Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Genre: Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game
ESRB: M for Mature
Price: $59.99 (with optional subscription fee)
The Elder Scrolls, is a game series that should be renamed “Music To My Ears.” Every time I learn about a new Elder Scrolls game, I get excited and do nothing but look at content for it until the day it releases. The same went for when I heard about The Elder Scrolls Online.
It was a bit heavy on me initially, knowing that not only would it release exclusively for PC and OS X first, but also carry a subscription fee. As much of an Elder Scrolls fan as I am—I waited 6 hours in line for Skyrim upon release—this stipulation kind of made me a bit incredulous about it. So I waited, knowing that eventually it had to make its way to consoles. Then lo and behold! Not only did they announce it coming to console, but they knocked off the mandatory subscription fee too! So upon release, I went to my local Gamestop and picked up the game which brings me to my Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited review.
The Elder Scrolls Online’s story takes place about 800 years before the events of Morrowind, Oblivion, and approximately a millennium before the events of the most recent Elder Scrolls title, Skyrim. You start out in a prison cell, as is Elder Scrolls tradition, in a plane of Oblvion called Coldharbour. You were an adventurer whose soul has been taken for a ritual to draw more power to the Daedric Prince of domination and enslavement, Molag Bal. An NPC named Lyris frees you from the cell and escorts you along the prison in an effort to release the Prophet. Once you escape the prison with the Prophet, you find out that the world is being attacked by Molag Bal; his ultimate objective is to merge Nirn, the planet that the Elder Scroll is set on, and Oblivion into a single world under his control. To make matters worse, the entire continent of Tamriel is at a civil war. You must join one of three alliances and foil the plot of Molag Bal, retrieve your soul and survive against the other factions.
Spiritual: The people of Tamriel worship multiple Gods, which has been a part of the Elder Scrolls setting for as long as I can remember. Some NPCs also worship Daedric Princes which can be either good or evil. There are also ghosts and uses of necromancy.
Violence: You have weapons in the game to help you kill enemies which can range from rabid animals, ghosts, and to other players as well. There are also some missions where you can determine the fate of certain NPC’s. Combat has always been a major part of an Elder Scrolls game.
Although never shown, there is an implication of rape and torture in some of the dialogs. Molag Bal is the evil Prince of Dominion and Enslavement and those are some of the unfortunate things that go along with it.
You can also be a Vampire and feed on other players, or a werewolf and tear through them.
Language: I cannot recall any use of heavy profanity. You may hear the occasional “damn” in some of the dialogues, but nothing worse.. There may be some typical Elder Scrolls crude humor in the game, but it’s nothing worth noting.
Sexual Content: Though there are some implications or innuendo in dialog, there is never anything shown by the environment. Players however, can strip down to their skivvies, but no further. This experience will be different depending on who you’re playing the game with.
Drugs/Alcohol: Throughout the game you are able to drink wine, ale or mead. You can also engage in a drinking contest. As far as I know, this is not at all mandatory. Also in typical Elder Scrolls fashion, is the mention of moon sugar and skooma. They are illegal drugs in the Elder Scrolls setting, and make anyone who uses thema bit crazy—the closest equivalents I can think of would be cocaine and crack respectively.
The first thing you do in this game is create your character. Unless you have the Explorer’s pack, you may want to give more thought on the character you wish to create. Each race is part of an alliance, and which race you choose determines which alliance you are a part of. Purchasing the Explorer’s pack allows you to create whatever character you please and be in whichever alliance you choose. Each alliance has the same overall story arch in which you are fighting Molag Bal, but also has its own unique questline. After you complete the main quest, you are able to choose a different alliance and play through that alliance’s main storyline.
Breton: Bretons are a human race hailing from the province of High Rock. Their preferred combat style is magic, and are great for spell damage or being used as a healer.
Orc: Orcs are the native race to Tamriel and recently call High Rock their home. They are noted to be real tough warriors who rely on melee and heavy armor. Their preferred combat style is using blunt weapons and heavy armor, which makes them an excellent tank.
Redguard: Redguards are the dark-skinned natives of the province of Hammerfell. They are fantastic and intelligent warriors who are able to adapt to multiple types of weaponry and armor. You can use them with pretty much any armor and weapon type you want!
Locations: Hammerfell and High Rock
Dunmer: Dunmer, or better known as the Dark Elven race, are natives of the province of Morrowind. They have special skills in dual wielding and magic alike, making them superb rogues.
Nords: Nords, the human race hailing from Skyrim, the setting for the previous Elder Scrolls title. These thick skinned tough warriors specialize in heavy weapons and armor. They are the toughest race in all Tamriel.
Argonians: Hailing from Black Marsh, Argonians are the reptilian race of Tamriel. They are naturally good swimmers, extremely intelligent and resistant to disease, making them an exemplary choice for a mage.
Locations: Eastern Skyrim, Morrowind and Black Marsh
Khajiit: Natives of Elsweyr, Khajiit are the feline race of Tamriel. They are known for their swiftness and agility thus making them excellent thieves or rogues.
Altmer: Altmer, more commonly referred to as the High Elven race are natives of Summerset Isle. Out of all the races, Altmer are the most efficient in magic, making them the paramount choice for players who want to focus solely on a magic build.
