Experienced Points: The Surprising Things About Elder Scrolls Online

By Shamus
on Feb 7, 2014
Filed under:
Column

The NDA is lifted, so we’re free to discuss The Elder Scrolls Online, which is exactly what I do in today’s special Friday column.

And yes, it’s pretty good. Go figure. I know I predicted a disaster for this thing, and I’m happy to see I was wrong.

However, after spending 1,200 words or so praising the game, let me offer a gripe:


The person responsible for washing out the colors in this game should be flogged.

This is what the game looks like:

Eh. That’s not too bad I guess.

When it really ought to look like this:

WOW. Okay, that’s nice.

Skyrim had the same problem: Gorgeous visuals that were reduced to a pale, watery mush out of some irrational pursuit of “realism”. Except, it’s not even realistic. I can look out my window right now on an overcast winter day and see a more vibrantly blue sky than the one in ESO.

This is a crime against art. The deserts of Stros M’kai should be warm orange. The snowy crevaces of Bleakrock isle should be cool blue. The lush tropical beaches of Auridon should be vibrant green. The depths of Oblivion should be… well, I guess that can look however you like. Purple fog, deep red light, whatever. Instead, they all have the same shy, lifeless color palette.

The art is good. The individual areas are varied and interesting. But this color filter is the death of joy. It reminds me of some other games I might mention. If I was an artist on this team I would have assaulted the art director over this. It’s just… there’s no reason for it.

Still in beta. Maybe if the community makes a fuss this can be changed. One can hope, anyway.

EDIT: Also, there’s a complete lack of any kind of soundscape. No sloshing water on the beach, no calling birds, howling wind, creaking wood, rustling trees, or chattering wildlife. I think I heard some crickets at night, though. Still, I hope this is something that will get taken care of before release.

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  1. Ilseroth says:

    NDA lifted Eh, As a long time beta tester I can say this, I agree with you. I went into the game fully expecting the game to be hot garbage. I really did. I was going in going “Oh god what are they going to do” and then when I played it I warmed u to it the longer I played. I havent read the article yet(going to do it now) but specifically on the art, yeah it got the modern game art of “Wash everything out for “realism.”

    • Ilseroth says:

      Aaaand after reading it, yeah more agreements. My *biggest* worry was that it was going to be WoW again. but overall you only have a small hotbar of which you dont even need on the screen.

      I will make one clarification, technically the skills don’t level up in the Skyrim manner. Essentially every action (quest/killing something/ ect) gives experience. That experience is then distributed to everything you are using at that point in time, including your hotbar. So far instance, if you equip a Soul Magic spell in your hotbar you never technically have to use it; as long as it is in your hotbar it will level up.

      Same goes for armor and weapons, essentially, upon completion of a task (turn in a quest) you will get experience in those skills. You never actually have had to used the armor in combat. It is kind of aworkaround to Skyrim (elderscrolls since daggerfall) skill based levelling system and it works ok.

      This is in contrast to Skyrim where you have to use a skill to level it up. that being said, it still works, it jsut means you can exploit it by say, equipping a spell you want to level up before turning in some quests.

      As for the story, I’ll agree that the quest stories seem a lot better, and some of the choices are cool. That being said, I do think it has a bit of the “chosen one” syndrome with the “Main” quest, which I ended up not even doing during my time with the beta.

      Really the gems of the game come from the off quests, generally the ones further from town so there aren’t hordes of people walking around which bring me to the games main failing so far…

      I am not 100% convinced that this needed to be an *mmo* specifically. I think the elder scrolls gameplay model (of your character being aprimary catalyst for many events) is kind of at odds with the high player population. With 3-4 other people walking around maybe it would make sense. But if I see a flow of people walking up to the person who jsut entrusted me with a serious task, and they all walk away to go do the same thing?

      I mean in WoW generally they are asking you to go get them pelts, or blow up some barrels, tasks that would be not unreasonable for multiple people to be sent to do. In ESO there are some quests that involve you fixing areas permanently, so when I sanctify an area and get rid of the ghosts, it is a bit immersion breaking to see another player fighting those ghosts (that are now invisible to me)

      But overall, I was happily surprised by ESO so far, I hope they continue to improve it as we approach release.

      • aldowyn says:

        There will be a lot less people there a couple of weeks after launch. It’s almost impossible to avoid, really :/

        I totally get what you mean by the ‘chosen one’ syndrome with regards to the main quest. I’m not sure why that even needs to be in the game.

        • MelTorefas says:

          This 1000 times. The main quest really turns me off of a game I otherwise actually enjoy. I just wish they would let you pick a starting city somewhere and get to it, ala original EverQuest.

          Incidentally, I am also not a fan of the constrained starting areas and tutorials.

  2. Corpital says:

    Huh. These surprising things about ESO surprised me. In a surprisingly good way. But 60$ retail and 15 per month is, indeed, a bit too steep a barrier for me.

