For the first time in the history of the hugely successful Elder Scrolls franchise, the action has moved from PC and Mac to consoles and it also goes online. The story is set around 1000 years ago, before the events of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and prior to the rise of Tiber Septim, the first Emperor of Tamriel. It begins with Three Alliances having emerged across the continent, each of whom are struggling for supremacy. As the battle rages between the Alliances for control of the Imperial City, even darker forces are converging and planning to destroy the world. That’s where we come in, I guess.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited for PS4 brings all the gameplay from the original game for PC and Mac and if you’ve already made progress on either of those platforms then you will be able to port across your completed gameplay to PS4. You may, however, wish to begin from scratch as there are new zones available and, with a multitude of new players, it could be kind of fun to start at the beginning along with all the other newbies. As ever, the decision is down to you good folks. Bear in mind however, that, as a new massively multiplayer online game, there are, therefore, masses of people trying to get online to play at the same time as each other. This fact did, unfortunately, affect the quality and speed of gameplay shortly after the game’s launch which arguably shouldn’t have happened. When you do get online to meet them all, too, be prepared for lots of ‘em – tons of ‘em, all waiting to discover what you’re waiting to discover. This is either the ideal style of gameplay for you, or your worst nightmare.
Another piece of news which I at least consider of the ‘good’ variety is that the subscriptions have now been ditched, meaning that you’ll pay around 45 quid and that’s it – no additional monthly costs, which has to be a welcome bonus for all of you considering making the switch to the console version. Pay for the game, and you’ll have immediate access to the entire game and all of the quests and challenges contained therein. Now, it’s not quite as simple as that, as you can if you wish purchase additional (optional) DLC game packs, or you can opt to subscribe to the premium membership service, ESO Plus. The latter option will give you access to all major DLC game packs, as well as in-game bonuses and a monthly allotment of crowns to spend in the new in-game Crown store (and it’s not a paint shop…). So, it’s either a one-off fee which is touted as being marvellous, or there are additional marvellous add-ons which you can buy. Again, s’up to you.
The game itself, then, leaves much up to you with regards how you approach it. On the one hand you can battle, steal or lay siege or on the other hand you could fish, craft or explore. I imagine you could see what sort of mood you’re in each time you press ‘start’. Anyway, the way you approach the game will allow you to customise your abilities and, in the producer’s words, ‘adventure on your own terms’.
I think it’s safe to say that fans of the franchise will forgive the early shortcomings of this version, namely the problems of the massively multiplayer online format itself. Other teething problems include voiceover issues (a rabble of players online at the same time leads to a rabble of noise) and intermittent lag.
Yes, these problems really should have been foreseen and ironed out pre-launch, but focus on the good stuff – this is a massively successful franchise, with a great pedigree. The current version comes with a ton, over 100 hours of gameplay, and so on balance I reckon it is probably worth persevering with the initial teething problems. After all, as a massively complex game this surely suggests that, once you get into it, you’ll be truly hooked.