Ever since I started playing The Elder Scrolls, I’ve always wanted an MMORPG version of the game; the idea of running through the worlds of TES with a group of adventurers was a wish many of us had. So when Zenimax, under Bethesda Studios, announced that they were making The Elder Scrolls Online for consoles, we all got excited. Not just because we finally had an official MMORPG on consoles (Destiny doesn’t count, as Bungie said it’s not a real MMORPG), but because it was TES. While it was a good game, it wasn’t perfect.
The gameplay itself is easy to get into. Combat revolves around your class choice and build, with various weapons available for your chosen build. Two-handed weapons, daggers, staves, etc. All are available for any class. And typical to these types of MMORPGs, there are three “roles”; tank, dps, or healer. Your first character of course, won’t likely be based on one of these, but once you start running the dungeons, you’ll find yourself focusing your characters on these like a religion. However, the game does offer freedom of choice; want to be a dps battlemage? Do it. Want to be a healing tank? Do it. Each class has three skill trees, allowing you to allocate your points into any style you like.
When it comes to the actual fighting, it can easily be done with use the trigger buttons, which does either a light attack or a heavy attack when held down, similar to the other TES games. However, what isn’t similar to them, is the new hotbar, which allows you to set your favourite skills and powers for quick use. However, similar to the other TES games, the combat feels…weak. You don’t feel like you’re swinging a massive greatsword or smashing a skull with a warhammer; it feels like you’re cutting butter, which all the TES games struggled with. It’s a shame that they didn’t fix this, but otherwise, the new combat style is good and fairly fun.
The graphics themselves are a change of pace from the progress of the TES games. Many may argue with this, but I felt the graphics of ESO were worse than Skyrim. That’s not to say they weren’t good – they still looked better than a lot of games out at the time – But they felt more cartoon-like than Skyrim, which boasted beautiful worlds. Despite this, they were still very pretty, and an interesting choice by Zenimax and Bethesda.
The quests were also fun, exciting and entertaining all-round. The main quest focused around the conquest of Molag Bal’s, Daedric God of Domination (my personal favourite), ongoing conquest of Tamriel. You, as the Soul Shriven hero, must fight alongside the old heroes to stop Molag Bal and recover your soul. The main quest is enjoyable and pretty intense at some points; heading to Sai Sahan’s training grounds when suddenly you find yourself under attack from a massive Daedric Titan certainly earns the game it’s shock and wow factor. However, I felt the ending was very anti-climactic and underwhelming.
The side quests were also interesting and offered a different viewpoint on the invasion of Molag Bal. The race you choose (unless you got one of the special editions) determines your alliance, be it Ebonheart Pact, Aldmeri Dominion, or Daggerfall Covenant. Not only these, but the Guild quests (Fighters Guild and Mages Guild as of right now) are fun, and surprisingly light-hearted at times.
Now onto multiplayer, and this is my favourite part of the game. A lot of MMORPGs that add multiplayer simply add it in, but ESO actually adds it in a way that fits with the story. It centres around the three alliances fighting for control of Cyrodiil, seat of the Empire. Players must capture forts dotted around the map, and it isn’t simple “Capture The Flag”-style; atrackers must use siege weapons to break down the walls on a massive, whole-alliance scale, while the alliance in control of the fort must use siege weapons to defend themselves. Once the walls are down, it becomes a bloodbath as the two alliances collide. It feels epic, intense and absolute chaos.
If you want to take a break from this, you can visit some of the cities of Cyrodiil (players of Oblivion will feel nostalgic about visiting these, albeit slightly changed, landmarks), each with their own set of quests. The multiplayer is a gem to play, and the shining star in this game.
Of course, there are some negatives about the game. One such is the use of auction houses. Normally, auction houses are a fundamental part of MMORPGs, and almost essential for it to work; being able to buy and sell from other players is a big part that needs to be nailed on the head perfectly. While ESO does touch on this, it doesn’t work very well. They use auction houses in the form of player guilds, and work in a way where guilds must buy places in towns in order for non-guild players to purchase from them. This can end up costing billions of gold, and this then causes smaller guilds to luck out again and again. They can still purchase from their Guild store, but other players cannot purchase from them, meaning less gold. There is no global auction house that doesn’t involve guilds, and this is a disappointing factor.
Another negative is the group search. These tend to be used when running dungeons, in order to find players to help with them. However, it is pretty broken, and almost never found me any groups, which is an annoyance to say the least. Being unable to find other players, and subsequently unable to play the dungeons, it is a pretty big deal breaker.
Overall then, The Elder Scrolls Online succeeds in many areas. Be it the gameplay, interesting graphics style, or multiplayer, ESO is an enjoyable game. It’s a shame that the auction house and group search are implemented poorly, as these would have made the game score almost perfectly, as well as a lacklustre ending. Therefore, Elder Scrolls Online scores a 76%.
Gamers Pantheon Score – 76%
– Underwhelming ending
– Group search broken
– No global auction house