The Elder Scrolls Online review 
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Matthew Figueira
April 24, 2014 at 3:30 pm

I’ll be perfectly blunt. It’s freaking hard reviewing a MMORPG! Hours and hours of play, and I feel like I’ve just barely scratched the surface. Can I really give it a fair, critical score? I’ve invested over 25 hours, only reaching level 15 of the possible 50. I believe I am at least entitled to an opinion, but keep in mind that this review reflects my own experience, something which did not extend to the late game.

Character Creation

The game kicks off much like any other RPG. You spend some time choosing the avatar in which you will invest hundreds of hours of your life into. There are four classes to choose from; Dragonknight, Nightblade, Sorcerer, and Templar. The classes are pretty diverse, allowing for a player to customise their play style and fulfil more than one role if they desire. The Templar class for example can choose to be tanky, opting for a shield and sword combo, or they can focus more on supporting, staffs being their weapon of choice. The races will be familiar to anybody who has played an Elder Scrolls game before. One can choose from the likes of a high elf right through to an Argonian or Khajiit. Each race has certain benefits or buffs that compliment the chosen class. If a player wishes to do so, they can really branch out into whatever the heck they want to. On top of all this, a player needs to choose to be part of one of three alliances. If you did not pre-order the game however, your class will predetermine your alliance.

Map

Irrespective of which allegiance the player chooses, the game will kick off in Coldharbor, a realm that is ruled by the games main quest protagonist, the Daedric prince Molag Bal. Gasp! You are a prisoner and you must escape! Plot spoiler, you escape. Doing so took me to Mistral, a teeny tiny noob island off the coast of the main continent. Progressing through the main quest here eventually took me to a much larger island called Auridon. It was here that I spent most of my time in the game. See the red circle in the image I’ve attached? That’s how small it is in comparison to the rest of the world. Only the darker parts of the continent can actually be visited, with the other parts more than likely to be added with updates or expansions. No matter, the available areas are vast and just waiting to be explored, filled with quests which require an able hero.

During my questing, I couldn’t help but notice that the game seems to have some sort of identity crisis. Is it a single player affair or is it truly meant to be a MMO? There is obviously the main quest, but also dozens of side quests on offer . The problem is, if one chooses to do so, they could complete most of these on their own. The Elder Scrolls series has always been about you being the unknown hero, willing to explore and perform quests for the people in need and becoming an ultimate badass along the way as you get stronger and stronger.

Levelling

I couldn’t help but laugh at some points during my time with ESO. I chose the Nightblade class, stealth specialists who rely on their stealth and speed. This was all complimented by my choice to be a Khajiit because they too excel in stealth, and are great in dealing out some damage. Imagine my shock when I, the village hero, decide to take on a quest which involves cleansing a shrine of sorts from an enemy presence. I’m sneaking along nice and quietly when a group of random people rush in and kill the nearest enemies. It’s not so much that my stealth class now appears to be completely null, but more the fact that the immersion is completely gone. There are certain dungeons which give you your own instance, making you the only player in it, but this does not happen all the time. Most of the dungeons I visited were frequented by every other local hero, running in out like they would at their local grocer.

exploration

The quests themselves aren’t too bad. I expected the usual stuff which suits Fido, but those were sparse at least. If I ever found that I ran out of things to do, I just ventured into unchartered territory and there was more than likely an NPC who needed something to be done. The problem in taking a quest is that you have no idea what level it is until you have taken it, or what your reward will be once completing it. Taking a high level quest isn’t such an issue, as you can always come back to it when you reach the appropriate level. The real headache comes in the reward you get for performing your heroic deed, which in my case left a horrible taste in my mouth most of the time.

