The Elder Scrolls Online Review for PC

The Elder Scrolls Online Review for PC

Tamriel Is Open To All!

Tamriel is not the same place you remember. It’s a heck of a lot bigger, sporting every fantastical venue you can imagine, and oh yeah, there are other players roaming around. The Elder Scrolls Online takes the insanely popular open-world RPG series that has in every game past presented a sprawling world to a singular player, and opened it up to the masses. Because of this the game incorporates certain familiar conventions that follow the MMO blueprint, but you will be happy to know that in the end it’s an Elder Scrolls game above all else.

The story opens up in a very customary fashion for veterans of the series, having you take the role of a relatively nondescript commoner being put to the sword for obscure and unjustified reasons. However, in The Elder Scrolls Online your execution holds true and your soul is sent to Coldharbour, a plane of Oblivion, for an eternity of enslavement. You are then given the first glimmers through a vision that your fate is not sealed, followed by an exodus back to the mortal realm. But the land of Tamriel is having troubles of its own.

The grand distress once again pits mortals against the deities, as Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of domination and ruler of Coldharbour, has literally anchored the world of Nirn with Oblivion in an attempt to merge the two planes and control them both. Yet despite this apocalyptic event, a war of mortals rages on between three factions, each comprised of three races of Tamriel.

This becomes the very first decision you make at the character creation screen. Each faction–the Daggerfall Covenant, the Ebonheart Pact and the Aldmeri Dominion–has a different starting location and a different campaign, each one easily taking over a hundred hours to complete. So there’s certainly no issue with the game’s replayability. There are only four classes to choose from, however active and passive skills are not strictly associated with your class, but also with each weapon and armor type, your race, crafting professions and guilds you’re a member of. It’s a robust and original advancement system that allows for players to suit roles for both solo and allied play. As such, acquiring skill points becomes the most important mission of all. Leveling up, completing certain quests, and locating rare Skyshards will award you points to spend. Using abilities or plying your craft within a certain skill line will raise its overall experience level, which in turn unlocks new powers both active and passive. The game rewards players for being meticulous and thorough explorers, as checking bookcases could grant an immediate level increase in a skill line, or searching objects could yield recipes to add to your crafting book.

The Elder Scrolls Online Screenshot

It’s a daunting task, considering the size of real estate you have to cover. Each sprawling zone is packed with secrets to discover and vistas to behold. Arid deserts, frigid northlands, fortified cities and marshes filled with mile high toadstools are just a fraction of the variety that awaits. A realistic time cycle as well as interesting weather patterns showcase the game’s lighting and natural effects. Seeing ash fall from the sky instead of rain in the volcanic land of the Dunmer is a nice example of an added touch. The overall environment animations are extremely subtle, making the world feel a bit rigid, but considering the scope of explorable land, this is to be expected. Characters still walk with a stiffness that Elder Scrolls games are famous for, though the detailing and customization is beyond anything we’ve seen in the past.

You’ll not venture far before spotting a highlighted arrow above an NPC’s head indicating a quest start. Quests are by far one of the biggest reasons The Elder Scrolls Online stays true to its roots. Dialogue is scripted with incredible depth, pulling from an encyclopedia of lore that is unchallenged by any other RPG. And we finally have an Elder Scrolls game with a sizeable cast of voice actors, all of whom fervently deliver their lines. You’ll be sucked into the plight of every new quest giver and stay hooked as the missions grow deeper with each objective achieved. Yes, there are a few fetch quests in the mix, but even those are neatly tied into a grander narrative, giving them more substance and pertinence.

The Elder Scrolls Online Screenshot

Of course you’re never tied to a linear progression. You can stray off course at anytime, following distant markers on the HUD compass to see what surprises await while enjoying the ambient melodies that fill the air. But remember, since this is an MMO, casual strolls around the countryside are a bit more hazardous since monsters are placed in great numbers to accommodate the many players traveling about. If you’re looking for the peace and solitude cherished in Skyrim , you won’t find it here.

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 Elder Scrolls Online Screenshot

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.

Plenty of imaginative variety in the locales, and impressive environmental effects. Character animation are still a little stiff, and close inspections reveal the rough detailing. 4.1 Control
Combat seems better designed for a controller, of which the PC version does not support. Handling the camera and scrolling through menu screens is smooth and simple. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
From realistic thunder claps to strummed melodies, and stellar voice acting, The Elder Scrolls Online succeeds in every audible aspect. 4.6 Play Value
Bugs can be fixed, but some meat needs to be added to the bones of PvP. Otherwise, its hundreds of hours of Elder Scrolls goodness. 4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Experience this epic adventure on your own or together with your friends, guild mates, and thousands of alliance members. Explore dangerous caves and dungeons, embark upon adventurous quests across Tamriel, and engage in massive player versus player battles, where the victors reap the spoils of war.
  • With an enhanced Elder Scrolls mouse-driven combat system, engage in real-time targeting and strategic attacks and blocks. Use any weapon or wear any armor at any time, no matter what type of character you play and develop your own style with deep character customization and abilities.
  • With ESO’s shardless Megaserver technology you no longer choose a server, but instead play in one connected world. The game seamlessly integrates with the social media sites you already use to automatically place you with friends, guild mates, people you’ve encountered before, and other like-minded players.
  • Explore the hidden secrets of Tamriel at your own pace using the game’s compass to guide you to areas of interest. Save the world from the evil machinations of the Daedric Prince Molag Bal and his henchman, the first necromancer, the Prince of Worms, Mannimarco.

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