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The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited – Progress Report: The First Few Hours

by William Schwartz

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The Elder Scrolls Online has finally made its way to consoles via Tamriel Unlimited. It hopes to change console MMOS, and capitalize on the large Elder Scrolls fan base. I was able to sit down and play it for a few hours and I found it enjoyable thus far, but not without a few flaws that hopefully will be worked out in the coming weeks.

As many launches, the launch of an MMO is no different as ESO has been plagued with several server and login issues. I was able to play at 11pm PST at launch, but all I saw was menus for a good fifteen to twenty minutes as the servers were over trafficked at the time. Over time it has been worked out as Zenimax & Bethesda clearly were not ready for the influx of users on day one for consoles.

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Nevertheless, I finally was able to log in and create my Redguard Nightblade whom sided with the Daggerfall Covenant faction. The Imperial class allows for more freedom of choice for the player to side with any faction they wish, but is only available via the special editions of the game or a separate purchase. Factions not only change the story slightly for the player by allowing them to support different groups, but it also determines if you can play with your friends. So remember, if you choose to be Aldmeri Dominion, you better hope your best friend did too or you won’t be playing together.

The character creation is deep and expansive as one would expect from an Elder Scrolls title and as is the usual with Elder Scrolls, you start out in a prison. This time in what is essentially Hell, and with your soul stolen. After coming too, you are shortly freed and go on an epic quest across the world battling evil. The story really is cut and dry, but for those invested in the lore it is a deep and interesting ride. The voice acting is top notch and that tends to make it all the more bearable.

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After you spend around an hour or so in a purgatory-like Hell, you manage to escape after fighting a menacing boss with an NPC at your side. Fans will come to realize they had it good, because once you enter Tamriel the games massive size starts to show its PC roots. I found myself stuttering several times and although it may not be a deal breaker, it can sometimes take you away from the atmosphere of the game or being an MMO, affect your performance. Bugs are not the only thing hindering this monster train, the loot system is too.

Most people are aware of the ‘stealing’ ability that you can do in all Elder Scrolls titles. Now you also have to worry about replenishing chests, drawers, crates and more. These are set on a timer and shared with the thousands of people on the server, so not only will you have to find treasure, but hope to find it first. It’s pretty upsetting to fight through the forest looking to get to a chest just to realize that someone already looted its contents. Sharing of loot like that without being in a party is rather upsetting for an MMO and I found I was left rather salty. Dungeons & solo instances are different so this is problem is strictly for the world based chests. I wish they can remedy this with a future update so people won’t just go around and farm every cache item in the game, but I doubt it is high on the priority list for Bethesda.

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After my short stint in Daggerfall doing a quest or two, I was able to take a boat to a desert area, Stros M’Kai. I embraced this new area, as I quickly came to realize that ESO has the similar structure is that of other Elder Scrolls titles. Meaning, that you will never be short on quests to do. I kept finding new lore books, gained experience from reading books on shelves and finding random quests just by walking around and inspecting various objects. In the few hours I was able to play, I was only able to reach level five. I ended my time having handed in a golden crown for a pair of leggings and preparing to enter a fun little solo story instance. So I hope to talk more about that next time, after I get a few days under my belt.

Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited was able to get me excited about MMORPG’s again. Hopefully, fans will have plenty more to be excited about as they continue to roll out updates for the game. In my next progress report I hope to explore the ESO’s deep crafting system a bit and what my first dungeon experience was like.

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