Elder Scrolls Online
Elder Scrolls Online Overview
The Elder Scrolls Online is a fantasy MMORPG from Zenimax Online Studios and Bethesda Softworks based on the popular Elder Scrolls series. The game takes place during the Age of Heroes, 1,000 years before the events of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and features classic regions of the Tamriel game world, including Morrowind, Daggerfall, and Skyrim. The Elder Scrolls Online offers solo and group questing, public dungeons, guilds, and massive PvP warfare that sets the game’s three player factions against one another for control over the region of Cyrodiil and the throne of Tamriel.
Elder Scrolls Online Screenshots
Elder Scrolls Online Featured Video
Elder Scrolls Online Launch Review
By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF)
Elder Scrolls Online is ZeniMax’s attempt to create an MMORPG set within the beloved Elder Scrolls universe. The game shares the same rich history and deep lore as Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim, all popular games that share the Elder Scrolls setting. If you’re a fan, you will want to give this game a try so that you can finally adventure with your friends while participating in the interesting storylines, quests, crafting, and adventures that make Elder Scrolls so special.
Part of what makes Elder Scrolls so amazing is how much customization you are given. You get to choose from an impressive list of races, have full customization of the looks of your character, and there is a huge selection of skills to train yourself in. Elder Scrolls Online lives up to its name in the customization department. At first, you will feel like the class system introduced in the game is a bit restricting, and it kind of is when compared with what we’re used to from other ES games – even Skyrim. But, in all honesty, the selection of skills you can raise is nothing to scoff at.
When you choose your class, of which there is currently a relatively small selection (in my opinion), you are then given three possible trees you can train in. For example, for sorcerer you can train in Dark Magic, Daedric Summoning, and Storm Calling. Each is a different face of the offensive caster. And then for even further customization you are able to train in ANY of the weapons, which give you access to new abilities. From there you can join different guilds (such as the Mage, Fighters, the Undaunted, etc…) to gain even more access to other abilities. New trees with new abilities will open up pretty frequently in the early levels. And, for those Twilight fans, you can even become a vampire or werewolf, just like in other Elder Scrolls games, which gives you even more customization for your character. Then there’s Morphing, which gives your abilities extra effects.
Race selection is important for two reasons. First, each race has its own distinct look and lore. So you’ll want to choose something that you’ll actually enjoy. Second, there are the racial abilities and stats. High Elves are great at destructive magic, for example. Each race has something that it is a bit better at compared to other races. There are a few racial abilities from other Elder Scrolls games that don’t come into play in ESO, unfortunately. For example, the Khajiit ability to see in the dark isn’t really necessary due to night time not being all that dark.
The game looks amazing. It’s as simple as that. The game is full of the stunning vistas and ruins we’ve come to love in Elder Scrolls. You can visit towns full of life, with their own unique history, lore and architecture. You can see forests with massive trees, ancient ruins with glowing runes, or even floating rocks. There are swamps, valleys, mountains, snow, everything you could want because this game encompasses all of the lands from previous Elder Scrolls games, and some that were only ever mentioned. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself exploring often (which is something you are rewarded for in ESO).
The UI is very sleek, and elements of it will disappear or appear depending on need (such as the health bar, mana bar, ability bar, etc…). This helps a bit with immersion, but a lot of people seem to prefer using add-ons to change the look/functionality of the UI. Personally, I do not like the health/mana/stamina bars very much – they feel small and hard to pay attention too in the heat of combat, compared to what I’ve seen in other MMOs. But, with the availability of add-on support, I suppose you can change the UI however you like and that makes the problem null.
The controls in Elder Scrolls Online are fairly straightforward. Both first and third-person are available, and you can freely switch between the two using the scroll button on your mouse. At least that’s the theory in a lag free environment, which was unfortunately non-existent this past opening weekend (but I think the lag will get better over time as the population stabilizes). To be clear, I mean server lag – which I will get more into later. When things are working smoothly, the controls are very responsive and the combat can be fun. Using the dodge and block functions is vital to combat, and they both work very well.
As you might have expected with the name, Elder Scrolls Online already has a rather huge player-base. And the great thing is, a lot of the people playing have been playing Elder Scrolls games for years, so it’s quite possible to have deep and insightful lore discussion, or just chat about game mechanics, in the /zone chat. That’s more than a bit refreshing compared to the trolling and hate that you usually get from an MMO community. Not to say ESO does not have its fair share of trolling and hate, that is.
In general, Elder Scrolls Online does well while attempting to emulate the usual gameplay elements found in an Elder Scrolls game. There are a few key things that semi-ruin the experience for me, but the other features that are done extremely well sort of make up for it. The most noticeable elements true fans will find themselves missing are the lack of thieving features or land/home ownership. But, as the game is a big title, it’s very possible that these features may be introduced at a later date. All-in-all, though, ESO seems to be shaping into a very good MMORPG, if nothing else. And let me be clear, the game is FULL of content. I’ve put 40+ hours into the game on just one character and I’ve only just reached level fifteen. Of course, others have reached much higher levels in the first few days of the release, but you can definitely take your time and have something to do constantly.
