The Elder Scrolls: Online

character looking at a glowing tower

This is going to be my personal review on The Elder Scrolls: Online.
Here I will introduce you to the game and what I think about certain
aspects.

You’ll see an overview of everything when you scroll ahead!

There is so much to tell you about it, even if you played it longer than me, this game is so huge that there might be things you still haven’t noticed or seen.

Take it as an article, a blog post or even a review, because it really could be anything of these three.

Here is a little overview of what I will be covering if you are only interested in certain aspects feel free to click on them to skip everything you don’t care about.

Introduction

The Elder Scrolls: Online (ESO from now on) is quite different from The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim and it’s predecessors since ESO is an MMORPG which makes it feel like another kind of game when playing, but that isn’t really a bad thing!

This game puts a lot of its strength into variety and immersion.

The game world

The world is extremely large and a completionist would need thousands of hours to truly see everything there is, seriously.

From the beginning (except the tutorial you can skip) you can choose where ever you want to go right of the bat. Your character scales to the level you need to be on equal terms.

This is also very welcoming if you have tons of alternative characters since you can start with them from anywhere.

swampy-area-eso
A swampy area to explore!

Exploration

I cannot emphasize enough how HUGE this world actually is, there are so many things you can do, really.

Collecting crafting materials, kill all world bosses, completing all solo delves, visit every landmark, do all the quests and so on…

Quests

Quests are really diverse and have usually a great story to tell, you won’t find tons of kill and/or collect quests, there are some but they only fill up the minority.

Most of the quests have a really nice story to tell and are ALL fully voiced with animations and so on.

I’ll be honest if you don’t do the quests for the lore then you will miss out on so many things doing them, give them a chance and don’t skip the conversations!

conversation with an NPC
A conversation with a character you will meet really early!

Dolmen

Since I won’t spoil any story related things you won’t understand what the hell a dolmen is, but they are part of the main story just so you know where to look.

But these dolmens are accessible even without starting the main quest line and reward you for participating them.

4 waves of creatures will spawn and in the end one boss will spawn with some of its minions.

World bosses

Yes, world bosses, really ridiculously strong creatures in the open world that will make your day a sad one if you face them alone.
They drop loot just like every boss!

Treasure!

All over the world, you can find treasure chests that contain some pieces of loot and other miscellaneous items.

Usually, they are locked and have to be unlocked by completing a little mini-game which is really easy to understand and actually not that hard if it isn’t a master difficulty lock.

This requires lock picks which you can find all over the world or buy from almost any general vendor.

sun rays between the trees exploring the world
The things you can see when you explore (and a treasure hunt!)

Combat

The combat system is an action combat system where you don’t target enemies with a mouse-click or by pressing tab, you rather have to aim at them like in shooter game.

Don’t worry though, you do not need 360 no-scope reflexes and on the pixel exact aim, it’s enough if you just look at the general direction even with ranged attacks.

When you hold left-click you are able to perform a heavy attack, which doesn’t cost you anything except the charge time, but you can be bashed in PvP while doing so, putting you in a huge disadvantage.

If you hold right-click your character will block incoming attacks.
This can block almost anything (except certain floor effects) at the cost of stamina instead of your health.

Also holding the right mouse button and pressing the left one during that allows you to bash an enemy that interrupts their current cast such as spells that have a cast time or other heavy attacks debuffing them heavily on a successful bash.

You can also dodge incoming attacks by double-tapping the walking keys to the desired direction which makes your character roll to the specific direction.

During the dodge animation and a bit after that, all incoming attacks will miss you, but beware, you cannot roll again after 3 seconds and it will cost you stamina.

Another mechanic with which you can influence your character is the “break free” action which you can use for stamina by clicking the left and right mouse button at the same time.
It will free you from certain stuns and other crowd control effects.

Synergies are a really cool mechanic in the game that enhances teamplay a lot actually since they can be really powerful and helpful.
Certain lingering abilities allow you to press ‘X’ on them to trigger their special effect which is usually a good thing to do, there are abilities that aren’t even worth casting if you don’t trigger their synergy!
Of course, a player cannot trigger their own abilities’ synergies.

