The One Thing You Need To Know Before Playing ‘Elder Scrolls Online’

In the hills of Daggerfall, a castle lay under siege by werewolves. The Lion Guard was beaten back, and it was up to me to lead the charge to retake the keep. I fought my way through hordes of savage beasts, noble heroes at my side, and slowly but surely, our forces pushed through. The general told me that there was more fighting to be done, but that I would have to go lock the gate to keep enemy reinforcements out. I did that, going up a small set of stairs to the lever that controlled the mechanism. And then…I waited. There were about six other players on the same quest, all pulling the same lever. I patiently waited my turn as the big metal pole waved back and forth like a metronome. That’s Elder Scrolls Online.

To MMO fans, this is nothing new. They got used to the idea that they were not the one chosen hero a long time ago. Bosses respawn after being killed, dungeons repopulate themselves with monsters, mysteries unsolve themselves and priceless relics remain in place even after you remove them to fulfill the quest. The world is fresh for every player, at the same time.


But something about it feels not right for this property. I’m a much bigger Elder Scrolls fan than I am an MMO fan, and so many of the things that I love about Elder Scrolls are necessarily absent in Elder Scrolls Online. You can’t just explore at will, because so many areas are full of monsters you won’t be able to fight for weeks. There is little of the endless, obsessive environments that seem to go on forever. The world is less detailed, broader rather than deeper, and overall, just somehow flatter.

We still get the sweeping, epic music we remember from Skyrim and yet, somehow, the experience feels so much more restrained. It has to be, because it goes on indefinitely for thousands of people. My character’s accomplishments feel small, and his place in the world relatively inconsequential. The range of starting zones I’ve been in are not as grand as they ought to be. One of the things I liked so much about Skyrim was how quiet it could be — whether you’re alone on a mountaintop, looking down below, or just walking through a field catching torchbugs. All the other players stomping around make a whole lot of noise.

As an MMO, I’ve had a great time with Elder Scrolls Online so far. I have yet to get bored. My character, a cheeky elf named Ray Nagin, looks great. There’s less grinding than I’m accustomed too, much more detailed and engaging quests, and an art style that feels appropriate. The combat can actually be fun. If you’re looking for your new MMO, this is a great bet. There are early jitters aplenty, but the game is stable and plays well.

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