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Elder Scrolls Online Beta Returns With Big Changes

The beta for Elder Scrolls Online is live for a new weekend test. This will be players' last opportunity to try the game for free before it officially launches on PC and Mac.

ZeniMax Online Studios says that they've made numerous changes to the game based on player feedback. ESO director Matt Firor explains on the game's website that melee combat should feel more "substantial." Furthermore, NPC collision has been added so that players can't run through enemies. The introduction to the game has been revised as well.

"We heard from some of you that the beginning of the game left you feeling too constrained," Firor said. "The game was originally designed that way so that new players were not overwhelmed, and could learn the game before dealing with more challenging situations. But because ESO is about choice, we made adjustments to those opening hours of the game in response to the beta feedback. After exiting the modified, more streamlined tutorial in Coldharbour, new characters now wake up in the first major city of their respective Alliance as opposed to being forced to go through the starter islands."

"We’re adjusting the level curve around those cities so that you’ll have plenty to do and discover without running into enemies that are too powerful at the start. If you want to go back and experience these islands (which have been re-leveled to provide a regular content experience) the option is there, but players who prefer can just start exploring the rest of Tamriel."

It's true that the beginning of ESO was too linear. Playing through it a second or third time - common in a beta with character wipes - was very tedious. It was also quite jarring for players who came into the game wanting the open-world exploration of single-player Elder Scrolls games like Skyrim and Oblivion. The changes to the introduction of the game should be well-received by players.

This weekend's beta allows players to test out the in-game bonuses offered by the Imperial Edition. This bundle gives access to the Imperial race for all three of the game's player alliances. An Imperial character's equipment can be transformed to look like a soldier of the Empire. To complete the look, players can ride through Tamriel using an Imperial white horse. The Imperial Edition's bonuses also include Rings of Mara, paired magic items that boost leveling for two characters, and a mudcrab vanity pet.

The Explorer's Pack, a set of bonuses for pre-order customers, will also be given to beta testers. This pack provides you with another vanity pet ("the scuttler") and treasure maps. It also removes the race/alliance restrictions for character creation.

The beta will run from now until Sunday, March 16th at 11:59PM EDT. If you played in a prior beta test, just launch the client and download the patch. Otherwise, you'll need to enter your beta key at the Elder Scrolls Online website.

Pete Haas

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.