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The Elder Scrolls Online PS4 delay is a good thing

The Elder Scrolls Online PS4 delay is a good thing

You’ve probably seen the news that the console version of The Elder Scrolls Online just took an arrow to the knee and got bumped back by six months. But before you start to panic, allow us to suggest that this delay – like many others before it – might actually be for the best. You see, the more we see of The Elder Scrolls Online now that it’s out in the wild on PC, the more it seems to fly in the face of everything that makes Skyrim and Oblivion great.

The sense of scale is the first hurdle at which TESO stumbles. Elder Scrolls games are famous for that moment where the size of the world and how open it all is kicks in, when you’re made to feel like an sword-wielding ant – emerging from Oblivion’s opening dungeon to be confronted with sprawling fields and rolling hills was incredible, with Skyrim offering much the same sensation after its scripted opening. Here, though, even though the world itself is actually much larger than those games, an MMO needs to funnel players through training grounds and exposition relevant to their characters and experience, making for a naturally more enclosed, linear experience until much later in the game.

Much of the usual immersion is lost too, thanks to a number of issues that MMO structure presents. The choice between first- and third-person viewpoints returns, but it’s sadly the latter that emerges as preferable from a gameplay perspective – seeing the world through your character’s eyes is more involving but without perfect communication, the limited field of vision is just more likely to get you and your team killed (especially with analog stick control on console rather than the speed of a mouse) than the somewhat clumsy third-person viewpoint. Having huge groups of adventurers explore caves and public areas at once is similarly jarring, especially after so much solo spelunking in the older games. We’ll probably get used to it – instanced areas probably wouldn’t fare much better in terms of preserving the sense of adventure, so it’s just an issue with the genre itself more than anything else.

We’re still not entirely sold on the combat, either – it’s an odd fusion of the franchise’s usual action-led spell slinging and trigger slapping with MMO cooldown management and so far, it hasn’t engaged us nearly as much as purer versions of the two pools from which it draws.

No MMO has ever launched without its fair share of issues and we’re sure as the game grows and evolves, we’ll develop more of an understanding of how and why it does the things it does, learn to love the game’s idiosyncrasies rather than judge them unfavourably against elements of other, more established MMOs. FFXIV’s subscription fee was a no-brainer, as the game was proven success by the time it arrived on PS4. Here, though, some are holding fire until the stormy skies over Skyrim calm down a little.

With an extra six months to iron out the early kinks and sort out the network architecture across three platforms, we can but hope that the version we get to play on PS4 late this year (or, perhaps more likely, early next year) will be a marked improvement over the frankly disappointing PC version of this ambitious MMO we see today. Some are even suggesting that the subscription model could be ditched by the time the console release draws near, which would make it a far more attractive proposition. In any case, it’s safe to assume that the fixes and improvements that come to the PC version in the next six months will make the PS4 version that much better when it finally arrives.

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