As you can see, a lot of objects are just props you can’t interact with, which is unlike other Elder Scrolls games.
Just like other Elder Scrolls games, ESO puts a huge emphasis on questing. True to its name, the questing in this game puts the questing in almost every other MMO to shame. Almost every quest you do will be part of some story-line you can’t help but be immersed in. The voice acting, the writing, the choices – they all add up to the signature Elder Scrolls story-telling experience that we’ve all come to love. And ESO has it all.
While I have yet to see a major impact of one of my choices during a quest, the choices I make do have an effect on how the story-arc ends. You might choose to give a greedy Lady a cursed crown in order to trap her spirit and teach her a lesson, only to find out that she has her innocent servant touch it before she does and instead traps his soul. Or you could just give her the true crown and keep the current trapped soul in his prison so that no innocents would be sacrificed to free him. Almost every other quest you do will have you make some choice or another that will affect the outcome.
Another great thing about the questing is it actually impacts the world around you. Well, to be clear, it impacts your own personal vision of the world. Due to the phasing technology that ESO employs, the world you are seeing can be quite different than that of your friends. Sometimes this is as simple as making a previously hostile zone free of enemies (or vice versa), or it might make the Wyr Sisters show up to help a struggling town with their wounded, after you’ve saved their Wyrd tree. One drawback to this is that, even while in a group, you may suddenly find your comrades disappearing while adventuring. They will enter a phase of the same zone that is completely different, so while they might be standing in front of you, you won’t be able to see or help each other in combat until you leave the area and rejoin in the same phase again. Needless to say, this is very confusing and frustrating at times.
Elder Scrolls Online has the signature action-combat found in other Elder Scrolls games. Dodging and blocking play a huge role in combat, blocking especially. If you don’t become efficient in your blocking, chances are you won’t make it far.
Which brings me up to the AI. The combat AI is definitely not a cake-walk. One-on-one you can usually win most fights with no real issue. The problems begin when you take on more than one enemy, which can be often as an enemy’s friends won’t just stand there as you hit him with a fireball hopping to pull him from the group. I will mention that the AI seems to be “blind”, as I’ve literally stood a few meters in front of an enemy and have him not aggro to me.
As always, I made my main character a caster, so that’s where I have most of my combat experience. I did make alternate characters to try out both bow and melee fighting, however. One major complaint I’ve had is the lack of range. That is, you still have to get relatively close to an enemy to make use of a lot of your abilities, even as a caster. Combine that with your squishy-ness, and you can get into very sticky situations quite easily – especially in PVP. The ranged combat also seems to have an “assist” built-in. As long as your cursor is over the target at the time of casting, you’re basically guaranteed a hit. This can be a bit immersion-breaking when you see an arrow take a 90-degree turn mid-air to hit its target.
Melee is just as you would think it would be. It’s basically the same as other Elder Scrolls games, with a slightly different feel to it. Due to the extensive use of abilities/the class system, you will be making use of your ability bar frequently as a melee. To me, this doesn’t feel like something an Elder Scrolls game should have. However, that’s just a personal opinion. For some, this type of combat will be a deal breaker – they want the same experience as the Elder Scrolls single-player games. For others, they’ll accept it and move on and continue to enjoy the game. It’s just down to preference.
Most of you may know this, but Cyrodiil is the massive Faction versus Faction versus Faction zone that pits all three factions in the game against each other to try and take control of the Elder Scrolls and take over keeps, along with other key resource points such as farms and mines. A lot of the PVP that goes on in Cyrodiil is large-scale siege. Land is contested constantly and keeps changing hands frequently. However, smaller scale conflicts are facilitated and it’s very possible to get together with a group of friends and roam around looking for an even fight. Heck, you can even hide and wait for solos to gank.
Honestly, the RvRvR PVP feels a lot like Guild Wars 2 world PVP. Your stats are bumped up to level 50 when you enter, and you will spend a lot of time just joining up with the largest force and participating in whatever siege happens to be going at the time. One great thing is the abundance of siege weapons and the ease of using them. It’s very easy to get your hands on a ballista or other siege weapon, which makes for a lot of fun. And seeing a bunch of trebuchets flinging rocks at the enemy walls (which can be destroy and rebuilt) is amazing.
Gathering and Crafting
As with other Elder Scrolls games, ESO has a nice crafting system along with an extensive gathering system. As you travel, you will come across countless herbs, plants, ore nodes, and ruins to gather. You can even find useful crafting material in crates and barrels. It’s possible to pick-up skills that will allow you to get hireling to gather for you while you’re offline, or improve your chance of noticing resource nodes. Personally, I like this gathering system a lot.
Crafting is a rather unique beast, compared to a lot of MMO crafting systems. Even compared to the usual Elder Scrolls crafting for that matter. There are several crafting paths, such as tailoring, blacksmithing, cooking, woodworking, etc… Each has its own skill tree that can be used to improve various aspects of your crafting as you advance. You can learn how to create armors and weapons in different styles, customize the weapons/armor additional stats, and choose which level the item is designed for. There’s a whole lot to choose from. There’s also improvement, where you can change the quality of the item using special resources you can get through adventuring. Then there’s the deconstruction and researching. There’s just a lot there for you to delve into. Honestly one of the better crafting systems I’ve seen.
