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The Elder Scrolls Online review

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The Elder Scrolls Online review

The Elder Scrolls Online is a mess. 

Somewhere, buried under bugs, often bizarre design decisions and weird rookie level structural mistakes that the game makes, there is a great MMO struggling to be found. 

I played it for just over 30 hours, reaching level 16 (of 50) and the third zone in my faction's territory. Yes, the game is huge: Zenimax weren’t joking when they announced the 150 hours average game time to end-game. But there were plenty more reasons why it took me so long to get even this far, and the majority of them were due to an endless torrent of progress-halting bugs.

The Elder Scrolls Online is just not ready for players. 

It is a tragedy. 

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Elder Scrolls Online duping bug is wrecking game economy. Zenimax shut down guild bank

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Elder Scrolls Online duping bug is wrecking game economy. Zenimax shut down guild bank

Zenimax have been forced to shut down the Elder Scrolls Online’s guild bank after a duplication bug allowed players to flood the game’s economy with billions of ill gotten gold. The bug, which has been present in the game since beta, has resulted in players having easy access to rare materials, legendary equipment, and stacks of in-game cash.

While Zenimax have just now started to work on preventing further duplication they’ve said nothing of how they will fix the ESO’s economy which, at this point, is wholly unbalanced.

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The Elder Scrolls Online fansite creates a trading system because ZeniMax Online won't

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The Elder Scrolls Online fansite creates a trading system because ZeniMax Online won't

ZeniMax Online decided not to create an auction house or any serious trading system into The Elder Scrolls Online. I’d say commerce in TESO is very Dark Ages, but the early medieval era actually had markets, traders and some form of organisation. 

So it’s come down to players creating a system. A marketplace that doesn’t exist in-game, but in the TESO Elite fansite, devised by players. The official TESO Twitter account has endorsed the system, probably so the developers can get back to squashing all the bugs that have been plaguing the game since launch. It's an odd endorsement, though, as ZeniMax previously defended its no auction house stance by saying such things ruin game economies and trivialise getting good gear.

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The Elder Scrolls Online review in progress

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The Elder Scrolls Online review in progress

Welcome to my review in progress for The Elder Scrolls Online. For the next couple of weeks I’ll be writing down my initial impressions, adventures, and other happenings, so be sure to check back regularly for my latest thoughts. Then, after I’ve reached the level cap and experienced a plethora of end game content, I’ll give you my final verdict.

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Zenimax send in pest control to squish The Elder Scrolls Online's progression halting bugs

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Zenimax send in pest control to squish The Elder Scrolls Online's progression halting bugs

Since The Elder Scrolls Online’s early access launch, our Nick’s only managed to join the dots between enough quest markers to reach level 12. That’s encouraging, because Nick’s become accustomed to blazing through MMOs in a week. But also depressing, because he was eventually halted by a bug in the main plot.

Thankfully, Zenimax Online have just today squeezed out an update that’s nudged their sometimes bold, sometimes buggy debut a little further towards the former.

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Craglorn is The Elder Scrolls Online's first Adventure Zone, and it's not for riffraff

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Craglorn is The Elder Scrolls Online's first Adventure Zone, and it's not for riffraff

The Elder Scrolls Online launched last week, and ZeniMax Online is already showcasing new content, due out later this month, in the form of the game’s first Adventure Zone, a veteran area with group PvE, new instanced delves and leaderboard challenges. 

Craglorn will be the sort of place you go once you’ve exhausted the 1-50 content, where the story quests and side-quests require groups to overcome. 

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The Elder Scrolls Online wants to remind you it's launching today with a flashy trailer

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The Elder Scrolls Online wants to remind you it's launching today with a flashy trailer

Did you know that The Elder Scrolls Online launches today? You probably do, since Jeremy just mentioned it a few hours ago. Yep, haughty elves, shifty lizard folk and buff orcs will be running around killing things for the promise of experience and loot pretty damn soon. 

ZeniMax Online have put together another striking, but utterly unrepresentative, trailer for you to gawp at to celebrate the launch. Plaster your eyes all over it inappropriately, below. 

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The Elder Scrolls Online is out today. Guess how many mudcrabs you'll need to shoot to top level 50?

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The Elder Scrolls Online is out today. Guess how many mudcrabs you'll need to shoot to top level 50?

Remember when every so often, somebody would ask Todd Howard if Bethesda would ever do an MMO? And he’d say, ‘Meh, probably not. Who owns Fallout these days?’.

Well: there’s a game named The Elder Scrolls Online out on PC today. It’s not made by Howard and co, and maybe looks a little more like WoW than the interconnected Oblivion we’d anticipated all those years ago. But our Nick’s enjoying it, and you might too.

