Published on April 17th, 2014 | by Edwin Millheim
The Elder Scrolls Online PC Review
Summary: The Elder Scrolls Online carries on the tradition of gaming we know and love with a twist of adding in MMO.
Prepare for Battle!
The Elder Scrolls Online
Developers: ZeniMax Online Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Reviewer: Edwin Millheim
So let’s take a spectacularly successful sword and sorcery adventure/role playing game and bring it into the MMO arena. Sounds like a win -win for everyone doesn’t it? Then find out that after paying for the game, there is then a monthly fee. ZeniMax is placing a lot of faith in the game design and the consumers desire to play it and keep paying for it. How well does the game play? Well after getting a code from the company to check out the offering, we spent the week playing every day for several hours winding our way through the gaming world and the first few quests that the game has to offer. It’s pretty clear that it is an MMO first and foremost and an Elder Scrolls game after that. Nothing wrong with that, and this is this writer’s perspective on it.
Once again, the game series keeps up with the look and feel of the Elder Scrolls series. Those gee wiz look at the eye candy world, with elements, environments and textures and imaginative characters and creatures that lend themselves so well to fleshing out this game world. Everything melds very well to immerse the player in this Elder Scrolls MMO saga. There are something that mar it ever so slightly, but not so much that it kills the fun. More on that later.
The game does actually rather well with meshing the history of the other games in the line and keeps faithful to events. Our main villain is Molag Bal, Daedric Prince of domination and enslavement. As with what has been popular these days when it comes to villians in movies and games… Molag Bal wants to merge Nirn and Oblivion into one dimensional world. Of course making a hell-scape carved to his chaotic liking where everyone bends to the lash and boot as slaves. His dark terrible magic scars the lands, his Dark Anchors, Vortexes of magic are his greatest weapons for this.
If this was not chaotic enough, three alliances are now fighting for control of the Imperial City and the White-Gold Tower. Players that create a character find that they will join one of these alliances. A majority of players may actually find themselves jumping around a bit and building other characters and testing out the different alliances. Unless of course they are a more serious role player as opposed to a ROLL (of the dice) player. Role players will be the muscle and sinew of this game. Zenimax and Bethesda have created something that could be so much more, and in the end it’s going to be the players themselves that bring it to life and use the tools that the game designers/developers have created. I am pleased to say they have given us a nice toy chest to build a character and a world in which to bring that character to life in.
The back ground story, oh my, the back ground story. The back ground to the game world is simple enough, and gives us enough color to fire the gamer’s imaginations. Now what’s been interesting so far is that even the missions and quests that players end up going on…thus far have been consistently meaningful in some way. While not earth shatteringly different than what one would expect. Thankfully the go fetch this or kill a certain number of this type of creature kind of almost meaningless quests have not reared their ugly heads as much as they could.
The quests such as save people, or find certain artifacts, stop dark rituals and things like that all make a solid sense and manage to not feel like throw away for the mere purpose of leveling up. This gives so much for fellow role players to bring something to the table and make the game experience even more than what’s presented.
We like that, we like it a lot. The story is there and it gives this multiplayer game a feel of single player gaming. So many others around kind of kill the illusion of that, but hey what can you do? It’s fun, so enjoy it.
So first you have to make a character and the choices are pretty well rounded and any gamer should find a good build and custom build that will suite them just fine.
The Elder Scrolls Online presents players with three different alliances. One of which they may choose to become a part of. Each of these alliances have their own back grounds and also their own goals in the game. Filled with a rich cast and cadre of races and character types.
There is The Daggerfall Covenant which includes two Provinces of northwest Tamriel: High Rock and Hammerfell, home to the Bretons and the Redguards. For more brutish allies Daggerfall Covenant has worked some diplomatic silver tongue promises offering the Orcs a chance to return to their ancestral homeland of Orsinium, all they have to do is lend support to the Covenant. These three races form the Daggerfall Covenant and their main goals are to restore the second Empire and bring about peace and of course prosperity to Tamriel.
The next Alliance is one that seems to be held together with threads of silk that are wearing thin since this alliances is made up of former enemies to each other. Northern and Eastern Tamriel brings together The Nords, Dark Elves, and Argonians of Skyrim, Morrowind, and Black Marsh. Not only fighting to restore stability to the empire but also to ensure their own autonomy.
Then finally we have the Aldmeri Dominion, made up of three races of Southern Tamriel. Wood Elves of Valenwood, The Khajiit of Elsweyr who are also the leaders of this gathering. Then the High Elves of the Summerset Isles. The Aldmeri Dominion seeks to stop the machinations of Humankind, and to restore the Elven race dominance in Tamriel.