    Also, that original screenshot is sadmaking.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I really dont get why games are doing this washed out colors thing.Unlike some of the other annoying things games and movies are doing,this is the one that doesnt add anything,isnt easier to produce or render,is no improvement in any shape or form,but just looks bad.

    • I could be really off here, but if I was grabbing equipment for my over $10k/month/seat artists, I’d probably buy them nice monitors. I’d probably do a cursory glance at ‘for digital artists’ stuff and I’d end up with wide gamut backlit screens. _I’d_ make sure to configure them properly so the artist could work with them and get an impression of how the average user would experience the final game while using their screen, maybe put some education in place to make sure everyone on the team understood this. But I’m not in that line of work, and maybe someone who is doesn’t really know what wide gamut means.

      Maybe the devs with an eye for colour on the team see the game playing with a great range, not washed out at all. But we’re mainly using basic limited gamut screen so, to us, it looks washed out.

      As an aside for anyone who wants to make a game look like the second shot rather than the first for no cost, no injecting dlls to change draw calls: in the nVidia controls the setting you’re looking for is called Digital vibrance. http://www.nvidia.com/object/feature_dvc.html AMD and Intel equivalents are available.

    • Zukhramm says:

      Because different people think different things look good. I made a texture pack for Minecraft which was just the default textures desaturated. I just like it.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      One possibility is that it helps the UI stand out. If everything is high contrast and high saturation, it can be difficult to differentiate the interface from the game world. I’d guess that when you do tissue testing, people who have never seen the game before look for the interface first thing, and de-saturating and de-contrasting the world view would definitely draw the eye to the things they can interact with.

      But if that’s the reason, I would disable this “feature” when the tutorial ends. I don’t suppose there’s a “color saturation” slider in the graphics options? That seems like the clear solution here.

      • kdansky says:

        But making the UI stand out is kind of the opposite of what you want: Having the world stand out, and make the UI as unintrusive as possible. UI is a necessary evil. That’s one of the problems of WoW: When I raided, I put the graphics to their lowest settings, because I didn’t watch the action anyway.

  4. Hal says:

    While it’s reassuring to hear that it’s not a terrible WoW clone, it will always be disappointing to me because it’s an MMO. Perhaps a better way of putting it is, “I’d rather they keep making excellent single-player games than an acceptable MMO.”

    (Yes, I know these are not necessarily competing interests, but I have a hard time believing there wasn’t at least an opportunity cost involved.)

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Thats pretty much my stance as well.I simply dont like mmos.Very rarely can a game engage me so much that I tolerate other people(like in team fortress).I think thats probably because I enjoy pvp more than pve.And the only game where I played pve in any meaningful fashion was diablo 3,and I got that game only because I was intrigued by the real money auction house and wanted to give that a try.

    • skd says:

      to me it is not even an acceptable MMO after playing games like Guild Wars 2. Nothing is instanced, and everything is common world. When one person opens a chest or picks up an object or mines a resource point that thing becomes unavailable to all other players until it respawns. Not even the few front end “dungeons” were instanced. After having played the previous closed betas I am not even interested in logging in this weekend, much less spending any money for this game in the future. I would much rather have another good single player game or, if they absolutely must have multiplayer then implement it like Saints Row 3 and 4 where me and my friends can play together without having to play with everyone else.

      Maybe I am just biased as someone who doesn’t see the need for every game to have a multiplayer element or force me to use it. Maybe I am biased as someone who has played MMOs off and on since Ultime and is disappointed at seeing new entries make the same mistakes that were common ten years ago and which have been solved in multiple ways since then.

      • Alex says:

        See, that would be a selling point for me. My best experience in any MMO (a MUD, actually) only happened because it didn’t use instancing. A high level character had gone into a dark dungeon without a light and gotten himself lost. I was playing a much lower leveled character, but had explored that dungeon with night vision goggles (since they didn’t give away your position in the dark). So I was able to go in and lead him out.

      • Jeff says:

        When one person opens a chest or picks up an object or mines a resource point that thing becomes unavailable to all other players until it respawns.

        GW2 really spoils you in terms of quality of life things like this. No arguing about ninja-looting, no competing for resources (often leading to people not contributing to combat), no kill stealing (everybody gets credit), deposit materials from anywhere, list things at the Trading Post from anywhere. No subscription fees!

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Also,I have to report another weird behavior of the site and comments(and hopefully this will lead to a solution of sorts):

    Again,on the main page it said that there is one comment here,but when I clicked on the post itself,the counter was at 0.Then I went to the previous post(spoiler warning),and made a comment there.Now that the site remembered me for a bit(my name and email remain entered in the fields for 30 minutes or so),and I clicked back on this post,Ilseroth’s comment was finally displayed correctly.

