Mario Kart Memories 2

Favourite Mario Kart memories will be different for everybody. Perhaps it’s returning home after school each day to play with a friend. Or finding a cannily-hidden shortcut before they did, demonstrating it, and feeling like a prophet from the year 3000. It may simply be a specific track, or piece of music. Maybe it’s the balloon-popping gladiatorial contest of the battle mode. Whatever the case, for many, Mario Kart is more than a game.

It’s one of those childhood fixtures, really. Often, the appeal of retro games is pure nostalgia, reflecting on how much we enjoyed playing a game back in the day (however questionable the choice may have been in hindsight). I, for one, am now stuck with a lifelong love of the Mega Drive Jurassic Park, and I apologize to no man for it.

But in the case of the Kart, it’s different. The franchise endures for a number of reasons. Primarily because, as kart racers go, it’s as solid as a very rocky rock solid thing. Made of rock. It’s brilliantly accessible too, and truly fun for everyone. Grandma, the kids, hardcore players with Gamertags like KillTehNoobs88, everyone has a little time to try and wang green shells up each others’ exhaust pipes. You’ve grown up with the series, or you’ve merely dabbled and grown up aware of it. Either way, the influential series has had an effect on so many.

The Walking Dead Season Two Episode 2: Analyzing the First Screenshot

The Walking Dead: Season Two was released back on December 2013 and the second episode is estimated to come out soon. Recently, Telltale Games published the first screenshot of episode two – A House Divided. The company also unveiled that episode two will be related to The Walking Dead 400 Days DLC:

Stay tuned this week for more details on the upcoming episode! Also worth mentioning: if you haven’t already played The Walking Dead400 Days DLC for Season One, well… let’s just say that’s something you might want to check out before this season continues!

This sneak peak might seem too short and a mere reminder of the next episode’s arrival. The release date is indeed imminenet and it can happen at any time. However, considering the amount of precious information cointained in this screenshot, I think there’s more into it.

Analyzing the First Screenshot: Clementine and Her New Journey

The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2

In the previous episode, All That Remains, Clementine met a new group of survivors that skeptically took her in. Clem had to prove herself multiple times and at the end of the episode, she was forced to make a though decision – save Nick or Pete. Regardless players’ decision, it seems the cabin group has future plans for Clementine. In this freshly released screenshot, the young girl is fighting walkers with one of the cabin members, Luke. I suppose this can only mean they either got forcefully separated from the group or they’ve got an important mission to accomplish. Either way, they seem to be on their own and in great trouble.

The rudimentary weapons, a hammer and a medium blade, reveals that they either left the cabin in a rush or the group is really short on weaponry supplies. Anyway, could they be heading towards the mountains? The bridge in the scene seems to indicate that, especially because this is no ordinary bridge to cross waters.

Lastly, Clementine’s expression indicates that she’s determined to achieve her goals, in this case, to take down all the walkers in her way. And Luke seems to be holding back, afraid to keep going or perhaps scared for Clem’s life? After all,  it’s not everyday that you see a little girl slaying zombies in a post-apocalyptic scenario.

I’m sure Telltale Games will introduce a new set of thrilling events coming up in the next episode. And eventually, we’ll find out how the past DLC is connected with the new story.

If You Only Buy One Game In March, Make It… ‘South Park: The Stick of Truth’

South Park

Well, hasn’t this one been a long time coming?

Obsidian Entertainment’s South Park: The Stick of Truth has been languishing in development hell since late 2011. What with THQ’s bancruptcy, Ubisoft’s James Bond-esque approach to providing a release date (do you expect me to talk?) and such, we were beginning to think we’d never see it. But it’s here.

Still if you wish hard enough, and your heart is pure, wondrous things can happen. And not only if you’re a sappy princess in a Disney cartoon. Because, lo, The Stick of Truth is finally settled on an early-March release. Let’s take a look at what all the fuss/Internet whining has been about.

This irreverent RPG focuses upon ‘New Kid’, who has just moved into the mountain town with his parents. After being cajoled into heading into the neighborhood to make friends, he meets Butters the Paladin and Cartman the Wizard King. This being South Park, a simple role-playing game swiftly becomes all kinds of nutty.

South Park Stick 1

Cartman’s human warriors are embroiled in a conflict with the Elves, for possession of the Stick of Truth. While it looks –to regular mortal eyes– like just a darn stick, this ancient relic grants one control of the universe. As the game begins, it is stolen from the warriors’ stronghold; and so begins a campaign against Kyle’s Elves to retrieve the legendary treasure.

The most exciting aspect of Stick of Truth is how faithful it is to the show. Previous efforts have been fairly appalling. The minigame shenanigans of Chef’s Luv Shack and the kart-racing calamity that was South Park Rally did nothing for the series’ gaming reputation. I enjoy firing underpants gnomes at fellow racers as much as the next guy, but these just didn’t feel right.

Still, there have been some fancy-schmancy advances in technology since those dark days. As such, this will be the first release to look remarkably like the show itself, down to that trademark cut-out animation. Along with Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s increased involvement, this makes Stick of Truth quite a love letter to fans, and the first the series has really received. Earlier efforts were less ‘love letter’ and more ‘soiled piece of paper with we hate you all written on it,’ after all.

