[TESO] NDA is down, finally.
I’ve participated in 3 of TESO’s beta weekends now. I’ve played as every race except Khajit and Imperial, as well as played the different classes, tried the different skill lines, different weapons, etc. All this jumping around means that I never got a character past level 7, and any character that got even that far barely made it to the 1st “main city” of the faction they were in. So, my experience is wide, but shallow, I suppose you could say. My overall impressions:
- The differences really are just cosmetic in the lower levels. I don’t know how much the small passives matter later on, but in the early levels, I really didn’t notice any difference.
- Dragonknight – Has a tanking line, a controlling line, and a dps line. My favorite way to play a DK was actually to devote myself to the dps line and dual-wield while wearing medium armor. I also tried out the standard heavy armor with 1H + shield weapon line and didn’t care for that so much.
- Templar — Has a ranged dps line, a melee dps line, and a healing line. I found that I preferred to play a templar like a mage using the ranged dps line and a destruction staff while in light armor. When I also made use of the healing line plus a restoration staff it seemed that the weapon and the heals duplicated each other and both used mana, so I think any templar that makes use of the healing line can get away with using a different weapon and thus have some flexibility in play as a result
- Nightblade — This one I played the least and paid the least attention to, but iirc, it has 2 melee dps lines, and a control line. I preferred dual-wielding, though I also played to level 6 with a bow as well. It did all right, but it didn’t really grab me either.
- Sorcerer — has a control line and 2 dps lines, one of which includes summoned pets. Since mages are generally ranged dps in most games, you’d think this one would be too, but in reading the spell descriptions, it actually comes across as more melee oriented. Yes, the spells have range, but my favorite playthrough actually had me using the summoned pet as a tank, lightning form to damage mobs close to me, dual-wielding, and then using my lightning strike spell as a finisher since it does more damage to low-health mobs. All while wearing medium armor, not light. I’m sure one could also play as a stand-offish mage as well, since the control line actually has some heavy hits in it as well, but it was nice to also be viable as an in-your-face battle mage too.
Grain of salt: This comes from reading the descriptions of the unmorphed skills. Morphing could theoretically change how the skills work in higher levels that I haven’t seen yet.
- 1H + Shield — skills all devoted toward tanking and control, not damage.
- 2H — skills seemed devoted to AE dps vs low hp mobs
- Dual-wield — devoted largely to single-target dps
- Bow – ranged dps, seemed focused on bleeds and control as well as the initial hit
- Destruction staff — ranged dps, with skills adding control functions as well as more damage
- Restoration staff — basic attack is ranged dps, but the skills are all heals, and seem to duplicate the Templar’s class line for healing
- Light — gives bonus to magicka pool and regeneration rate. Seems ideal for anyone that wants to focus on using class skills
- Medium — gives bonus to stamina pool and regeneration rate. Seems ideal for anyone that wants to focus on using weapon skills
- Heavy — gives bonus to health pool and regeneration . Seems ideal for anyone who wants to tank
What does this all mean? It seems to mean that you can mix and match your play styles to however you want. There will certainly be min/maxed “ideal” ways to play, I’m sure, but if you want to be a cloth-wearing Nightblade healer through use of a restoration staff — you can do that! Or a Sorcerer with a restoration staff and devoted to its control line also sounds like it would be a very useful healer as well. Templars have the flexibility to be a healer that doesn’t need to use a restoration staff and in my experience play very well as a stand-off mage-type when using a destruction staff. A Sorcerer in heavy armor with a shield and 1H weapon can tank, with its lightning form helping keep aggro to nearby enemies and its control powers can keeping mobs locked down. And as mentioned above, I found that I really like the DK as a dps class, not as a tank. In fact, assuming that racial bonuses actually will end up mattering a bit, as dual-wielding dark elf Dragonknight seems very ideal, since it uses both racial bonuses of the Dunmer race (dual wield +15% experience and fire magic does more damage). Of course it also means that the only people tanking will be in heavy armor and using a “sword and board” weapon set, and with the DK having an additional defensive skill line….. DK’s will be preferred tanks in spite of anyone having “the capability” methinks.
As far as gameplay goes. . . it’s an MMO. Anyone looking for something new here is going to be disappointed. It’s got a slight action element to it in that you can block with your weapon, or dodge the red circles on the ground, or even interrupt mobs from making their large attacks, and those elements do help vs the “harder” mobs that you occasionally run into, and thus I’m sure also will help in dungeon groups later on, but it’s still not any different from anything else. Graphics look nice. Crafting seems deep at 1st, but it’s still very much “add ingredients and click the button” with all the “depth” coming from adding traits and the possibility of later enchanting an item as well. In the levels I was in, those things didn’t matter, though if this follows along with prior TES games I’ve played, eventually the traits and enchantments will be the reason for the gear. Questing has the typical “follow this trail and blast through and you’ll eventually be underleveled for the content” path, but a bunch of side quests along the way to add more stories to the game and xp to your advancement. Exploring the maps has payoffs with more quests, treasure chests you can pick open for more loot, and the skyshards that grant you bonus skill points.
Overall I’ve been enjoying the game. I’ve purposely not gone very far in it simply becuz I don’t want to have to repeat non-newbie content once the game releases for real. I’m sure there will be beta weekends between now and launch, but I don’t think I’ll participate in them. I like the game enough that I’ve pre-ordered, and now am content to wait for it to release so I can “really play” instead of using characters that will be wiped.