The Elder Scrolls Online: A First Hour Mini-Review

The_Elder_Scrolls_OnlineI thought I’d deliver an initial verdict on The Elder Scrolls Online. Its been a hectic weekend so I’ve only played the TESO beta for a little over an hour, hence the title of the review. So no flaming with ‘but you barely checked out the game!!’ comments. I have no doubt the bigger and better quests are further down the track, but all MMOs live or die on their initial areas, so but here’s my impressions for what they’re worth:

Character creation:  Love it, lots of customisation options (although some don’t appear to be working quite yet), but you can skip them if you want to get set up quickly. I like the number of classes on offer too.

Graphics: TESO copped a hammering from the gaming community based on early leaked footage. Like many others have already said, TESO has come a long way from then and I liked the graphics a lot. Some of the facial features on NPCs are a little bit bland but that may improve further by launch. Loading times for screens seemed very good and I did enjoy the lighting and atmospherics I saw.

Sound: Kudos for both the soundtrack and atmospheric sounds – lots to like here.

Interface: Making a judgement on this is a hard one as I’m guessing a lot of people will like it, but I for one HATE the ‘point your mouse / reticule in the direction you want to go’ style of gameplay. I find it hard on the eyes even with a decent mouse and it doesn’t allow the level of free movement that I like. That said, it does making visual scanning of your surrounds a lot easier. As I said, I think I’m in the minority here, but this is one of the main reasons I won’t be playing TESO ongoing.

Gameplay: this isn’t a criticism, just a fact – TESO is another bog standard questing MMO. For Elder Scrolls fans, I have no doubt you’ll be enjoying the storyline. For me as a first-timer to the franchise, it neither disappointed or impressed me. I like the speed of conversations with NPCs and although the map looks terribly generic in the beta, I’m sure that’ll improve. The mouse-aiming interface annoyed me for combat but again I’m guessing I’m in the minority. Nothing particularly innovative in the quests, but again that’s standard MMO fare.

Performance: I’m impressed with the frame rate and speed of the game overall – I was using the Mac version and it seemed to run much better than WoW for me, and streets ahead of SWTOR and The Secret World, though given I run them on a virtual box it’s not a fair comparison.

Overall impressions: This is a solid MMO, but for me there’s nowhere near enough interesting stuff in it for me to pay a subscription. For our New Zealand readers, you’re being scalped on the subscription price as well. Even if my unreasonable hatred of the reticule / mouse pointing  system weren’t an issue, I can’t see me playing this game ongoing – there’s just nothing unique for me to get excited about. For someone new to MMOs or a long time fan of the franchise – you should have a close look at TESO.

More impressions from the whole team next week on the podcast.

Did you play the open beta? What did you think?



The Elder Scrolls Online: New Zealanders Beware of Currency SNAFU

The evil Euro monster

The evil Euro monster

Today we had an interesting email come in from a New Zealand based gamer, who like a lot of people is gearing up for the launch of The Elder Scrolls Online.  It seems that New Zealanders are being billed in Euros:

After some back and forth with Customer Support at Zenimax I have found it’s now their policy to charge all New Zealand people their subscription fees and cost of game as well, in EUROS rather than in our own currency or in USD (both would be much cheaper for us).

Obviously it’s odd to charge us in EUROS anyway, we’re nowhere near Europe, plus it not converting very nicely for us to our own currency.

Here’s what we’re getting overcharged –

Subscription fees each month (we’ll be getting charged in EUROS) –

12.99 EUR = 21.422623 NZD

14.99 USD= 17.991116 NZD

So that’s a difference of almost $4 a month we’re being overcharged.

The cost of the game for me was 79.99 EUR = 131.920763 NZD whereas I should’ve paid – 79.99 USD = 96.006686 NZD – so I got overcharged around $36 NZD as well.

Customer Service has told me this is absolute and they are not planning on changing it any time soon (if ever).

