Wednesday, 5 March 2014

TESO Beta: Round Two

This week was another beta weekend for the Elder Scrolls Online. You can read part one of my thoughts about the game here. Instead of tinkering about how to proceed, I decided to just continue where I stopped with my High Elf Templar. Questing around Auridon and helping the queen against all the usurpants that seem to forgetting their place. I come to think the new queen is too soft on those rebelling wretches, but her word is the law. At least as long as I successfully repel all the assassination attempts on her.

Before I go on, I would like to say a few words about the plate armour. This is a problem that is in many ways specific to plate, but seems to be ignored in most of the games, let alone in an MMO. You see, unlike cloth, leather, and even chainmail, plate armour is a different sort of beast. While yes, it is crafted to fit an individual, it is more like wearing a turtle's shell, then a sweater. In essence plate armour does not fit you, you fit the plate armour.

MMO games are one of the greatest offenders here because they treat plate armour like any other piece of clothing, as something that simply sticks to the body. They try to mask this with additional pieces of armour like gloves and pauldrons, but rarely do they truly succeed. Now, this is a problem in World of Warcraft as well, I think this is one of the prime reasons why I like to wear tabards that much. Because they are cloth worn over the armour, thus they conceal the flaw that irritates me.

Another thing is the breastplate. Even if the name of the armour piece contains breast, that does not mean that when a female wears this armour, her breasts are conveniently carved out. I think we grew beyond skimpy plate, or so I would like to think. But this carving out the women breasts does not have any function at all. For those unfamiliar with how armour works, just have a look at the female in a modern-day riot gear. The wearer be it male or female, when it wears the full armour is close to indistinguishable.

Another thing is functionality. Plate armour is meant to protect from the blows. Its design over the span of the century changed over and over and over again. One thing that stayed consistent, is the relative flatness of the front. First, because it is efficient, and second because it is safer. Plate armour is not a cheap armour. And when you have one made, you want it to serve you well. You do not want any unnecessary curves or spikes to entangle your enemy's weapon or to change the direction of his blow in unpredictable manner. Simply because it could be your untimely end.

Now, somebody is bound to say that women have breasts thus the armour made for men will not be ok. Here, I once again point you back to the modern-day riot gear. It is uniform, same for both men and women. If we want more about that in history, let just start with a few facts. Women did not go in war. If/when a select individual did go to war, the armour was still the same as that of a man. Why is that? Because layers of clothing worn below the armour. When all was said and done, it would not even matter if the wearer of the armour had breasts or not, because they would not matter and would fit in the armour without any concern.

Another thing I found ludicrous is how the Elder Scrolls Online approached the gorget. You see, gorget is not a plate version of a collar. Its function is to protect the neck and throat. And when you instead make it as a collar, it leaves the most vital piece unprotected. Gorget that does not cover throat is no gorget at all. It is a glorified piece of useless metal weighting you down.

I am guessing most of these issues will go away by the time those who will play the game reach the endgame armours. With the added exception of breast-plate. Because yolo and you only live once, so why not trip, fall, and let your own armour that was meant to protect you, kill you instead. Much fun would be had. This as whole is more of a critique of most games and how they approach plate, and is in no way particular only for The Elder Scrolls Online.

Now that I got that out of my system, let us talk more about my beta impressions of TESO. From now it is just TESO, I had the chance to see some of the mounts, and they look amazing. Stocky, muscular, and giant, just as horse bred for war should look like. For what I could discern, their prices are astronomical, which makes me think the mounts will be what they used to be in vanilla WoW. Items of prestige. Come to think of it there is a lot of items of prestige in TESO....

I think I have not yet talked about the actual look of the world. For what I am concerned it looks good. Only complaint I have is that some zones in the middle of the day look too bright, pale would be better word. Maybe washed out? Maybe. This is something that I am not really used to, I usually complain that night is too dark, I cannot see in shadows and so on. I think this is the first time I am complaining in the opposite direction, saying the world looks too bright.

I also came across a treasure map. I think this is a great idea, but I could not figure out the position of treasure no matter how hard I tried. I think I walked the beach in search of a particular rock formation for leagues and still found nothing. In my oppinion all the rocks looked the same and I was dead-certain I already passed the point of the treasure, it might be that I am just not one meant to explore.

People continue to talk in chat and dare intrude upon my immersion. I think this is a peculiar complaint of mine as this is an MMO after all. But I just cannot help myself but grumping over the "inconsiderate plebs" that dares intrude with their chatter upon me trying to take a perfect screenshot, or enjoy the vista. I searched for the option to turn the chat window off but could not find it.

I love the statues scattered around the city. I realise most people take them for just another thing that makes cities cities, but for me statues represent the spirit of people inhibiting the city or town or village. From statues you can learn much of what the people of a certain place value, or to what they strive. In the same breath, statues are often the reminders of important events, and these events in some shape or form helped form the mentality of the people you will interact with.

It makes me glad when I see detailed statues of tall warriors with swords, codices and shields in their hands. It represents a storied, detailed, long history, military tradition, values of preservation and knowledge. I find it interesting how much you can conclude about the universe you know very little about just from the art, or lack of it.


  1. There are a heap of great posts about medieval womens armor already where, when it was made it was usually in the same overall style as the mens but had far more detail involved like interlay, colouring and other intricacies.

    Armor of the time was designed with men in mind first thus, women were usually appropriating armor for a different body type so had to adapt. The reason it worked for them was usually because women would bind there breasts, and quite tightly whenever wearing the armor. Guessing the female riot officers might do the same.

    The part where this diverts though is when talking about women's armor within an environment where women wearing armor is not a rarity like it is within these games. In that case you would get more fitted styles of heavy armor. Of course you still wouldn't have it completely molded around breasts but it might follow the general curves more.

    can't believe how many times I just typed the word breast... BREEEEAAAAST

    1. A good example of a more rounded armour is Maximilian armour. Gothic armours in general are a good example of it. I doubt though that even in a world where women bearing arms was a norm, would there be any additional curves to the armour beyond those that already exist. Mostly because the physique of an individual loses on the importance once the armour is donned. There are numerous layers of clothing before the armour is equipped.

      European military tradition is saturated with evolution. It is safe to say that if they found additional curves on the breastplates useful, they would use them. Soldiers in Europe were never shy about their looks. They used whatever was at the moment the most effective. This is why in comparison to Japan there is no living tradition of a medieval style of combat a la Kendo.

      If you take a look at the third picture, you will notice that my character is wearing plate and is in a stance ready for combat. What I want to draw your attention, is how his armour curves and adapts to his body, even though it is one large piece of plate that covering his back.

      In WoW you can avoid seeing this if you choose a race without a hunch, on the orc, forsaken, tauren or troll males it will be visible no matter how hard you try. Just as picking a female of any race will carve out her breasts even though she wears plate. But there are at least some races that hide this better than others. This is what I am aiming at when I say plate armour is a turtle's shell and not a sweater.

      Breast is a fine word containing respectable amount of vowels and decent number of consonants, and all it ever wants is to be used more often than it is :P


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