    I did a little test now and opened the site from another browser(one where the name and email fields are blank at the moment),and sure enough,the main page says 4 comments,but clicking on the post itself,none are displayed and counter says 0.

    So there,the problem is somewhere in the residual code left from back when you had edits enabled.

    • X2Eliah says:

      Yeah. Same thing happening rn with 24 (frontpage) / 18 (post itself) comments (and its frankly the same issue I posted about in one of the recent posts – this is not about the counters being wonky or whatever, this is about the post-page serving an outdated/cached version instead of the current-est).
      Rather annoying, it seems like posting a comment is the only way to force it to renew itself.

      • X2Eliah says:

        Sigh. It keeps getting more and more ridiculous. 41 actual comments, post-page only shows 31.

        • Shamus says:

          The blog caches pages. The cache updates periodically. If you leave a comment, then you start seeing things fresh.

          There’s nothing to be done. The only option is to go shopping for a new caching solution, and the one I’m using is supposedly the best. (Or at least, it’s the most popular by far.)

          Remember that for people who don’t leave comments (95% of the readers or more) it basically works fine. The only difference is that they see comments appear in batches, every N minutes or so. For those that do leave comments, it’s a little wonky but I don’t think it interferes with the discussion.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Well a thing you could do is make an official post about it,so at least people would know of the bug once they encounter it.

            Also,it is pretty hilarious to post something,come back after half an hour and see it disappear,then some time later see it appear once more.

          • Paul Spooner says:

            Really? Only 1/40th or less of the readers leave comments? Wow, your traffic is a lot bigger than I thought.
            I wonder what leads some people to leave comments, and others to not bother? Is there any way for you to tell how many people READ the comments?
            I second DL’s suggestion. This might be an easy blog post, plus an opportunity to explain CS concept of the week (caching) in simple terms by way of an automobile analogy!

            • Soylent Dave says:

              95% would be 1/20, but even 1/40 readers leaving a comment would be awesome. Getting anything close to either of those shows how effectively Shamus has built up a community here (which is part persistence & part ethos).

              On most blogs, or even ‘proper’ websites (news and that), the ratio of readers:commenters is gargantuan.

              If you get it as high as 1:100, you’re very, very engaged with your readership (e.g. I get a couple of comments a month out of my readership of 2,500; I’ve freelanced for sites with six-figure readership, and received less than 2000 comments and so on)

              People do typically use the internet a lot more passively than we may realise (especially if you’re the sort of person who does get involved and leave comments, etc.)

              I wouldn’t be surprised if Shamus’ had a higher ratio than normal, because of the way he approaches & engages with his readership (and actively encourages comments & friendly debate) – but it’s still always going to be the tip of a massive iceberg of readership.

              • Tizzy says:

                Comments on this blog tend to engage dialogue, so I am not surprised that the ratio comments/readers is atypically high.

                I read most articles, many comments, but I don’t add to them that often. Sometimes, there is not enough time. Very often, I will check the comments for something I’d like to add: if someone’s already said it, there is no point in repeating it.

  6. Rutskarn says:

    I don’t say this for anyone’s benefit but my own, but I really do kinda hope this one goes Free-to-Play.

    I mean, I’m sure as hell not buying it. I don’t care how good it is–sixty dollars? Plus fifteen dollars a MONTH? This game plus a couple months of subscription would be more than I spend on videogames in a year.

    For their sake, I hope there’s a lot more rich gamers out there than previously projected. For my sake, I kinda hope there aren’t.

    • X2Eliah says:

      Yeah, same here. 60+15continuous is too much, especially with tons of kickstarter-based games being online, and cheaper, and not continuous-cost based (e.g. star citizen at Scout level)…

      My guess is that it will flop initially sales-wise, go f2p in 9-12 months, and then… No idea. Either it takes off and becomes a big thing, or it withers and dies.

      • aldowyn says:

        Y’know, MMOs don’t have to be the ‘next big thing’. There’s tons that are getting by or even doing genuinely well that went F2P, like Lord of the Rings Online or DDO

        Even SWTOR is probably making money (not that it’s been profitable yet, or will be for quite a long time) or they wouldn’t be developing more stuff for it – and I don’t think ESO has had quite THAT much money poured into it.

        • Muspel says:

          Well, they have to be the “next big thing” to justify huge budgets like the one that ESO almost certainly has.

          But yes, I absolutely agree that there’s tons of room for MMOs to be “less successful than WoW” and still be very profitable. The problem, I think, is that a lot of publishers and/or developers don’t seem to want to develop for that space, so they shoot for the moon and end up hitting themselves in the foot.

    • Warrax says:

      That’s the problem with MMOs, and probably why I’m not playing one.

      *Subscription fees are too high

      *Free-to play games suuuuuuck

      I haven’t tried Guild Wars, but the general consensus seems to be “eh, it’s ‘aight”, so I can’t tell if splitting the difference really solves anything.

