Regardless of what race you choose, or of what class you pick, Elders Scrolls Online has a fantastic story, about an adventurer, on a quest to regain his (or her) lost soul. It is a nice setup for a much loved single-player franchise that takes its first steps into the unfamiliar genre of the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game). Just like your character, that is struggling to find out the truth and discover the past, so does the game scrambles to find its identity throughout the leveling phase.
I choose to see ESO more as an MMORPG and less as an Elder Scrolls game and I think that, by doing so, my experience with the game was significantly improved. If you expect to have the same free-roaming experience like you had with Skyrim, then you are not going to have a great time with the game. It actually does a lot of things well and despite the buggy launch and outdated graphics, Elder Scrolls Online manages to capture the essence of the ES series, as best as it can be done from an MMORPG, and exceeds most expectations.
Before we get into the story, leveling phase and end-game content, we must first find out if we can run the game. It is not demanding at all and it can be played on a less powerful, low-tier rig.
Minimum System Requirements
- CPU: Dual Core 2.0 GHz processor
- RAM: 2 GB
- OS: Windows XP on 32 bits, or better
- Video Card: DirectX 9.0 compliant video card with 512MB of RAM (NVIDIA GeForce 8800, or ATI Radeon 2600, or better)
- HDD Space: 60 GB
Recommended System Requirements
- CPU: Quad Core 2.3GHz or equivalent processor
- RAM: 4 GB
- OS: Windows 7 on 64 bits, or Windows 8 on 64 bits
- Video Card: DirectX 11 compliant video card with 2GB of RAM (NVIDIA GeForce 560 Ti, or ATI Radeon HD 6950, or better)
- HDD Space: 60 GB
Elder Scrolls Online Price
Depending on your platform the price will slightly vary. On PC or Mac, the game will cost you $52,98 on Amazon.com, while on PS4 and Xbox One the price is set at $59,96, available at the same retailer.
The main story line will take about 100 hours to complete, so you must wait a while until you can fully understand what is going on. The adventure can be a bit slow-paced, with a few clichés along the way, but by the end it delivers a nice experience, that does justice to the Elder Scrolls name.
During your play-trough, you will encounter several cameos, from the more important figures in the Elder Scrolls universe. At the end, you will have to fight the final boss, and you must believe me when I say that this encounter is more challenging than most single player games – Dark Souls not included.
Although the main story quest is lengthy enough, your main PvE experience will come from completing side quests that you get from random NPCs. Just like in Skyrim, you can follow the story line of different guilds, like the Fighter’s Guild, or the Mage’s Guild.
The dialogue is fully voiced-over, reminding me of Star Wars the Old Republic, but the delivery is not as good. The voice actors can surprise you sometimes, but they can also be annoyingly robotic at other times.
Questing in Elder Scrolls Online
The quests are mostly written for a singular hero and then delivered to the entire crowd, showing Elder Scroll online ‘s single player beginnings, maybe more than it actually should. The good thing is, that they do tend to follow the traditional questing of Elder Scrolls. More often than not you will be sent into a dark cave, or to explore a ruin, in search of a long forgotten artifact, or to simply fight off some pesky bandits.
The game does a brilliant job of matching that up with the more traditional MMO design. You get to do a lot of killing and complete a wide range of interesting quests, but, from time to time, you are presented with a “fetching” mission. The “go there and get me that” kind of quest gave me the most headaches while playing this game.
My favorite missions have to be the investigative ones. You must solve puzzles and find clues that reminds me a little bit of “The Secret World”, but that game did it a lot better. To be frank, I think that the questing in The Secret World is, by far, the best in any MMORPG that I’ve ever played in my entire life, but this is a subject for another day.
The quest that affects the way NPCs react to you in the future, depending on your decisions, are also awesome. I loved messing around with them as much as I could and tried to choose the most outrageous answers possible. It was really fun and made me feel like I’m a part of this world, where my decisions matter and again, it reminded me of SWTOR.
