This is going to be a brief little column today, but it’s something I think is important to touch on for Elder Scrolls Online. Back at E3 (good lord, it’s now a month ago that we were there...), we learned from Paul Sage that mounts in ESO are going to be much more than a graphical means of letting players move faster from point A to B. In most MMOs, Mounts look snazzy, are often used as a way to brag to others that you’ve accomplished something, but most importantly they help us reduce the amount of time it takes to get somewhere when we need to get there fast. According to Paul during E3, mounts in the online Tamriel will be so much more.
Mounts are one of those things that few games have ever really paid much more attention to other than to make them cool looking and fast. If we’re talking about a F2P game, then you can add in the special caveat of “make them expensive as hell” too. Remember the cost of mounts in Neverwinter? Did anyone shell out $35 for one of those? Yeesh. Well, whether ESO goes the F2P route or not remains to be seen, and when and if it does we’ll judge their “mount costs” then. But one thing’s for sure: at least they’re going to be more than just glorified matchbox cars this time around.
Watch the video below (about 4:30 in) and pay special attention to the different things Paul mentions about mounts. Not only will we be able to use them to carry our extra bits and baubles as a sort of inventory mule, but depending on how you raise them you can alter how much they can carry, how fast they can run, and what they look like at later levels. You start out with a basic mount he says, or even a partially leveled one, and then shape and alter its ability to do what you want it to from there on. This, correct me if I’m wrong here, is yet another layer of progression being folded into ESO. Not everyone will really care as much as I do about this, but if you’re like me you really bonded with your videogame horses in Oblivion and Skyrim.
You’ll also be able to name and customize your horse to a certain extent, though from the sounds of it most of the visual customization comes from the act of actually leveling the horse itself up through feeding and care of the beast. One thing to note though is that combat on horseback will not be in the game... at least not at launch. Paul’s cryptic “yet” leaves hope that we’ll all be hammering goons from our mounts’ backs in Cyrodiil one day though.
I’m bringing up this horse information because it signals something for me, when it comes to Zemimax’ goal of making ESO feel like an Elder Scrolls game. This most important aspect of nailing Elder Scrolls Online has got to be the team’s driving force in everything they do. If they weren’t attached to this mega-IP, so much of what they’re striving to achieve would likely fall by the wayside. But the progression, freedom of exploration, and yes even the mount system show me that ZoS is really trying to make sure that ESO feels like it belongs in the Elder Scrolls pantheon of games. And just so long as I can grab every spare bit of cheese and pluck every flower from the ground along the way and cram it into my horse’s saddlebags, they’ll win me over.
What about you? Is this small but significant detail regarding mounts doing anything for you? Let us know in the comments!
Bill Murphy / Bill Murphy is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter@thebillmurphy.
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