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The Elder Scrolls has been one of gaming’s most valued and impressive franchises throughout its lengthy, 20 plus year history. It’s had countless games and is known as one of the most mature and sophisticated RPGs out there, with a history and lore behind it that rivals most fantasy novels.
To put it into perspective, Elder Scrolls V was initially going to be a Game of Thrones game, but at the time, Bethesda was worried there wouldn’t be a big enough audience for the game, and while most companies would look back at this misstep as an epic failure, Bethesda instead made The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim which become one of the most successful games of all time.
As great as the series has always been, though, there has always been one thing it never had, and that was a multiplayer function. So many times, I’d be wandering the world of Skyrim and wish I could have a friend by my side in place of a Follower.
It seemed impossible to put this majestic world into an online space, and yet, just a few years after Skyrim launched, The Elder Scrolls Online appeared and made all of those wishes come true.
My experience with The Elder Scrolls Online isn’t quite the lengthy one that I have had with Skyrim, but it’s still one of the coolest worlds to explore, and while I mostly treat it as another single-player entry in The Elder Scrolls series, there is no denying that the PVP, Siege Battles, and questing is some of the best available in MMORPGs right now.
There is so much to know and explore about this world, so let’s jump into it and see if we can’t clear some of it up for you.
The places that The Elder Scrolls games take place in are always incredibly important as they’re not only where you’re going to be spending your time while playing, but they’re also what sets up the whole vibe of the game.
The Elder Scrolls Online takes place in Tamriel during the Interregnum era, which is essentially the Second Era of Tamriel’s history and long before the events of both Oblivion and Skyrim.
In the events preceding the game, the Necromancer Mannimarco has taken control of Tamriel through a devious plot, and the world of mortals has begun to fuse with the Daedric world of Coldharbour. You play as an unnamed hero called the Vestige, a person whose soul has been taken, and therefore, you gain the power of resurrection.
At the start of the game, you are killed by Mannimarco during a sacrificial ritual, and shortly after, you return to life in Coldharbour. There you find a man known as the Prophet, and with his help and Lyris Titanborn, who has been trapped there as well, you return to Tamriel and begin your journey in this fractured world.
The Alliance War
It’s not an Elder Scrolls game without a war going on, and the one that takes center stage here is the Alliance War. This is a war between three playable factions in the Aldmeri Dominion, Daggerfall Covenant, and the Ebonheart Pact.
Each is built up of different races and ideals, and you are free to join whichever one you’d like; just know that you are declaring yourself an enemy of the other two when you do this. This is a storyline that plays out alongside the main one, much like the Civil War in Skyrim worked.
Aside from the main Alliance War, there are several Factions you can ally yourself with as well, and each one has a ton of unique quests for you to undertake.
The Fighter’s Guild are basically mercenaries for hire, but they are dedicated to their mission to destroy Molag Bal’s army in Tamriel. Because of this, you’ll be taking on a lot of Molag Bal‘s minions during these missions. The leader of the Fighter’s Guild goes by the name Sees-All-Colors.
The Mage’s Guild makes its return in The Elder Scrolls Online, and here you’ll be going on missions that emphasize the supernatural aspects of the game, and along the way, you’ll be discovering old books and lore as well as acquiring new and powerful spells to use. Venus Galerion is the leader of this guild.
New to the series are the Undaunted, who are a collection of brave mercenaries who aim to discover all the riches and achieve all the glory at whatever cost. They are one of the only Factions that does not have a leader.
The Thieves Guild has always been one of the most unique guilds in The Elder Scrolls games, and here it makes a triumphant return as well. These are a band of sketchy characters made up of thieves, smugglers, and general mischief causes. They are out for one thing and one thing only, riches. They are willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve that.
These quests generally have you sneaking around somewhere you shouldn’t be and rob people of their precious items. They have no leader.
Everyone’s favorite guild is back for more fun in the shadows. The Dark Brotherhood has feared assassins who take on assassination contracts from anyone that performs the ritual known as the Black Sacrament. Their missions generally have you going out and completing assassination missions of various degrees of difficulty. They are led by the terrifying presence known as the night mother.
The Psijic Order is a presence that has been spoken of and has impacted several games in the series, but they’ve never been as present as they are in The Elder Scrolls Online.
Here, these ancient scholars are involved in all forms of mysticism. They will send you on the most bizarre quests in the game, and they have some of the most interesting lore to learn about as well.
Exploring The World
For the first time ever, you have access to pretty much the entire continent of Tamriel. The majority of the games took place in individual provinces of it, but now, the whole continent is available to explore.
