The Elder Scrolls Online – Greymoor – The Elder Scrolls Online

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Complete Review & Description

If you’d have asked me a few weeks back why I don’t play Dungeons & Dragons based MMOs, I don’t know if I could’ve told you. Baldur’s Gate was my thing, as was The Lord of the Rings. You’d think an open world full of elves in breastplates fighting trolls would be exactly what I’d want. But no, and I’m not sure why.
Or I wasn’t until I spent the last couple of weeks playing The Elder Scroll Online: Tamriel Unlimited. Now I know why. It’s because if you start playing, you have to stop doing everything else. If you sit down for a couple of hours on a weeknight, you’ll still be there at four in the morning. Or, if you put a weekend aside to play, make sure you have enough food to get you through till Monday morning, because you won’t leave the couch.

The Elder Scrolls Online grabs you and doesn’t let you go. But, it’s not even because it’s an exceptional game. Even after two 12 gig patches, it’s glitchy and frustrating and randomly dumps you out. I’ve spent hours trying to get on, trying to load my characters, only to finally give up, switch servers, and start from scratch. Graphically, it’s not that big a step up from Skyrim. There’s a lot of fetching, horses that are way too expensive, pets don’t do anything, and you spend at least half your time managing your inventory. It’s a time-suck. But, it’s still a massively enjoyable time-suck.
After you’ve built your character from all the Elder Scroll races; humans, elves, orcs, cats, and lizards, you wake up in a prison cell in Coldharbour – the region of Oblivion ruled over by Molag Bal. You spend your first half hour getting used to the game and escaping back to the real world. Once you’re in Tamriel, the whole world is there for you to explore. Story missions, side missions, mixing potions, crafting glyphs, making weapons and armour, cooking meals, and fishing. All while trying to stop Molag Bal from taking over the world.

Essentially, TESO plays, and looks, a lot like Skyrim. Only, without dragons attacking you every five minutes. While there are no dragons, there are crowds of online players clogging up the streets of Rifton or Windhelm, riding horses onto buildings, jumping the queue at the bank, or dancing in the street in their underwear.
If you want, you can play it like a single player game. A really big single player game, that takes a long time to level up. Everywhere you go there’ll be online players, but they can’t attack you and if they ask you to team up, you can ignore them. If they’re doing the same mission you can all attack the same boss, whether you started the mission together or not, collect the same rewards, and watch as the boss respawns for the next wave of gamers fighting their way through the dungeon. Or, if you want you can join or create a guild, message some friends, and try higher level missions with a solid crew backing you up.
…there are crowds of online players jumping the queue at the bank, or dancing in the street in their underwear.
Alternatively, you can go full-on PvP in the Alliance Wars. When you generate your character you don’t just pick your race and class, you also align with one of Tamriel’s three factions. The Aldmeri Dominion, the Daggerfall Covenant, or the Ebonheart Pact. The three alliances are fighting for control of Cyrodiil. To play, you leave the story mode and from the menu you choose to join a campaign, or create a new one.
The campaigns take place in Tamriel’s central region of Cyrodiil. There are castles held by each faction, villages, mines, and supply lines that are maintained between each keep. Over the days, or weeks, that the campaign runs, each faction tries to capture more territory, so when time’s up they eventually take over Cyrodiil and the player from the winning faction who has earned the most individual alliance points is crowned emperor.
To capture territories, and earn individual alliance points, you need to complete missions for your faction. You can start off doing scouting missions, where you sneak and fight deep into enemy territory, eye-ball a set location, and get home alive. You can also accept bounty missions where you have to kill a certain number of archers or mages.

Running around, doing stuff by yourself is all good, but what you really want to do is take over some territory for your faction. To do this you need to take part in battle and war-front missions. In battle missions you and your crew attack enemy resources, like mines and farms, to weaken castles. Then you can do war-front missions, where you attempt to capture the enemy stronghold.
Once a castle is isolated and weakened, you can attack. You buy catapults and trebuchets, place them outside a castle and start slinging ice and fire at the walls. Or you can buff-up with potions, invite your friends to form a group, and attack. The biggest danger is getting isolated. If you stay in a crowd, using your abilities can raise your group’s individual stats, recharge their abilities, or even give them additional abilities. So, the more of you there are, and the more you stick together, the better.
But, it’s not just you and your group attacking enemy castles. You also have to keep an eye on the map in case your castles come under attack. At any time the entire population of Cyrodiil can converge on one castle. The Dominion, Covenant, and Pact battling to take over one castle. Fighting in packs, sneaking and sniping, summoning – complete and utter carnage on an epic scale. All with a modicum of balance, so level ten characters have some chance to take out a level thirty Templar or Mage.

Or that is the idea. The whole online part of The Elder Scrolls Online, even after two massive patches, is still a bit of a hit or miss affair. The environment is still there, as is your avatar, but all of a sudden you can’t fight or you’ll cast a spell, and thirty seconds later you might swing a sword of shoot some lightning. When that happens you know you’ll be dumped out in a few seconds. It happens a lot. With only the US and European servers to choose from, playing here in New Zealand, you eventually get to the point where you load up the game expecting to get dumped out.
The good thing, if there is anything good about continuously getting dumped, is that when you load up the game nothing is lost. If you’re in the middle of a fight, you’ll be dead, but other than that you’ll be exactly where you were when you lost the connection. The major problem is that when you die in a campaign you can’t respawn in a battle. While big maps are generally good, it’s not so good if it’s a ten minute hike back to the fight, only for it to be all over before you get there. So, before you start, save up and buy a horse.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited is a big ambitious game that isn’t there yet. In single player it’s close. But, if you want the full-on PvP experience, it’s a hell of a long way off. However, you can buy it and get a lot of gameplay without having to pay a monthly subscription. Unless you want to pay the sub so you can get all the flash rides, all future DLC, and a 10% experience bump across all abilities.
Or you can just wander the remote corners of Tamriel, slowly gathering experience points fighting trolls, doing missions for elves in breastplates, and saving every coin you earn in the hope of someday being able to afford a horse.

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