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Elder Scrolls Collection
A gentleman named Lambent Stew has put together a webpage that gathers some of your Steam data and arranges it like little quantitative ducks in a row. How nice.
There are a number of homemade utilities that reconstitute Steam information, like a Steam sales tracker, and a Steam account value calculator. What's unique to this one is it outputs some useful aggregate data, like total hours played, and what percentage of games you've bought you haven't opened, you jerk. Good lord, I haven't played 1,006 games. Tonight, Nancy Drew: Ransom of the Seven Ships, it's you and me.
Jun 15, 2012
It's here at last! We've recovered from our post-E3 plagues, put the pieces of our lives back together, and took time to meditate in a sacred grove before doing battle in the PCG-awards-debate-ring of death to determine the best games at this year's E3.
Best RPG - The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard
Since Daggerfall, one of the best elements of The Elder Scrolls' sandbox gameplay has been the ability to be a secret monster among the bustling, unaware population of NPC sheep. More than anything, Dawnguard seems tightly focused on improving that experience. We've been teased a story that fleshes out vampires and their society in a way we haven't seen in a TES game since Morrowind. Said story will feature two possible factions to side with—the vampires or the Dawnguard—much like, one of the better quest lines in the base game, the Civil War. Plus, yay replayability!
On top of that, the expansion introduces a totally new creature form (the Vampire Lord) and full skill trees for both werewolves and vampires. Oh, and crossbows! At the end of the day, of course, we'll take any excuse to jump back into one of the best RPGs of the last decade with shiny, new content to explore.
Best Strategy - XCOM: Enemy Unknown
In a market that seems afraid to put out turn-based strategy titles, XCOM: Enemy Unknown is putting all kinds of alien anatomy to the wall, courtesy of heavy machine gun fire. Very much following in the spirit of the XCOM we know and love, every alien kill and every squad member death will be permanent (and all that more poignant realized in close-up, high-res 3D). Even the passive elements of the game, like watching your science teams dutifully experiment on the extraterrestrial scum between missions in the mesmerizing cross-section view of your space base, are filled with grit and flavor which we just can't wait to get our hands on.
The aliens are coming? We say let them come.
Best Update - Rift: Storm Legion
MMO expansion formulas can be simple: add a new continent with five new zones, raise the level cap five levels, add five skills per class, and add another class or race. Oh, and don't forget a large, evil bad guy for the players to kill in six months' time.
Much like the base game, Rift's next expansion does all that's expected of it and then adds an extra scoop of awesome into the mix. It's not just adding a new continent—Storm Legion adds two continents, each just as big as the entire existing game world. It's not just adding five skills per class—Storm Legion is adding two new souls (talent trees) for each class to tinker and play around with, so that you can pick which new skills you want to add to your character.
But the most promising element of the expansion—and what really won us over at E3—is how much experimenting the developers appear to be doing with the design of all that new content.
The demo of an open-world boss fight on one of the new continents showcased it best of all. The boss wasn't just a stack of hit-points. The 60-foot-tall monster had 5 or more different targetable areas. Hack at a specific piece of his body and you could knock off his armor or weaken a limb, and that'll affect the way he fights. Launch platforms around the area will fling your character across the sky at the collosal boss. Land on his shoulder and you can carve into him up close and personal, or crash into the energy well in his chest and you'll gain a temporary ability to blast him for mega-damage.
Best of all, when the boss is severely wounded, he doesn't just get a generic enrage buff—he goes on a rampage tearing down walls in the open world, which will temporarily open up a new part of the zone to everyone, complete with new quests and enemies to fight.
We haven't seen a lot of Storm Legion's content at this point, but what we've seen so far has us very excited about what other tricks the developers at Trion are packing into those two new continents.
Best Action Game - Assassin's Creed 3
Unless their branches are highlighted with a red “grab here” glow, trees are often off-limits in games. They’re tossed around environments to look naturey, bend in the breeze, and trap those who glitch into them. Watching the Animus’ new protagonist squirrel through a forest canopy and flick himself off a branch is almost disorienting.