Tried getting some attention in the beta forums and while a ZOS staff member passed by the post and edited out the @names of ZOS staff members I has added into the OP (she edited them out so they didn’t trigger notifications to other ZOS staff members) she did not bother answering the thread, so all out of avenues for getting help/getting this sorted for New Zealand people.

Need someone to draw attention to this situation for the New Zealand people. We are obviously a small country and probably not worth paying attention to on a financial level…so yeah, basically this is why we need some help and support. We’re going to be horribly overcharged every month and nobody cares to fix it.

In addition, the NZ gamer received a formal response from Zenimax Customer Support:

Greetings XXXX
Thanks you very much for your patience with this issue.
Due to NZ$ not being supported for now we can not give you an different option then to pay the game and the subscription fee in Euros. I’m aware that this is not the answer you were hoping for and I’m very sorry not to be able to help you with this.
Should we support New Zealand dollars at some point in the future we’ll update the storefront at for the appropriate regions.
I would be happy to help you with any further questions.
See you in Tamriel
[name of support staff member was here]
The Elder Scrolls Online Team

So it sounds like it’s going to take a bigger groundswell of support to get any consideration of a change. We’d be interested in hearing from any other New Zealanders – is this decision going to be a deal-breaker for you?

Elder Scrolls Online: Bring It On

Elder Scrolls OnlineMy first foray into the Elder Scrolls series came in 2002 when I purchased Morrowind on the Xbox. I’ve always been a fan of RPG’s (especially sandbox ones) so when I got home from work (I was with EBGames at the time) I put in the disc and I haven’t stopped playing the series since.

When it was announced that there would be an Elder Scrolls MMO I was immediately interested (I won’t lie I may have cheered and danced a little jig). The release of the recent cinematic reinforced my excitement* (see below)

This is a franchise steeped in lore, possibly moreso than any other currently on the market. This can be both a blessing and a curse, as there are certain things that “have” to occur in the Elder Scrolls timeline which can make it difficult for creating a truly unique online experience for gamers. As with Star Wars: The Old Republic, The Elder Scrolls Online is set at a time before the game we know and love. It is set approximately 800 years before Morrowind and 1000 years before Skyrim. This means that it is set in a well-established period of Elder Scrolls lore, but Tamriel is a big place and Bethesda has proven that they can deliver strong lore-based games before.

The game itself has been in  development since 2007; meaning that Zenimax had five years of development prior to the announcement of the game. It also allowed them to work alongside the Skyrim team during development, helping to ensure that the world of Skyrim will translate into the Online medium smoothly. Indeed it appears that all of Tamriel will be open to players for the first time, allowing us to revisit many of our favourite locations such as Morrowind, Skyring and Cyrodiil.

In addition we will encounter a number of familiar enemies such as the Daedroth:


The Storyline of Elder Scrolls Online will encompass the struggles of three factions: The Daggerfall Covenant, the Ebonheart Pact, and the Aldmeri Dominion as they take up arms and fight for control of Cyrodiil, the Imperial City, and the throne of Tamriel. At the same time, the factions will be attempting to counter the machinations of the Daedric Prince Molag Bol. Zenimax currently plan to enforce race restrictions on each of the three factions, limiting the playable races for each one. Already there is a lot of pressure from the ESO community to remove this restriction, the primary argument being that it takes away from the freedom found in previous Elder Scrolls games for the player to largely decide who they fight for. It also severely limits the roleplaying options for those so inclined.

Personally, I hope they retain the restrictions –  it is a simple fact of MMO gaming that races are commonly restricted to specific factions and given the basis of the storyline supplied so far by Zenimax and Bethesda it certainly fits with the lore we are dealing with.

So, there are the very basics of what we know so far about Elder Scrolls Online, so much more can be found on their website with their weekly Developer questions and a number of videos that easily explain the political situation and tensions that can be found in the game. I encourage anyone who is interested in the game to check it out.

You can also find out more about; and sign up for the beta here.

*The trailer: