|System: PC*, PS4, Xbox One|
|Dev: ZeniMax Online Studios|
|Pub: Bethesda Softworks|
|Release: April 4, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence|
In fact, The Elder Scrolls Online struggles to find a balance for solo or group play. The starting towns are littered with new players, making it easy to find help with the first few quests, but this comes at a cost. Since most dungeons are public instances, the early ones pose little challenge after being wiped clean of monsters from players who entered shortly beforehand. You will find more freedom the farther you travel into the wilderness, however the challenge shifts to other extremes. Players will discover they need to be a few levels above an equally leveled monster and be properly equipped to survive one-on-one encounters. Pull even one more monster into the fight and you're in trouble. The class selection and skill lines also have trouble keeping every gamer type content. For instance, there is no ranger class for bow and tracking enthusiasts, and healers will find most skills do nothing but healing, rather than providing well-rounded support buffs.
The game is not without its expected share of bugs either. The biggest issue I've found involves broken quests that cannot be completed due to non-interactive items or unresponsive NPCs, of which I have about dozen that await completion. Developer ZeniMax has been on top of fixing these issues, though it has forced the servers down twice already, much to the dismay of many Early Access purchasers. Despite these in-game glitches, a welcomed surprise was the smooth process of logging in thanks to the company's highly touted megaservers. There are no hours long queue lines. You just log in and start playing, a refreshing change from most MMO launches.
After reaching level ten I was able to travel to Cyrodiil and take part in the massive PvP battle. With the Imperial nation now collapsed, the three factions are all vying for control of the area and the Ruby Throne. Each team has their respective keeps tucked in a corner, and must spill their armies into the countryside, taking over enemy forts and resource locations, then holding them steadfast against attacks. So far I am not impressed with the system. The massive land is devoid of anything but plains and hills to travel across, and winning the day is about quantity over quality. It's quite a sight to see hundreds of players launching catapults, ballistae and clashing into each other in swarms, but it's chaos above anything, with little sense of strategy involved besides making sure everyone in your faction is headed to the battle site. The strongest player of the winning faction becomes Emperor, with all the ensuing bragging rights, but otherwise there are no tangible rewards for your participation in the event.
After a few dozen hours in Tamriel, I've been given a good sense of what The Elder Scrolls Online has to offer. A few bugs and balance issues aside, it genuinely feels like its single-player predecessors rather than a cookie cutter MMO, and that in itself is enough to draw back in the weary crowd yearning for something fresh from the genre. There's still plenty of "veteran" content that awaits me once I breach the level fifty mark. Keep an eye out in the coming months for an updated feature about the endgame content and anything new that might crop up. Until then, grab your friends, play with or against strangers, or go it alone in The Elder Scrolls Online. The choice is finally yours.
Date: April 4, 2014