There’s even an element of experimentation in a couple of crafting schools. That is, alchemy and enchantment. Alchemy is almost all completely experimentation, just like in other Elder Scrolls games. You will take the herbs and plants you gathered and combine them into potions to help you discover formulas. Of course, you could cheat and look up the effects of each plant online, or look up formulas, but there is a lot of fun to be had to discover the effects each plant has and how to create the best potions.
A lot of trial and error is involved with both alchemy and enchanting.
This section is one of the major problems I have with the game, unfortunately. To me, the thieving element in the Elder Scrolls games is huge. Even though it’s not present in the game, everywhere you look are obvious opportunities for it to be implemented to make the game so much more interesting. That being said, I am severely disappointed that the only thieving element that can be found in the Elder Scrolls Online (outside some quests), is the lock-picking of random chests that can be found out in the wilderness or in dungeons. There’s no picking your way into someone’s house in the middle of the night to sneak around while they sleep and steal their valuables. There’s no pick-pocketing the merchant. These are features that helped make Elder Scrolls what it is, and I very much hope that they add them into the game at some point.
Heck, there is no crime at all. When you enter a house, a majority of it is just props or useless items that you can pick up. The stuff you can take has no consequence for doing it. Even if you grab a guy’s food right in front of him, he won’t care. Of course, you can’t attack NPCs or guards either. This lack of crime in the game makes the experience a lot bleaker. It’s a missing element that sorely hurts the overall experience.
Achievements, Collecting, and More
The game is full of things to collect, achievements to gain, and other such things to keep you occupied. You can find treasure maps that will lead you to buried treasures, or find skyshards which will grant you the all-important skill points. Lorebooks are hidden all around, which as the name suggests, gives you a deeper peak into the lore. As you complete quests, kill monsters, and defeat bosses, you will gain achievements to help show off your prowess as an adventurer.
If you’re a fan of Elder Scrolls, you know how huge modding is to the series. Unfortunately, being an MMO, Elder Scrolls Online can’t really support the level of customization and mod-ability that previous Elder Scrolls titles have had. It does, however, offer great add-on support that will allow you to customize and change your experience to your needs and wants. To me, this add-on support is better than nothing.
I’ve got mixed feelings about Elder Scrolls Online. On the one-hand, it’s a great MMORPG with some amazing questing. On the other-hand, it has a lot of features missing that make-or-break an Elder Scrolls for me. So, while I love it as an MMO, I don’t like it so much as an Elder Scrolls game. It has a lot of great stuff, don’t get me wrong – fantastic quests, the Elder Scrolls lore, vampires and werewolves, in-depth crafting, fun PVP. Personally, however, I am unsure if I will sub next month when my subscription comes up. At the least, though, I would say that it’s worth the initial buy and at least the month of included play time. Perhaps future content expansions will change that.
Features: 4/5 – It would be 5/5 if more signature Elder Scrolls features were included.
Customization: 5/5 – Can’t say I’m disappointed with all the options.
Graphics: 5/5 – The game looks fantastic.
Controls: 4/5 – For the most part, they were great.
Community: 5/5 – A great community of players who love Elder Scrolls.
Overall: 4/5 – This was so close to being “the perfect game” but a few key features were missing for me.
Elder Scrolls Online Videos
Live Another Life (E3 2014)
Voice Actors Promo
The Arrival CGI
Announcement Trailer Trailer
Elder Scrolls Online Links
Elder Scrolls Online System Requirements
Coming Soon. . .
Elder Scrolls Online Articles
- Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited to End Subscription Fees - Posted on January 21, 2015
The conversion titled The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited will hit PC and Mac players on March 17th. From that point onward, only the initial purchase box price of the game will be required to enter the online realm of Tamriel.
- 2015 MMO Predictions – The Rise of Buy to Play Sandboxes - Posted on January 15, 2015
2014 was, for me, the year of failed games and lost hope. Maybe 2015 will prove to be the year of great buy-to-play sandbox MMOs. My predictions are: ESO will continue to lose its player-base until it's forced to reconsider its payment model and will hopefully switch to the Buy-to-Play model.
- The MMORPG Disillusionment – Buy to Play Model Takeover? - Posted on October 6, 2014
Wait, hold on. A flat fee for all the content? Well, haven't we just come full-circle, then? That's called a box fee. We used to buy video games in boxes, you know in the days before the Internet sucked so many console gamers onto personal computers.
- Elder Scrolls Online: Coming to Steam - Posted on July 17, 2014
The Elder Scrolls Online is the latest chapter of the award-winning RPG franchise and brings the legendary experience online for the first time.
- Elder Scrolls Online Craglorn Update Now Live - Posted on May 22, 2014
Zenimax has released Update 1, including Craglorn, for Elder Scrolls Online today