Character and leveling

ESO is the first MMORPG where I didn’t see leveling up as a chore, it didn’t feel like a chore and it really isn’t thanks to this massive world.

But first, let’s go over your character.

You can customize a lot on your character when creating it such as nose height, eye separation or ear size, yes, things like that.

character creation
The character creation

Also, you can choose between 9 (or 10 if you own the DLC) and 4 (or 5 if you own the DLC again…), the good thing about the classes is that they can take any role! Yes, you can be a healer as a dragon knight or a tank as a night blade.

Of course, there are specific “cookie-cutter” classes for each role, but this is only really important for really hard veteran trials and PvP.

Your character progresses through levels and champion points (more on that later).

With each level up your character is awarded a skill point!
Though skill points cannot be only acquired through leveling but also through specific quest lines and skyshards.

You can put your skill points into various abilities and passives or crafting traits that make you more efficient with your materials.

the skill point screen
You can allocate points to various passive and active abilities!

Most of your character strength comes from these passive abilities and active ones since a level up directly gives you points towards your health, stamina and Magicka (mana) you can allocate yourself.

Active skills can also be morphed after these have reached level 4 (technically 5) which means you can alternate them by their effects or you get an additional one!

Champion points

After you reach level 50 your character will enter the champion point system which is a shared progression system for shared by all characters on your account.

It’s a system to further improve your characters by allocating points towards specific passive effects, you are awarded one champion points for filling your EXP bar again.

champion-point-selection
The champion point screen with the different trees

Professions and crafting

Crafting and professions are huge in this game and can go really deep.
You can gather all sorts of materials out in the world based on what level you are, so you might find different materials after a couple of levels and make stronger gear out of them.

There are 7 professions as of the day I created this post, but I will put 3 of them in one category since they work about the same.

Gear crafting professions

Woodworking, blacksmithing and clothing belong to that, they are pretty straightforward where you choose your material that determines the level of your outcome and you can choose a style material which decides the look of your piece of gear, there are a ton of styles you can find and unlock!

You can also improve your gear’s quality with specific materials when crafting on the respective crafting station.

Jewelry crafting

Jewelry crafting is a bit different than the 3 above because you cannot choose a style for the items since they aren’t physically visible and also their traits vary a lot more than between these three.

Through a controversial game design decision and most recent addition materials for this profession can be ridiculously expensive to pick up.

Enchanting

A really useful profession with which you can create glyphs to apply special effects on your gear like fire damage, more stamina or poison resistance.

Each glyph consists of 3 runes. Each represents a word (in some ancient language) and alter one aspect of your glyph.

Potency runes decide the power of your glyph and are tied to the minimum level of the gear you are able to apply the power to.
Also, they come in a positive and negative form which means positive potency runes increase something on yourself and negative potency runes usually work in a way that it affects the enemy directly by applying negative effects on him or absorb something for you.

Aspect runes decide which effect your glyph has like fire damage or stamina absorption, keep in mind that they have different effects depending on the potency rune.

And lastly there are the essence runes which determine the quality of your rune, they increase the power of your rune in that specific level bracket your potency rune is coming from.

showing enchanting with runes
Enchanting – using a potency rune, aspect rune and an essence rune!

Alchemy

A really useful profession that can give you the edge in certain situations because you can create powerful potions and poisons with really useful short-term effects or potions that replenish your resources.

There are two types of materials you need to craft with alchemy, a solvent and reagents.

The solvent is for the base power and level minimum for each potion and also decides if the output is applied to yourself or to your enemy (a potion or poison you put on your weapon) which means it is possible to create potions that harm you.

Reagents are a really fun thing!
First of all your new character has no idea which reagent has what effects so that means you have to find out all of them by combining each reagent with another one (if you don’t use a guide).

Though it is really simple to find out which one can be combined with the other. If it says “unknown potion/poison” then you will get something and if it says “inert potion/poison” then your materials will be wasted.

