It may have been a rocky road, but we can say with confidence that The Elder Scrolls Online is finally the best way to explore the lands, cultures, and peoples of Tamriel.
Now, five years after its initial launch ESO has finally come into its own with a level of quality that rivals even most Bethesda games. And by that, we mean that it’s virtually bug-free.
It seems like a strange boon to lead with, but it’s true.
Although there is much, much more to the game than just the technical nitty-gritty, it’s with a sigh of deep appreciation that we find ourselves romping about the lands of the Elder Scroll mythos without losing out shit every time a saved game decides to have an aneurysm.
As the only MMO in the franchise, ESO escapes many of the technical issues that its predecessors suffered from and instead plays to its strengths as one of the more free-form fantasy MMORPGs out there.
We must acknowledge, however, that our time with the game comes much later in its lifespan when many of the game-breaking bugs have already been ironed out.
Notwithstanding, the ESO experience now is one of unbridled curiosity, exploration, and – of course – first person sword fighting, spellcasting, and good old-fashioned stealth archer sniping.
Ironically enough, even the things that die-hard series veterans initially complained about has proven to be a choice for the better – hell, even Skyshards are an optional mod inside of Skyrim now.
While the game does boast a hefty amount of end-game content for the traditionally minded MMO gamer, to us, ESO never stopped feeling like the advancement of the classic Elder Scrolls formula.
The zones are massive, sweeping, and filled to the brim with stories to watch unfold, ruins and the remains of ancient civilizations, and of course: more brigands, opportunists, and general flavorful characters.
Taking a step into a new zone is always like beginning a brand new book – filled with interwoven plotlines, characters of a vast assortment of alignments, intentions, and often clashing ideals that just can’t wait to rope you into their next round of lethal gossip.
Zenimax has found out that the best way to reinvent stale MMO quest text is by just keeping the standard Elder Scrolls formula and just letting people meet up with friends.
And that is, ultimately, what The Elder Scrolls Online is. Only what it claims to be: another Elder Scrolls Game – just online.
For the most part, the suspension of disbelief that you’re some sort of chosen anything isn’t diminished by seeing other players flock about as you go about your merry way – because the series has always thrust you from nameless prisoner to savior of [insert local town/race/faction/here].
Thankfully that’s not an issue once you’re teaming up with pals to tackle the most difficult and challenging PvE and PvP combat has to offer.
While the PvE is no slouch, the PvP takes the cake for us. Reminiscent of Dark Age of Camelot, swarming over the imperial city in a tri-faction war while manually aiming to fling fireballs is just a whole hell of a lot of fun.
Despite the already massive amount of content in the game, ESO has shaped up – and continues to shape up – to be the definitive Elder Scrolls Experience.
If the developers and players get their wishes, ESO will be the only game in the series to feature every single province in Tamriel.