Unlike previous (singleplayer) games in the series, The Elders Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited doesn’t have a strong story to immerse yourself within.  Set around 1000 years before the events of Skyrim, you will begin the game imprisoned in Coldharbor, an extra dimensional realm that is ruled by the Daedric Prince Molag Bal.  He is hell-bent on merging Nirn and Oblivion, realms that possess evil perhaps more sinister then hell itself and Molag Bal intends on opening up the floodgates into Tamriel.  So following your prison escape (a tradition within the series), it is up to you to make sure that hell is not unleashed.  How you go about that of course is all down to you, as not only do specific stories differ depending on the race you choose (there are 9 races to choose from in character creation), Tamriel is a HUGE place full of quests, random events and very random behaviours from your fellow gaming folk that populate the MMORPG lands.

Even though Skyrim didn’t have the smoothest combat gameplay, while it could have been better, it worked well enough.  I suppose it all depends on which discipline you choose, whether it be a Mage, an Archer or if you prefer Sword & Shield combat, your experience will differ.  For me I chose the Sword & Shield as my preferred method of combat.  Yet, despite ESOTU releasing just short of 4 years after Skyrim, the combat gameplay doesn’t feel quite as refined.  It just felt much too clunky for my liking.

Many a time when fighting an NPC, I’d be within range swiping my sword and I still wouldn’t make contact.  Sometimes I’d swing the sword a good three or four times before I actually made contact.  To make it even more frustrating, despite being well out of the NPC sword range, they’d still manage to take down my energy, almost like they have an extended invisible sword and this annoyed me more when they’d actually somehow manage to kill me.  If possible, I really hope this is fixed with any forthcoming update, considering combat is a big aspect of the game.

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However most of the quests are enjoyable and I found it very easy to lose my time.  Different regions offer varied races, which of course means varied quests and most of which have enough sub-text for you to believe what you’re doing feels worthwhile and that you’re a part of something.  Though you do have plenty of your generic go there, come back here fetch quests, but what RPG doesn’t?

I also find the crafting system quite a chore.  In previous games while you have to have the right experience level and items, it just seems a little over-complicated in ESOTU, so much so that I will skip crafting altogether and only partake when I really have too.  I also have an issue with stealing items in the game.  Yes you should get in trouble if seen (and stealing is bad regardless), but just about every guard knows what you’ve done and who you are.  Ok they may have mystical Elves and powerful Mages, but for a world that appears not to have the Internet or social media, word doesn’t half travel fast around Tamriel.  What makes this even more frustrating is when I just want to talk to an NPC and I accidently steal an item, which then causes a witch hunt, perhaps a “do you want to steal this item” kind of confirmation would help avoid this unjust predicament?

ESOTU is by far not the prettiest game on the new gen systems, but to be fair, it would be unfair to compare it to anything else, other than perhaps FF: A Realm Reborn.  If you go into the game thinking of it being to the visual standards of a HD remastered Skyrim (which should totally happen by the way), then you shouldn’t be too disappointed.  If this was a singleplayer RPG it would look much more polished, hopefully Fallout 4 will be a prime example of that.  You see, ESOTU is huge, really huge and even though I’ve provided an image of the world map in this review, until you’ve seen it first hand in-game, words or images cannot do it justice.

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Tamriel is a continent which features 9 countries (not counting any forthcoming DLC), with the likes of Cyrodill, Morrowind, Skyrim and more.  While I can’t provide exact numbers, by scouring the internet, it is said that it could take you a whopping 8 hours to walk from one side of the map to the other.  Not to mention the high player count populating the servers, so we can forgive ESOTU for not looking as good as some new gen games.

One of my favourite aspects of any Elders Scrolls game is the epic and enchanting soundtrack, and ESOTU is certainly no exception.  Jeremy Soule, who has composed the soundtrack for previous instalments, has only composed the main theme here.  But don’t let that put you off, because his influence has transcended over into the work of composers Brad Derrick and Rik Schaffer, while enforcing their own stamp into the series and the results are both epic and enchanting.

Continuing on with the wonderful sounds of The Elders Scrolls, it has also been a series that has featured quality voice-acting over the years and a big reason for that is due to the high profile cameos they often feature.  ESOTU includes the likes of John Cleese, Michael Gambon, Kate Beckinsale and wait for it, Mr Videogame Voice himself, none other than Troy Baker.  See if you can pick out any of the star-studded cast when you venture into Tamriel.

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Being new to the MMORPG scene, I was eager to begin my career with ESO.  Obviously following the many troubles of the original PC launch, the console version was delayed until the following year.  Despite having to wait, I was still looking forward to getting into the thick of the action.  While my experience has been somewhat enjoyable and I’ve barely scratched the surface as to what this game can offer (considering this genre of game could last you years), I have experienced some issues that may need improving, thankfully there is plenty of time to fix them.  Other then the clunky combat and not so easy to navigate menu system, the game was rife with server issues since launch in my experience.

With at least two sizable updates, it does seem to run a little smoother, but the servers still need improving as I do encounter some disconnections now and again.  However, I encountered more issues when my console was connected via wireless, but when I went wired the game ran far more smoothly. But despite its lengthy delay and updates, there’s still plenty of work to be done by developers ZeniMax before this game is what it should be and what fans have truly been waiting for.  Being an MMO n00b, I hear that technical problems are a common issue in this particular genre, especially considering how ambitious the games can be.  I just hope that I’m not waiting to much longer for this game to become the game it deserves to be, because this is the game I’ve been waiting years for and it’s a world that I desperately want to invest more time into.



Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake and you can check out my Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/solidus5nake