Elder Scrolls Online was first released for windows computer on April 14, 2014. A little over a year later on June 9, 2015, the game was released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles. The game spent seven years in development before it's release and was later rebranded before console release after receiving mixed reviews from critics. At this point, the games name changed to Elder Scrolls Online Tamriel Unlimited. Initially, the base version of the game was pay-to-play and then moved to buy-to-play format to appeal to a more significant number of gamers. The game has over 2 million active users playing every month and is gearing up to release it's third major expansion Elsweyr on June 4.
The gameplay of Elder Scrolls Online(ESO) is similar to that of the core games in the Elder Scrolls franchise. The combat has been simplified with skills and spells being moved to hotkeys. Basic attacks are made with a simple button press, and you use a combination of blocking and rolling to evade enemy attacks. The game gives you the option of playing both first or third person. There is also a lot of similarities in the way you loot bodies and treasure within this game. Like with Skyrim a menu pops up when you give the raid command, and you can select from the wish which valuables you wish to take.
Quests are plentiful, just about every direction you choose to explore will offer you a wealth of options. Quests are indicated by a floating black arrow above the NPCs that kick things off when you decide to speak to them. From there, you can choose to prioritize the quests you want to pursue first in the menus. The game makes it easy to locate your next task by using quests markers on the compass at the top of your screen.
You can also craft in this game to enhance your character's armor and weapons. This is done by working to level up your crafting skill while collecting needed ingredients from enemies across the map. There are several different trades to choose from, including woodworking, alchemy, and fishing. This system also opens a line of trade between players who have chosen to level up different crafts adding to the social side of this MMORPG.
The games level up system is also reminiscent of past Elder Scrolls titles. You gain EXP by fighting monsters and completing quests lines. Once you gain a level, you will be able to extend your health, stamina, and magicka meters with awarded points. Learning skills in the game is a bit different, as you explore and use different weapons, armor, and abilities, you will open new skill lines. The more you use a certain type of light armor, for example, the more you will level up that particular skill.
Abilities are a bit stranger as you have to explore the land to find Skyshards. Each time you discover a Skyshard, you can choose to pick it up. For each Skyshard your retrieve you receive an additional ability point you can assign to a currently unlocked ability of your choosing.
The User Interface(UI) of ESO is an easy to navigate window that pops up on the side of your screen. The UI allows you to assign skill points, overview your characters, access the Crown shop, manage social, manage inventory, check journals, and find campaigns. Each option you select opens up another similar easy to follow menu with more options. The menu never takes up the whole screen so that it doesn’t hinder players when exploring.
Races in ESO follow the basic MMO rules, and some races are best for magic while others are suited for healing or tanking.
Redguards: Redguards have a focus on stamina. This race gets a buff to the shield skill, making them an excellent pick for a defensive build.
Imperial: Imperials can pick from any of the three alliances. They have a shield buff, as well as, a buff on melee attacks making them a strong choice for a tank. (Add-on race)
Wood Elves: Wood Elves have an emphasis on stealth play. The class has max stamina of 2,000 with a high rate of stamina recovery. The class also focuses on the detection skill, with a high radius perfect for scoping out enemies.
Khajiit: Khajiit are a stealthy race that gives buffs to medium armor. This race also receives buffs for melee weapons making them a perfect stealth build.
Orcs: The Orc race has a high amount of max stamina, and a can obtain a weapon bonus of 256 damage. Orc's also got a massive buff to their health bar, making them perfect for solo play.
Argonians: Argonians are talented in both healing and taking damage. They also have a big buff to swimming and the restoration staff skill line.
High Elves: High Elves are magicka based with a max magicka of 2,000. You can obtain a bonus of 258 spell damage. The class is made to run an all magic build.
Dark Elves: Dark Elves receive a buff to destruction magick specifically fire-based spells. They also have a resistance to fire, as well as, increased magicka.
