Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
The 2014 Christmas Gift Guide
Get 12 Issues For Only £25 Today
The perfect gift this Christmas
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

PACKSHOT
The Elder Scrolls Online

GAME DETAILS
Released
10 April 2014
Format
PC
Developer
Zenimax Online

LATEST GAME REVIEWS
Grand Theft Auto V Reissue
5 Star Empire Rating
LittleBigPlanet 3
4 Star Empire Rating
Far Cry 4
4 Star Empire Rating
Dragon Age: Inquisition
5 Star Empire Rating
Assassin's Creed: Rogue
2 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Grand Theft Auto V Reissue
5 Star Empire Rating
Dragon Age: Inquisition
5 Star Empire Rating
Sunset Overdrive
5 Star Empire Rating
Civilisation: Beyond Earth
5 Star Empire Rating
Bayonetta 2
5 Star Empire Rating

The Elder Scrolls Online


submit to reddit

The Elder Scrolls Online (2014)
Review
If you like your games epic, the chances are that you’re already acquainted with Tamriel, the fantasy-land in which Bethesda Softworks’ state-of-the-art Elder Scrolls games are set. So, at the very least, you’ll be salivating at the prospect of being able to live out an entire vicarious existence there, courtesy of The Elder Scrolls Online, the hugely ambitious massively multiplayer online version of the successful series of single-player RPGs. But the anticipation has been accompanied by an undercurrent of carping since in one aspect, The Elder Scrolls Online is perceived as old-fashioned: in this age of free-to-play MMOs, it persists in charging a subscription fee, just like World Of Warcraft. However, in every other aspect, it represents the pinnacle of the genre.

Presuming you can afford it, what do you get? The answer is: the stuff of MMO fans’ dreams: an RPG that looks incredible, plays like it was single-player, yet lets you embark on countless quests with your real-life mates. The Elder Scrolls Online is staggering in its scope, essentially opening up the whole of Tamriel in one go. It looks incredible, with huge, lush, believable environments, many of which will be familiar to devotees of the single-player games. It does pay to play it on a fairly modern PC with a decent graphics card, although it isn’t fiercely machine-hungry. We were lucky enough to run it on an MSI GS60 2PC Ghost, one of the latest (and slimmest) gaming laptops, which was easily able to cope with all the graphical elements turned up to the max. And, innovatively, it will eventually come out on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Considering that it’s an MMO rather than a single-player RPG, The Elder Scrolls Online makes strikingly few gameplay compromises – it’s very much action-based. The main fighting mechanism involves a shield in one hand and a sword in the other, wielded using each mouse button; timing shield-strikes is a key technique, as it temporarily stuns enemies. You can spend days merely designing characters, and there are plenty of races and classes to choose from, for those who prefer magic, healing, ranged weapons and so on to brute force. Depending on which race (various types of elves, humans, orcs and the like) you choose, you’re assigned to one of three factions. Cleverly, as you level up and get familiar with the game and its world, you’re shunted off to two islands, before being let loose on the Tamriel mainland.

The levelling up and skills-acquisition systems are exemplary – active abilities, which are key to your combat effectiveness, can be mapped to the number keys, and passive abilities act as buffs. The more you use those abilities, the more powerful they become. From the off, you can get stuck into all manner of crafting, woodworking, alchemy and so on, should you so choose, and the amount of quests on offer borders on the bewildering. Little touches remind you that you’re in an MMO, such as the first time you buddy up with a random stranger to make lighter work of a previously tricky quest. You can create your own guilds, or join the overarching ones.

Things really start to get interesting once you hit the mainland, and when you hit Level 20, you’ll be ready for the Player v Player (PvP) side of the game. Essentially, the land of Cyrodiil is a huge PvP playground, in which the three factions vie for supremacy; anything positive you do earns Alliance Points. You can take on random people, or get involved in sieges, capture-the-flag exercises, big battles and loads more. Away from Cyrodiil, there are countless dungeons to tackle with your mates, for which you’ll need to take a co-ordinated approach and make sure your party has complementary skills and items.

So, can The Elder Scrolls Online buck the prevailing trend away from subscription MMOs, as epitomised by Star Wars: The Old Republic, which flopped so comprehensively that it was forced to scrap subscriptions? It certainly can. For starters, it makes SWTOR look and feel like a relic from a previous millennium – The Elder Scrolls Online is easily the most sophisticated and ambitious MMO yet made, even in comparison with the likes of Guild Wars 2. It leaves World Of Warcraft looking like it belongs to a bygone age, so it will be interesting to see how Blizzard will respond. Plus, the mooted arrival on next-gen consoles, eliminating the need for us to splash out on expensive hardware, should help it to retain the subscription model.

It isn’t perfect – every so often you spot the odd bug, or instance of broken behaviour among non-player characters, and Bethesda needs to sort a few teething problems, such as the disappearance of (cool but hardly essential) objects that came with the more expensive Imperial Edition if you delete the first character you created. Plus it needs to come up with a steady stream of compelling new content for the game, although having created the lore and mythology of a virtual world over a period of decades helps on that front. But if you appreciate either the single-player Elder Scrolls games or the whole community-based vibe of MMOs, you will love it. If you thought you’d fallen out of love with MMOs, it possesses the tools to persuade you otherwise.


Reviewed by Steve Boxer

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

6 issues for £20 plus free Gourmet Society Membership worth £69.95!
Get 6 months of Empire for just £20 and not only receive the world's greatest movie magazine and exclusive subscriber covers but you'll also receive up to 50% off restaurants nationwide and more with a free Gourmet Society Membership worth £64.99!Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
12 Must-Pause Moments From The Star Wars Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
What you may have missed, the 17th time around...

Watch Now: The Teaser Trailer For Star Wars: The Force Awakens Arrives
Your first glimpse of JJ Abrams' tour de Force

Director Paul King On Paddington, The BBFC And The Possibilty Of A Sequel
Exclusive: Empire sits down with the man behind the year’s nicest surprise

Empire's Jurassic World Trailer Tour
Updated: Director Colin Trevorrow guides us through the first trailer

Vote Now: The Jameson Empire Awards 2015
Tell us your favourite films and stars of the year

The Gift Guide 2014: 50 Must-Have Items This Christmas
Box sets, hardware, clothing, books and stocking fillers to buy

Empire's Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies Covers
Five armies. Five covers. The eagles, dwarves, elves, men and orcs prepare for battle in our Peter Jackon guest-edited issue

Subscribe to Empire magazine
6 issues for £20 plus free Gourmet Society Membership worth £69.95!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)