A lot of folks are excited for The Elder Scrolls Online, but just as many are understandably wary about an MMO adaptation of the beloved series of RPGs. There is reason to be worried, for sure, but here I’m going to give a handful of reasons for why fans of the series will be happy diving into Bethesda’s latest epic.
1. It’s three games in one.
There are three factions in TESO: the Aldmeri Dominion, the Ebonheart Pact and the Daggerfall Covenant. Each of these groups has their own dedicated territory for questing and leveling, and so for the folks who just want to have a regular Elder Scrolls solo adventure there are three of them here. They do all start in the same spot — the underworld of Cold Harbour — but after the first 10 or 15 minutes the faction you’ve chosen will dictate where in Tamriel you’ll end up when you leave. There is an overarching story that each faction shares, but of course what you do within them does change based on faction.
The chief benefit of the separate areas, though, is choice. If you don’t like or get tired of your corner of the world or wish you were hanging out with khajit instead of orcs, then you can just flip to a different toon in a different faction and get a unique experience.
2. Michael Gambon.
The plot that all faction choices share has your toon being led around by The Prophet, who is voice by Michael Gambon. We’re all intimately familiar with the sort of slow, stilted line delivery that is a staple of the Elder Scrolls series even from the name actors Bethesda always hires, but I’ve found there’s usually one person who does some real acting. In TESO, that person is the great Michael Gambon. So while it may be a little disappointing to hear Kate Beckinsale speak in a monotone for many, many conversations, Gambon shows up often enough to liven things up.
3. There’s so much to do.
In addition to questing, there are other things to do as you wander about the world. Crafting is of course prominently featured, and if you want to stop on the beach and go fishing then more power to ya. These are time-consuming activities, by the way — you’ll have to assign time to them outside of just questing, because the occasional impromptu attempt to make yourself a better staff and catch the good fish isn’t likely to turn out the way you’d want it to. Maybe dicking around with a forge in Skyrim worked all right, but the side activities in TESO are a bit more involved.
4. This is an Elder Scrolls story.
There are more cues that you’re playing an MMO than just other players running around the world, but in general the experience of leveling in TESO feels pretty similar to doing so in Skyrim or Oblivion. All the NPCs in the game that I encountered were voiced, and conversations and presentation are about what you would expect from an offline Elder Scrolls title.
The reason that works is that TESO has seamless instancing. Whereas the world in SWTOR — that other big story-focused MMO — is completely the same for every player and can be affected in the same ways by every players outside of the clearly marked quest instances in which only you and your party will exist, TESO will change parts of the world for you as you progress. You may walk through an area that looks normal, and then an hour later when you have to return there for a quest find that there are now enemies scattered about, or vice versa with enemies persisting before the quest and then being cleared afterward. Quest-givers also move in these instances instead of being static in the shared world.
TESO isn’t exactly a perfect copy of an Elder Scrolls game of the past, however, and there will be aspects of how it functions that could turn off longtime fans. To find out what those are, check out 4 Reasons TESO May Annoy Fans.