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.

Braid – Review

Braid - Review


For various reasons Braid does not fit to current gaming industry. It has no zombies, no shooting not even a multiplayer. It is an old fashioned 2D platformer with main focus set on logical elements — clearly, it does not sound like a recipe for a success in present times. So, what should be expected from a game prepared according to such formula? Without exaggeration, one of the most unique experience of the decade!

Braid was in production for three years. That is a lot, especially for a game that can be finished during a single afternoon. However, as soon as you start it you will realize that none of this time was wasted. Every element of Braid is incredibly polished: The graphic design is delightful, the music is delicate and soothing, the story is intelligent and most of all: the puzzles are diabolically clever. It gets even more impressive once you realize that Braid is basically a one-man project — besides graphics and music all work has been done by Jonathan Blow — a man gaming industry needed for a long time.

Blow filled his game with lots of references to the most famous representative of the genre — Super Mario Brothers. Tim, main protagonist, jumps on the heads of enemies to get rid of them, avoids deadly plants coming out of pipes and hurries to rescue the princess. What is more, one level is a reminiscence of a classic Donkey Kong stage with ever higher platforms connected via ladders. However, Braid is far from being a simple copy — Blow took all these staple elements, mixed them with technical novelties and fresh design and created a game that is both old school and modern.

As in any platformer, in Braid you have to move from the left to the right side of the screen, jump a lot and try hard to omit any obstacles. Okay, you don’t have to try that hard to omit obstacles. That is because Tim posses a very special sort of abilities — he can manipulate time flow. If you fall into the pit or get hit by a goomba you can always go back in time and try once again. It does sound like pretty much of a facilitation but main purpose of this game is not avoiding death but solving puzzles and to do that you will have to master Tim’s abilities.

The game is divided into several chapters — world as they are called — in every of them time manipulation mechanic is different. For example in world four time flow is directly connected to Tim’s movements — when he goes right time flows forward and when he goes left time reverses. In another chapter he can create a shadow of himself existing in parallel dimension that will precisely repeat the path he had taken before time reversal. In yet another one, Tim carries a ring, which when dropped will slow the time locally

In Braid there are 60 puzzle pieces, 12 per world, and to gain access to the last chapter you will have to gather them all and subsequently assemble five pictures. The game allows for a little nonlinearity here since you don’t have to collect puzzle pieces in any fixed order — fortunately, because getting each one of them requires solving a conundrum and doing that on the very first attempt can be problematic.

The quality of puzzles is rapturous. Starting slowly with almost effortless tasks the game gradually throws at you more and more demanding both intellectually and dexterously challenges. Yes, this game is difficult. Frequently frustrating, but that’s the beauty in it and precisely the reason why Braid is so compelling. Every piece collected is a success, every problem solved a triumph and it gets addictive — you cannot simply walk away from an unbeaten puzzle. Gameplay gives horrid amounts of satisfaction and the more time you spend on a single challenge the more rewarding it feels once finally your brain clicks and solution lies bare in front of your eyes. I fear to imagine what a fiendish mind must it take to craft such conundrums.

Concept of time plays a big role in Braid — appearing not only in gameplay but also the story. The plot is told by fragments of books, placed at the beginning of every chapter, giving us insight into Tim’s thoughts or describing events from his life. Also, these text introductions are neatly connected to new mechanics appearing in subsequent worlds — that gives Braid something unique: a coherency between two aspects of the game. This correlation between mechanics and story is perhaps best visible at the dramatic ending where time manipulation is used directly as an instrument to depict the plot.

At first sight the story feels quite fairy-tale. Tim strives to rescue his beloved princess, whom he lost for unknown reason. It may look trivial but do not be deceived by appearances — in fact it is a depressing tale about unfulfilled love and human inability to undo past mistakes. Well, you wouldn’t expect that kind of seriousness from a game that looks like a pastel painting but it fits in well and acts as a pause between sets of effortful puzzles. However, there are fragments that seem overly enigmatic or incomprehensible at all.

With all its virtues Braid ends far too early — it takes from six to eight hours to finish. However, it is six to eight hours of unique, almost perfect gameplay endowed with stirring and mature story. To me Braid is a real gem — shining brightly among hundreds of other repetitive games — clearly demonstrating that, no matter of budget, with creativity and ambition one can still make excellent games.