A live, and rather lengthy, gameplay demonstration of the Elder Scrolls Online has been boasted at the popular gaming exposition event, QuakeCon, alongside screenshots of characters, enemies and environments.
Calling upon thousands of gamers, spread across the globe, QuakeCon also doubles as the largest, free LAN party in North American, where video game enthusiasts can engage in competitive gaming tournaments. The event, which is hosted by ZeniMax Media, also enables a number of its subsidiary game studios to showcase an array of games, as well as novel technologies and industry expertise.
During one of the event’s myriad of showcasings, Bethesda Softworks brandished its hotly anticipated massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), Elder Scrolls Online. Although successive incarnations of the franchise have been distributed over the years (starting way back, in 1994), this is the first time the universe is to be crafted into an online, multiplayer experience, with the same level of ambition behind its single-player predecessors.
The latest footage of the game, captured by IGN, provides one of the most informative looks at the product, albeit unreleased. The livestream images demonstrated further details of the combat mechanics, enemy types, character class systems (and their corresponding customization), the interaction between various characters and even horse-riding sections.
Creative Director, Paul Sage, described some of the features that many existing Elder Scrolls fans will already be familiar, including dynamic skill trees, exploration-based points of interest, the fast-travel system and the scope and flexibility of assigned objectives. Interestingly, Sage explained how the discovery of in-game books would reward players with the ability to adjust different skillsets. Later on during the demo, with regard to enemy AI dynamics, Sage discussed the “pack behavior”, whereby some enemies would conservatively reframe from attack, alternatively opting to judge the strength of their opposition by watching to see how battles play out.
The Elder Scrolls has recently been pushed back, from its original 2013 release, and is expected to submerge from the depths of development by Spring 2014. At the end of the livestream, Sage encouraged viewers of the event to sign up to the closed beta.
However, the absence of the next installment of Doom, id Software’s brainchild, at the event has resulted in much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Head honcho of id, John Carmack, who’s company was involved in a merger with Zenimax (dated, June 24 of 2009) was asked about the title’s development. “I actually asked about whether I could say anything related to the development, and the answer was, no, I couldn’t”.
Many industry experts express grave concerns over the future of id Software, whose last blockbuster title, Rage, failed to impress customers, and critics alike. Rage was marred with significant performance issues across the board, with texture popping, tearing and frame rate problems becoming particular bugbears; to boot, the game’s uninspired racing sections, derivative premise and linearity were all additional points of criticism. Further grounds for uncertainty were nurtured, almost two years ago, when ZeniMax Media stepped in, forcing id Software to restart Doom 4’s development cycle, despite the fact that it had been in development for over five years. Embarrassingly, ZeniMax cited quality issues, as the foundation for their decision:
“An earlier version of Doom 4 did not exhibit the quality and excitement that Id and Bethesda intend to deliver and that Doom fans worldwide expect. As a result, id refocused its efforts on a new version of Doom 4 that promises to meet the very high expectations everyone has for this game and this franchise.”
This announcement was following by a series of disgruntled insider sources, assigned to the project, who opted to air their discontent at the development’s management:
“[Id was] never even close to a shipped product… A half dozen mediocre levels was the most [Id] had to show,” argued one source.
“It’s not going well,” stated another project worker. “Poor management, poor organization… [Id] just couldn’t nail down design… It’s just a mess.”
It’s unfortunate to see yet another absence of id Software’s works, despite the company having been instrumental in QuakeCon’s original inception and organization. None-the-less, it’s great to see the Elder Scrolls franchise progressing so well and, after the phenomenal acclaim of their previous title, Skyrim, let’s hope they can achieve the same level of commercial and critical success.
Written By: James Fenner