After giving us grandiose playgrounds like the Coliseum in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Ubisoft could have stuck to its stonework and simply escalated the scope of movement with taller buildings. Instead, Assassin’s Creed III is taking an organic route, which we didn’t know we wanted until we saw Connor’s hunt so smoothly realized.
Pull away from that achievement in animation and there’s still more intrigue. How will Ubisoft handle the story of a half-British, half-Native American assassin caught in the upheaval of the American Revolution? Will the naval battle teased at Sony’s press conference be as fun as it looks, or a clunky side mission?
If any of it falls apart under hands-on scrutiny, it will at least have been a bold decision, and that deserves acknowledgement.
Best Hardware - John Carmack's Duct-Taped VR Headset
There's something very indie rock about coming to the mega marketing-splosion that is E3 with a $500 homebrew VR headset that's "literally held together with duct tape." And legendary Doom creator John Carmack is exactly the kind of guy you would expect to do it. A lot of great things in PC gaming have come out of these kinds of garage projects, and if the tech is as cool as our own David Boddington seemed convinced that it was after a hands-on demo, we could see this kind of thing becoming a pretty big deal among enthusiasts in the near future.
Best Indie Game - Natural Selection 2
“I think we should make our own modern FPS engine.”
“Hey, while we’re doing that, can we make the game look colorful, well-animated, and visually on-par with modern games?”
“So, we’re going to pursue an unthinkably ambitious design concept and make a multiplayer FPS with RTS elements.”
“Hey, you know what’d be a great idea? Left 4 Dead and StarCraft-style asymmetry between our alien and human factions.”
“Oh, and let’s make it an eSport.”
Best Sim - Arma 3
Bohemia Interactive understands the difference between authenticity as an experience and realism for realism’s sake.
But even shrugging off Arma 3’s refined mechanics and accessibility, it’s also the most impressive simulation of a real-world location we’ve ever seen in a game. Limnos (a near-clone of Lemnos, the Greek island) has a completely different feel: hundreds of enterable buildings, variegated terrain, and fine strokes that in 300-some square kilometers of virtual land. Fighting in it will be great and all, we’re sure, but man. Can you just let us walk around for awhile, Bohemia?
Best Shooter, Best MMO, Best of Show, Most Awards Received - PlanetSide 2
PlanetSide 2, on paper, almost seems too good to be true. In action, the "almost" disappears before your eyes and you're left wondering: How can something this ambitious actually exist? And if it can, why did it take this long for somebody to do it?
We didn't hand the same game the award for Best Shooter, Best MMO, and Best of Show lightly, but PlanetSide 2 clearly asserted itself as the top candidate in all of those categories. The shooting is fast, frantic, and fun. As an MMOFPS, it takes nearly every gameplay element that's been attempted in the genre up to 11, without making any compromises in its pursuit of its "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" premise. From what we've seen so far, PS2 has all of the elements PC gamers want in our ideal persistent, massively-multiplayer shooter, and probably a few we didn't know we wanted.
We love that everything you do, from the time your boots hit the ground to that inevitable moment that you're forced to log off by the sun coming in your window and the realization that you have to work, directly affects a world that doesn't go away when a match ends.
E3 hasn't ever really been about the PC, and this year featured a lot of big console titles, but we can say without any caveat that PlanetSide 2 stole the show for us. It's shaping up to be a transcendent experience, both as a shooter and an MMO, in a very "only on PC" kind of way.
Jun 8, 2012
There were a lot of great games at E3 this year, but only one can be the best. PC Gamer's editors pick their favorites from the show floor.
Logan: Watch Dogs
Go ahead and fiddle with your Facebook privacy settings all you want: Aiden Pierce knows exactly who you’re sleeping with and how you feel about them. He can tap your cell phone to listen to what you’re telling somebody or he can jam it so they’ll never hear it. He knows where you work, how much you make, and if you stash your cash in a private account he can plunder it at the nearest ATM. And if you try to get away from him, you better run someplace that isn’t under the domain of ctOS—the central operating system that administers Chicago’s infrastructure—and hope that he doesn’t mess with the traffic signaling system on your way out.