That means Hammerfell, Valenwood, the Realms of Coldharbour, Cyrodiil, and High Rock are all completely explorable. In addition to that, Skyrim even came in the Greymoor DLC, so essentially every area throughout all of the Elder Scrolls games have come together into one game, and that fact is just astounding.
The size of the zones obviously isn’t as big as their singular titled games had them, but there’s still a to explore in them. Each zone is about 3 square kilometers in size, and Cyrodiil is the biggest, coming in at 27 square kilometers, so compared to other games in the series, this one is simply enormous and has hours and hours of exploration for you to do.
Before an update in 2016, zones restricted you to where your level was at that point in the game. They didn’t block you out completely, but they would send challenging enemies at you that were basically impossible to kill, so it served the same purpose.
Since that update, you can now travel the entire world at any time regardless of what level you currently are at. The game accommodates this through level scaling, and that means the game world is just one linear difficulty throughout the game, much like other games in the series had done prior.
With a world this big, you’re going to need ways to get around it in, and while it can be nice to just walk around and take in the amazing scenery around you that’s filled with secrets to explore, sometimes you just want to get somewhere as fast as possible.
One option to do this is with mounts. Your choices here are horses, wolves, bears, guar, and senche. Each mount starts with identical stats, but from there, you can train them to be faster and have more stamina as well as having more item capacity as well.
You have to feed them food and train them and also purchase training books to make them level up more as well. Caring for your mounts will make traveling a lot easier, and it builds up a nice little bond in what can sometimes feel like a very overwhelming world.
If you don’t have a mount yet, or you just prefer getting around on your own between places, you can always opt for the Fast Travel option. This works a bit differently compared to previous games, and in The Elder Scrolls Online, you have to use Wayshrines to travel around.
Each area has tons of Wayshrines to teleport to, and if you go from Wayshrine to Wayshrine, the cost is free, but traveling to one from a random place will cost some gold to do so, so keep that in mind and only travel to one in the wild if you’re truly desperate.
If you’re in Cyrodiil, though, Fast Travel works a bit differently. You need to travel to the keeps and outposts that your chosen Alliance War Faction holds, and from there, you can travel where they have power.
That means that opposing areas cannot be accessed by Fast Travel, so you’ll have to enter these at your own risk on foot, and doing so can lead to some very challenging combat scenarios.
As is customary with any Elder Scrolls game, you need to create your character at the start of this one. You have a large variety of options here, and it can be difficult to figure out how one class is going to play vs. another. There are six classes available for you to choose from. These include Dragonknight, Sorcerer, Templar, Nightblade, Warden, and Necromancy, and each one is completely unique.
These classes give you three exclusive skills, but after that, they can be customized in any manner you’d like. If you want to be a Templar that sneaks around, you’re well and able to do so.
When it comes to how the classes play, they are a bit different than your typical Warrior, Mage, Archer designations, and instead, they’re all different mixes of the classic roles we’ve seen in RPGs for years. Figuring out which one is right for you has to do with figuring out which role you want to play.
In MMORPGs, there are typically three roles for players to play. Tanks, damage dealers, and healers. Each one has to stick to their role if they want to be successful, so knowing your role and tailoring your character class to it is very important.
For example, if you’re in a party of two, you are going to want a class that is good at doing two things, so a Templar who can heal and deal damage would be a good choice there.
Regardless of the class you choose, you can build your character in any way you want to. You can create a magic archer out of a Dragonknight or a fierce melee combatant out of a Necromancer. The only thing holding you back here is your own effort and imagination.
Despite being an MMORPG, the combat here is completely real-time and heavily reminiscent of an upgraded version of Skyrim’s combat. You have a lot of ways to engage with enemies here, and they include light attacks, heavy attacks, bashing with your shield, blocking with your shield or weapons, sneaking, abilities and spells.
There are no behind-the-scenes dice rolls determining whether you hit an enemy or not here. In this game, anything you do or archive in combat, you have to manually do it.
In order to be effective here, you need to understand what your role is in combat; if you’re a damage dealer, you should emphasize your stronger melee attacks, and if you’re a healer, hang back use long attacks to keep enemies from swarming you.
Managing your stamina is particularly important for melee users as they rely on it to perform their most damaging attacks. Don’t be afraid to consume a potion or two while fighting, as you’ll come across some pretty long and drawn-out battles during your time with the game.
Your abilities are unlocked in the level-up menu through skills points. These can be earned in a variety of ways. Storyline quests, getting Skyshards, ranking up in PVP encounters, and increasing your character level all give you skill points to use in your ability lines.
Each ability line has its own level, and the level of a particular skill gets increased every time you use abilities in that particular skill line. That means the more you focus on one of these lines, the more you’ll use them and the faster you’ll level up because of it.
