Review Link: http://www.gamespot.com/the-elder-scrolls-online/user-reviews/2200-12585572/
Pros: Immersive world. Great soundtrack. Fun PVP. Story driven. Unique talent system. Deep crafting system.
Cons: Poor combat. No auction house/difficult to sell & trade items. Lacks many tried and true mmo elements.
ESO is an extremely fun game once you get knee deep into it, even though it may feel a tad slow in the early goings. I had to get well into the game to really get into this mmo. But once I did, ESO did a good job of pulling me in and keeping me interested.
First off, Tamriel is a breath of fresh air. The design and music make it easy for you to get immersed inside this beautiful world. The questing is about what you would expect in an mmo and an Elder Scrolls game. NPC's are almost completely voice acted, which is a trend I wish to see continue in every mmo hence forth. As you would expect in both an mmo and an elder scrolls game, there are dungeons scattered about. And while they can be alot of fun, they also can be quite chaotic. I've had mixed experiences with the dungeons, but mostly I found they were pretty good. The negative is that bosses aren't guaranteed to drop loot but chests scattered about are. Every now and again, you'll have a unhelpful player join your group just to steal the loot in all chests. And sadly, you cannot kick a player from a dungeon in ESO. And, if you do kick a player from your group, they still remain in the dungeon, waiting patiently for you to clear trash so they can run by you and steal the chest ahead. This doesn't happen often but still often enough to get pretty frustrated over.
The worst mark on ESO however, is unfortunately the combat. The combat is similar to previous elder scrolls games. And, I would even say, a step backwards. Sorcery in my opinion is the most enjoyable however the melee combat leaves much to be desired. You could just as easily be swinging a stick around instead of your 12lb sword. There's just no weight to the melee combat. It's very floaty. And the hitboxes for Melee combat are inconsistent at best. You may find yourself right on top of an enemy swinging away but missing every time. Other moments, you may hit the enemy when you appear to be alittle out of range. You can never quite put your finger on where the sweet spot is. Also, attacking enemies doesn't ever seem to really have an effect aside from their health going down. This doesn't apply to knockbacks or things of that nature. But when you hit someone with an axe, you expect them to at least stagger or show the slightest bit of pain. Instead, like most mmos, they just continue running forward.
ESO doesn't feel like a full fledged mmo, which isn't a bad thing really. But all those who are entering this for mmo reasons, may feel disappointed. You could easily go the entire 50 levels without talking to anyone. And while the crafting is really deep, there is no auction house. Instead, you can shop at your guild's store. But while doing so you may realize that there is no search or sort function. And, there may be thousands of items listed. Leaving you to aimlessly turn page after page in the hopes that you will find the item you are looking for. This will have you literally cursing your monitor. You can also join up to 5 guilds but most do so only to increase their chances of buying and selling items. I find this to be a big negative. You have absolutely no feel of comradery with your guild mates. You're just there for their goods. And they are just there for yours. The lack of the auction house also leaves most game chat in disarray and constantly being spammed with items up for bid or worse, gold sellers. . All this unfortunately leaves the guild experience that we have all come to love about mmo's, utterly and completely in ruins.
On a brighter note however, the pvp in Cyrodiil is not only a highpoint of The Elder Scrolls Online, it's genuinely fresh and exciting. It can sort of be described like that of guild wars 2's massive pvp but with a much improved map, and where smaller units can make a big difference by flanking and ambushing. Pinning 3 factions against one another can have some very interesting results. Making each battle unique and satisfying. Here's where you may spend the far amount of your time. Cyrodiil is massively big with many points to attack as well as quests, towns, and the feeling that at any moment, you could be in grave danger. While Cyrodiil is nothing short of amazing, it's unfortunate that there is no true open world pvp in Elder Scrolls Online. With the 3 factions at war, it would have been a nice touch to be able to invade an enemy city or sack a small enemy town. But, that's just the sandbox pvp lover in me. And, I can see alot of other players not wanting to be bothered.
And the endgame... So far unfortunately, the endgame primarily consists of much more questing. Essentially, you finish 1/3 of the quests during your 1-50 slog. Then, you complete 2/3 of the quests in neighboring faction areas after 50. The more you quest at 50, the faster you'll rank your veteran level up. Be it, not very fast of course. End game gear requires a certain vet level. And, they are supposedly putting in the equivalent to raids sometime soon, and that will require a certain vet level as well. As of now, and even knowing that raids may be coming, it feels extremely grindy. Me personally...When I finish a long haul of questing..I don't want to be merely rewarded with more questing. It may make you take a deep long sigh after hitting level 50.
While this game is alot of fun(Cyrodiil especially)..I think there are many knocks against it. The biggest being that the combat just doesn't feel that good. And ESO fails in many respects as an mmo. It just doesn't feel like a social experience and it's very difficult to buy and trade goods. There are guilds, and you can belong to up to 5 of them, but you don't feel like you're really part of something because of this.
ESO is at it's best a single player rpg with multiplayer functionality. If you're looking for another skyrim however, then you'll probably be slightly disappointed. Because to make way for the "mmo" experience, they had to remove alot of the little things that make an Elder Scrolls game so great. I could see these points hurting both mmo fans and elder scrolls fans alike. And, both may feel a bit left out in the cold.
But all that being said, it's also not a bad single player experience at all. Infact if you can cease from holding it to the gold standard set by skyrim (with all your mods installed,) it's quite a great single player experience. Probably the best we've ever seen in an mmo. And personally, I've always wanted multiplayer functionality in my Elder Scrolls' games. And, that's just what this is. It's an Elder Scrolls game with multiplayer and mmo elements. And overall in that respect, it succeeds well. The world is vibrant, the music is great, and the pvp is loads of fun. And that's what I think you should hang your hat on. It's easy to get immersed and there are alot of really fun battles to be had.
Is it worth an additional $15/month subscription though? Only time will tell.