In an unexpected and wonderfully audacious demo, Watch Dogs ruthlessly teased me with the power to take the technological apparatus of an entire city and press it into my service as a tool of surveillance, reconnaissance, or destruction—while also giving me glimpses of what may be the terrible consequences of my actions (such as a hapless bystander desperately trying to resuscitate his dead wife after an accident that Pierce caused).
It’s still an action game—there’s shooting, there’s free-running, there’s bullet-time, and there’s beating a guy with a retractable baton—but throughout an E3 smothered by overbearing, barely differentiated violence in sequelized blockbusters, Watch Dogs feels far more ambitious. It seems to see in gamers not folks who will dutifully respond to more, bigger, and louder, but instead people who want their cunning, skill, and resourcefulness challenged in new and more imaginative ways.
Evan: PlanetSide 2
Fighting against two factions instead of one activates some dormant area of my FPS brain. It's not simply that you have more and differently-colored soldiers to shoot at, but you experience this novel feeling of competition over resources that matter. No other shooter gives me that sensation. Occupying someone else's base means something—just by contending for an outpost, you're earning a tiny trickle of resources. Own it, and that earned-over-time allowance extends to your whole empire (while being denied to the enemy). The magic of that mechanic is apparent even in an hour-long play session with a character I'll never use again in a crowded, loud convention center. Whether you like it or not, you're a part of something.
Beyond that, PlanetSide 2 is better-looking than Tribes, Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and (save for Natural Selection 2, which I love the look of) any other multiplayer shooter I can name. The sci-fi context has let SOE's art team run wild with neon and high-contrast player and vehicle skins in a way Battlefield can't. It's a miracle that this will be free.
Runner-ups: Arma 3, Natural Selection 2
Rift never really grabbed my attention at launch. I've dabbled over the past year since its launch, but the game's first expansion, Storm Legion, cannot be ignored. A lot of information was revealed during E3, and everything I've seen has convinced me to re-up my subscription and dive back in headfirst. The expansion adds two continents that are each as large as the entire game world that exists today. That's cool, but it wasn't what had me scrambling for my credit card. What got me was the E3 livestream demo of Storm Legion content that showed a massive open-world boss who, when he's defeated, tears down walls to open new zones of the continent to players. Let me reiterate: this boss doesn't just drop loot when you take him down, he drops ENTIRE ZONES OF CONTENT. That's awesome, and so is everything else I've seen about this expansion so far.
Runner-ups: Planetside 2, SimCity
T.J.: The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard
It's hard to put into words how big a Skyrim fan I am. Three of my favorite things in the world are Vikings, werewolves, and The Elder Scrolls series. Letting me play in the homeland of the Norse-flavored Nords and be a werewolf in an open-world Elder Scrolls game almost gave me a fanboy heart attack. However awesome you think Skyrim is, multiply that by Odin to get how awesome I think it is. The only thing missing was an organized faction of wussy-ass vampires (you heard me, consider the gauntlet thrown!) to tear apart with my Nordic werewolf claws. Dawnguard gives me that, plus a new werewolf-specific perk tree. It may just be an expansion, but with the relatively lackluster showing of PC RPGs at this year's E3, it was the one thing I was most excited to hear more about.
Runner-ups: Assassin's Creed 3, Planetside 2
SimCity is looking more and more like the reboot the series deserves. The new engine is simulation-oriented, and changes the game's underlying processes without mucking with the SimCity mechanics we're used to, such as zoning areas. City specializations, resources, and vertical integration create opportunities for industrious mayors to noodle around with economics. The buildings have been pared down to their identifying features, making them charming and easily readable. The sound design makes crunching buildings into their foundations seem forceful and satisfying. Oh, and you can build cities next to your friends' if you want. It's evolving where it should while keeping the core SimCity concepts in play. If Maxis had asked me what I wanted from a new SimCity before it started on this project, I wouldn't have come up with anything I wanted as much as what it's promising.