There’s much riding on the game all round. The gameplay that has been revealed thus far really does look like you’re playing through a South Park episode, which is something video games generally screw up spectacularly. Even more miraculous, it’s a solid (if ridiculous, of course) RPG in its own right. Obsidian have previously created the likes of Fallout: New Vegas and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, so our favourite crude kid quartet were in good hands. For once.

South Park Stick 2

It has all the familiar role-playing trappings, but with the cheeky and bizarre twists you’d expect. You’ll be collecting a myriad of armor, weapons and equipment options, following your objective menu, talking to far too many NPCs, all of that good stuff. But you’ll also be equipping some very suspect things to your bows and spears to increase their ‘gross’ stat, and be put down by King Cartman every opportunity he gets.

In short, this much-anticipated release could be a lifeline for everyone tired of the disappointment of licensed games. Which is everybody. So if you only buy one game in March, make it South Park: The Stick of Truth.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Is There Any Hope for PvP?


The remarkable single player series of Elder Scrolls is finally reaching and connecting players all over the world through its MMO structure. In the Elder Scrolls Online (TESO), players will finally be able to experience the true essence of massive online wars. Player-versus-player features are one of the main attractions of TESO, although expectations can easily be crushed. The on-going TESO beta reveals that PvP is not only casual; it’s also uncompetitive and unchallenging. With alliance wars as the only option to face human enemies, TESO’s PvP seems to be nothing but a huge letdown. It’s true that we’re in the age of masses but when it comes to MMOs, is there any hope for PvP, when the only option is massive wars without any type of regulation or balancing?

The Elder Scrolls Online PvPCyrodiil: The PvP Core of TESO

In TESO there’s only one form of PvP and it all happens in one single map, Cyrodiil. This means that players have no other options when it comes to fight other human players. Battlegrounds, arenas, frontlines… they’re all inexistent in TESO. Cyrodiil features an alliance war system (AvAvA), where the three factions in game battle for glory, influence and territory. This map seems to have a vast history background and it’s as huge as it used to be in the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. But that’s not everything. Cyrodiil also offers innumerous quests, dark anchors, exploration points and dungeons. So, in the end this is not an exclusive PvP zone, it’s a hybrid map with multiple options for both, PvE and PvP players.

Alliance Wars: The Age of the Masses

Large scale battles are quite usual in current-gen MMOs. But being common doesn’t stand for being good or superior. It’s indeed a feature MMO players tend to enjoy due to its casual particularity. The age of the masses goes where it pleases and quantity wins over quality, no matter what. TESO’s alliance wars will follow this principle of masses – without much effort or skill, large amounts of players can simply take over objectives and feel happy about it. In this type of PvP structure players’ performance and individual skills are pretty much disregarded, since they can hardly make a difference in the middle of so many competitors. Eventually, the top geared players will be able to easily crush weaker opponents but this doesn’t involve skill, strategy or war techniques once again.

The Elder Scrolls Online PvPCompetitive: Where’s the Fair-Play?  

Fair-play is a rare mechanic in large scale battle systems, which means competitive and balanced fights are unlikely to happen in TESO. But it gets worse. Dominance over Cyrodill’s territories will provide bonuses to all faction members of a certain alliance. So, even if you manage to find even numbers to fight, your enemies will either have superior or inferior attributes compared to your squad. Amusing right? Furthermore, if one faction gets too strong, the other two can join forces to take it down – the enemy of my enemy is my friend, I suppose? I wonder what the Elder Scrolls lore has to say about this.

Casual PvP Mechanics: Zerging

How can you win objectives in Cyrodiil? You surely need tactics but they’re all so casual and basic that I’d rather call it common sense than war strategy. Leaders are still required but all they have to do is gathering players together and distribute them among close objectives, other than that, it’s pretty much about numbers, levels and gear. The main strategy is the obvious – gang the enemy and zerg the hell out of them. A scattered opponent is a dead opponent, no matter how strong and brave they are.

Back to my original question, I don’t think there’s any hope for PvP in TESO. Unless ZeniMax develops other forms of PvP, this single method will only work for casual devotees. Anyone who enjoys PvP, challenging group fights and war tactics will quickly move on to another MMO simply because Cyrodiil’s structure doesn’t proportionate any means for fair-play and competitive PvP. It’s all about player numbers and conquering objectives for extra faction bonuses. It surely can be fun at very peculiar situations but if you think rationally, there’s nothing fun about winning when you have all the advantages at your side.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Previewing the Magnitude of the Disaster