Most of the quests are made up of several objectives, so one almost expects a pretty solid reward on completion. I honestly believe that the reward should be something that is tailored or at least applicable to your chosen class. Just so you know, my dual wielding assassin really has no need for that staff of healing or that heavy armour breastplate. This is not the only place where loot bothered me. Fighting some of the random NPC bosses or quest bosses had me drooling over the sort of loot they would drop. I would be happy knowing that they dropped whatever they were wielding, even if it is something that my class could not use. I just killed that tough sorcerer, maybe I can grab his staff and sell it for some kind of profit? Oh, a two handed sword! I thought he was just happy to see me. Rewards appear to be generated randomly off a loot table. Granted, you might be lucky, but I hardly was.

exploration 2

One of the games highlights for me was certainly the atmosphere. The music just screams Elder Scrolls, and it as epic as one would expect it to be. Like your lore? Don’t worry, there are tons of bookshelves where you can find lots of additional reading. The world of Tamriel is something that I can really credit the game for too, as some of the locales are incredibly beautiful. This is one of the reasons I kept wanting to play the game really. All I did was open up my map, set a waypoint, and off I went. What made this even more enjoyable was the random world events that occurred. I nearly fell of my horse the first time a tear in the sky opened up and enemies fell to greet me. Any nearby players dropped everything to go destroy these creatures, as doing so spawns a mini boss of sorts who has some decent loot to grab (a shield this time, that’s no good on me!) Those are pretty awesome, but what really nearly made me fall off my chair was the first time dark anchors appeared in the sky. The Daedric Prince, Molag Bal periodically uses these anchors to try drag Tamriel into the realm of Oblivion. The skies open and anchors plummet to the ground, digging in and taking hold. This is true MMORPG stuff as tons of minions spawn and you rally up with other players to give them a warm welcoming with your offensive capabilities.

combat

Defeating these creeps was manageable, even though I appeared to be slightly underleveled in comparison. The other high level players kept them at bay and I managed to get some attacks in. I did however find that the difficulty seemed a bit erratic in other parts of the game. I can completely understand getting destroyed by a creature that is a few levels higher than me. This all depends on your quest and location of course, but I found that I could still just as easily die to a group of creeps that were slightly lower or the same level as me. Solo enemy? No problem. Two of them? Now I’m breaking a sweat. Three or more? I’ll just wait here for a group of players to wander past so they can help me take them down! Perhaps my gear was ill equipped, perhaps my levelling was wrong, or perhaps I just wasn’t grinding well enough, but the difficulty is something that just felt slightly off to me. This could have just been my experience though, and maybe I’m just not cut out to be the next hero of Tamriel.

death

Once the player hits level 10, they are free to start one of the many PvP campaigns which take place in Cyrodiil. A character will be scaled accordingly so that they do stand a fighting chance versus any higher level characters, but there is still a disadvantage in the fact that you may not have as many skills available or loot as good as theirs. This part of the game however, is where the true MMO experience exists. Players can team up and fulfil daily quests such as scouting a nearby castle or simply killing a certain amount of enemies. The main purpose of this area is to capture key points and to take control of the whole map. Even with the supposed level scaling to even things out, I as a melee character did not have the heart to storm that castle willy-nilly while everybody else hung back to cast spells. I’d imagine if I were better equipped or a higher level, I would have enjoyed these grand battles a lot more. Instead I resorted to doing scouting missions, something much better suited to my skills.

Map

There are many more aspects to the game, but I think that just about covers the general bits. However, I can’t not talk about the elephant in the room. The game suffers from an immense amount of bugs, bugs which really had me scratching my head or rage quitting. At one point, I somehow got stuck between a tree and a wall. Using the /stuck command didn’t simply pop me out, it killed me instead, reviving me at a Wayshrine far back from where I needed to be. I can’t even begin to count the number of times an NPC just didn’t appear, or a quest just refused to progress unless I logged in and out. I sometimes spawned inside a few other people, and we all sat there unable to move. Logging in and out didn’t even fix that problem, so I was forced to quit and carry on playing a little bit later. I lost a lot of time thanks to these and other problems. These issues will more than likely be patched as the game ages, but they really should have been ironed out in the open beta.

