The Elder Scrolls Online Preview and 30-Minute Gameplay Presentation

IGN has certainly chosen a catchy title for its latest The Elder Scrolls Online preview, claiming it's the sequel to Skyrim we've been wanting all along. I'm not sure if I agree, but at the very least, I'm sure the writer was happy with what he's seen of the game so far:
The Elder Scrolls Online does not waste time with petty fetch quests, arbitrary conversations, and meaningless empty space. Like Skyrim, there is always something to discover or uncover. It brings a similar sense of Skyrim wonder to a massive recreation of almost everything that defined the untouchable RPG franchise. I played two hours one in an early area off the coast of Skyrim. The snowy plains, familiar architecture, and soothing, atmospheric music nailed the Elder Scrolls vibe. If not for the other players lining up to unlock chests (an unfortunate consequence of online play, but not one I understand), I could have been convinced this was a Skyrim sequel.

Combat, in particular, has improved dramatically. Not just from the previous single-player Elder Scrolls game, but from the last version of ESO Bethesda let people play. Where Oblivion and Skyrim lacked the ferocity and physicality you'd expect from a melee-centric battle system, ESO brings convincing weight to its heavy hitting. Smash a skeleton with a hammer and it recoils as though it's just been smashed with a hammer. Throw a spiritual spear into a mercenary captain and she'll fall to the ground. Fighting in The Elder Scrolls Online doesn't feel like an MMO in the way Elder Scrolls used to.

A small, subtle improvement that cements ESO's commitment to the series rather than the genre is the interface. The clunky map from previous demos has been eradicated in favor of a UI nearly identical to Skyrim, complete with the compass bar up top. Quests are more focused, perhaps because of their narrative coherence and relation to a given area, than the more open-endedness of objectives offered in Skyrim or Oblivion. This isn't to say ESO lacks the sort of alluring freedom to wander aimlessly it's simply more concise and features fewer distractions. Not that distractions aren't there, mind.
Should you want to make up your own opinion on the title, Bethesda streamed a 30-minute long gameplay presentation at QuakeCon, showcasing pretty much all the basic gameplay systems (in first person too, in case you're wondering).