Runner-ups: Divinity: Original Sin, PlanetSide 2
Tom Francis: Dishonored
Sipping tea in my rain-lashed manor back here in England, my view of E3 has mainly been the major publisher's press conferences. Their weird blend of family games and relentless, brutal, fetishised ultra-violence left me wondering if there was anything there for gamers like me.
But tucked away from the main stages, there was something for us: Dishonored. An open ended infiltration game with teleportation, possession, Force Push, and no small measure of fetishised ultra-violence. But they showed it in context, and demonstrated that the decision to put a blade through someone's skull was up to the player - that makes it meaningful. The generous 9-minute walkthrough video is hugely entertaining, and it's now the game I'm most excited about playing.
Tom Senior: Watch Dogs
Drab, misguided showings from many of this year's major players at E3 made me wonder what E3 is really for. Most of what was shown this year has been on the radar for a while. We were seeing new footage of largely known entities, but then, in the final moments of the Ubisoft press conference on day one, this appeared. An open world game of assassination and high tech espionage in an interconnected Chicago. Entire minutes passed without anyone being hit with a stick or shot in the face (that came later). There was investigation, conversation, and slow walk through rain slick streets in a flapping trenchcoat. There was a bit of GTA in there, and a bit of Deus Ex. It was beautiful, cool, and most importantly, new. E3 should be about surprises, which makes Watch Dogs my pick of E3 2012.
Runner-ups: John Carmack, Dawnguard
Chris: Assassin's Creed 3
What I'm looking for at an E3 presentation is a sense of the game I'll actually end up playing. It feels like the higher-profile the franchise, the less likely that we'll get to see what we'll actually be doing when the autumn rolls around.
Aside from the fact that Dishonored and Watch Dogs were taken, this is why Assassin's Creed 3 is my pick of the show. The seven minute demonstration at the Ubisoft conference certainly had its (seemingly) impossibly cinematic moments, but it was glued together by sequences that looked very much like an Assassin's Creed game - and a good one at that.
The moment when Connor returns deer meat to the forest encampment, for example, or when a passer-by asks him to fetch some mercury: that's what you're going to be doing come November.
It doesn't really bother me that Connor is the kind of assassin who'll ride a horse right up to the enemy gates, or blow up half a fortress to distract a target. Assassin's Creed has always been more of a gymnastic badassery simulator than a stealth game, and in that regard it's looking really, really slick. Also, their heavy enemy type appears to simply be defined as 'Scotsmen'.
Finally, the E3 screenshots refer to countryside parkour as 'treerunning'. Good work, Ubisoft. Pun of the show.
Runner-ups: Dishonored, Watch Dogs
Dawnguard art director Matt Carofano meets up with one of our E3 colleagues in Bethesda's E3 armoury to talk over the features we can expect from Dawnguard. Here's a summary of many of those new additions, and some Dawnguard screenshots showing the Soul Cairn realm, crossbows and Vampire lords that'll be added in the update. Carofano mentions that it's out later this month, but that's only on Xbox 360, sadly. It'll probably be a few weeks before it turns up on PC, which I greet with a feeling of disappointment that can only be communicated through the infinite sadness of dogs.
Jun 6, 2012
Todd Howard's been chatting to G4TV about many of the new features we can look forward to in Skyrim's upcoming expansion, Dawnguard. It'll give you the choice to become a vampire lord and side with vampire leader Harkan, or join the fight against unambiguous evil by siding with the Dawnguard. Howard dropped details on the perks and abilities we'll get to use on both sides, and talked a bit about some other extra stuff we can look forward to, including a magical mount that can be summoned from the plane of the dead, and your very own armoured troll.
You turn into this dude.
You can then turn into a swarm of bats to dodge attacks.
You can fly. And hover.
You can "bite people and suck their health and kill them" to open up new perks.
You can summon gargoyles.
You get a "vampiric gripping-people-and-throwing-through-the-air" move
New dragon shout: Soul Tear. This "lets you rip the souls out of other people, then you collect their soul, and then they become your undead minion."
You'll do more "crafting and exploring" on the Dawnguard side of things.
You can wield crossbows. TWHUNK!
You can wear really sweet armour.
You can "have your own armoured troll." Howard sadly did not elaborate on this, except to say "'scool."