PvP

For those of you skiped through and arrived at this paragraph, let me describe the cycle I went through each and every time. I had an itch to explore Tamriel, because gosh darn it’s just the prettiest place filled with nice areas to explore and quests to do! Let’s do some quests! What the… why am I stuck here? Where is the NPC I am meant to talk to? Where the hell is the map marker? These creeps are absolutely destroying my face! I need to go back and grind more. Oh, STUCK AGAIN? I usually quit at this point. The cycle repeated itself a few hours later, as I felt the urge to explore Tamriel once more…

Conclusion

By their very nature, MMO's evovle - but as it stands right now, The Elder Scrolls online isn't a worthwhile investment. If you're an Elder Scrolls fan, you might want to give it a try but I do think you may be a teeny bit disappointed. If you're an MMORPG fan, there are some ideas here that you will certainly like.
6.9

The Elder Scrolls Online was reviewed by Matthew Figueira on a PC

Defence of the Ancients? More like Defence of the cabbages! Have you seen my head? I look like a Merino Sheep on pole. NO SHANGE only SHAPPIES! :D

  • UltimateNinjaPandaDudeGuy

    Every time I see anything related to TES Online then I just keep on hoping they will keep making the single player ones too.

  • Marigold

    Sounds terrible…. I wonder how quickly this will go f2p

    • Johan du Preez

      6 months I think. We should start a betting pool :)

      • HvR

        Gavin charges 15% holding fee LG betting pools.

  • Admiral Chief in Space

    R150 per month for this mix of joy and frustration? No thanks, I’m already married

    • oVg Errorist

      R1800 a year for a R699 game ?

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        But you’ll get free horse armour.

        • oVg Errorist

          THIS is the image that started the FACE PALM of what gaming has become.
          It has never been the same since 2008.

          • HvR

            And LBGQT community complains that there aren’t any FABULOUS!!! content in games.

            At least they got the WTF expression on the horse face right. Same expression you see on a poodle that was dyed pink and dresses in a jersey and hat.

          • Jedi JJ

            I’ve seen better looking mods for Skyrim. Way way better.

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      lol. That reminds me of the scene in Hot Shots 2 where the guy’s being tortured & he tells the torturer that he’s not afraid of pain because he’s been married… twice.

      • Admiral Chief in Space

        HAHAHAHA, indeed

        “I see you are no stranger to pain”

    • MakeItLegal

      geez….there goes my proposal ………lol xD

  • Admiral Chief in Space

    Can you form a party with mates?

    • hairyknees

      You can team up with others :)

      • Admiral Chief in Space

        So when are we jamming Dota?

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          When you stop sucking noob! trollol!

        • Jedi JJ

          Like this?

          • hairyknees

            Hahahaha xD

        • hairyknees

          When you DL it :P

  • Matewis Jubilai

    I’m yet to finish Oblivion. I’ve not played Skyrim. There are tons of mods.
    so…. thank you bit I’m good!

    • Admiral Chief in Space

      I wish I could jam Skyrim with 3 or 4 mates though :/

      • Mark Treloar

        Oh the fun of shouting your friends off the mountain…literally.

        • Admiral Chief in Space

          Hehehehehe

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          FUS ROH DOOS!

          • Admiral Chief in Space

            more like FUS RO DOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooosssssss….[barely audible falling noises]

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            lulz

          • Jedi JJ

            The first time using a shout and he said “fus”, I mistook it for an Afrikaans word that sounds quite similar. Then naturally it felt more effective when shouting it at people (in the game).

          • Admiral Chief in Space

            Haha, same here

      • Jedi JJ

        Me too. So epic. Much fun. Very wow.

      • Johan du Preez

        They should make a co op skyrim, now that would be awesome. Kinda like Left 4 Dead only max 4 people allowed and of you go. You can all play as it is single player and later in the game when you get a quest to go take out some bandits when you get there its one of your buddies leading the group etc …

        Now thats something il throw allot of cash at.

        • Admiral Chief in Space

          Seconded

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      I still want to replay Skyrim with all the DLC & a ton of mods at some point. Don’t ask me when heh.

