The day Elder Scrolls fans have been waiting for for over a year has finally come and gone. After countless delays, The Elder Scrolls Online has finally come to consoles. As anyone who has ever played an online game on day one knows, bugs and temporary server shutdowns are to be expected. I spent a large part of my day yesterday (attempting to) play ESO, and–although the disconnects, outages and such prevented me from getting enough material for a proper review–I wanted to share some of my thoughts on Day One. This will be the first of a three part series (Day One, Week One, Month One) where we’ll share the experience of exploring this vast new world together.
Before we get started, I just want to put it out there that I’m not going to be talking about the technical difficulties of playing on day one. Instead, I will be focusing on the game itself, trusting that Bethesda and their affiliates will work out the technical bugs that are totally to be expected in the first couple days of an online-only game.
Elder Scrolls Online starts you, the hero, out in a prison in some sort of Netherworld. You are aided by a woman who eventually leads you to someone known only as “The Prophet.” In order to free him from his magical confinement, she must take his place. You cannot. You don’t have a soul.
From there, you are cast out into the world of Tamriel. It’s almost overwhelming. Scratch that… It is overwhelming. At every turn, someone is there to offer you a side quest. We experienced something like this in Skyrim, but even then it wasn’t to this degree. Add in the NPCs for which Elder Scrolls is so well known and the mass of player characters flooding the opening city and it very much gave the feel of a real life bustling metropolis. “Overwhelming” in this sense is not necessarily meant as a bad thing. On the contrary, it served to make the game feel more realistic. After all, awakening in a prison with no soul and then being suddenly cast into a New York City style metropolis would be overwhelming and disorienting at the very least.
A little info about my character: “Lyzard Wyzard” is an Argonian Templar and a member of the Ebonheart Pact. I have so far reached level 8. Argonians kind of got the shaft in Skyrim (really… water breathing is helpful for about five total minutes in that game), but they are the ideal class for healers and tanks with their Resoration buff as well as increased Restoration receiving and potion effects. It seems so far like ESO provides enough skill points between leveling and collecting Skyshards that a player can–and should–build for dual-spec with a bit more concentration on your preferred area. Personally, I’m favoring Healer while also building toward Tank, hoping that my healing abilities will be able to keep me alive in the thick of battle.
The new class system may be a little frustrating to veteran Elder Scrolls player who are used to building their own unique heroes from scratch, but I think it actually serves a vital role in a game where you will have to work with other players. Skyrim’s solo style necessitated a varied and versatile build, whereas a team style is going to rely more heavily on the “holy trinity” of MMO (tank, DPS, healer).
The missions themselves were pretty standard low-level MMORPG fare: fetch quests, kill some bugs, etc. There is one low-level solo instance called “The Harborage.” That is one interesting concession that Bethesda has made for solo Elder Scrolls player; the inclusion of solo and group instances. Personally, I really enjoy this. It means that I can join up with other players when I want, but it may not be an absolute necessity in order to level.
All in all, Elder Scrolls Online seems like it is going to be a solid game once the initial bugs are worked out. The year spent on PC means that Bethesda has had time to work through many of the issues players had with the mechanics of the game itself (for instance, first-person is now an option that seems to work pretty well, although I personally prefer third-person as it allows the player to survey more of the environment surrounding the hero). I look forward to running some group instances and gaining a few levels and presenting you with a more comprehensive review next week.
In the mean time, here is the completely rad full-length cinematic trailer for the game:
Have you had a chance to play ESO on either console? Have you been playing on PC? What has your experience been like?