My first week and a bit with The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited was much like my first week with other MMO’s that I have played. It starts off with a steep but enjoyable learning curve as I fumble my way through its early content, constantly worried that I am making some irreversible mistake that I will come to regret in a few levels time.
When I first heard that ESO:TU was coming to consoles, I was pretty keen to give it a go. I was a big Skyrim fan, so the thought of a high resolution version of Skyrim but with buddies really appealed to me. This is probably why when I first started playing ESO:TU I was playing it LIKE Skyrim, which was a mistake.
Sneaking through the countryside hoping to get a sneak attack on some unsuspecting enemy and carefully placing the shot with my bow fully drawn back for maximum power… These are the things that got me killed quickly in ESO:TU, mainly because ESO:TU is NOT Skyrim..
The game gorgeous on the PS4 to be sure. The world is populated with plenty of NPC’s with quests to do and straying from the well beaten path will usually result in some sort of animal trying to take a bite out of you, but the finesse of sneaky archery is gone from ESO:TU. This is because ESO:TU is a MMO, and MMO’s have lag – and we all know what lag means for well placed headshots.
So how does ESO:TU combat this? Well like most MMO’s you get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to ranged combat. If you have the enemy targeted and you pull the shooty trigger, you have a pretty good chance of your shot hitting the target but don’t expect to one-hit everything. This was a massive paradigm shift for how I played ESO:TU, once I stopped playing it like Skyrim and started treating it as its own game, I started doing a heap better. Like all games, you need to learn how their system works before you can use it to your advantage.
The freedom of spamming and kiting enemies while using the third person mode to make sure I wasn’t falling off a cliff was a really enjoyable way to play the game. This system also got around the need for constantly using first person mode which I felt I needed to always be in to be an accurate archer. I was set free, like a well placed arrow from the darkness I was soaring directly to where I wanted to be – and I was having so much fun doing it.
Now, that’s not to say I was untouchable because I still died, quite a bit really, but it was mostly from being stuck in small houses/caves where my sneaky bastard mode wasn’t as effective. It also didn’t help being matched against enemies who wielded large two-handed weapons which would cricket bat my poor leather clad elf across the room on more than one occasion.
Thankfully I have figured out a way to combat that now, so its back to smooth sailing easy-mode of being the untouchable elf who shoots from the shadows and is gone before anyone realises that something has been stolen. Oh yeah, did I mention you can flat out steal pretty much everything that isn’t nailed down? Sadly that leads me to one of my biggest gripe with ESO:TU; Inventory management.
Inventory management has always been an issue with The Elder Scrolls games. You have less of a inventory ‘space’ and more a inventory ‘weight’. This isn’t to say it’s a bad way of managing all the things you have stolen, but it means that you can very quickly end up with a backpack full of apples and carrots which seem to have the same weight as a large two handed iron mace, which seems a bit unlikely. With this being said it’s a game set in a fantasy world full of dragons, orcs and what not, so who am I to say a carrot doesn’t weigh the same as a iron helmet.
It is still very early days for my character, I am yet to leave the starting ‘island / zone’, but I have unlocked a full skill bar, crafted my fair share of items and completed enough quests to make a quest journal say slow down there buddy I’m running out of pages! Leveling a character seems reasonable if not a little bit slow for my liking but it all comes from the quests progression. There seems to be little point (in terms of level progression) in going out into the world looking for things to kill.
At one point I found an infected village surrounded by pissed of wolves and bears, which I proceeded to farm for about 30mins. Now while this got me a truckload of animal hides, unfortunately it got me bugger all character XP. So keep that in mind if you get stuck on a quest and think “I know! I’ll go kill boars till I’m stacked!” because that won’t work very well. The game favours characters that find a consistent quest route rather than ones that farm boars.
I am yet to get to a stage where I am able to start doing some instanced dungeons with fellow ESO:TU players, which is something that I am very keen to get into. I think playing with friends or joining an established guild will yield the best results as it will be a shared experience where you can actually communicate with one another. Once you group up with someone, the quests become laughably easy (well all the early ones are) but as mentioned before I am still not at a stage where I can join some of the end game content.
ESO:TU has no monthly subscription by default, however there is a “Premium” option for those who want to speed up their leveling and get some sweet ESO:TU currency, which is like regular currency but now with added fun. It will set you back about $20 each month, but it gives you 1500 in ESO:TU fun bucks as well as a 10-15% boost in character & crafting progression. You can spend the ESO:TU fun bucks to get unique mounts, special vanity pets, a variety of fun costumes for your character, and convenience items like health potions and soul gems.
In all honesty, if I didn’t have to pay for PS+ to play this, I would probably pony up the money for Premium but I don’t really see the appeal at the moment. The best thing about ESO:TU not having a monthly subscription is that if you want to take a bit of a break to play new releases, you’re not wasting any pre-paid game time like with other MMO’s.
So there you go folks, that pretty much covers everything I know about ESO:TU for the PS4. It’s fun to play, looks great and is pretty easy to understand what is going on.