Bosmer: Bosmer, more commonly referred to as Wood Elves, are natives to the Valenwood province. They are one with nature and most efficient with bows.
Locations: Summerset Isles, Elsweyr and Valenwood
If you purchase the Imperial Edition of TES:O, you may also play as the Imperial Race in any faction.
Imperial: Blessed with the Voice of the Emperor, the Imperials hail from the province of Cyrodil. They are well-spoken and disciplined making them great for infantry.
I’m used to MMORPG’s usually having a click to target/attack combat system. I know when The Elder Scrolls Online was first being mentioned, people questioned how it will work with the first person camera. The game does play in a way similar to that of its most recent predecessor Skyrim, albeit the control layout is just a tad different but nothing seasoned Elder Scrolls vets will have a problem adjusting to. The hack and slash mechanics are very smooth for both first or third person mode and not once have I had a problem with first person mode combat. The game does a gratifying job in letting you know where your attacks are coming from. It may be easier to play in third person mode when facing mobs or bosses, but being able to play an RPG in first person is one of the big reasons the Elder Scrolls is loved in the first place.
If you are a subscriber, you get a monthly allowance of the game’s premium currency called “crowns.” You can spend these crowns on premium items such as pets, mounts and costumes. You can also use crowns to learn the crafting styles of different races which can earn you a lot of gold in the game.
Like other Elder Scrolls titles, there is a lot of exploring to do. The map is very large and you will spend a vast majority of your time wandering it. You can unlock wayshrines to travel back and forth, cutting travel time significantly. You can travel to a wayshrine at any point at the cost of some of your character’s gold. However, if you travel from wayshrine to wayshrine, it will not cost anything.
Another faster way to explore is the use of a mount. You can easily obtain a mount at the very beginning of the game using crowns. Otherwise, the cheapest mount you can acquire using the in game currency is 10,000 gold, which will cost you quite a bit of time to accrue.
One other fun thing I really enjoy in the Elder Scrolls Online is its use of emotes. There are a lot of emotes you can choose from in the Social Menu, and I cannot count the amount of minutes I’ve spent laughing at some zany situations created by other players.
Here are the types of modes you may experience:
Player vs Environment (PvE)
Player vs. Environment is the mode where in TES:O starts out. What this pretty much means is that the quests and objectives in the story can be completed without having to worry about other players killing you. You can group quests and dungeons with those in your alliance and play the game only having to worry about the enemies generated by the game’s environment (engine).
Group dungeons do not have to be played in a party. You can enter the dungeon and get help from players already there or ones who enter in with you. This is a nice feature, especially when you cannot get a group of friends together to play the game.
One issue with the game is that when you are in a group with your friends, you can’t do the quest together unless you both have the same quest. For example, if you help your friend do a quest you don’t have, you’ll have to do it all over again to get credit for completion.
Player vs Player (PvP)
Player vs Player mode is not unlocked until your character reaches level 10. This mode unlocks the familiar setting of Cyrodil from Oblivion. In this mode, you are working with your alliance to capture points around the province. You can capture these points by defeating enemies to take control of enemy structures. You can spend currency given to you by your alliance, for completing PVP events, called “Alliance Points,” to buy siege weapons. These weapons make attacking enemy keeps faster, but leave you vulnerable so be wary when using them. Also, you will have to rebuild the structure if you take over, so it may not be a good idea to blast it to smithereens.
The main objective is to control the Empire and be crowned Emperor (strongest player). Your best chance to do this is by invading enemy temples to steal their Elder Scrolls, then bring them back to your alliance’s temple. These Elder Scrolls make it much easier to give your alliance an advantage for controlling Cyrodil, but are risky and difficult to attain.
Although this mode is unlocked at level 10, I do not recommend jumping into the campaign right away unless you are in a group as a supportive role. The game does buff you, but you are still not going to be able to hold your own at the low levels.
The overall story is a bit slow paced. This is not a bad thing because the game wants you to explore and absorb all of the beautiful aspects of the game, and trust me, this game is beautiful. I’ve been playing mostly in the Aldmeri Dominion faction and when I first landed in the Summerset Isles, I was struck with awe. The graphics aren’t the greatest, but they definitely get the job done. The aesthetics were absolutely stunning and I just wanted to run around and see more! I’ve been playing the game for hours and still haven’t explored the entire map! And this is only one of the three major maps too!
Throughout the story, depending on your faction, you are told to do all sorts of quests along the way to complete your main objective. All of the quests are laid out beautifully and with full and well scripted dialog for each one. The quests don’t feel like filler either; each time you accept a quest you are doing something different than the last. Also, some quests have different results depending on dialogue choice, so it’s fun to do some quests over again to see how they play out differently.
When I first heard about The Elder Scrolls Online and its subscription fee, I thought that I’d never get my hands on it. Boy, am I glad I was wrong in that regard. The game is huge and the atmosphere makes you want to explore everything there is.If you are a fan of the Elder Scrolls series, I recommend it dearly.
The Bottom Line
Elder Scrolls veterans will be happy with the latest Elder Scrolls title. There is a ton of exploration, plenty of quests and a lot of the Elder Scrolls lore that keeps us coming back for more and more.