Developer: ZeniMax Online Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platform: PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: PS4
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited – Review
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited is a re-published version of the MMORPG The Elder Scrolls Online, developed by ZeniMax Online Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. The console release took far longer than expected and thus ESO: Tamriel Unlimted got released in June 2014 for PS4 and Xbox One, more than a year after the original game released for PC. The review for the latter version can be found here.
As The Elder Scrolls: Tamriel Unlimited is part of The Elder Scrolls franchise, the game features a storyline that somewhat branches from the previous games. This feature is not only great for veteran players, it is also great for novices as the storyline is easy to follow thus they can easily jump into the previous Elder Scrolls games. Note that the storyline isn’t different from the PC-version that was released last year.
Set on the continent of Tamriel, the game takes players through an adventure that happened long before Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim. You’ll start out the game confined in a prison cell, which you successfully break out of with the help of Lyris Titanborn and later The Prophet. Confusion will be imminent in the first ten to twenty minutes but you’ll learn soon enough that you have been captured by the Draedric Prince Molag Bal who has stolen your soul. The narrative unravels at a steady pace if you do the quests accordingly – although none of them are linear.
Much like the PC version, the visuals in The Elder Scrolls Online Tamriel Unlimited are incredibly realistic, especially for a fictional world. The various areas are detailed, from the fauna to the flora to the structures of the camps scattered around the open-world of Tamriel as well as the typical Skryim buildings. While each area is defined by different flora, the most important feature are the lightning effects. The game has a day and night cycle which comes rapidly and the various illuminations provide a different feel for the areas. Truly the visuals are outstanding, if not stunning.
Sound-wise the game is equally outstanding. The ambiance sound resembles music from the medieval era which is ever-changing depending on the region you find yourself in. Upon starting your character, you have the option to choose which voice you’ll want it to have as this is not dependant on the race you’re playing. Add the great voice-overs of the various NPC’s to that list and you have a great combination of sound. Of course each spell, crazed animal and frenzied enemy have their own distinctive sound effects which ups the epicness of the sound even more.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited is an MMORPG and a large one which makes it difficult to explain every little detail that’s part of the MMO-experience of The Elder Scrolls. Typical is that you will need to create a new character upon starting, which you can customize completely. There are ten races to choose from (we counted in the Imperials) and four classes. If that’s not enough for you, there are several character choices you can “pick” in the skilltree later on in the game thus the customization options are almost endless. Downside is that you can only have eight characters per profile.
The classes have specific advantages but none of them wear specific armor thus you can freely choose if you want to equip your Sorcerer with full plate armor or not. Hell, if you want, you can even have your Sorcerer equip a large two-handed axe. This allows for a greater freedom of choice as you’re not forced to play a specific way and you can easily switch weapons if one doesn’t suit you. Once you’ve reached level 15, you can even “swap” between pre-set weapons. Your ability bar will change accordingly so you won’t have to tinker with it during fights.
For an MMO, the controller feels too constricted as it doesn’t have enough buttons, causing many of the actions to be in your “options”. However, you will get used to this pretty fast. You can move around with the left stick while you can change your camera angle with the right stick. Pushing in the left stick causes the character to sprint while the right stick will cause it to crouch. I won’t go much deeper into it as it’s much easier to simply “show” you.
Surprisingly enough, the text is very readable from a good distance which allows for a more relaxed gameplay as you don’t have to squint every time you talk to an NPC. Unfortunately the servers tend to “crash” quite often and aren’t as steady as they should be but when the game runs smooth, these crashes no longer haunt your mind. Keep in mind that if you want to play with friends, you’ll need to have the game on the same platform. None of these servers are cross-platform servers thus if you have the PS4 version of it, your friends will need it too. Communicating with other players may be a difficult task as the console versions offer no chat other than the voicechat – which we all know not everyone makes use of.
As an MMO, the game features both PvE and PvP gameplay. You can do either one, or both. This is a great feature for those who do not enjoy getting ganked by higher level players as the PvP isn’t level-restricted. The PvP combat takes place in Cyrodiil, a large province in the midst of Tamriel, and can be found in-game as “Campaigns” once you turn level 10. The objectives are in the form of capturing and defending “quests”, unlike the PvE quests which offers a better variation of things to do. Unlike most MMO’s, the game doesn’t offer much “kill”-quests which is a nice change for once.
Besides the PvP and PvE aspect of the game, you can always free-roam the regions of Tamriel for exploration purposes or for gathering purposes as the game offers six crafting professions which are available for each class: alchemy, blacksmithing, clothing (which also includes leatherworking), enchanting, provisioning and woodworking. Each “profession” can be leveled up by crafting or deconstructing items and each has a skilltree.
The game offers plenty of skilltrees while you only receives a point once in a while. You can counter that by searching for Skyshards as three Skyshards reward you with 1 skillpoint. Furthermore, if you’ve had enough of gathering the materials yourself, you can always acquire a Hireling which will bring you goods on a daily base.
A profession you’ll gather materials for much faster is the provisioning profession which is just plain ol’ cooking. During your sessions, you’ll come across crates, barrels, sacks and much more which often have items – not only for provisioning. In areas such as towns and housings of NPC’s you are to help, you will need to “steal” these items if you want to acquire them. Stealing items will result into a degradation of your reputation, and you will need to pay a fee or flee once the guards have stopped you on your errand runs. Lock picking doors and chests have the same result once caught so you may want to be mindful of the patrolling guards.
Once you’ve reached level 50 you can venture in the endgame content which is comprised of PvP in Cyrodiil or PvE gameplay such as trials, veteran dungeons and of course you can level up an entirely new class. By choosing a different faction, you’ll be able to play the game differently. Your choices also change the course of the game thus you can always replay it just to see how it would change. However, that’s all the endgame content there is, which in truth isn’t that much for an MMORPG.
And lastly, before I forget to mention it, with the release of Tamriel Unlimited, the game has become “buy2play” which means the monthly subscription fees have been removed. With the removal of the fees comes a new feature, namely the Crown Store. The Crown Store offers several mainly cosmetic items such as pets and mounts but also a starter pack and the digital imperial edition of the game. While the store offers nothing of high importance, it is a slight advantage to buy a mount via the crown store instead of in-game as these are fairly expensive in-game while mounts offer more bag space.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited is a better, revamped version of The Elder Scrolls Online but it continues to have the same, slightly boring endgame content. Other than that, the game does offer ten to hundreds of hours of gameplay, whether you are a casual PvE player or a hardcore PvP-player. The game features the basics of everyday MMO’s but for the most part, the game’s mechanics are different. A good example are the intriguing quests which unravels a great narrative. All-in-all, The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited is a great MMORPG that already has plenty to offer but can always expand to higher planes.