      • Trix2000 says:

        Don’t be so sure on every ftp game being bad. Many aren’t that incredible, but there are examples where the model’s been used VERY well. Granted, they aren’t the majority…

        Plus, ftp (properly structured/managed) really seems like the way to go with MMOs now. With how saturated the market is, it’s really hard to convince someone to pay any significant amount of money just to try/play the game when plenty of good free options exist. Heck, I’m guessing even the MMO juggernaut that is WoW will need to make the shift someday in the not-so-distant future, just because the old subscription models are that much harder to support today.

        Of course, I could easily be wrong.

      • CowAnon says:

        GW2 has a lame story, but some quality of life improvements that make the playing experience much better. Playing the ESO beta reminded me of all the things that I like about GW2 because ESO didn’t have them.

        I’ll be very interested in ESO when they drop either the sub or the box price. Until then, it’s too high a cost to pay for a game that’s interesting but nothing more.

        If this was single player and DRM-free I’d have grabbed it at full price on day 1.

    • Matt K says:

      Same here. I don’t think I’ve paid more than $30 for a game is years (and the last one I paid that much for was Deus Ex). Heck, just the sub fee is about what I average paying for games now a days. SO there’s no way I can justify paying a sub fee.

    • Khizan says:

      $15 continuous really isn’t that bad when you consider the amount of time most MMO players spend on the game.

      When I played WoW, I had 2 raid nights a week with a group of friends, and each night was probably ~3 hours of raiding on average. When you break that down, that’s 8 nights a month of entertainment with my friends at ~$1.90 or so a night, which is practically nothing. One night a week and you’re still looking at $3.75 per night for entertainment.

      That’s amazingly cheap. There’s damn near nowhere you can go that comes out to less than that. Even if we’d all met up to play D&D or board games or something at a house, I’d spend more than $1.90 on gas just getting there. I guess we could have played other online games for free, but all the similar games lack the quality of WoW, impose significant paywalls that all of us would have to pay to breach, or both.

      As far as entertainment value per dollar spent, MMOs can be incredibly good bargains.

      • guy says:

        By the same token, Shamus has logged literally over a thousand hours on Skyrim and just paid 60$ or less upfront.

        I’m personally pretty leery of paying 60$ upfront and 15$ continuous.

      • Taellosse says:

        Yeah, but it really depends what you’re comparing them to. If the comparison is “travel to a meeting location and do anything IRL” then yes, an MMO is cheaper most of the time. But if it is “buy a cheap game on Steam with high replay value” it really isn’t.

        Which is to say, if the way you categorize an MMO in your head is “a social experience with friends” then it’s a great deal to pay a monthly sub. However, if you categorize it as “my go-to video game” it really, really isn’t. Both are valid, but it’s not going to be the same for everyone.

      • Disc says:

        I’d still prefer an option for a lifetime account. For a substantial investment get all the benefits of a subscription but you never have to bother with the monthly investments ever again. While it’d still pressure you to play, you’ll be free from having to schedule your gaming sessions around the monthly subscriptions to get most out of it. There’s of course always the risk that something bad happens and the MMO goes down, but coming from personal experience purchasing one in Lotro (sadly not available anymore), it can have tremendous value.

        • Taellosse says:

          That makes sense if you’re really sure you’re going to be playing the game for long enough to make it a good value. Frankly, I’ve never found an MMO that I wanted to play for that long. But then, I’m not a really social gamer, so they tend to get boring for me.

      • Abnaxis says:

        My biggest problem with sub fees isn’t economic, it’s psychological.

        If I pay $15 to play a game for a month, any time I’m playing something else feels like I’m burning dollars. Playing the MMO becomes an obligation I have made to make my sub fee worth it, and I can’t just set it down when I’m in the mood for something besides TES. The commitment drains all the fun and makes me resent the game instead of enjoying it.

        I easily have the $15/month to blow on excesses like an MMO, and in sheer terms of dollars per hour of entertainment I’m sure I would come out ahead in the long run. I just don’t have the constitution for it. I am fundamentally not wired to pay subscriptions for games.

        • Taellosse says:

          I’m the same way. Which is a big reason why I generally don’t play them. But I can totally understand how the appeal might differ for someone with different preferences and mentality.

          Of course, the other reason is I’m basically not a social gamer, so I tend to try to play them solo, and then they get boring fast.

        • Daimbert says:

          I’ve played MMOs enough to break myself of this habit, for the most part, but this was one of the things that CoH’s F2P model did really well. When subscribed, every month you got a certain amount of money to spend in the shops. This is something that pretty much all of them do. However, in CoH there was a LOT of useful things to buy in the shops. Costume items, powersets, etc, etc. With that, I didn’t mind being subscribed and not playing because at least I got something out of staying subscribed and could then play it whenever I wanted and got all of the other subscriber perks as well. So if I played a lot it was definitely worth it, and if I didn’t play, I still got something out of it. Thus, it was just easier to stay subscribed.