      • Admiral Chief in Space

        Same here

      • Jedi JJ

        Started last weekend with a new playthrough. Goodbye social life.

      • Matewis Jubilai

        Always the problem isnt it? I spent one weekend jamming Startopia and now I have a lot of catching up to do :P
        Don’t know where I’m going to find the time for my epic Post Apocalyptic binge :
        Fallout1,2,3,New V,Stalker, Call of Pripyat …

        • Admiral Chief in Space

          I HAVE to finish New Vegas (hence my leave next week) since I’ve been neglecting that since December.

          So many quests and DLCs to do!

          • Matewis Jubilai

            And of course it doesn’t help that new awesome games keep on being discovered : Project Zomboid; Kerbal Space Program; Starbound
            sigh…

            also : I forgot about the Fallout DLCs. I want to at least check out Broken Steel and the Pit

  • Matthew Holliday

    tl;dr feeg, if/when thy fix the bugs, worth the subscription fee?

    • hairyknees

      Meh, I think it would be much better if it were f2p, or at least a much cheaper subscription. OR they could just ship it as a single player game :P

      • Admiral Chief in Space

        All hail glorious SP

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    At least we know that people with cat-people fetishes won’t be discriminated against by this game.

    • Mark Treloar

      Or those who lick lizards

      • Rock789

        Lizard lickers!!!!! o_O

  • https://twitter.com/SaveTheQueenIX Umar’s Sin

    Ouch………

  • Jedi JJ

    I agree with this. Having spent two weekends on this I felt supremely underwhelmed and would probably have given it less than 6.9. It’s just not an elder scrolls anymore. It’s an MMO imitating an Elder Scrolls

  • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

    Matty Fig!!!!

    Good review.

    Alas I still wouldn’t play. That one off purchase + monthly sub just doesn’t seem right. Will not support this model.

    It’s either 1x purchase or only sub. Not both

    • hairyknees

      Thanks dude :) yeah I agree… its really silly that you have to pay for both :/

  • Jedi JJ
    • Ultimo_Cleric N7

      False. BIOWARE IS THE CHOSEN ONE……(Disclaimer: Please ignore Dragon Age 2)

      • Johan du Preez

        I have a feeling that DA3 is going to be a let down. There this little voice telling me and he is usually right. Looking at the screenshots the area’s still loook very linear its very pretty though but yah …

        I pray that im wrong because Dragon Age Origins is one of the best RPG’s that came out the last decade. Dragon Age was supposed to be the spiritual successor to Baldurs Gate but instead we get a fable wannabe action adventure without equipment management in DA2 with the biggest feature being able to do some fudge packing with male companions in your party.

        • Kromas

          No one speaks Ill of Bioware. I will cast you down into the fade!

          • Ultimo_Cleric N7

            I also have a bad feeling about it being linear……but we have only seen a snippet of gameplay. So I am hoping I am wrong. Also, Bioware have marketed it as an open world…..

          • Johan du Preez

            Hey dont get me wrong Bioware is one of my favourite game developers but they have been slipping for quite some time. I like the Bioware of the 90’s and early 2000’s now they are just EA’s bitch trying to do their best …

    • Matewis Jubilai

      Dont worry we’ve still got the Witcher people…

      • Jedi JJ

        I honestly didn’t enjoy it that much. I expected it to be a lot more extensive being a big Elder Scrolls fan.

        • Matewis Jubilai

          That’s fair. Who knows, perhaps they’ll surprise us with Witcher 3…
          another glimmer of hope : Mad Max might be good!

          • Jedi JJ

            I’m actually quite interested in checking out Witcher 3 after the TESO disappointment. And Mad Max is another thing to look forward to. Now only to quit my job so I have time for everything.

  • Admiral Chief in Space

    If I had to pay monthly sub, it will be for Planetside 2

    • Hammersteyn

      That will still be $10 a year instead of $15 a month

      • Admiral Chief in Space

        I thought it was per month?????????

        *runs of to buy sub*

        • Hammersteyn

          Hahaha nope. $10 gets you twelve months. Remeber you also get 500 SC cash a month and as I mention 1000 SC costs $10 so you win.