The character builds are impressive enough and are rather forgiving in many respects. The way a player builds a character is flexible. So much so that the possibilities are rather exciting if you’re a heavy role player or just a gamer. After all, one of the things myself and Shael one of our other writers have always loved about some of the Elder Scrolls games was the chance to play a Vampire. Now how cool is that? Not for everyone sure, but playing as a bad ass werewolf? Oh bring it on!
Making a character has all the things one would expect these days for a really good game of this type to have. The ability to really customize the look of the character right on down to features and over all body build type.
Pushing right ahead in regards to character creation, a player gets a chance to choose racial and class abilities right from the start. Then they get to learn WHATEVer Skill Lines they want as well.
There is also a HOTBAR that lets a player choose what skills are active at any moment in the game. The character has 1 Ultimate skill, 5 active skills and then 4 passive skills activated. Now if that was not enough, there is an option to switch to another weapon which has its own hotbar. So the character can have different skills attached to these different weapons. Nice indeed.
Here is a short rundown on the different Skill Lines a character has access to. There are other aspects to each Skill Line and break downs. There are many great guides one can find online and on the Elder Scrolls Online web site to give a player more details on all of this.
Racial Skills, Every race in the game has their own unique racial skills.
Class Skills as the title implies goes by whatever class of character is chosen in the beginning. Once chosen this is something that can’t be changed.
Weapons Skills, this is one of those interesting things in the game. As any character can learn all six of the weapon skill lines that are offered. They would just swap out whatever weapon they are using in battle. Depending on what weapon the character uses the most of course, the skills will go up faster if they favor a certain weapon more.
Armor Skills. Surprise like in real life. All classes can wear armor and any armor type. Even better they can mix it up a bit and wear different types.
Crafting Skills. These skills are available from the start of the game. Each skill levels up as you use it.
Alliance War Skills. Earn Alliance points in PvP to gain these sills. These come in to play by offering boosts to allies during mass player battles.
Guild Skills. These are skills that become unlocked after the player has their character join a faction.
World Skills, these are the ones I spoke of earlier. Exploring the game world a player can come across such skills and Skill Lines like becoming a werewolf or vampire. Fun stuff and can open up so much with the right group of actual ROLE PLAYERS bringing it to virtual life in the game.
There is so much to this game a simple write up just does not do it justice. The combat with weapons while seeming rather simple requires some timing. Add in some player skill when going against another player and things get a lot more interesting.
Battles can become pretty epic and hectic when you take into consideration there can be three sided PvP battles going on. With so many other players on screen it gets crazy, Castle sieges are a blast in both attacking and defending.
Running around on quests though, when it comes to enemy though, there are times that creatures that needed to be dispatched would tend to re spawn at a pretty fast rate in certain areas. So if a player stuck around after defeating a creature and looting them, they would be assured another round with the beast again.
So far beasts and beings encountered have all been interesting to go against, with a few holy crap moments.
The overall look and feel of the game and voice acting is right up there with the bar that has been set in the game line. Some tweaks graphically had to be done for having so many players online at once of course. We must say, the graphics really have not suffered all that much. Areas retain enough character themselves to keep things interesting for the player. Bethesda keeps the tradition of giving the aesthetic presentation of the game high priority while keeping all the elements balanced enough to make it enjoyable and interesting. We feel that the graphics have been dialed down to give the game playability frame rate balance being an MMO. The environments still manage to look impressive none the less.
That being said each environment so far is beautiful and interesting enough to explore, too bad you are not going to find much for your bold moves of exploration. Maybe as time goes on the designers will plant extra content in the game to take advantage of all of its gloriously diverse areas.
It’s a nice addition to a game world so many love, it’s not an innovation or a giant step forward, though it is a comfortable fit worth adventuring in even with some growing pains.
With a few unbalanced game elements that can drive you to distraction, we hope to see some tweaks coming in the future. You just should not be able to rip through a horde on your own fairly easily only to be tromped by a boss enemy. It should be a challenge to be sure, but dangling the carrot of character bad assdom only to have it snatched away when you get to a boss is just not right. Make it a challenge sure, but too suddenly at THAT point needing the help of a group of allied players just seems either forced to play cooperatively, or just a weak unbalanced game play choice.
The bottom line comes with each gamer as an individual dipping into this wildly fun sword and sorcery realm, they must make that over all choice…is it worth paying a subscription to play? A recurring one at that. I would say, that depending on how much time you spend in a game…it is worth the price of admission. After all you spend as much if not more going out to the movies, and those you don’t get to interact with and role play with people from all over the place.
The Elder Scrolls Online has such an amalgamation of feels to it, you’re either going to love it or hate it. There is enough here to enjoy with all the fun toys it gives you to forgive any of the short comings it may have or bugs and or balance play. A good game that will only get better over time.