If you’re looking for a new MMORPG to play this year that isn’t aesthetically similar to the current standard of theme park MMOs, look no further than The Elder Scrolls Online. Bethesda and Zenimax Online Studio’s creation of an online persistent Elder Scrolls world has come such as long way since its 2014 release.
Set some 1,000 years before the events of Elder Scrolls V Skyrim, ESO uses the same formula that many will be familiar with. You start your character as a prisoner, and throughout the course of your MMO adventure, you’ll gain better skills, character power and of course loot. The game’s MMO world simply means that you’ll come across thousands of other players out in the world. And of course, you can join PvE dungeons and larger group content – instanced and on the landscape – in addition to PvP. So if you haven’t played this before, why should you check it out right now?
2017 was a milestone year for the game. It introduced excellent new content and features to top off the turn-around of the previous year. Here’s some of the things you’ve missed:
The Morrowind DLC introduced early last year was a love letter to all fans of the franchise. Players got to re-visit the iconic map of Vvardenfell in ESO, and play through among the best quests and stories written so far. Lord Vivec returns as well, and the main quest arc re-kindled our nostalgia which was pretty rewarding. In terms of quality, Morrowind was the new benchmark. The soundtrack was amazing, the writing is better than anything in vanilla, and most importantly for players, is the other new features that came with it enhanced the game. This includes a new Warden class and PvP Battlegrounds, which added a new arena PvP for those interested.
Almost every MMORPG out there has player housing, and now The Elder Scrolls Online has theirs as well. The Homesteads update allowed players to purchase property in most of the zones in ESO. They come in different sizes, from large mansions to small huts, and the level of customization is excellent. Each individual house is designed to resemble the area it’s in. In addition, the game has introduced hundreds of new decoration items for players to get creative with.
Clockwork City DLC
And to wrap up a great 2017, ESO introduced a couple of DLC content that added a lot more to the game and continued the game’s story. The Clockwork City DLC is a fitting bookend to the “year of Morrowind”—it also lets you explore a really different part of Tamriel, one that has been in previous Elder Scrolls games, but had never been fully explored. The long conversation you have with Sotha Sil at the conclusion of the Clockwork City’s main quest is one of our top-five moments from ESO. The Clockwork City DLC also introduced the first Mini-Trial, which is 12-player co-op content, but with fewer bosses than a regular Trial. And, of course, the Horns of the Reach DLC added two fantastic dungeons and showed the dev’s continuing commitment to supporting and expanding co-op group play. Expect to see more dungeon content every year, including two in 2018.
Needless to say, it has been a pretty productive year for the MMORPG, and that’s more than most of other games can claim to say at the moment. So why should you be playing it in 2018 if you haven’t started already? Here’s our two cents.
Your Game, Your Rules
The thing we love the most about the Elder Scrolls Online is that it’s yours. What does that mean? It means the game reacts to how you play it. If you want to play it solo, go ahead! If you’d rather prefer running around with friends or with your guild, that’s fine too! ESO does not punish you for being casual or hardcore, and on top of that, rewards you either way. For the casual player with only a certain amount of time to play each week, the pace of the game is set by you. You can explore solo dungeons in the form of Delves, and whenever you feel like doing a dungeon or two, simply use the group finder and you’re set.
The new content additions over the past couple of years greatly enhances what you can do on your own in the world. The Thieves Guild for example, allows you to be a master thief and pick-pocket NPCs in town, break into homes to steal loot and more. You’re then able to fence it off – sell it for Gold – and create another way for you to make money in-game. It’s also a form of horizontal progression. The more you break into homes with the lock-pick system and the more you sell your stolen goods, the higher your Legerdemain skill tree progresses. This allows you to put more Skill Points in it to get better at sneaking, for example. That form of character progression is unique to the Elder Scrolls Online, and one that no other MMORPG out there has managed to pamper me with.
Steady Continuous Content Cycle
Most MMOs enters into a lull period after a major content release, and that’s usually normal. We see it more often in Free to Play games where the content takes longer to arrive and in smaller bite-sizes, not to mention that quality can be a hit or miss. As ESO is between the two models of F2P and subscription only, you can expect at least multiple updates and DLCs per year, and of which, the quality is usually on-point. Players have already gotten a taste of the first DLC update for 2018, called Dragon Bones. It will introduce two new dungeons that’s based on TES V Skyrim (Undead Dragon boss!) and from the previews, they look amazing. That’s out February 2018.
New content alone isn’t all the game will be offering. There’s more quality of life improvements as well. Remember we talked about player housing that was introduced last year? Well it gets better. Housing storage is now coming to the game, and adds 360 slots in total for players to store items in their homes. This adds a tangible and much needed feature that will help players both new and old very much. That’s because prior to the announcement, inventory spaces on the player and from the bank always involved heavy micro-management due to limited upgrade slots. Not to mention, the crafting bag isn’t available to all as it is a subscription-only feature. 2018 has only begun, but we’re absolutely thrilled with what’s announced so far. It can only get better, can’t it?
Any Considerable Negatives?
No MMORPG is perfect, and there are numerous areas that ESO can improve on both in-game and out for 2018. For us, the biggest cons that we would warn you about is latency and lag, which is really dependent on where you’re playing from in the world. On some days, you’ll get decent ping ratings in populated zones and in PvP, while on other days, it can be unplayable. Again, not many players may experience this, but it is a thorn in the game’s side, and they can definitely improve their servers.
Another area out-of game that should be looked at is customer support. Zenimax has done wonders to turn their reputation for ESO around from their terrible launch to the game it was supposed to be today. But that all counts for little if your customer support is rubbish. We’ve experienced first hand a few players getting locked out of their account, or having trouble linking their accounts to Steam, and Zenimax customer support offers no help whatsoever. And finally, if you’re 100% against RNG lootboxes, be aware that they do exist in the game’s cash shop. They contain mostly cosmetic “fluff”.
Value For Money
Most importantly for us, is the value for money proposition. What makes the Elder Scrolls Online so attractive is its Buy to Play model. If you’re planning to play the game on the PC, all you need is a one-time purchase and you’re good to go. You’ll be able to play the vanilla game for free without any restrictions. When it comes to purchasing the additional DLCs, you can either opt for the monthly subscription which unlocks it all, or buy them à la carte using Crown Points. Options is always a good thing.
But what is the value proposition you speak of? Firstly, the game goes on sale multiple times a year, especially on Steam. You can get it at ridiculous prices, sometimes even 50% off during Thanksgiving and other seasonal sales. For that sort of price, the amount of content you get is crazy. Elsewhere, playing the game now is so much better than playing it at release. As we’ve mentioned, the improvements over the years makes ESO one of the best MMOs out there today for all play styles. The One Tamriel Update for instance, allowed players the freedom to cross over zones and do whatever they wanted with level and zone scaling. Who’s to say there won’t be other game-changing updates in the near future? For what I’ve invested in it, the amount of time I am sinking into the game is totally worth the purchase, because I am having fun.
And that is why I think you should be playing The Elder Scrolls Online in 2018, if you’re looking for a new fantasy MMO to call home.