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MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Final  (rel 04/04/14)  | Pub:Bethesda Softworks
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Update 6 Is Bigger Than We Thought!

By Ryan Getchell on December 03, 2014 | Columns | Comments

Update 6 Is Bigger Than We Thought!

Update 6 is a big one. Not only is it going to have the Provisioning Revamp, introduction to the collector system, and even the Champion System, but one addition to Update 6 is one that hasn’t received a lot of attention. One I think is a pretty awesome change. In Update 6, as long as everything goes according to plan, we’re going to be seeing some massive combat animation changes. Changes that will not only improve fluidity of the combat in The Elder Scrolls Online but more importantly, it’ll increase the players’ immersion.

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll said it again, Zenimax has to be one of the best companies for listening to the community. Time and time again the community has voiced their concerns about different aspects about the game and Zenimax takes that feedback and does what they can to improve it. Most notably is the complete overhaul of the “end game” content, replacing it with the champion system. But there is also the Provisioning Revamp, the Collector System, improving the delves and dungeons, creating a more immersive world by adding thousands of intractable items within the game. I could go on, but let’s focus on one of the other major concerns players had about ESO.

Ever since the launch of ESO, the community has been very opinionated about the look and feel of the combat in ESO, calling it, “Floatly”, “sub-standard”, even being so bold and calling it the worst combat system created. Now, I won’t agree with it being the worst combat system, as I’ve played some very horrible games in my past. Though, I will agree to it feeling floaty. While we may have many different types of weapons to choose from such as, Two Handed, Dual Wield, Sword and Shield, and different types of Staves, animation wise they all feel the same.

If I’m using as two handed weapon, my attack speed and contact animations doesn’t provide me with any differentiating visuals from that of a sword and shield, or dual wield. Yes, the weapon itself and the graphic of said weapon is different but the feeling you have when you’re watching your character swing them doesn’t feel any different.

Older MMOs used to use a weapon speed stat to help display the difference between the types of weapons. Obviously a two handed weapon had a higher attack speed than that of a one handed short sword. However, ESO is a very minimalistic game in terms of numbers and stats, so displaying that type of information on a tooltip isn’t something we can expect. With Update 6 we expect something better, something that is in line with the core values of ESO. The combat animations are going to fixed and tuned to your wielded weapon.

The combat animations will look and feel more to the weapon you’re using. If you’re dual wielding swords or axes, you’re going to visually notice a difference between sword and shield attacks and dual wield attacks. Dual Wield animations are going to be much faster, you’re going to feel like you’re swinging your swords or axes faster than you were before.

Two Handed attacks are going to feel heavier. Attack animations being slowed down a touch, while providing a much heavier impact when you connect with the enemy. Now, when you do make contact with your enemy, your weapons aren’t going to just slice down like there is nothing there, you’re going to see hesitation in the animation. It’s going to feel like you’ve made contact.

Stave attacks are also going to see some improvements. Right now when you attack with a stave it’s very anti climatic. You point, and things spit out the end of it, but not in Update 6. The animations will have you feeling like you’re controlling the power. You’re summoning the power and channeling it through the stave into the hearts of your enemy. It will feel like it should, cinematic.

Flair is going to play a big part in this change as well. It was a hot topic of discussion at the Guild Summit back in October where we got to see a quick demo of these changes. This change will most likely go unnoticed among a lot of players as it isn’t something that is easily noticeable unless you’re watching the animation very carefully. Even unnoticed, flair plays a large part into making the combat more fluid. Just like in real life, if you’re swinging a sword in order for fast recovery or counter attack some movements require a bit of fancy hand work. For example, if you are using a sword and shield, you may notice your character rotate the sword in his hand in order to perform a counter attack. It’s these little things that will truly make The Elder Scrolls Online combat system the more immersive MMO combat I’ve played.

Update 6 isn’t small by any means. These types of game changing systems aren’t typically released in an update with other game companies. They are saved and released as expansions, but not with Zenimax. If this is the stuff they consider to be an update, I am excited to see what they consider an “expansion”.

Ryan Getchell / Ryan is our resident Elder Scrolls nerd, and columnist for Zenimax's MMO. When he's not out killing things in Tamriel, he's working in IT professionally.
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