The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) is definitely one of the most anticipated games of 2014. Even though the hype is currently global, the Elder Scrolls fever is particularly more visible amongst MMO communities due to its upcoming multiplayer-based gameplay. But what’s this hype all about? At first it was just about a popular single player game coming to life in the multiplayer sense but now, the hype has become general. Players all over the world want to put their hands on The Elder Scrolls Online but that’s probably due to the overrated hype that is currently going on. The Elder Scrolls Online appears to be just another game in the MMO industry and it has been previewed as an upcoming disaster by several media sites, including Forbes. I also think this game won’t be able to escape its inevitable destiny to become an utterly disappointment. There are just too many flaws for a game that hasn’t been released yet. From the lack of original content to undeveloped social and UI systems, TESO exposes serious symptoms of nothing more than just another ordinary MMO. And honestly, not even the huge Elder Scrolls fan base will be able to cover the lack of quality and creative content once the game goes live. But the list goes on:

1. Subscription: Is TESO Worth Paying for Every Month?

The Elder Scrolls OnlineOne of the main controversies surrounding TESO is the $15 monthly fee. The monthly subscription method used to be quite popular a few years ago, especially among MMOs. But times have changed and this method is no longer reliable. Besides, what’s so special about TESO that makes it worth paying $60 per box copy and $180 per year? My answer: It’s simply not worth it. When players pay for a game, they’re actually buying the opportunity to experience its content. Therefore, the price should be correlated to the content’s quality. In this case, there’s absolutely no correlation between price and content quality. In the end, you’ll just be paying a fortune for a hyped game with poor features, basically zero innovation and a very casual orientation. I suppose this is the price for simply experiencing an online version of Elder Scrolls.

2. Multiple Platforms: Generalizing Audiences – Is It a Great Idea?


The multiple platforms concept is certainly a great idea, it’s a huge success in the single player industry but it’s something rare in the MMO genre. However, what Bethesda/ZeniMax didn’t consider was the different types of audiences. Mixing console and PC players is a tremendous mistake because both gaming worlds have their own particularities. In most cases, a standard MMO player is used to pay for in-game items or regular fees. On the other hand, a console player spends superior amounts of money purchasing single player titles and he’s not willing to pay monthly subscriptions (mostly because this method is practically inexistent in the console world). It’s true that TESO will reach a much wider audience with this feature but does it mean it’ll get a much larger player base compared to most MMOs? Probably not.

3. Combat Mechanisms: Unique, But Just a Little

The typical class model from fantasy MMOs is evoked once again. TESO will feature four main classes: Dragon Knight (Warrior); Nightblade (Rogue); Sorcerer; Templar. Each class will have tree specialization trees containing very distinctive skills and roles. Until here, there’s absolutely nothing new, however it seems that the holy trinity of MMOs will suffer some major changes. TESO’s gear system will allow players of any class to wear all type of equipment. This will create a much wider variety of customization and personalized builds, as well as a role blending system (rogues who can tank, warriors who can heal, mages wearing swords). But once again, this feature can already be experienced in existing MMOs such as Rift, where every class can assume basically any role.

4. Leveling Up: Single Playing Still Works

The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls are known for its RPG phenomenal solo experience and apparently, the online version will still allow players to create their own journey without the need of others. There are several dungeons, named bosses and region events called Dark Anchors but none of these group grinding features seem to nullify the efficiency of a single player mindset. In fact, players can do most of their leveling through solo missions. A bit controversial for a next-generation MMO, I would say.

5. Social, Animation Systems & UI: Not Exactly What Intended

TESO’s social and animation systems are everything but modern. Since the game has to fit several platforms, the UI is rather alternative and the usability is not exactly the best. The character animation and combat movements are also very clunky and repetitive compared to recent MMOs like Guild Wars 2. Lacking proper interactive systems can affect players’ enthusiasm to keep playing once the narrative has been explored.

6. PvP: The Ascension of AvAvA

The Elder Scrolls Online

If player-versus-player is something you’re really looking forward to experience in TESO, then you should start looking for another game. TESO will feature an alliance war system, where the three alliances in game will strike for dominance (it resembles the WvWvW system from Guild Wars 2). PvP will only exist in one specific map, Cyrodiil, and that’s about it. There are no battlegrounds; no structured or open-world PvP and I haven’t seen anything about arenas either. So basically, you can only fight other players through massive encounters that include specific objectives and siege weapons. A huge disappointment, I would say but it’s no surprise.

7. Crafting: The Illusion of Something New

So, I thought TESO would have at least one original feature in the whole game but I soon realized that the upcoming crafting system will be a combination of individual features from other games. Supposedly, players will be able to craft unique items and apply exclusive bonuses. Though, that’s just an illusion. The recipe system is quite old already and the random enchantment mechanism exists in many MMOs like Age of Wushu/Age of Wulin. Also, the possibility to combine different ingredients in order to obtain new discoveries can be found in Guild Wars 2.

I honestly don’t understand all the hype around this game. There’s simply no logic background behind so much expectation. The game turns out to be just another MMO carrying out a popular series name. In the core, there’s absolutely nothing new or creative. The gameplay is extremely casual and competitive PvP will be inexistent. And the worst part, players must pay a quite high monthly subscription just to login. Is there any prompt to failure condition missing? As Forbes’ Paul Tassi stated, TESO is a prime candidate for a huge disaster:

We’ve seen a number of high profile online launch disasters recently, and The Elder Scrolls Online seems like a prime candidate for a similar meltdown.