Reagents inhabit negative and positive effects as well that neutralize each other when two of the opposites are used in one potion.

showing alchemy crafting
This one is alchemy, notice how I haven’t found any effects in one of the reagents

Provisioning

Everyone loves food!
Provisioning is a fairly simple profession.
Frist, you collect recipes for different types of food and drinks that vary in level and rarity so you can craft them at the cooking fire if you have the ingredients.

Food and drinks come in different qualities that determine the strength and how many simultaneous effects it has.
For example, food of uncommon quality has one stamina effect and food of the rare quality has a stamina and health effect.

Drinks usually affect regeneration rates of stamina, health and Magicka.
Food affects how much more stamina, health and Magicka you can have.

Unlike potions, food effects are long-term and can stay from 30 to up to an hour which makes them really valuable and useful!

Game mechanics

Different equipment types

What do I mean by that? Well, there is light armor, medium armor, heavy armor, jewelry, shields and weapons.

Each of them is a type of equipment that gives the gear its functionality and they are tied to specific passive abilities you can pick up.
Some passive effects are only active by wearing 5 or more pieces of heavy armor for example.

Equipment traits

There are 9 types of traits on all equipment types.
They work like a “second” enchantment but have to be directly crafted into the piece of gear and can be changed only once per transmutation.
These effects vary from more experience points to increased healing and their strength increases with the quality of the gear they are applied on.

Traits have to be researched before they can be applied on gear you craft which can take up to days and a maximum of a month to get all on a single gear type, so research early if you are interested in that stuff!

Mundus stones

Mundus Stones are all over the world and are another way to make your character stronger by a permanent buff you receive from them.

These buffs are more attack power to more movement speed, so they are worth a visit!

Skyshards

Skyshards are found in the world all over the place, at certain landmarks, anywhere in the open-world.
If you manage to find 3 of them you are awarded one skill point to use on your character!

absorbing a skyshard
Absorbing a skyshard for skill points

Equipment sets

All over the world are specific crafting stations in which players can create specific gear tied to a set.
To use these you are required to have a certain amount of traits researched on the particular piece of equipment type you want to craft on these.

Thievery

Yes, you can be a thief, stealing, pickpocketing, trespassing and robbery.

However, do not get caught breaking the law because you will generate a bounty with that.

If you committed a crime recently guards will try to kill you and take your stolen goods and the amount of money you owe justice.

In case you escape your heat meter on the bottom right will diminish if you have no heat anymore, guards will no longer attack you but demand the bounty and all stolen goods if they see you.

Running away will generate heat again and the process begins anew.
Fear not! The bounty also decays but at a much smaller rate than heat.

Also, there are hideouts in each major city for thieves where you can fence or launder your stolen goods so guards won’t take them from you anymore.
You can also clear your bounty without consequences.

attempting to pickpocket
Attempting to pickpocket someone

Community

The community is mostly friendly though sadly you mostly have this silence in your group when entering a dungeon through the dungeon finder.

That’s okay, there are still guilds that are actively searching for new people to tag along and will be certainly willing to teach you a trial or two if it is your first time doing one.

But even without a guild, you can find people occasionally talking to you in the world like for example if you fight a world boss and someone randomly joins in taking a huge weight from you.

Or when people see you die they go on and resurrect you with one of their soul stones (even though you could use one yourself).

I rarely had people being toxic or negative in any way which is a great thing.

Player versus environment

In ESO there are multiple types of dungeons besides the traditional type which is a breath of fresh air.

Traditional dungeons

First of all, there are your typical instanced dungeons where you go in with a group of 4 having a healer, a tank and two damage dealers in your group to defeat certain bosses and gather loot. There is usually one quest in there to go along with.

Completing dungeons also rewards a lot of EXP and some other rewards when using the Dungeon Finder.

There is also a veteran version of every dungeon which is a harder version.
Be prepared though because some dungeons are REALLY difficult in veteran mode and you should have some significant power level.

They award better quality loot and special loot from the very last boss.

a group engaging a dungeon boss
My group engaging a boss

Public dungeons

Public dungeons are spread all over the world with one on every map except Cyrodiil and the starting zones and they are not affected by scaling.

At first, I thought that is weird but they actually are a thing and they work.
They have also a quest to go along with but the difference is that the instance is shared with anyone that physically enters them

There are also always 3 skyshards to get and bosses to defeat.

