The long-awaited, much postponed Elder Scrolls Online Tamriel Unlimited finally arrives on the PS4 and the Xbox One. You mean I can play Skyrim as an MMO? On current-gen systems? Utilizing a controller instead of a keyboard? Zero cost in subscription fees? What is not to like? Sign me up!
Playing this game on the PS4 or the Xbox One is like slipping into your favorite pair of Levi’s. It somehow makes the Elder Scrolls Online more reminiscent of Skyrim, and for fans of that title, this is a great feeling.
The concerns I had about the mechanics for this game prior to playing it have all but disappeared. I would have liked to have been able to switch some actions around, i.e. weapon swap and map reveal, but this is admittedly being overly picky. The controls do work well and are extremely responsive. You do have the ability to map certain skills to the buttons you choose. This makes early combat easy, first use a damage over time skill, followed by a few immediate damage attacks, and seal the deal with your favorite finisher. Then just rinse and repeat for quick kills.
The beginner terrain is adequate in size and offers many micro quests. Just head off in any direction and it won’t be long until you find some mouth-watering adventure. These quests are not the same old kill 50 spiders or run here to talk to this peasant (well maybe they are somewhat similar) but Bethesda has made them much more interesting and entertaining.
You do use up your stamina bar quickly when running so you may want to consider investing in a mount. The Imperial Edition of Elder Scrolls Online offers a white stallion for one gold immediately. This addition alone may be worth the extra $20 for the Imperial Edition upgrade. Otherwise, horses are available form the Crown Store in-game for real money. The Imperial Edition upgrade also provides you the benefit of playing as an Imperial, who look very similar to the Bretons. Imperials are able to play in any one of the three main alliances and possess well-rounded abilities, making them effective for any class you prefer.
Elder Scrolls Online initially planned a monthly subscription fee of $15, They wisely reversed that decision to make the game free after purchase. Sure, they did include the Crown Store, but purchases made here are mainly for cosmetic and convenience purposes only. You never have to pay one cent extra after the initial purchase price of the game to remain competitive. No need to worry that some inferior player will just “pay” to be good and own you in combat.
A notable difference to the PC version of this game that you may miss, is that there are no plug-ins for the consoles. Trial and error will replace the immediate recipe recall of a plug-in. This is actually a good thing in my opinion as you become more involved in the game.
Speaking of crafting, it is somewhat difficult and overwhelming for new players, as there exists multiple ingredients to loot and find, but extremely limited inventory slots and general bank space when you first start out. A good recommendation would be to decide on a craft that is essential to your character early on. For example, if you are a class that utilizes medium armor, perhaps leather working would be a good choice to specialize in right away. Some players even make another whole new character strictly for the purpose of crafting.
At the risk of this review becoming a new players guide, I’ll offer one more suggestion. Use your ability points immediately as they will only begin to rise after you have spent the first point to learn them.
There have been complaints early on that some players have experienced difficulty logging in and have seen a lot of lag in-game. My experience has not been so. Logging in to the PS4 version has not been difficult at all. I have not waited for more than ten minutes or so to get in. Even when standing around 7000 in line my wait time was under five minutes. When in the starting areas or large gathering spots, lag is noticeable only when there is much activity on the screen all at the same time, but it is not detrimental to game play. As soon as you leave the overcrowded area, ESO runs very smooth on the console.
Ultimately Bethesda should be congratulated on a job well done for this release. I was prepared for much worse than what was delivered. Of course some issues are to be expected with a game of this size and scope. Rest assured developers will improve it over time.
One gripe I do have is that if someone near you completes a quest, you will be credited with its completion also. This is not the worst thing in the world, but you do feel as if you were cheated out of that experience because you cannot redo quests.
Another complaint I would voice is that you cannot mute the nastier players by themselves. You only have the ability to leave the area chat completely, and consequently hear none of the players or conversations. Sometimes you just want to eliminate that one foul-mouthed individual who won’t stop screaming out curse words when your children are in earshot. Hopefully developers will address this issue sooner rather than later. Another head scratcher is that only your PlayStation gamer tag is visible to other players nearby. What is the point of naming your character if your party members will only see your PSN gamer tag?
Those minor issues aside, I must admit that Bethesda has pleasantly surprised me with this title. I believe that it will improve over time and I am certain that it will consume much of mine over the next several months
Elder Scrolls Online Tamriel Unlimited earns 8.5 stars out of 10 in my humble opinion.