What a terrible trailer.

Across the Internet, bloggers have been heaping praise on what should be a slam-dunk of a game: The Elder Scrolls Online, an MMO based on the Elder Scrolls, an RPG series that has been winning hearts and minds and more than a few dollars since 1994. But this “Cinematic Trailer,” below, has not won anything except my disdain.

In this six-minute trailer of an utterly generic fantasy, I had no sense of character or plot. No dialog, either. Almost no information was conveyed. What I got was non-stop action. I could have been looking at anything. I certainly wasn’t seeing the world of Tamriel as I know it.

As for the graphics, the faces looked strange. I suspect live actors were filmed, and the faces were processed with some digital overlay that made them look like video game characters. It was an odd choice. If this isn’t what the gameplay will look like, then why bother?

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to Beth-Ann Bretter, a superfan who plays the Elder Scrolls series almost exclusively (with a side trip into Bethesda’s other popular RPGs, the Fallout series).

Bretter said, “The armor was wrong. The combat was wrong. The moving about the world was wrong. The magic looked wrong. The clothing and weapons were wrong…It looks like the game has no identity at all. It certainly doesn’t look like it’s taking place in the Elder Scrolls universe. Why were Mulan, the Prince of Persia, Eric the Red, Caesar, and the Wolfman scaling a building?”

But if there was so much wrong, was anything right?

“The glacierlike walls they were scaling,” said Bretter. “Something like that shows up in on Solstheim, an island that shows up in DLC for Skyrim and Morrowind. That’s about it.”

Bethesda has made some of the videogame world’s most immersive, playable games. They have earned and deserved their many, many awards. Here’s hoping that this one-dimensional trailer is an anomaly.

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