Nords: This race receives a buff for using a two-handed weapon. They also have increased health and buff to all armor types for extra defense.
Brenton: The Brenton race has a heavy focus on magicka. By choosing this race, it will take less to cast spells, and you will have more resistance against enemies magicka based attacks.
The classes in ESO are made to compliment race choices. By choosing the right class and race combination you can create a powerful character.
Dragonknight: Dragonknights receive buffs for fighting in close combat, as well as, a boost in using powerful fire magick.
Nightblade: Nightblades have a heavy emphasis on stealth along with dealing critical blows to their opponents.
Necromancer: Necromancers use the dead to fight for them; this class tends to stay behind there summoned instead of fighting with them.
Sorcerer: This class uses a mix of the summons along with with with destruction magick. Fire damage, along with lighting damage, is prioritized.
Templar: Templars are made to be a healing class that uses light attacks to deal damage when needed.
Warden: Wardens use the power of nature along with frost magic to fight their battles. They also gain the ability to heal party members. (Add-on Class)
The PVP aspect is simple to understand for players. You can begin a one-on-one PVP match by walking up to a character and interacting with them. From the interaction menu, you pick the dual option. If the player accepts, then the game will allow you to fight one another until a players health is depleted.
There are also PVP areas that allow you to fight multiple players at once. To join the Cyrodiil the PVP area, you must reach level 10. There are PVP quests you can take for this area, as well, that add more incentive to fight other players. You can also help your races alliance out and gain points for your race's faction.
PvE in this game works similar to the mainline games. The monsters in the environment all come from previous entries in the series. The attacks, status effects, and even the health bar used for enemies come from core titles. The health bar doesn’t deplete from only one side; instead, both ends of the health bar deplete until they meet in the middle when the monster dies. PvE is balanced when in parties to ensure proper scaling of enemy amounts/strength. There is also even distribution of items both when in a party.
The raids in ESO are straightforward. These raids are called trials and have both a normal mode and a mode for veterans. Trials are 12 person raids that are timed. Raids require you to feel a role in supporting your team through like tank or healer. Completing raids in ESO leads to rare items and even mounts.
The sounds and music found in ESO are taken straight from the mainline Elder Scrolls games. The background music itself is a combination of high vocals mixed with a great orchestra to fit the high-action fantasy world. The voice acting in the game is also professionally done by professional voice actors. The game features 1,000’s of different audio files with different sounds for each monster, action, and area. Just in the Summerset expansion alone, the ESO team has recorded over 7,000 lines of unique dialogue. The main game itself features over 32,000 unique sound effects.
The Elder Scrolls Online currently has three expansions Morrowind, Summerset, and Elsweyr. Each of these sections adds in the country of their namesake along with dozens of quests, new NPCs, and unique enemies. Along with the three main expansions, ESO features several add-ons. These add-ons are the Imperial City, Thieves Guild, Dark Brotherhood, Orsinium, Shadow of The Hist, Horns of The Reach, Clockwork City, Dragon Bones, Wolfhunter, Murkmire, and Wrathstone.
Each add-on gives the player access to new locations, NPCs, weapons, armor, and story elements. Also, ESO offers an add on service called ESO Plus a paid membership. This membership grants players access to all add-ons as long as it’s active.
The ESO Plus membership and Crown Store allow players to buy extras in exchange for real money. For ESO Plus members they enjoy the unlocked add-on packs, as well as, an EXP boost and crafting boost of 10%. Along with added space to their bank, unlimited crafting storage, and the ability to hold double the number of crystals. It also gives you an allowance of Crowns each month, the ability to dye your costume, and increased space in your house.
The Crown Store allows players to buy cosmetics, game buffs, and in-game items. You can purchase mounts not obtainable within the game or EXP boosts to help you level faster. The shop also allows players to change their class for a fee or even upgrade the number of items you carry. The game can be played entirely without the purchase of items from the Crown Store.