Top Critic Average
A few launch hiccups aside, the issues that are and will continue to dog Elder Scrolls Online are entirely down to perception. If your hope for a sixth Elder Scrolls was always for a sequel set across a hitherto unexplored region of Tamriel; a game in which you could be the focus and aspire to be the sole hero, developing exclusive and ancient powers along the way, then Elder Scrolls Online was never going to cut it. Likewise if you're the kind of veteran MMO gamer who has to hit the level cap as quickly as possible to forever grind raids to attain the best gear, TESO's slower pace and exhaustive content may well feel tiresome and laboured.
Yes, plenty of compromises were made to create this hybrid of a traditional Elder Scrolls game and a traditional MMO. Those compromises will leave purists on both sides disappointed, but this is an ambitious and exciting epic that promises to only grow with time. It's a sandbox worth sharing, provided everyone is willing to play nicely with others and Bethesda keeps it clean.
Where The Elder Scrolls Online fails is when it doesn't break enough from the traditional MMO formula, which is the same mistake other massively multiplayer games keep making, but the only places I've felt that weakness so far are in the monster behavior and quest systems. If the endgame and player-versus-player content I haven't gotten to yet also stick too close to typical MMO formulas, then it's going to be difficult for Bethesda to justify the cost of a subscription for The Elder Scrolls Online unless additional, fresh, and substantial story material is regularly added to the game for high-level players, maybe even on a monthly basis.
An easy recommendation for any console-based RPG fan. Better with friends. The game introduces console players to the vast world of MMOs in an easy to grasp and approachable fashion with a ton to see and explore.
Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset is an exciting new chapter for the MMO. It offers an engaging narrative that kept this progression driven gamer distracted which is saying a lot. Although the expansion didn't offer a new class we were introduced to a pretty fun new skill tree and despite the grind to unlock it, it offers some great new approaches to combat. With a beautiful new zone, intriguing story and only a few minor grievances, I highly recommend picking up Summerset.
Zenimax and Bethesda have gotten their baby out of the first gate. Despite the flailing and wailing of some impossible to please souls about the downtime and what they were owed, everything has been handled cleverly and carefully.
The Elder Scrolls Online is a solid massively multiplayer online experience. There is a variety of content both in the adventure and player-versus-player modes. A lack of risk-taking in the genre formula, however, holds the game back from being innovative or unique. Fortunately, the Elder Scrolls setting and lore are presented perfectly in addition to including one of the best player-versus-player systems in an MMO. Fans of the Elder Scrolls series who can overlook a monthly subscription fee are sure to find plenty to enjoy on their online adventures in Tamriel.
Whether or not The Elder Scrolls Online is for you will depend entirely on what you're looking for out of it. If you want a true Elder Scrolls experience, with all the freedom, exploration, and immersion that comes with it, you're likely to be disappointed.
All in all, The Elder Scrolls Online is a great game, with one of the most successful MMO launches I have come across, despite some of the well-documented teething problems. As it stands, I can only see improvement here and Bethesda Softworks seem dedicated to making that happen.
[I]f you can stick through the starting areas to around Level 10, find several friends to group with, and stomach the litany of technical flaws, The Elder Scrolls Online will more than grow on you. Whether it remains that way will be determined when I review the endgame content more thoroughly several weeks from now.
The Elder Scrolls Online is a ton of fun in an outside-the-box sort of way. It can't seem to decide whether it wants to be single player or MMO, so be prepared for some in-between weirdness, but nothing that really detracts much from the experience. Between Guilds, crafting, PvP, and dungeons, it has all of the makings of a solid MMO.
ESO is an excellent MMORPG, with a lot to offer fans of The Elder Scrolls. It does need a few key refinements, but I will be subscribing for a good time to come, and I can't wait to see how the game improves over time. If you're on the fence, give it a go, or at least be ready and willing when the inevitable free trial system shows up. You just might be glad you didn't listen to the critics.
The final concern is one that will not be answered until a much later date: Content. Yes Bethesda pulled out all the stops and got professional talent to voice the NPCs. It has a huge impact on the gameplay and I have to say I like it. My concern is that as with all the content that MMO players are used to consuming, Bethesda will either not be able to keep up with the demand, will go broke trying to maintain the star power quality of talent or will end up cutting corners to get it done. Based on the monthly cost of $15.99 on top of the purchase price, players will not be happy with any perceived change in quality. That leads to the inevitable question of can it maintain the subscription for the life of the game. However, Bethesda has invested a lot in the game already and ESO appears to the crown jewel in their product crown so I would wager they will handle it appropriately. History has shown that RPG fans are more than willing to part with their cash when they get the chance to play in the land of Tamriel. With ESO helping migrate these players to the online subscription based model, Bethesda might have a money printing machine on their hands and might be able to continue their streak of block buster titles. We will keep playing and providing updates as we progress in game.
