ESO:Cinematic trailers – awful or awesome?

The Elder Scrolls Online cinematic

So ZeniMax released a spiffy teaser vid for The Elder Scrolls Online last week. The six-minute clip had it all: dank dungeons, luscious locations, and enough daredevil gravity-defying combat to fill an entire summer’s worth of action films.

The only problem, to hear some folks tell it, was that none of the thrills, chills, and gratuitous violence on display will be possible in the finished game. The video was a cinematic, you see, and even though there’s a decent amount of TESO gameplay footage floating around the internet already, the trailer served as something of a rallying cry for fans who’d rather see the cinematic’s budget go toward a gameplay trailer.

What say you, Leaderboard readers? Are MMO cinematics an awful waste of development dollars or do you enjoy them for what they are? Settle the score once and for all after the cut.

Ever wish that you could put to rest a long-standing MMO debate once and for all? Then welcome to the battle royal of Massively’s Leaderboard, where two sides enter the pit o’ judgment — and only one leaves. Vote to make your opinion known, and see whether your choice tops the Leaderboard!

Leaderboard: Cinematic trailers – awful or awesome?Awful    413 (35.9%)
Awesome    736 (64.1%)

This is a beautiful cinematic, with wonderful attention to detail (see that elf woman’s face! OMG! Gasp!) and wonderful atmosphere and camera work.

I watched it a second time just now to take note of the things that a) Are not standard content for the current generation of MMOs, and b) I want to see in the game somehow, and c) are interesting. Here’s my list as I see it:

- True environmental darkness (hopefully not just a specific dungeon mechanic)

- Magic (/tools) are needed to light darkness

- Diseased wolverine things (we saw them, now we expect them)

- Sieging, with siege weapons (that hopefully matters and we have control over in important ways).

- Climbing ropes (hopefully player-set climbing ropes), incl. swinging horizontally/vertically on ropes.

- Combat/skill use (magic/physical) while climbing

- Showed the city from Oblivion?

- Very long ranged sniping

- Being able to make bridges (hopefully player-set)

- Being able to destroy bridges (and have consequences)

- Meaningful acrobatics

- Tunneling

It’s hard to say much more about the game because of the absence of script/dialogue/lore. How much can we infer from the plot of this video that could not be conferred to most other fantasy MMOs? What was exclusively revealing from this video? As far as I could tell some three people are in conflict. Not particularly revelatory.

If they showed us these things, and they don’t make their way into the game, then are they relevant to Elder Scrolls Online? In such a case they don’t present themselves in TESO, then this video wouldn’t have validity to TESO. In that case this video would be equally valid for Neverwinter, Guildwars 2 (excluding elf ears), Archeage, Everquest, and so on, and would have achieved more good for the genre than the game.

To answer the question, I don’t think the dollars are spent usefully when the trailer tells so very little about the game. Compare it to some trailers for MMO games like Final Fantasy, WoW (excluding MoP?), and Rift. Even Guild Wars 2 cinematic trailer said very little about gameplay and content, but told lakes of lore and story.

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