The NDA has been lifted. Huzzah! So, let's talk about it then shall we? Note: This post will be longer than usual, sorry!
Well, let's start by saying this... I wasn't impressed at all. I mean, well... Some things were really cool about the game. Looting a lot of things was actually kind of fun, but... That was about it. Harsh, I know. It sucks to be saying this, it really does, and I will probably get a lot of hate for saying so. I was disappointed in a huge way. I wasn't really looking forward to the game, because I play FFXIV mainly, but I love Skyrim, and I love Elder Scrolls, I mean it's awesome eh? To be honest, I would rather have a multiplayer Skyrim than this. I kind of had the mindset of it being like that, and I shouldn't have, because I should have known it wouldn't be like that. I think the game does an "okay" job, I wouldn't pay monthly for this game, i'm sorry, I don't think it merit's the 15$ monthly fee. Why? I don't feel like it brings anything new to the table! I'm not going to call it a clone of anything, but I think it takes bits and pieces of a lot of MMOs and brings it into one, and it doesn't do well. It's a mixture of things, and for me it doesn't have a very strong points to where the game stands out because of this, or that. No feature really stands out for me. I didn't have high expectations for it. So, I sort of came in a little biased you could say, but hell... I gave it a shot. (I even pre-ordered it, but we'll get back to that later).
I found the game to be rather clunky. I felt the combat system could be a lot better, and the animations could be smoother. I'm no programmer, and I'm not sure what engine they are using, but I feel like they could taken some more time and smoothed out the animations, not just to make it look cooler, just so it flow together more. That was a turn off for me, it just didn't cut it for me, sorry to say. I think the game looks great, some people say otherwise, but I think it looks great, not amazing, but great nonetheless. The voice acting was stellar. I enjoyed listening to the NPCs talk to me. SWTOR did the same thing for me, I felt more involved in the quests rather than reading them. I even feel that way with Audio books, when someone is reading me the story, I feel more immersed, and the game did that, so that's a plus for them. Though, the questing seemed the same still. Find this person, go to this place. I wasn't killing X rats, or looking for X bones or whatever. Questing is questing, and it will forever be that way, people will realize this. It's grinding, quest grinding, mob grinding, it's all the same to me. It gets me from one level to the next. Some paths will be quicker, than others, but whatever gets me there.
The music was really good as well, I enjoyed all the sounds in Skyrim, and it did the same for me. It's beautiful. I could listen to it for hours on end, but... I can just download the soundtrack, buy it, and listen to it, and not have to pay the monthly fee to listen to it, or just listen on YouTube. Harsh? Maybe. I was reading a lot of the press reviews, when they were allowed to talk about it, and many people talked bad about it, some talked really well about the game, in PvP aspects. Which is cool, the game got some good reviews, but from what I mostly read, a lot of people didn't think it merited the monthly fee. I believe it was Angry Joe, who said It would be the best free to play title on the market. I highly agree with that. I prefer sub games myself, but if ESO was designed to be released as free to play, or even buy to play, I would play it. It just doesn't do what FFXIV does, or other games, where I feel like the game deserves a monthly fee. Some people say FFXIV should be free to play, and it doesn't merit a sub, and that's their opinion, and I'm cool with that! I'm just saying that I don't think it should have a sub fee attached to it, and they will also be doing a cash shop. Meh, let's not have both here people. I don't like where this is going...
Do I think the game will end up going free to play? I'm not sure really. It will depend on how the game does with sales, and subscriptions within the first few months. If it bombs, we will likely see free to play sooner rather than later. Is that a good thing? Don't know. I strongly believe the game would be a lot better off as a free to play title. Some people have issues with paying 15$ A month, but will spend more on a cash shop game in a month. I've been at fault for this. I'm not sure on the cost of development for this game, I wish I could find a number, i'm sure I could if I dug deep enough on the interwebz. I'm not a money manager, or good with figures or anything, but it would just seem to make more money as a free to play title with a cash shop. I think it was SWTOR who made around 139 Million USD on the cartel market. I'm not entirely sure if that includes Sub fees with it, but if it doesn't, well gee, that's pretty good if I do say so myself.
I think the game will have a lot of issues on the start of it, and it will get better in time, like most games do. I would delay the game if I could, at least another month or two. Also, I would have a traditional "Open beta". A lot of people need to feel more than just a weekend's worth of game play. Am I right? I believe they did give a reason why they aren't doing a traditional open beta, but I don't think it was the fight thing to do. Now, I talked about how I pre-ordered the game. Sadly, I ended up canceling my order, and getting my refund. "You fool, why would you do that?". Well, if you read what I just talked about, I think you would understand. There will be a huge debate, even after the release if the game should go free to play or not. I think the community, even on MMORPG.com is pretty divided. A lot of people have solid points, some don't... Time will defiantly tell for ESO. Will it prove that it can stand on it it's own? Will it make money? Will it be the next big hit? I don't think so, but I do hope it does well for itself. I'm sure Zenimax worked hard on the game, and I would hate for it to be a huge flop for their sake.
Final Verdict. 5/10. It adds a mixture of everything to the table, and does them in an "ok" manner. I will defiantly keep my eyes out for updates post launch, and see how it does. I'm very intrigued on what will happen, and what the communities reaction will be after the launch. Cheers!