Developed by ZeniMax Online Studios
Published by Bethesda Softworks
I was one of the many people who LOVED Skyrim. When ESO was announced my general reaction was a cautious, “Are you &$*@&% serious? This might just be awesome!” I, like most gamers, have wanted a great, playable console MMO ever since online gaming became a thing. (I know, I know, DC Universe Online is playable, but no offense, it’s a pretty dry experience.) In the weeks leading up to ESO’s console release I played a “will I or won’t I pick this up” game in my head with the former eventually winning out. As I raced home after work and tore open the packaging I greeted with something all gamers are familiar with, but it was particularly annoying in this situation: A 16 GB patch… Normally this wouldn’t bother me but in this case the game is literally unplayable without it as Playstation Online won’t let you play a game via the internet unless it’s completely up to date. I left the patch downloading overnight (my PS4 is connected via Wi-Fi) and decided to start my adventures in Tamriel the next day.
Anyone familiar with the Elder Scrolls franchise will know who the Daedric god Molag Bal is. In ESO he’s the primary antagonist throughout the main story line, but I won’t ruin the details of that for anyone that hasn’t decided on whether or not they’ll be picking this title up. Instead I will focus on the true superstar of this and every other Elder Scrolls game: the side quests. In most RPG’s side quests are no more than minor annoyances in which you fetch plants or mob drops for some random townsman in whatever village you may be frequenting at the time. In ESO the side missions are every bit as immersive as the main storyline. For instance, I found myself in a small farming village on my Nightblade Jatman. It sounded like there was an illness spreading like wildfire throughout the denizens of the town. They didn’t have a designated healer per say, but there was a local alchemist that was stepping up and creating a salve to stave off the infection for those who hadn’t contracted it. It also slowed the symptoms for anyone that HAD contracted it. At first glance it seemed like I was doing the right thing; I was going from place to place collecting ingredients for the man to make his cure but soon things took a left turn…A woman’s two sons had been missing for some time and she employed none other than Jatman to crack the case to their whereabouts. After some digging the horrific truth surfaced…the alchemist’s “help” wasn’t as noble as it appeared to be. As it turned out his son had contracted vampirism and his “cure” for the people of the town was actually knocking them out so he could feed them to his “son.”
This quest line took all of an hour to complete but there were SO many twists and turns throughout each step. This includes the ending which finds you with the decision to let the mother kill the man that abducted her sons or to restrain her. I spoil this story as in the grand scheme of things it’s insignificant but it’s also a perfect example of what I mean when I tell you just how immersive every aspect of this game can be to those willing to put in the time. After I let the mother have some one-on-one time with the man that was responsible for the death I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed at what I had just witnessed. My actions in that small town would forever change the way the villagers acted towards my hero each time I’d go back to visit. That fact absolutely blew me away as I wondered how other heroes approached the same scenario.
The gameplay, like any Bethesda game, suffers a bit due to bugs. ESO actually suffers less from this than previous Bethesda titles in the sense that I have yet to catch NPCs have disappeared or are half-stuck into the roads as you travel. The bugs I’m talking about may be more due to lag. On more than one occasion I found myself mashing the X button to talk to an NPC or missing on a block due to my character not getting his guard up as soon as I press the button. None of these little bugs are game changing in my opinion, but they do tend to pull you out of the experience due to the minor frustrations they cause. They’ve also added a fix in for this too though; when I’m using my bow there’s a sort of auto-aim that will target whichever enemy is highlighted instead of dealing with the frustration of trying to aim in case of lag on your end or another player’s.
There are four classes in ESO unlike previous Elder Scrolls titles, but don’t let this fool you. All the classes really do are dictate which abilities you can use. If you want to roll a Sorceror that wears heavy armor and wields a two-handed axe, just like with Skyrim, you have the freedom to do so. It’s this kind of freedom that separates ESO from games like World of Warcraft; well that and the fact I can fire up my PS4 and play this and not have to boot up my PC. ESO also offers a variety of races and factions to choose from, but if you were like me and chose to buy it at launch you can play as any race in any faction. Jatman is a High Elf with the Aldemeri Dominion. I know they’re pretty much running things during the Skyrim timeline so I wanted to get onto the winning side early.
Tamriel in ESO is HUGE! With a world this size though the one trade-off is that the graphics are a little underwhelming in comparison to a game like Arkham Knight. That’s not to say that ESO isn’t absolutely beautiful; it’s one of the best looking RPG’s on next-gen next to the Witcher 3. In a game like this the graphics shouldn’t be the star anyway so I won’t bore you guys with little details or examples of how the game looks. In the world of Tamriel the gameplay and story are king!
To give a 100% honest review one would need to spend dozens and dozens of hours crawling around this world. I feel like I’ve spent enough time to give you guys an honest review and this game has given me enough to keep coming back. Sure when Arkham Knight came out it pretty well ruled my console while I was exploring Gotham, but ESO is a game that I can keep coming back to no matter how long I stay away from it. The world is rich and full of vibrant characters that are easy to fall in love with. Anyone that’s like I was, looking for a console MMO that I can spend hours exploring, will find this game satisfactory, but not perfect. I was late to the party with the Elder Scrolls titles, but now I’m fully on board with anything within the Elder Scrolls brand. Give this game a shot and I think you won’t be disappointed.
3.5 out of 5 nerds