The Elder Scrolls Online is a solid, meaty title. It has hours of gameplay, satisfying character trees, and a wealth of online role playing experiences to churn through. It's safe and secure. It serves up the classic habitual MMORPG experience, albeit with a "Tamriel Twist". And for many gamers, this will be fine. But Bethesda have created an example - not an evolution - of the genre.
The core of the Elder Scrolls experience lives on in The Elder Scrolls Online, and fans of series will love discovering never before seen corners of Tamriel, or revisiting favorite locales in a new way. However these experiences are muddled by balance issues, unclear design choices, and technical blips. This MMO is not for everyone, but those who are ready for a deep, consuming experience may find it here if they choose to look past the flaws.
So here we are at the end of a very long review for a very big game, and the question of whether or not The Elder Scrolls Online has captured the magic of its single single contemporaries still remains to be answered. I think the framework is there, but there are some painful missteps that are holding it back. MMOs are a constantly evolving ecospace, so it's possible we'll get there, but for now I'll cautiously say…maybe.
How ironic is it that by making their storied franchise an online experience, Bethesda has somehow created a less immersive Elder Scrolls game? I used to feel like The One, now I'm just a customer.
Overall, Elder Scrolls Online does not revolutionize MMOs but is a solid entry in the genre. If you don't like MMOs or are getting burned out from them this probably won't change your mind, especially given its slow start. If you like the genre and also enjoy Elder Scrolls-style combat, however, then this game will likely be more your cup of tea.
Under the surface, not enough has changed to the formula that separates The Elder Scrolls Online from existing free or established properties, and I would find it genuinely hard to recommend to anyone seeking an experience outside of a cosy, well presented, box.
Elder Scrolls Online doesn't tear down everything that came before in the MMO field and thrust the Elder Scrolls gameplay into the world of massively-multiplayer. In the end, the game is a theme park MMO in the standard World of Warcraft style, wearing the lore, characters, and locations of the Elder Scrolls universe. Visually, the game is consistent, but that consistency is boring and drab. The game itself is punctuated with exciting moments, but overall it's just above average and I have a hard time recommending that in a subscription MMO. If you're a big Elder Scrolls fan, give it a try. If not, there are better choices out there.
All in all, The Elder Scrolls Online is a pretty good game. It's not outstanding, and it's not terrible. Once it's less new and the developer has had time to polish and clean it up a bit, it may be a good game, but I think there was so much effort put into making it feel like an Elder Scrolls title and so much effort was placed in checking off every bullet point on the MMO checklist that they forgot to make the game stand out from the crowd. And when you've paid $60 plus a monthly subscription fee for a game, it should.
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.
The mini-dungeons are extremely repetitive, almost identical in their layout. What's worse, they're shared with other players, meaning that you often move through areas cleared by someone just ahead of you, to find the boss encounter vacant save for a dozen players standing around,
With better MMORPGs already out there and seemingly more great ones coming, The Elder Scrolls Online is using the name to appeal to its large fan base, and I have no doubt some will enjoy, but for the rest, this game is an vacillating anomaly in a packed market.
So another lukewarm MMO, then. But occasionally heated up a bit by the rare confluence of scenery, music (the majority of which is excellent) and raw atmosphere that can transport you for a fleeting moment to the Tamriel we've grown to know and love.
Despite all I've said sound pretty down on the game, I do have a strange compulsion to continue rolling with it a while longer because I do enjoy exploring it. My impressions from the first week may not be so hot on it, but I don't hate it. Yet. I'll let you know if that changes.
The Elder Scrolls Online isn't a terrible game, but its shortcomings make it impossible to recommend, especially considering the diverse options gamers have in the MMO marketplace. It's possible that future updates will make the game worth revisiting, but quite a bit of the core gameplay would need to change for that to be the case.
It's tempting to write off subscription MMOs completely, but there are some signs of life in the sector: Final Fantasy 14 is doing quite well, and the forthcoming WildStar is in the final stages of a persuasive charm offensive with the MMO community. But there are only fleeting signs of life in The Elder Scrolls Online itself - and few of them have anything to do with The Elder Scrolls. Maybe this grand project sounded like a good idea in 2007, but now it feels like a leftover obligation: a game no-one really asked for, and a flawed premise from the start.
Whether or not The Elder Scrolls Online is for you depends on what you are looking for. It is not a conversion of the single player series that many might have hoped for. You can finally trot around Tamriel with your friends, slaying goblins and daedra, but the experience is hindered by uninspiring combat mechanics and far more restrictive exploration options resulting in a less immersive world.
The Elder Scrolls Online is a brave attempt at combining two seemingly polar opposites, but it ultimately fails to build a continuously compelling world, compromising too much on either side. It's an MMO that can't hold a candle to likes of Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World, and an Elder Scrolls game that can't hope to be as deep and rich in content and solo experience as Morrowind and Skyrim. The allure of an online Tamriel is strong, and when the game's disparate parts align, it really is a bit special, but those moments are too few and far between to recommend for a game with this much of an inflated price point.