Though it is possible in some cases to defeat the bosses in there alone you should go with at least another person or join up people while clearing them.

You receive loot for every boss and achievements by slaying all bosses and completing the group challenge.

Delves

Delves are really small dungeons you can complete solo with normal monsters and always one boss that drops loot. Also, there is usually
one quest tied to it. They are also not instanced.

There are a lot of delves all over the map you can complete.
Killing the boss inside the delve marks it complete, but doesn’t prevent you from killing the boss again and collecting loot.

There is always one skyshard to be found in each of them.

Group delves

They are significantly harder than normal delves and should be completed with a group. They are also instanced like normal dungeons and you won’t see random players outside your group walking around in these.

Trials

Trials (widely known as raids) are instanced areas for up to 12 players (there should be 12 players) to conquer it for even more loot and treasure.

And just like traditional dungeons, trials have a veteran mode.

The Veteran mode features a point system in which it calculates your speed, deaths and boss kills.

You get a very good piece of gear at the end of the week if you end up on the leader board of that trial, though this is only available in veteran mode.

my trial group walking a long a stone cliff
My trial group marching along a stone cliff

Player versus player

Players in the open world can casually duel you if that is your cup of tea but way more focus goes into the battlegrounds or Cyrodiil (you’ll finally find out what the hell Cyrodiil is).

Battlegrounds are lots of fun, you queue in a random group up to 4 representing a team and there will be 3 teams in total, so you are basically fighting 8 other players.

Objectives can vary from simple kills to capture points or being in possession of an object until 500 points are reached.

Now, Cyrodiil!

Cyrodiil is the area in the middle of the world which is a huge open PvP area with LOTS to do.

You conquer keeps, important strategic points and steal Elder Scrolls from other factions.

map of cyrodiil
Map of Cyrodiil, the colors represent the alliances

The objective of your alliance is to capture 6 keeps around the Imperial City to crown the highest scored player in your alliance the Emperor.

Conquering these keeps is a whole other story, you actually use siege weapons such as ballista or battering rams, you defend them your siege against other players that defend that keep and they also use defensive siege weapons like hot oil that pours over your mates.

It’s really good stuff and lots of fun even if you aren’t that type of player.

Item shop and monetization

Well, what I previously said was all great stuff mostly, but here we are, nothing is perfect, right?

Basically, the item shop is mostly cosmetic items and some consumables that can be topped by items crafted in-game, but it just isn’t nice to see that you can get such a good looking sword as a costume item by playing the game. They also sell mounts and pets there.

What should bother you more are the crates in there, even though they only contain cosmetic items as well, we all know how much that means.
The mounts and pets in there look fantastic and call for your need for exclusivity.

crate opening screen
The crates… Notice how I desperately try to open one…

Also, there is a service called ESO+ which gives you access to all DLCs and anything else except the expansions (which you have to buy as well).

Lastly, in association with ESO+ is the crafting bag which feels like something that should be in the game baseline because your bag and bank space is limited despite the 5000000 different kinds of crafting materials that exist.

It feels like a problem that has been created on purpose to get people to get the ESO+ subscription, I am not really a friend of that.

Conclusion

Imagine, what I wrote here was not even all there is to say about the game, the game is huge, really huge.

And personally, I loved playing it every single hour and I am looking forward to joining this world again.
In my opinion, ESO became superior to most MMOs out there even the all classy World of Warcraft (I still like it though).

I played ESO the first time in the beta where there was an NDA and your email was all over the screen so you couldn’t screenshot anything there.
But I quit because it is well-known that the game was not really in a good state back then.

But they pulled it off, this game became great and now is a great time to start exploring Tamriel yourself!

picture of an old temple
Another great shot from inside an ancient temple

If you consider joining Tamriel for a really epic adventure in the form of an MMORPG, join here or for Steam here!

If you have any suggestions, feedback or other thoughts about this article feel free to leave a comment on the bottom for me, I really appreciate it!

Check out my 5 random facts about Minecraft alpha, here.

Have a great day!

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