          TOR would be similar except that there’s not that much of interest in the shops, at least not for me.

        • Galad says:

          Don’t think of it like that, think of it like money dropped for entertainment. So, if you don’t get the entertainment from the MMO, move on to something else that gives you entertainment

          • Abnaxis says:

            I’ve thought about it seom more, and I’ve come to the conclusion that That Is Not How I Was Raised.

            I grew up poor and white trash. My family had very little, both in terms of disposable income and in terms of financial forethought. This lead to a lot of making good out of poor spending decisions, because by golly we spent $50 on that pawn shop french horn so you’re sure as hell going to learn to play it and LIKE it!

            Upon reflection, this has followed me into adulthood (despite the fact that I make an order of magnitude more money than anyone in my family previously even accounting inflation), and not just in terms of MMOs. I positively abhor waste, to the point that I have made myself sick by drinking 3 pints of milk at a time, because we were going on vacation and it was going to go bad before we got back. The dollar value doesn’t matter–whether I paid $3 or $300 for it, I’m damn well going to get all the calories out of that gallon of 2%.

            By the same token, if I pay $15 for that MMO at the beginning of the month, I’m damn well going to get all the play time from those dollars I can. To my OCD-riddled mind, that creates an obligation that no amount of rationalization can overcome. I don’t pay for a movie ticket and leave before the credits, I don’t buy a gallon of milk and let it go bad, and I don’t subscribe to a service without utilizing it extensively. If I pay for something, I have to get something out of it. No excuses

    • ShantySeaShantyDo says:

      Personally, I don’t see a good way out here. I too am unwilling to pay a subscription fee for this game, but I also don’t want to see it go F2P because I’ve never played a F2P game where the microtransactions didn’t detract from the experience. I’d rather they go the Guild Wars route so that they can keep the microtransactions small and unobtrusive or do away with them entirely, but I don’t have high hopes for their ability to implement that without having planned it from the outset.

    • Tizzy says:

      You also have to hope it does ‘t flop too hard, or it’s curtains for the servers, do not go through the F2P Box, do not collect $200…

  7. Hal says:

    I think I can imagine how that will go:

    “Fus-Ro-“[Please pay $5 for the complete casting of this Shout.]

  8. X2Eliah says:

    Hm. I’m really surprised that you’re being mostly positive about ESO, seeing as most major gamejournosites (like RPS) seem to be rather scathing about it.

    Anyway.
    Colour palette – Argh. I completely agree with you, for what bloody reason is that dullification filter there? Granted, the counterexample is over-the-top, but it is also much much closer to how a large part of Oblivion looked like (and tbh, I’d say that oblivion had a lovely palette).

    Does the entire game look that washed-out, or is it just that one biome? (Or is it more a weather-induced colour filter like in Skyrim, where overcast = colourdrainage?)

  9. Brandon says:

    This mirrors what I’ve been hearing from a lot of people about the beta so far. I’m still not certain I want to jump into this game at all, because I’ve been trying very hard to stay off the MMO wagon*, but it’s good to hear that at least one company managed to produce something that isn’t just a WoW clone. Could be that it will usher in a new generation of MMOs, but I kind of doubt it.

    Still, sounds promising!

    *If City of Heroes came back I would be playing the crap out of it.

    • I just downloaded the CoH Icon program and the old CoH client just to have access to the costume maker. It’s well worth the 4.5 gigs of space if you want to play around with superhero concepts, especially since it unlocks everything, including parts previously only available on NPCs.

      • DaveMc says:

        I carelessly uninstalled CoH after it shut down, it never having occurred to me that there would be any reason to keep the client around … I may need to resort to extreme measures to recover, now that you’ve reminded me of the joys of the character creator. :) If federal agents kick in my door, I’m going to blame you, just so you know.

  10. Michelle Randall says:

    Yeah, never understood those filters, but something I am really worried about for this game, is the MMO part of it actually interesting? or is it an un-moddable singleplayer focused experience you have to pay for monthly?

  11. Janus says:

    Hm, your second picture is just about as overly caroonishly colourful as the first is trist and grey… Both can have a place in a good, fun game, both aren’t really “realistic”.

    The problem isn’t the low saturation by itself, but that it’s used everywhere at anytime, no matter if it makes sense or not, no matter if it fits the mood of an area or not.
    What we’d need is a variable saturation, depending on light intensity and source. A bright summer’s day? – gleaming green grass and a vibrant blue sky fits perfectly. A grey, heavily clouded day in autumn? – washed out colours fit the mood. At night saturation rises gradually, the closer an object is to a light source (street lantern, etc.)and fades the further into the darkness you go. Fitting the lighting to the mood you want to set,instead of fitting the mood to a misguided idea of “realism” you aim for.

