The Elder Scrolls series doesn’t need an MMO exactly, but it certainly makes a competent one — whether or not you should play it depends how much of a fan you are.”

The Elder Scrolls Online

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC, OSX
Release Date: April 4, 2014
Developer: ZeniMax Online Studios
Publisher: Bethesda

Hi, I’m Clint and I’m an addict… maybe… possibly… OK, probably. Listen, It’s really hard to say but I will gladly admit to playing tons of Elder Scrolls Online in the last couple of weeks. While I’ve already given my basic impressions during the early access week of ESO  I wanted to check in after the dust had settled. I’ve made two characters, leveled both to the midway point (around level 25 or so) and have been digging into the gameplay with a fork in each hand. ESO is an MMO layer cake first with Elder Scrolls frosting — one that I’m quite enjoying.

That enjoyment, however, mostly comes from only one place — fandom — and I’m an Elder Scrolls fan. It makes sense, right? To get the full value of this particular genre from this specific franchise, you have to have jumped headfirst into the lore. Under any other circumstances, MMOs don’t work for me. With that caveat, you have to ask yourself if you’re a big enough fan to devote even more time (and money) to these games. If you’re in it for story, ESO has one. Is it enough to drag you in? It was for me.

However, I’m treating this game mostly as a single player adventure with the occasional team up for larger quests. The reason falls on the narrative, because once again, you’re the chosen kid fated to win the day. Unfortunately, the other players knock you out of the immersion. When everyone is supposedly special then no one really is. If you can look past all this, then you can kind of treat ESO as the prequel to all things Elder Scrolls. It’s fun to ride out a story that took place hundreds of years ago and lets you just explore the world. After you’ve done this though — which could take you several dozens of hours depending on your commitment — what’s left?

Well… PVP for one. Once you’ve gained enough experience and geared up with legendary equipment, you’ll want to give the Alliance War a chance. Each faction is tasked to capture forts in an effort to control all the Elder Scrolls and ultimately rule Tamriel. There are a variety of mission types ranging from small-scale scouting to massive campaigns populated by warriors and mages all beating each other to a pulp. Of course, this where you’ll need to get out of your single player shell and actually meet up with people. Planning and smart coordination beats brute strength and numbers most of the time and a disorganized party will almost always succumb to crafty tactics.I haven’t spent a ton of time with the war but it surprisingly fun to feel like a part of a larger world. Something that an MMO could only deliver.

The real question boils down to the very being of this game. Does it need to exist? Or rather, does Elder Scrolls — as a franchise — really need an MMO? I don’t have a real answer for this — Maybe? There is enough history and lore to carry a massive game and I’ve been having plenty of fun gallivanting through the land, helping NPCs in need. The Elder Scrolls series doesn’t need an MMO exactly, but it certainly makes a competent one — whether or not you should play it depends how much of a fan you are.

I realize I’m talking in circles here. ZeniMax has done a fine jump of translating The Elder Scrolls series into an MMO. However, as an MMO it’s pretty run of the mill — but it works. You’ve probably already made up your mind long before this game’s launch. You’re either willing to pay and play right now or are waiting for it to go free to play. If you’re the former — and you’re a big fan– then I highly recommend trying it.

Elder Scrolls Online -- Final Review
Elder Scrolls Online is totally worth playing... but only if you're a huge fan of the series at large. If not, then ESO is a pretty standard MMO that, while fun and pretty, isn't anything you haven't played before.
8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (5 Votes)