You get a new perk tree that revolves around mauling enemies. The more you maul, the more you move up the tree. Howard explained that Bethesda have added the tree to help werewolves keep up with high level characters. Here are some abilities spotted on the tech tree.
Bestial Strength: do 25% more damage as a werewolf
Totem of Terror: Werewolf Howl of Terror affects even higher level enemies.
Animal Vigor: 100 point bonus to health and stamina in beast form.
Gorging: Feeding heals twice as much health.
Here are some other abilities that are named but not detailed.
Totem of Ice Brothers
Totem of the mace
Totem of the Predator
You can return to Oblivion to explore the "Soul Cairn." That's a big, glowing purple dimension that we've seen in recent screenshots.
Dawnguard will add "ten to 20 hours of new content."
There will be new crafting recipes for Dragonbone weapons, which will be more powerful than Daedric ones. "You can craft crossbow bolts."
Many of the ideas for Dawnguard came about during the Skyrim game jam that Todd Howard highlighted at DICE 2012.
There will probably be Snow Elves. Some files for these were spotted hidden away in recent Skyrim patches. "Errrrrrm," said Todd Howard when asked about them. "There's a lot of things in the DLC. We don't want to spoil anything"
Dawnguard is coming out on June 26 on Xbox 360 and will cost $20. Todd Howard has "no idea right now" when it'll come out on other platforms so it looks like we'll just have to wait, and perhaps brood in the moonlight for a bit to get into the spirit of things.
For more on Dawnguard, have a watch of the Dawnguard trailer and check out the E3 screenshots.
A bunch of new Dawnguard screenshots have appeared over on Kotaku, giving us a good look at some of the new foes we can expect to face in Skyrim's first expansion, and some of the new weapons of war we'll use to dispatch them. Without further ado, let's take a look at each one, and see what we can learn.
Here the Vampire Lord does an excellent job of establishing that he is The Bad Guy by apparently incinerating some poor woman, though those tendrils of energy could be siphoning life energy back into him. As we'll see in the Vampire Lord tech tree later, this could be an important new ability. In Dawnguard, we'll get to choose whether to become a vampire lord, or join the Dawnguard to thwart their evil plans.
Here he is again, slightly rotated. Note his preference for crows over more your more traditional vampire bat familiars. Perhaps he's a fan of the Song of Ice and Fire series of novels That, or they actually are bats, warped out of shape by frantic motion blur. He is angry because his wings don't work, and has decided to take it out on humanity by embarking on a mission to blot out the sun and turn Tamriel into a living hell. No, he can't "just get over it," unfortunately, he's a being of pure evil.
Skyrim's sky is a confusing place at the best of times, but with the addition of an evil purple nebula and Nosferatu's noggin, it's just plain scary. It looks as though we'll have to string together biting streaks to gain access to the most powerful skills at the top of the tech tree, buried somewhere inside the vampire's forehead, there.
The expansion's big choice is whether to join the vampires or the Dawnguard. It's been all about the vampires so far, but here we get a look at some of the ornate armour we'll presumably get to use as a codified member of Skyrim's order of vampire hunters. Immortality vs. sweet armour. Tough call. I'm more interested in wandering up the steps to that massive castle in the background. If only we could get a better look somehow.
Quite a nice castle
Ah, there it is! It's probably about 8 out of 10, as castles go. Many of Skyrim's forts have crumbled into shoddy ruins, and are commonly infested with necromancers, vengeful spirits and bored undead types eager to jump the next passing adventurer. This, however, is a stately, well maintained piece of architecture, though I'm pretty sure it's possible to scale the tree on the left and hop onto the parapet there. Don't worry, I'm sure the vampires will never think of that.
A very nice castle indeed
This is gorgeous. It has the grey, misty feel common to Skyrim's most epic vistas, but here the fog rest among the ruins of a colossal structure instead of a mountain. That walk up from the bank and over that bridge to the portcullis should look magnificent. It looks as though it's out at sea slightly. As an Argonian, my character could make the swim without too much difficulty, but less lizardy players might need a bit of help to get out there, via magic or, perhaps, a working version of the many ruined boats that can be found strewn along the northern coasts of Skyrim.