    • Alan says:

      I agree that the second picture is cartoony; I took it as a side effect of Shamus working with the limited range of color in the original. Toned down just a touch, particularly to minimize how neon that green it, and I think it would be awesome.

      • AdmiralCheez says:

        I decided to play around with it, and it turns out it just needed the contrast to be turned up. Looks a whole lot better, in my opinion.

        • Shamus says:

          Oh man. That’s good. Yes, THAT’S how it should look.

          The over-saturation in mine is probably over-correction. Once you stare at pale images for a long time, vibrancy feels SO good.

          • Paul Spooner says:

            Since human color vision is linked to light levels, it seems like one could pretty easily emulate HDR by altering the saturation based on the nominal “brightness” of the environment (indoors, outdoors, etc). That would give some variation in saturation, instead of having one or the other all the time.
            There’s got to be a reason it looks like this! If only we knew what it was… then we could complain about it instead of speculating!

          • AdmiralCheez says:

            If I had to sit through colors this dull for the whole game, I bet I’d be over-correcting too. I really hope that they either fix it, or at least put in a color/contrast/whatever slider in the options menu. As it stands, there should be no excuse for having this color palette for what looks like a bright sunny day.

          • rofltehcat says:

            Rift kinda had the same problem but you can change the color saturation of nearly all games in your video driver controls (at least Nvidia). I don’t know if “Digital Color Correction” is the right term but it is at least how I’d translate it into English.

            Boosting it a bit made the game look much better.

    • Taellosse says:

      But the saturation isn’t too high at all. A bright sunny day in autumn, in, say, the Northeastern US, can totally look like that.

      • AdmiralCheez says:

        I live in the Northeast US, and I can vouch for the fact that on certain days, I’m surprised how bright and colorful everything is. Sometimes my lawn looks unnaturally neon green, and it creeps me out. Maybe it’s the hundred different varieties of weeds I’m accidentally cultivating, but it gets really bright green.

      • Michael says:

        If I’m honest? Skyrim’s color pallet always reminded me of hazy days in Wyoming and Montana. I actually saw similar colors when I was living in Eastern Washington. At higher elevations, you can get this really bled out bluish tinge on everything. (Granted, it’s only some days.) So Skyrim’s visuals didn’t pop as desaturated for me.

        That said, this is only some days, and it’s specifically only well above sea level, at elevations were altitude sickness is a real issue. So… then you get to the northern coast and my brain went, “derp”.

        • Janus says:

          I didn’t intented to bash the merits of more vibrant colours. My main point was supposed to be, that the perception of colours depends highly on time of day, lightsource, etc. and that neither purely washed out nor high-saturation looks can do that variation justice.
          The picture by AdmiralCheez looks perfect for a really, really sunny day. I still thing the first one by Shamus looks cartoonish, but maybe I should visit the US Northeast sometime, maybe my brain would go derp too.

          Also, there are different standards of colour grading in different countries and there are/were the NTSC vs. PAL differences. So maybe it’s a matter of different expectations and practices?
          For some europeans US TV-shows have a tendency to look oversaturated and weird:
          http://forums.digitalspy.co.uk/showthread.php?t=1648859

  12. Moriarty says:

    I’m still not entirely sold on the leveling system in skyrim. Especially the endgame worries me with the weapon skills not having any correlation with your class.

    Is there anyone in here who has played something to a high enough level to notice wether the actual classes are relevant?

    Is the one class with healing abilities actually better at healing than another resto-staff user? Or are both equally effective at healing, but offer different support abilities?

    • Moriarty says:

      any by skyrim, of course I mean TESO. …

    • aldowyn says:

      As far as I know (I haven’t played the beta in a while), the only difference between ‘classes’ is you get a few (three?) unique skills. So, a healer class (I don’t know what all classes there are by now) might have more options, but anyone can use a healing staff and its associated skills equally effectively.

      I think. Anyone can feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

      • Incunabulum says:

        Pretty much – but those class skills are vastly different in focus and force your character to specialize in one area or another.

        Sure your sneaky thief/assassin can dual wield swords (no daggers), smack heads with a warhammers, or use a staff – he won’t get the magic-focused skills that a sorcerer has so he’ll never be as good with that staff.

        Plus, magic spells outside the class set are cast from staves – so you can only have two spells ‘ready’, by having 2 weapon sets (and even then only once you reach level 15) – no switching between a catalogue of spells based on the needs of the situation.

        • Mephane says:

          It is a bit more varied. Basically, there are skill lines. Every weapon has a skill line with 5 active and 5 passive skills. That means, for example, the a destruction staff can grant you 5 spells in addition to its built-in fireball/frost/lightning shooting. You can use only skills for the weapon you are wearing, for obvious reasons, but you need to be a sorcerer to have your entire skill bar filled with actual magic. (Accordingly, a restoration staff gives 5 healing spells, which means that any character can become a healer, not just the templar with its own unique healing skill line.)