          • Jedi JJ

            I used to actually like Bethesda as a company.

          • Hammersteyn

            I Blame Zenymax or whatever the fuck they are called.

          • Johan du Preez

            Yup they are the reason why Carmack left ID Software as well.

          • Hammersteyn

            You know me and Admiral are discussing PS2?

          • Jedi JJ

            I realized too late and then didn’t want to be the guy who deletes his comments. :P

          • Hammersteyn

            No worries, I blame the shock that came from seeing how TESO turned out.

          • Johan du Preez

            Yeh then the took an arrow … you know the rest :P

          • Jedi JJ

            Ha. Excellent.

  • Hammersteyn

    Not even if I could afford wiping my ass with R100 notes would I play this.

    • Johan du Preez

      Amen Brother!! they should take the RPG part out of a MMO as it hardly is a RPG other than the leveling elements.

  • Charl

    The game has lots of little lovely features.

    for example members of your guild can be of any faction. But you can only group up with people of your own faction.

    There is no server auction house. But you get a sort of guild auction house. *head smack*

    A mount is insanely expensive that you will mostly likely buy it with real money. 17,500 gold for a slow one and 42,700 for a fast one.

    Dungeons are not instanced to your party. So other people can loot your chests.

    • Jedi JJ

      Sounds like they thought of everything

    • Hammersteyn

      I heard you get one gold for per monster you kill and two gold for a boss. Now how are you supposed to farm 17500 for a half dead horse to 42700 for a decent one?

      • Charl

        yep pretty much. If you are lucky you will get 2 gold

        • Hammersteyn

          Then after you bought the game plus paid the subscription fee they have another pay wall for the imperial faction and a horse. If this isn’t a cash grab scheme I dunno what is.

          • Jedi JJ

            Greed kills the greatest games.

          • Charl van der Merwe

            you can easily get a horse by lvl 25 if you sell all your loot, lvl 35 if you de construct all your loot for crafting. I have respecced twice (which cost me 9000 gold in total) and I de constructed all my loot for crafting and I have 8000 gold now in my bank. So i could have bought a horse if I didn’t respec so much :P

          • Hammersteyn

            Still, this game was created to rape ones wallet.

          • Charl van der Merwe

            I know because subscription based MMORPG games are such a foreign unheard of concept…

            WOW
            Final Fantasy 14
            Lineage 1 & 2
            Eve online

            Only the failed ones go F2p

            It’s like the negative people on this website commenting are all….poor gamers! ewww…

          • Hammersteyn

            Failed ones? Like :

            Never Winter Nights
            Hawken
            Planetside 2

            I’m not poor and I am definitely not negative. Spending R150 rand on a game every month regardless whether you play it not does not make sense at all. Now if they sold you gaming hours it would make a lot more sense. Pay for the time you play in other words.

          • Charl van der Merwe

            Those never started out on subscription based, Sorry I might not have made that clear ;)

            But Guildwars 2 is a shining example that you don’t need a subscription based and it is a great game.

            F2p has its place If frivolous cash shop spending and vanity items are your thing.

            You say it makes no sense, yet it was the industry standard not 5-7 years ago.All I’m saying is that people should actually PLAY the game before making sweeping statements like being able to wipe their ass with hundred rand notes to play ESO? Maybe? or just keep up the irreverent hatin that’s what the internet is good for ;)

          • Hammersteyn

            Just because it’s the industry standard doesn’t make it right. Look at microtransacitions and DRM. Those are standard but no one likes it. It may have became a standard because MMO games was overwhelmingly popular but I never bought into it because frankly I think it’s a waste and because for a R150 I can actually buy other games instead of helping to pay TESO water and electricity every month.

          • Charl van der Merwe

            It’s an industry standard because they provide servers and NEW content. Where can you pay for 100 hours of playtime per month for R150 ?(Besides multiplayer games like dota,Battlefield ect where the hours of entertainment are provided by other players, not in game content)New R500 games don’t even clock in at 30 hours sometimes.