While most skill lines level up that way, some are completely unique, and ones like Soul Magic only level up through progression in the main storyline.
You can have six abilities ready to use at any point in the game, and the 6th one is an unusable slot that is reserved for an ultimate ability. These ultimate abilities are achieved by getting ultimate points, and they can be gotten through just attacking various enemies.
You can also swap weapons once you reach level 15, and this allows you to equip multiple weapons at once, so if you have a fast enemy, maybe you’ll want a faster weapon and vice versa for a slow one.
The weapons in The Elder Scrolls Online are pretty varied. You’ve got many options for two-handed weapons, one-handed, dual wield, bows, destruction staffs, and restoration staffs as well.
In addition to your normal weapons, though, you also have the special attacks that come with every class in the game. Each class has three that you can use, and each has a different effect. Here’s what’s available with each class.
Dragonknight can use Ardent Flame, Draconic Power, and Earthen Heart. Each of these attacks is powerful in its own way, and you can often find them being the reason for the tide turning in battle.
Templars can use the Aedric Spear, Restoring Light, and Dawn’s wrath. This gives the Templar a varied approach in battle, and you can either deal big damage here or decide to hang back and use Restoring Light and Dawn’s Wrath.
Sorcerers have access to some of the most powerful attacks in the game. Aside from the normal spells that every class is able to learn, the Sorcerer has Dark Magic, Daedric Summoning, and Storm Calling attacks to rely on as well.
The Daedric Summoning, in particular, comes in handy and can help even the odds in a second when you find yourself overwhelmed.
Nightblades are basically the assassins of this game, and for the players that like to conduct their work in the shadows, the Nightblade has the perfect arsenal to do so.
You’ve got Assassination, Shadow, and Siphoning in terms of extra skills to work with here, and for the player that likes the less direct approach to combat, you will find a lot to like with the Nightblade.
Wardens are some of the most fearsome warriors in combat because they have the ability to befriend animal companions who can be incredibly important and helpful in combat.
You have Animal Companions, Green Balance, and Winter’s Embrace here to stack on top of the Warden’s considerable strength and defense, and this makes the Warden a formidable class to deal with.
Necromancers are the ultimate class for players who want to play on their own. The simple reason behind that is that you can create a party of your own using little more than your skills.
Grave Lord, Bone Tyrant, and Living Death are all incredibly helpful skills, and some will add spiritual or undead companions to your cause. So level up a bit, and you’ll have an undead part at your side.
Siege Weapons are weapons needed when attacking or defending keeps within Cyrodiil. They come in 5 forms. Flaming oil, Battering rams, Ballistae, catapults, and trebuchets.
The projectile weapons here, such as the ballistae, catapult, and trebuchet, all have alternate effects that can be added to them, such as flaming trebuchets.
Player vs Player (PVP)
Everyone was very curious about how the PVP would be in an Elder Scrolls game due to its less than glowing combat criticism over the past few titles, but luckily, PVP in The Elder Scrolls Online is some of the best out there. You won’t have access to it until you get past level 10, but once you do, the whole game opens up.
I mentioned earlier that you can pick a side in the Alliance War. That’s not only just to have access to the various items and such that each side provides, but it’s also to get you ready to engage in the PVP. See, keeps are set up all over the place throughout Cyrodiil, and a lot of these will often be enemy Faction keeps that are defended by actual players.
Usually, small parties can overcome these areas and take them over, but sometimes, it’s a large force, and you’ll need a similarly large force to match it.
When that happens, siege weapons become needed, and you’ll be part of a massive battle where you’ll likely be assigned commands via another player. These fights are incredible and can be drawn out for hours if a team is good enough.
As far as sieges go, these are the best I’ve ever experienced in gaming, and while they aren’t that common, they change the game up in such an awesome way that I always welcome them when they appear.
Once you win or lose, your Faction will either gain or lose that battleground, and the result will give you either more or less land because of it. There is usually constant action going on here, so you’ll rarely find a dull moment in the lands of Cyrodiil.
At any given moment, hundreds of players can be in the land of Cyrodiil, and that includes the open areas, dungeons, ruins, houses, and more. You can engage these players however you choose to in a game. You can duel them or try and kill them from afar, but you can also be ambushed yourself, so always be prepared for a fight when wandering Cyrodiil.
Furthering the PVP content are campaigns. These last 30 days at a time for your main campaign and 14 days at a time for a guest campaign that you have entered with friends. Here, you will see leaderboards to see how your campaign is doing and the winner after the number of days passes gets a ton of gold.
During the campaign, you can rank up within your Faction, and each time you do, you get a new title in the Faction, a skill point, a new icon on your gamer tag, and on occasion, a new armor dye as well. These are not attainable easily, though, so be prepared to fight for your Faction for a long time if you are expecting to rank up.