Elder Scrolls Online Graphics & Soundtrack
The soundtrack complements the game rather nicely and celebrates the work of the world renowned sound artist, named Jeremy Soule, giving it a Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim vibe.
Graphics are not the most impressive ones ever made and while playing the game, the single taught that persisted through my mind was: “If it only looked better!” It is very clear that ZeniMax Online tried to combine the realistic graphics of Bethesda Softworks’ style, with the more friendly, low-spec art of WoW. The resulting hybrid is rather unsatisfying. The dungeons do look a bit better, especially the Ayled ruins, that exude more gloom than the ones in Oblivion.
The doors on Nordic barrows are also more detailed than they were in Skyrim, but the open world looks gangly and altogether ugly, with stale and faded out objects, reminding me of Morrowind, a game that came out in 2002.
I guess that they cut away from the graphics in order to accommodate the large number of players, but, again I have to reference SWTOR, because that game looked and played out very well.
Elder Scroll’s Open World
The open world is large enough and you are encouraged to go through every nook and cranny that you encounter and explore every mountain path. Go off the beaten path to discover new quests and Skyshards (they give you skill points), as well as different NPCs that are going about their own business.
Some mages high on top of a hill are trying to awaken a god or something and the ritual is actually spectacular, but I guess we will never know if they succeed or not… or will we?! Books and small pieces of paper can be found almost everywhere, expanding the lore of the world. Some of them also grant you skill points.
The smart move they made, when it comes to questing, is that you can undertake quests that are above your current level, provided you have the skills, or in some cases, the help, to complete them.
What Makes Elder Scrolls Online Good?
This game is, just like everything else, better with friends. Working with other players usually improves the game and, while you can go alone at the lower levels, once you go past level 50, the combat gets very hard and you will need assistance.
I found that, once you leave the early zone, where the chat is constantly being spammed by gold sellers, the community is actually very nice, generous and helpful. The chat outside the party chat, or the guild chat, is rather quiet for an MMO game. Try and remember the chat from WoW. It was constantly being spammed with different requests, offers and guild recruitments.
The multiplayer aspect doesn’t always work as well as it should. For example, you cannot help a friend through a phasing mission if you have already completed that quest. There are times when the open world multiplayer feels uninspired and lazy. The creators took random, dynamic events from online games such as Final Fantasy XIV and Guild Wars 2, but those events lose their appeal very quickly, regardless if you are in Gleumbra, or in Skyrim.
Dungeons, Combat & PVP in Elder Scrolls Online
Once you hit the level cap and you start to do veteran dungeons, the game gets better. These dungeons are very hard and require strategy and coordination from the four-man party, so communication is key here.
The PvP presents a siege oriented warfare, similar to the one in Guild Wars 2 and Dark Age of Camelot, with some PvE elements that reminds me of Neverwinter.
The combat is one of the best I’ve seen so far in any MMORPG and during my play-through I’ve come to love it. Just like in Skyrim, you have to active block, while bashing with the right mouse button and deliver calculated sword swipes with the left one. You have to carefully time you actions and if you don’t, then you will find yourself in a world of pain. The ranged combat is not as good as the melee one, especially when you are using a bow.
To be frank, in order to enjoy this game you need to enjoy MMOs in general and if you don’t, then I suggest that you stay away from ESO. There is a strong character progression, with a combat system that is maybe better suited for on offline game, but, at the same time, it is a game that focuses on adventuring with other players. I am a big fan of the Elder Scrolls games and of the MMORPG genre, so I had a very pleasant experience with ESO.
In spite of the outdated graphics and the occasional bug, I had a good time playing this game and I look forward to logging on again so I can continue my saga.
- Good main story line
- Enjoyable open world experience
- Friendly community
- Good side quests
- Really good combat mechanics
- Challenging end-game content
- Outdated graphics
- Boring dynamic open-world encounters