Published on October 4th, 2016 | by Sean Warhurst
The Elder Scrolls Online: Gold Edition PS4 Review
Summary: Mechanically solid and getting better with each month, The Elder Scrolls Online is one of the better MMORPG options available on current gen consoles.
Respect Your Elders...
If you’ve been holding off on picking up The Elder Scrolls Online in the hopes that there will be a definitive edition released at some point in the game’s lifespan, then The Elder Scrolls Online: Gold Edition is the ideal point to jump in to the world of Tamriel and join the fight for control of the Empire.
The Elder Scrolls Online is a far different beast than the game that initially launched back in 2014; Zenimax quickly dropped the mandatory subscription associated with most MMORPGs and tweaked the combat and interface to be more user friendly, rebranding the game as “The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited”.
These decisions allowed for the game to build a healthy user base, particularly on consoles, with Zenimax supporting the game throughout the following year with a steady stream of new content, all of which is bundled in with this Gold Edition.
One thing that is a tad annoying, however, is that the content on the disc itself is only that of Tamriel Unlimited, with a paper insert containing the code included, meaning that players will still have to install a whopping 40gb update plus the DLC before they can actually begin their adventure.
Mechanically, ESO plays like an almalgamation of Skyrim and an MMORPG, with players able to craft their own character from a wide variety of races, including such Elder Scrolls stalwarts as the Nords, Bosmer and the cat-like Khajiit, each with their own different styles of attack and defensive qualities.
Taking place almost a millennium before the events of Skyrim, the main narrative of ESO consists of your character setting out to end the vile machinations of the Daedric Prince Molag Bal as well as to seize control of the imperial throne, which has been vied over by three different factions since the land’s former leader vacated it. There’s also a more personal element to your quest – The retrieval of your soul from Molag Bal, stolen after a ritualistic sacrifice.
As with its other MMORPG contemporaries, however, the main story arc quickly takes a backseat to the myriad of subquests available on hand for players to attempt either with the assistance of other players or as a lone wolf, and the perpetual grind for better gear and levels that characterises this genre.
There is a wealth of content to delve into with The Elder Scrolls Online, and although some of the mission structures are clearly copy-and-pasted and players more familiar with the MMORPG genre will surely recognise the recycled tropes from other titles in the genre, it must be said that, at least in my experience, the ratio of grinding to enjoyment falls in favour of the latter.
One minor niggle I found is that the party system for quests is a little strange at times and you’ll find yourself concurrently exploring an area with other players but will be unable to actually see them in your game. This results in a solitary experience that can make you question why you’re not just playing Skyrim instead, as the interaction with other players is ostensibly the biggest draw behind ESO.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a noticeable grind, though, which I personally feel dilutes the elements of the Elder Scrolls series that have been brought successfully over to this new model; I understand that it’s a necessary evil as certain mechanics and the like much be changed in order to accommodate the addition of the MMORPG components of the game but these new features often felt like an intrusion upon the established formula rather than complementing it.
Of course, this gripe boils down to personal preference and if you found yourself sucked in by the likes of WoW then the level grind won’t be an issue for you; it’s just that I’m not a fan of that kind of carrot-and-stick gameplay.
The main incentive behind picking up the Gold Edition over the base game is, not surprisingly, the inclusion of the four DLC packs that have been released so far; Imperial City, which adds a brand new dungeon and currency system as well as a dedicated PvP area and new questlines, Thieves Guild, which introduces players to Abah’s Landing in Hammerfall and the titular guild’s questlines and Orsinium, which sees players take on a new solo area dubbed the Maelstrom Arena, as well as adding two new dungeons and yet another questline.
Finally, you have the recently released Dark Brotherhood content, which removed the Veteran Progression System but added a whole bunch of new items and abilities, including craft bags and poison crafting, and saw players undertaking a series of new missions in service of the shady cabal of Assassins.
Picking up the Gold Edition will also net players an exclusive Palomino Mount plus 500 Crowns to spend in the in-game store.
This new content adds hours of gameplay to what is already a fairly massive game and having it all available in the one place for a reduced price is certainly convenient, although players who already own the base game but none of the DLC would be better served downloading the Guild and Glory DLC bundle rather than forking out for what is essentially the same disc again.
The Elder Scrolls Online has definitely benefited from the constant quality of life improvements that the developers have added since 2014; despite an initially shaky launch, the shift from a subscription model has allowed for the ESO community to grow and thrive and the new content has ensured that gamers will be able to lose themselves in the world of Tamriel for months to come.
If you’re not a fan of MMORPGs then, unfortunately, ESO will do little to sway you, even if you enjoyed Oblivion, Skyrim and the like; mechanically the game makes many concessions to the MMORPG formula and despite being more accessible, at its heart ESO is ultimately an MMORPG with the Elder Scrolls license slapped over it.
Mechanically solid and getting better with each month, The Elder Scrolls Online is one of the better MMORPG options available on current gen consoles and with years of promised support to come and a vibrant and active community, if you have even the slightest interest in giving ESO a shot then there really is no better time than now.
Primary Format – PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Game Genre – Massively Multiplayer Online
Rating – M
Game Developer – ZeniMax Online Studios
Game Publisher – Bethesda Softworks
Reviewer – Sean Warhurst