In addition to ranking up, you can also achieve the ultimate rank possible and become the Emperor of Cyrodiil. In order to become Emperor, your Faction has to control the 6 keeps that surround the Imperial City, all at the same time. Once this is achieved, the player at the top of the leaderboards becomes the Emperor.
As Emperor, you enjoy a number of awesome bonuses and not only that, but your Faction remembers will all receive an extra 2500 health your time as Emperor. You will also get a new title and a new armor, though it’s strictly cosmetic.
You can lose the emperor title by losing control of all 6 keeps. As long as you have one, though, you will still remain Emperor.
Player vs Enemy (PVE)
While you can fight your fellow online players as much as you want, eventually, you’re likely going to do some story missions or go exploring dungeons on your own, and it’s there you will face the fearsome creatures of Tamriel. There are over 150 dungeons in the game, and that’s not including group dungeons.
When you get to a high enough level, Veteran dungeons are unlocked and provide some of the toughest challenges in the game.
In addition to the dungeons, Adventure Zones are available for players level 50 and up. These are massive public dungeons available for 4 or more players, and each one has multiple dungeons inside them to explore, storylines to explore, quests to take on, gigantic World Bosses to fight, and plenty of other world events happening as well.
The enemies in this game are incredibly varied, and the amount you will face pretty much triples any of the previous games. You will see unique enemies in each location you travel to, and that helps the feeling of you traveling to these faraway lands. Be ready to face some never before seen terrors in the world of the Elder Scrolls.
The Elder Scrolls Online has enjoyed a good amount of DLC since its initial release, and each one has added in another land from one of the series past games. All listed DLC has been released.
The Imperial City
This DLC added in a massive amount of story content, 2 huge zones, new dungeons, and more. It focused on PVP content and created a whole other dimension for that aspect of the game.
Orsinium was another massive DLC that added the huge Wrothgar region to the game and added 20 hours of story content as well. It also gave us a single-player arena, reminiscent of the one found in Oblivion. On top of all of that, new dungeons, weapons, and characters were abound as well.
As the name implies, this added the famous Thieves Guild into the game. It includes new lands, new quests, and most importantly, the Thieves guild as a joinable faction.
The Dark Brotherhood
The Dark Brotherhood brings the creepy cult into the game for the first time, and with it came tons of story content, new skills, and so many more features. Taking on these quests is an awesome experience online as other players can always throw a wrinkle in The Dark Brotherhood’s devious plans.
Shadows of the Hist
This DLC doesn’t add any new zones, but it does add Argonian themed dungeons to the game in normal and veteran content forms. It also adds in the ability to change your character’s appearance and adds the amazing addition of capturable towns into Cyrodiil. This DLC made the Alliance War feel all the more immersive because of it.
This DLC added the legendary map of Skyrim into The Elderscrolls Online and directly continues the game’s story is an awesome blast of nostalgia that is as must play as any DLC on this list.
Just like in Elder Scrolls games of the past, you can murder, steal and rob to your heart’s content. The difference here is that the guards are impossible to kill, so unless you can fully run away from them or stun them, they will kill you eventually.
It’s not just the guards you have to worry about when committing crimes, though, as many players enjoy policing the world of Tamriel, and they will hunt you down with the guards without hesitation.
While there are plenty of NPC-controlled guilds in the game, player guilds are some of the most fun, and if a guild controls a keep, they can essentially open up shop there. This is the equivalent of clans in other MMORPG games, and it’s an awesome thing to be part of here.
Armors can sometimes look good but end up being unappealing aesthetically because of a weird color being used. In The Elder Scrolls Online, you can die your armor over 250 colors, and each one has different requirements to get.
Question: How Many Players are in Each Map?
Answer: There can be hundreds in each server, so if you’re looking for an awesome online experience, this is one of the best out there.
Question: Can You Play by Yourself?
Answer: While it is an online game, you are free to completely play on your own if you’d like. Most of the quests can be completed on your own and it’s really only the super bosses of the world and public dungeons that require cooperation between players.
Question: How Long is Elder Scrolls Online?
Answer: Considering that Elder Scrolls Online is still getting updates and new DLC every few months, its safe to say this is a game worth 200 hours plus of gameplay at the moment, with tons more to come in the future. Elder Scrolls Online is a resounding hit, and Bethesda supports it accordingly.
Elder Scrolls Online Overview: Conclusion
There is a lot to get with Elder Scrolls Online, but it all is necessary to know, and it adds up to one of the best MMORPG experiences out there. Hopefully, this guide helps you get started in Tamriel, and I look forward to seeing you out there on the field.