            The game is out 1 month and there is a content patch already. If the content runs out, you stop playing, but you wouldn’t know because you haven’t actually played it.

          • Hammersteyn

            No I haven’t played it because I’m not buying a game and then paying a extra R150 rand a month just to play the game I bought.Plus they have to gall to charge you even more for the imperial faction. TESO is based on games as a service model. No thanks. If I buy a game then it’s mine to play when I want. Sure they bring new content but for R150 a month I’d expect it to be every month seeing as how that’s the going rate for DLC these days.

          • Charl van der Merwe

            So you don’t like the Subscription model, why can’t you just say that instead of banging your chest and stomping your feet like the brave internet warrior that you are! ;)

          • Hammersteyn

            I called it a cash grab scheme because of the subscription model it’s implementing but I agree I should have said it earlier.

    • Ultimo_Cleric N7

      “So other people can loot your chest” That’s what she said.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        No, what she said was “Don’t pinch my booty!” :/

  • Ultimo_Cleric N7

    Disappointed, but not surprised. SHOCK HORROR, and Elders Scrolls game that is buggy at release!!!!!!

    • Johan du Preez

      Free to Play in 6 months mark my words :)

      • Hammersteyn

        Well yeah, if sanity prevails and people refuse to buy this game. But even then I doubt I would even take the time to install it on my PC

        • Ultimo_Cleric N7

          I will if it goes FTP.

          • Norm the Horrible

            Amen.

        • Johan du Preez

          Same here I tried TESOL in the beta and got bored after 20 minutes and removed it. What happend to the real MMORPG’s like Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies etc. sure there was a grind in this games training your skills up but it felt much more like a MMO than wow and the clones do.

          In the late 90’s they had a few MMO’s where you as a player could get together with other crafter characters to chop wood etc and build a fort or eventually a town. The games name was Horizons http://www.istaria.com/ thats what everyone thought the future of MMO’s was untill WoW converted it to a My Little Pony grind fest.

          • Hammersteyn

            WOW is boring as hell. I played till I was level 20 and uninstalled the game after that.

  • Charl van der Merwe

    Identity crisis on the premise that you can finish the quests on your own ? Have you played any other MMORPG currently available? They pretty much all are solo-able except dungeons and raids.Immersion broken because there are other players killing your quest mobs? This is
    not an elder scrolls single player game, there is no identity crisis, When will
    people realize this is an MMORPG ?

    I agree the pvp is not really possible before lvl 50, the scaling up does nothing to stop the onslaught of high lvl players.

    The bugs is the biggest let down, it’s pretty bad. I think I have encountered about 20
    bugged quests.Logging in and out sorts out 90% of them, it’s still unacceptable
    though.I have to say I’ve never gotten stuck and I’m lvl 36 already, /shrug

    The most redeeming quality of the game is its performance in Open world PVP, it really

    handles 100 + on screen players without breaking a sweat.Pvp is what I’m playing this game for!

    • hairyknees

      I just think those sort of quests should have had their own unique instances of that particular dungeon or area. Some did, but there are tons that didn’t. I have no problem with running out in the world and seeing millions of people killing random mobs. I guess its just confusing because it really does feel like an Elder Scrolls game, so one almost expects it to be a single player affair. You are right though, at the end of the day it is a MMORPG.

      The identity crisis I perceived isn’t what lowered the games overall score. That would be the damn bugs :P SO MANY!

      • Charl van der Merwe

        The bugs haunt me till this day, lvl 41 and trucking on :P Unfortunately they get more common :/

  • Jim Thompson

    Congrats on getting to lvl 15.

  • MakeItLegal

    i will have to get skyrim then

  • Cronbob

    Im sorry to say this, I really hopes for this game to live up the all the hype I had. But this game Blooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooows!

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  • Cog

    The main protagonist is Molag Bal? Either something has changed or you don’t know what protagonist means.

    • hairyknees

      Oh heck xD I meant antagonist!

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