The first screenshot of one of Dawnguard's new crossbows. It looks dangerous enough, and the metallic inlay there looks almost Dwemer in design. It'd make sense for some of Tamriel's greates inventors to come up with the prototype version of such a weapon, but the most important thing, which we can't see here, is the THWUNK factor. Crossbows take a while to reload, so when they fire they need to look and sound deadly.
Is ... is that an ELDER SCROLL on this character's back? The mighty tomes that contain the knowledge of everything that is and will ever be in Tamriel aren't very portable, as you might imagine, but I've never considered them as a fashion accessory. It almost looks as though this character is ready to reach back and unholster it as a weapon. Instead they're content to stand right here and laud it over the revellers below. "Yes, I'm wearing an Elder Scrolls, WHAT OF IT?"
This man's palms can glow and he really wants you to know about it. Yes, strange bearded man, we see, we see how your palm glows, but there's an Orc with a crossbow behind you who seems to be pointing it this way. I really can't stop to chat about your illuminated digits when I'm in danger of taking an arrow to the ... face. It's easy to imagine that we'll be seeing lots of this if we side with the vampire forces in Dawnguard.
Ho! A knight ahorse
The bucket helmet and big pauldrons are signs that this guy means business, but it's his attention to detail that's impressive. Note the tiny spikes attached to the straps around his horse's face, that's a dedicated attempt to intimidate, right there. Mounted combat was added for free in a recent patch. It looks as though Dawnguard will give us an excuse to mix it up with some fiercer mounted opposition. Expect modders to improve those horse textures, too.
The purple dimension
This, here, is the problem, you see. If the vampire lords were on a mission to spread rainbows across the continent, there would be no need for the Dawnguard. Instead there would be a Hugsguard, on hand to deliver a friendly welcome with military efficiency. But NO. Instead they're all "let's blot out the sun" and "let's change reality so what when buildings collapse they'll collapse UPWARDS because that will REALLY mess people up." Perhaps the decision as to whether to join the vampires or not really comes down to how much you like the colour purple. If so, back 'em 100% and look forward to lots of scenes like this.
Ah, that's better. Nothing quite like a gorgeous, rose sunset to erase memories of the hellish alternative dimension that the undead are trying to impose upon all of creation. Not pictured: the moments following when our quilt-armoured warrior jumps forwards and shouts "wheeeeeeeeee!" as his body ragdolls down the mountainside. Quick-load is a wonderful thing.
The return of surprised skeleton
Oh hey, it's that really surprised skeleton from the early Skyrim screenshots! He seems less surprised now, which is surprising because a bush right next to him is getting nuked by magical bolts of fire from the sky. Actually, he looks more terrified, which fits, that floating axe sure looks like it means business. It looks as though the Dawnguard will get to take the fight right to the heart of the vampire lords' seat of power.
May 31, 2012
Tom went to visit Zenimax Online Studios recently to take an early look at The Elder Scrolls Online. He sat down with game director Matt Firor to talk about the challenges of bringing The Elder Scrolls into an MMO setting, with reference to character building, skills and more. To hear more from the designers of The Elder Scrolls Online, check out our 20 minute video interview with Maria Aliprando, Nick Konkle and Brian Wheeler. Check out our post on everything you need to know about The Elder Scrolls Online for more details.
May 31, 2012
It's the first trailer for Skyirm's first expansion, Dawnguard. Vampires. Holy crap. Castles, crossbows, severe anti-sun sentiment. A lot of these things were picked out when fans datamined some recent patch notes, but here they are in motion. Exciting stuff.
May 28, 2012
High level MMO play is typically associated with stacks and stacks of ability icons lighting up and flickering in and out of of cooldown animations. Zenimax reckon that modern technology and improved latency means there's no need to rely on those flashing icons when you can accurately see how the action is playing out in the game world. You'll still have combat skills, of course, but they'll be tucked away in a minimalist interface designed to bring the player further into the world.
