All jokes aside, my previous article on Elder Scrolls Online was a very accurate portrayal of my experience. Or rather, the lack of an experience that wasn’t me half-drunk watching Daredevil for the third time. Seriously, if you haven’t, fucking watch Daredevil.
In all fairness, the technical issues with the servers are now fixed. Not once since two days after launch have I experienced this problem. Bethesda had a legitimate issue and they promptly remedied it, so all in all, they’re more on top of it than most other companies. With that said—and twenty hours of me aimlessly meandering around Tamriel—it’s time to give this game a legitimate review.
Welcome To The Land Of Boring
The game takes place in the land of Tamriel, and I really can’t tell you much more than that because the world is rather unremarkable. I really could have picked a better game to blow full price on, because I haven’t walked away from an experience so disappointed since Final Fantasy XIII.
Skyrim and Oblivion, while not my favorite games in the world, had fleshed-out and self-contained world. Tamriel relies on the fact that it’s an online-only game by taking away anything that makes the world interesting. Seriously, I can’t tell you a single pronoun I remembered. Thankfully, I’ve never considered myself a professional in this field, so it won’t sound unprofessional when I say this game is fucking boring.
The game is designed to be played with your friends online, but there isn’t anything fun to do. It’s the same go-kill-this or go-get-that quests over and over again. I went into the game with some friends, and two hours later we switched to Destiny so we didn’t fall asleep holding our controllers. I had to go back on my own because no one wanted to play it.
I can barely squeeze a review out, because quite frankly there isn’t enough game to critique.
So, yeah, don’t waste your time with this game.
Gameplay: 15/45. I’m sure there might be a good game in here somewhere, but the problem is it’s taking itself too seriously. Dialog options are limited, the gameplay is the same fetch quest and kill-this-thing crap we’re used to, and the experience and leveling system isn’t anything we haven’t seen before.
Controls: 23/25. While not perfect, it’s a very competent control scheme. Even with a controller in place of hotkeys and preselects, it’s surprisingly efficient. Perhaps it wasn’t a complete waste, but I find it funny the nicest thing I have to say about it is that it controls very well. If only I had a reason to make that worth it.
Graphics: 5/15. It’s looks like a half decent PS3 game where I get stuck on ledges and occasionally fall into mountains. Boring enemies, boring environments… just fucking boring.
Sound: 5/10. Get ready to hear the same thing over and over again. It’s cliche, boring, and bland.
Story: 0/5. Considering it’s so uneventful I couldn’t remember one person, place, or thing in twenty hours of gameplay, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s pretty bad.
Total: 48%. I’m pretty sure I’ve personally scored higher on a breathalyzer.
Masculinity Score: The gamer in me wants to say swords and shields and dragons are manly, but the man in me wants that to actually be worthwhile. I have to declare the game unfit for manly consumers.
In light of what a disappointment this game was, I have to at least offer something different. Here is an alternative to tide you over until something that doesn’t suck comes out.
Arcania: The Complete Tale
It’s a simple game with a cheap price tag, so it’s not like you’re dropping a full sixty. Arcania is the fourth installment in the Gothic series and was originally released in 2010, and later again in 2013 for PS3. This series has always appeared like it was meant to be a last generation title, but it’s so charming I can’t help but love it. The gameplay is a good selling point, and the world is endlessly more interesting mostly due to the fact it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
It controls very well and has very handy preselects that allows you to seamlessly transition between any combination of weapons, special arrows, spells, runes, or healing items. The combat system is easy to grasp, but I’d advise you to isolate larger enemies. You get swarmed fast about ten hours in, and you’ll die faster than you can heal.
It approaches story with the wisdom of “show, don’t tell.” While some exposition is explained in dialog, the vast majority of it is interwoven in the environment itself. I know more about goblin and orc culture from going into their caves than a series of long dialog options could ever give me.
At one point in the game you are trying to remove an orc warlord from power in a tribe he took over. This tribe of orc wears an amulet around their necks with their name inscribed on it. To them, this is literally their soul, and removing the amulet means they lose their soul. More interesting is that if another being wears it, they become whoever the amulet says they are. You help an orc reclaim his tribe by becoming that orc, wearing his amulet to fight the warlord in his place, but allowing him in the eyes of his tribe’s people to be the hero.
It’s a small portion of the game but that single quest is more fascinating than anything in Elder Scrolls.
So fuck Elder Scrolls, and save your money. If you need something new to play and haven’t checked it out yet, give Arcania a shot.