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The Elder Scrolls Online Review: A Wonderfully Crafted RPG Game
The Elder Scrolls Online is different than any other MMO you have played. But trust me, this is a good thing.
Elder Scrolls Online is an MMORPG developed by newcomers Zenimax Online Studios, and published by series-regulars Bethesda. The Elder Scrolls Online is the first game for Zenimax Online Studios, and it was in development for five years prior to its announcement in May of 2012.
The Elder Scrolls Online takes place in the massive “Elder Scrolls” world which has previously been seen in hits such as The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. However, this time around the game is doing something which the previous games in the series had never done, which is include multiplayer. Being an MMO, The Elder Scrolls Online obviously has a huge multi-player focus. For the first time, players can explore the world of Tamriel with others. The game is playable in both first and third player, as is an Elder Scrolls staple. The game graphically looks gorgeous and boasts an epic soundtrack which is appropriate for the games epic scope.
The Elder Scrolls Online preserves most of what makes the Elder Scrolls series so great; it keeps its sprawling worlds, gorgeous locales and interesting characters. In the Elder Scrolls Online, you can spend the whole time traipsing around and doing side quests and never once touch the main story (yes this MMO has a main story). The world is packed full of locations to explore, quests to find and monsters to kill. In the 66 hours I have put into the game so far, I would say I have only completed about 1/4 of the content offered to me in the game, and this does not include social activities such as group dungeons but strictly quest based “story” content. Quests are not typical “fetch quest” MMO fare either, each quest seems varied and unique and are genuinely fun to do and explore. It makes it much easier to level up when you are interested in the quests you are doing. All of the lore you know and love from previous games has been retained, as as the game is set before its popular predecessors such as Skyrim, it is able to to able to address much of the lore from the past.
The game can honestly be fully enjoyed as a solo experience if wanted, and would be instantly accesable for all Elder Scrolls single-player fans. But it is when you take these excellent “single player” elements and combine them with an MMO environment that the game really shines. While Skyrim could keep you entertained for hours with its plethora of content, Elder Scrolls Online takes this content, adds more, and then allows it to be experienced with others. This allows additions such as more powerful bosses, group dungeons, and world events to take place. These features are great fun and only add to the overall Elder Scrolls Experience. As I was playing, I found myself enjoying the company. Especially when it comes to the trading and crafting portion of the game, being able to buy and sell equipment with real players is a much appreciated upgrade than simply dropping it off at the nearest NPC merchant character.
The crafting system in the game is another MMO staple which the Elder Scrolls Online has managed to make fun. There are many different crafting professions such as blacksmithing, woodworking and clothing, with each allowing you to create different types of armor and weapons. The amount of customization that you can add to your personally created items is extensive, and makes you feel good when you create something that both looks and performs well.
Character creation is in-depth, with nine different races and four different classes to choose from. Everything from your characters waist size to their nose length can be customized, and allows you to create an avatar that you really enjoy playing with. Which is important, because you will be spending a lot of time with them if you plan on seeing everything the game has to offer. Even your characters equipment can be customized, with many different styles and materials which can be used to make just one piece of equipment. You really can make a character that doesn’t look like anyone else in the world.
Combat in the game is genuinely fun. Although there are only four base classes, you can customize your skills and equipment so extensively that you can pretty much create your own sub-classes. Levelling up your skills happens through your use of them, and skill points can be used to purchase new abilities in the various skill trees that are offered. There are so many different monsters and dungeons to explore, you will have no trouble levelling up your skills. While the combat itself is pretty much a standard MMO offering, the variety in abilities made it enjoyable.
The game did unfortunately release with a pile of bugs included, which impacted quest progression and basic gameplay. Zenimax has been diligently working on fixes for them though, and one month after release the game is much improved. Zenimax has also been very open and transparent about their concerns and their plans for the future, which is a quality I really appreciate. A game of this magnitude and scope having no bugs at all would probably be more surprising than containing the few that it did. As it stands right now, the game is 100% playable and any bugs you may encounter are very minor and can usually be fixed with a simple relog. Concerning updates, Zenimax has promised weekly content updates and general fixes which is great to hear.
As mentioned, the game takes place in the familiar world of Tamriel. While previous Elder Scrolls games have restricted players to a certain area of the continent, The Elder Scrolls Online allows players to traverse all over the world. This is one of the biggest strengths of the game, as you are finally able to visit the homelands of all of your favourite races. The large map also allows for huge variety, as you are constantly able to travel to new locales and experience the different environments and gorgeous scenery that the world of Tamriel has to offer. However, a large part of Tamriel is not currently visitable, and Zenimax has said that the currently unusable areas are planned to be explored in future content updates.
At the beginning of the game, you are offered a choice to join one of three alliances; The Aldmeri Dominion, which consists of an alliance of High Elves, Wood Elves, and Khajiit, the Ebonheart Pact, which is the alliance of the Nord, Dark Elf and Argonian races, and the Daggerfall Covenant, which is the unity of the Bretons, Redguards and Orcs. This is a large choice, and is comparable to picking between the “alliance” and the “horde” in World Of Warcraft. Picking a faction determines the locale that your character will explore, the story you will have, and the characters you will interact with. While each alliance is based around the unity of different races, the player is free to play as an character in any alliance.
These three factions are all fighting for the control of Tamriel, and is the basis of the game’s PVP experience. The player is able to visit the capital province of Cyrodill, which in this game acts as the PVP area. Players representing the three alliances battle to take control of various strongholds around the map. The winning faction at any given time is the one that holds the most strongholds on the map. In turn, the highest ranked player in the winning alliance will be crowned the Emperor for the amount of time that their alliance stays in control. The PVP system reminded me most of the one in another popular MMORPG, Guild Wars 2. The team-based PVP gameplay makes for interesting gameplay, and taking strongholds with a whole team of other players makes for some memorable in-game moments.
Overall, the Elder Scrolls Online is an amazing role-playing game. The world, lore, and characters are all so deeply rich and engaging that the world of Tamriel will keep you coming back for more. As an MMO, the Elder Scrolls Online manages to reinvent the wheel a bit when it comes to conventions typically found in such games and makes normally boring activites tons of fun. The Elder Scrolls Online is a beautifully crafted game, and manages to bring a renowned RPG series to the online world perfectly. Fans of the Elder Scrolls games will love the Elder Scrolls Online, and MMO fans will also find the changes to typical MMO conventions very enjoyable. The Elder Scrolls Online is a game which all RPG fans should play and enjoy.