Lead gameplay designer Nick Konkle explains. "I think a lot of the previous generations of MMOs a lot of the game is looking at that UI and playing it. Technical restrictions were such that we couldn't have that sort of fully immersive battle experience because people weren't where they were, where you would see them, they were somewhere else.
"But we wanted to create an immersive experience because that's the modern game, that's the modern RPG," he says. "One in which I look at the world, not at my hotbar. Not at numbers that are flying up."
That'll be the only way to see some of the massive fights that will feature in The Elder Scrolls Online. "If you're looking at your UI when there's 200 people on your screen fighting each other you're kind of missing out on one of the big things that we're trying to do which is these huge battles," says PvP designer Brian Wheeler. "If you're looking at the UI then you're missing all the fun of just seeing people jumping in and beating the crap out of each other. It's really cool."
Even beyond The Elder Scrolls Online's big PvP plans, the reduced UI is intended to help players confront Tamriel's monsters. Zenimax suggest they'll be tougher than your typical MMO trash mobs. "We want monsters to be a challenge to the player every single time you fight them, not a speedbump for the player. We don't want fighting monsters to be boring or you can eat a sandwich or do five other things while fighting a monster," says gameplay designer Maria Aliprando.
"We want to reward you for executing moves and fighting against monsters as well. So when monsters present their dynamic behaviours we don't want to confuse you with UI all over the screen we want you to be in there fighting with the monster at the moment."
Game director Matt Firor mentions another reason for the slimmed down interface. "We made a lot of choices to make it very accessible to the player who's only experienced the console versions of The Elder Scrolls."
"Things like the interface is very minimalistic and it lets you concentrate on the world, not on the interface, so we made it feel much more like a console game from the interface side than an MMO, just for that reason, to make sure that everyone feels comfortable when they play it."
To find out more about how combat works in The Elder Scrolls Online, check out our article on how combat works in The Elder Scrolls Online. You can also check out how Skyrim and Oblivion have influenced The Elder Scrolls Online, or head over to our everything you need to know about The Elder Scrolls Online page. Our chums at Edge also have plenty of exclusive info on The Elder Scrolls Online if you're looking for more.
So, we've put dozens and dozens of hours into Skyrim, and we'll put in many more. The Dawnguard expansion is coming up and the Steam workshop is turning up new places to explore every few weeks. Why would we want to hop into The Elder Scrolls Online? For studio general manager, Matt Firor, the answer is simple. It's Tamriel. "It's a world you've always wanted to explore with friends, and now you can."
Zenimax Online Studios haven't had to sit down and draft an entire world from scratch. 18 years of Elder Scrolls games and expansions have poured oodles of detail into the lore of that world. From Morrowind to Oblivion and Skyrim, each game has sketched more detail onto that grand world map. The Elder Scrolls Online will let us wander those lands and discover new ones. "You've been able to explore parts of each province before, but now you get much more of the world," says Firor.
Zenimax are taking steps to ensure that The Elder Scrolls Online delivers an accurate rendition of Tamriel. They're modelling Cyrodiil using Oblivion's height map to ensure it feels right, and they're basing much of the northern lands on Bethesda's vision of Skyrim.
"With the height map for Cyrodiil, which was our PVP zone, we took the height map pretty much right out of the game Oblivion just to make it feel familiar to other players," Firor explains. "That's mostly because it's such a huge area, we wanted to put in the towns and villages that people were familiar with.
"For our Skyrim province we're a thousand years in the past remember so we have a little leeway on what we can do. But yeah you still find Winterhold, you still find Riften, the topography is very similar, the rivers are in the same place and so forth but we have different stories to tell in that time period."
He also said that the world designers "held up our version of the Skyrim province until Skyrim had shipped and everyone knew what it looked like."
The Elder Scrolls Online is set in the second era, much earlier than the other Elder Scrolls games. During that period, the Daedric lord Molag Bal tries to conquer the world, the mage guild is still young and the Dark Brotherhood is in the process of being formed. Zenimax have already told us a bit about how combat will work in The Elder Scrolls Online, for more, here's everything you need to know about The Elder Scrolls Online.