          Classes are special in that each provides 3 unique skill lines on its own, but any class can use any weapon and armor, and you can built a character centered around weapon skills just as well as one centered around class skills.

  13. MadHiro says:

    But the lore, think of what they’re doing to the lore! Despite the fact that the conversations are often crap, and half of the quest-lines are insulting or awful, the actual ‘world building’ of TES games has usually been pretty awesome, with some interesting and surprising depth. The MMO starts out doing bad things to it, and I shudder to think what will happen as they have to start cranking out ‘new’ quests and content.

    I can’t decide which bits upset me more. The fact that there is a completely unnoticed and unmentioned Oblivion Crisis that happened before TESIV: Oblivion, since the ‘plot’ for the MMO is essentially a re-labeling of that game. Or maybe something like the Ebonheart Pact, one of the three playable factions in the game, making so very little sense that it might make some new sort of negative sense, un-sense, sense that self-annihilates with sense when it meets.

  14. Wulfgar says:

    totally disagree about colors. making every game look like diablo 3 cow level is a crime against art. there is room for both. it’s like bashing Alien for not being more like Avatar

    • Steve C says:

      Except it has gone towards the washed out art ‘style’ for many years now. There’s room for both but it’s all been one way- no color. At least the AAA titles. The industry is just starting to bring back color now.

  15. R says:

    Shamus, is your monitor calibrated properly?

    Mine is. (white/black calibration, gamma calibration, all auto/dynamic brightness or color crap turned off, SRGB mode on etc.)

    The first image is bland here too, but the second is too saturated to my eyes.

    • Humanoid says:

      The differences in opinion could simply be down to TN vs IPS (or VA) LCD panels. Maybe games should ship with different colour profiles depending on the user’s monitor.

      ….or go with my preferred solution and have TN panels banned by the UN as a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

  16. Kamica says:

    I wanted to play ESO, I was invited for this weekend’s beta so I started downloading, first shock (’cause I don’t stay up to date with stuff) was that it’s 30-ish GB, I’ve never played a game that big =P. But I freed up some space on my computer and started downloading it anyway, two days later it almost finished downloading (I had been using my computer since) then it throws an error in my face telling me that there’s not enough space on my computer and it casually deletes all the data it downloaded. This was on Friday, so safe to say, I won’t be playing ESO until it goes free to play. (‘Cause I’ve never played a subscription based game and don’t plan to do so even for my most favourite game series)

  17. acronix says:

    I always thought TES would be nice if it had a multiplayer component, so I might could have ended up trying this one if my friends are collectively interested in it.

    Could have! But not really because TESO’s retail “Imperial” Edition has a Molag Bal statue. I’m sure they didn’t think of the implications.

  18. fats says:

    Yeah, I’ve been on the hater bandwagon for this game pretty much since day one. Nothing I heard about the game sounded appealing. Everything sounded terrible, awful, and like a giant waste of money.

    Now, having played it, I can say that it’s much, much better than I expected. Maybe it’s because my expectations for it were low, even for my already-low MMO-expectation standards, but I’ve had a really enjoyable time so far.

    I’m not sure I’ve had a $60 up front and $15 a month good time, but good enough that when the servers are down for maintenance (like now), I’m annoyed and wishing I could be playing instead of talking about it.

  19. Incunabulum says:

    Yeah, I’m not feeling it storywise in this game. Mechanically – its the same old shit, reheated again. You’d think they’d give the players some non-combat mechanics (like trap removal), though the inclusion of lockpicking is at least *something*. And then, of course they don’t allow you to specialize in it.

    There *have* been some quests where there is a choice to be made (I let an NPC one of the other NPC’s poisoned in an annoying cutscene die rather than save her). None where that choice seems to have mattered.

    I have seen at least one quest where you *don’t* have to do everything while the other NPC’s stand around and bitch at you for not doing it fast enough.

    Unfortunately the game holds your hand – there were pretty explicit instructions telling me to tell the others what their part would be.

    Questing is very Skyrimy – can’t fail quests, choices don’t matter, game will tell you exactly where to go and what to click on.

  20. Incunabulum says:

    Story-wise – I woke up in hell. And was disappointed. Its a G-rated hell of a rape-god where you’re less likely to be raped by a cenobite than you are to go insane from boredom. Other inhabitants stand around, they even have kiosks! so maybe this is supposed to be some (not really) ironic commentary on modern consumerism?

    Then THE PROPHET! contacts me and says he knows how to get us out. Why now, why me? Hey look! Squirrel!

    So we end up back in Tamriel. I’m like, hey thanks THE PROPHET! but I’ve got places to go, tombs to rob, wolves to hunt while galloping across the plains of Whiterun. Notsofast says THE PROPHET! you need to help these pirates. The ones ‘I sense no real malice from’. Yeah, uhm, I guess these are *good* pirates, like Captain Jack Sparrow? EXACTLY! Except he was a murderer, a liar, a thief, and an all-around horrible person who would sell his closest friend out. Uh. Yeah, I’m outa here.

    Only I’m not. can’t get off the island unless you, the guy they just met, do a bunch of stuff for them and *NOT* betray them to the ruler of this island in the hopes of a rewards and passage on another ship.

    So after doing all that, I finally got to the next leveling-zone, I mean Island! And it seems I’m back to can’t leave until you do the main questline.

  21. Elric says:

    I don’t know… I logged into the Beta yesterday for a very short time (had to get some sleep) and it seemed kinda meh. Note that I didn’t even get out of Oblivion and only fought the first couple of skeletons, but combat felt very “unphysical” like fighting against ghosts that you just walk and hit through. Movement feels like rollerskating, not so bouncy and realistic like in Skyrim, and the world is static and I couldn’t take or touch anything.

    So basically the gameplay feels like an MMO and not like an Elder Scrolls.
    I realize that these are the limits for being networked and such, but this is why I will always prefer the tailored, living and breathing single player experience to these static, constricted MMO worlds.

  22. I played this during a couple of the limited betas and I found it to be pretty terrible. Even putting aside the place-holder voices and things that would get fixed post-beta, the combat felt weird, like there wasn’t any force behind anything, the PCs and NPCs looked (and acted) largely the same so that was confusing when there was a lot of people around, graphically it was very bland, and the quests seemed really shallow. I didn’t like the class system or the skill system, and while I liked that you could “stealth” by crouching like the single player games, the effects seemed inconsistent.

    It basically just made me want to play skyrim.

    I prefer the subscription model to the standard F2P model, because I want the whole game all at once rather than piecemeal, but not even that would make my buy ESO.

  23. Justin says:

    Shamus, that second screenshot you said it “ought to look like” hurts my eyes.

  24. Michael says:

    In beta myself. I am really digging the combat, music, and quests of this game, though the visuals are a mixed bag for me. I loved the Aldmeri and Daggerfall starting islands, but the Ebonheart Pact one was just hideous, and so are the ones the follow it up.

    Also, the archery.. good god, that needs to be reworked from scratch, because those animations are broken as hell and have been for the last three betas.

    • Mephane says:

      Weird, I found the animations for archery quite good, and much much better than in many other MMOs, especially the abesense of the dreaded “machine gun bow&arrow” syndrome that so many games suffer from.

      What they really should rework are the animation for shooting with staffs of either type. The charged/channelled attacks are ok, but the normal attacks look very goofy, like someone trying to poke an invisible person with a small stick.

  25. Phantos says:

    I can understand not wanting to overload the player’s senses with high contrast, or strain their eyes or something.

    But yeah, I think going too far in the opposite direction probably wasn’t the best idea either. There’s got to be a happy medium between Shamus’ two example pictures.

    I’m glad to hear it’s not shaping up to be the disaster it could have been, though.

  26. ESO Forums says:

    I can’t agree with your lack of Soundscape, I was always hearing things going in, whether it be in the wild or in a town/city and even in the ruins and dungeons. Birds, Water, Wind, Lightning, Animals, Critters – I heard them.

    There’s also an option in your Graphic Settings in game, I forgot what it’s called, something like a Blur Effect that merges the whole scenery together.
    After turning this off, I got a much clearer and crisper view.

    I have some Beta Footage out myself if you guys want to see some real in game footage http://www.esohut.com/news/category/videos/

    The graphics are really good for me and I’m only running the game on a laptop, so I can only wonder how the heck it’ll look on a high end gaming desktop ;-)

  27. Lucy says:

    P.S
    The screenshots in your article do not do the game any justice at all.

    Take a look at these and be impressed:
    http://www.esohut.com/forums/Thread-10-Amazing-New-Elder-Scrolls-Online-Screenshots

  28. Superv1sor says:

    Finally someone who also feels the game’s colours are washed out. First, I just thought it was due to the starting area of my chosen race. I re-rolled a Kahjiit since their starting area is a lush jungle-y landscape. Turned out it wasn’t so “lush” at all.

    I don’t know why, but a lot of people say that they are afraid that more colour will turn the game into a Wow/Wildstar clone. It makes me so sad that they only see this one conclusion. In my opinion, wanting a more “realistic” gameworld does not equal having to filter and wash out the colour palette.

    When visiting the Kahjiit starting area for the first time I want a “Wooow” moment of epic proportions. As the game is right now I get more “Wooow” out of taking a walk in the woods in the summer.

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