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Bethesda "didn't mandate" Elder Scrolls Online subscription; "It was a mutual decision"

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Bethesda "didn't mandate" Elder Scrolls Online subscription; "It was a mutual decision"

Bethesda the publisher commanded Zenimax Online Studios into being; it handed them the Elder Scrolls license, and asked them to make an MMO. But no such order came down from on high to ensure Zenimax charged players a monthly subscription for the privilege of playing. 

So says Pete Hines, Bethesda’s mouth of marketing: “It would be fair to say it was a mutual decision. It wasn’t like they decided it, and we didn’t mandate it. There was a lot of conversation around it."

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Things to do when you're 50: The Elder Scrolls Online Edition

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Things to do when you're 50: The Elder Scrolls Online Edition

If you’ve managed to get through the 150 or so hours it apparently takes to get to level 50 in The Elder Scrolls Online, punching mudcrabs in their stupid carapaces and standing around while ethereal old men spout nonsense, then you might be wondering what you can do. 

Apparently, there are quite a few things, says creative director Paul Sage, from veteran rank zones and adventure zones to PvP content. ZeniMax Online wants you to stick around.

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Todd Howard praises "passion and dedication" of Zenimax Online as Elder Scrolls hits third decade

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Todd Howard praises "passion and dedication" of Zenimax Online as Elder Scrolls hits third decade

In their first 10 years making the Elder Scrolls series, Bethesda built a name for themselves - and in the 10 since, a major publisher has grown around them. But all the while, a central team has quietly assembled intricate webs of systems and clifftop panoramas.

Like their flagship series, Todd Howard has been at Bethesda for two decades now. Looking back, he’s proud of the fact that the team have “always started over" when approaching a new Elder Scrolls game - and is pleased sister studio Zenimax have done the same for The Elder Scrolls Online.

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The Elder Scrolls Online release schedule unfurled ahead of April 4 launch

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The Elder Scrolls Online release schedule unfurled ahead of April 4 launch

Following a spate of recent launch cock-ups from some of the biggest publishers in the business, the pre-order has come to seem less like a gesture of good faith and giddy anticipation, more like a favour to a corporation that probably doesn’t even send you birthday cards.

And so the publishers have had to sweeten the deal. In The Elder Scrolls Online’s case, that’ll mean a strange, staggered release come the start of April. Not one, but two separate pre-purchase early access schemes will run prior to full launch. See the details of them, and work out when you might be able to play, below.

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The Elder Scrolls Online's first microtransaction will be a horse

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The Elder Scrolls Online's first microtransaction will be a horse

Should you be rolling in enough wealth that you can afford to buy The Elder Scrolls Online game, the monthly subscription, and still have money left to spare, then Zenimax Online may have something to satisfy your retail cravings in its Elder Scrolls Online cash shop. There won’t be a massive selection available on day one, but one of the things guaranteed to be on sale is a horse.

If you wish to gallop around the starting zones, sat a whole ten hands higher than other newbie players to exert your dominant dollar, then step this way.

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The Elder Scrolls Online will launch "lag-free" promise Bethesda

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The Elder Scrolls Online will launch "lag-free" promise Bethesda

Come launch day for The Elder Scrolls Online, no one will be (s)lagging it off for latency issues, provided Bethesda make good on their promise. In the run up to D-Day, developer Zenimax have been making the most of the data gained during beta testing to ensure servers are prepped for the huge initial blast of players throwing orcs and lizard people onto them. 

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Nords are niche: Elder Scrolls Online is not an MMO for "everybody who plays games"

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Nords are niche: Elder Scrolls Online is not an MMO for "everybody who plays games"

Here’s a slice of received wisdom you can expect to see on a Total War loading screen one of these days: subscriptions are only for niche MMOs, like Eve.

So what’s The Elder Scrolls Online doing with one? Well, here’s the thing: according to Bethesda marketing man Pete Hines, it’s sort of a niche MMO.

“We’re not trying to make a game that everybody who plays games will automatically buy," he said. 

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This weekend's Elder Scrolls Online beta event unveils the Imperial race

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This weekend's Elder Scrolls Online beta event unveils the Imperial race

The Elder Scrolls Online is gearing up for another beta weekend, kicking off on Friday, March 14th at 5PM GMT, running until Monday, March 17th at 3:59AM GMT. 

This weekend is going to be a bit different from the last couple, however, as ZeniMax is unlocking the Imperial Edition and Explorer Pack for all beta testers. This means you’ll be able to play as those boring old Imperials or any race in any alliance, so your Redguard can start in Skyrim, for instance. 

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In The Elder Scrolls Online, crafted gear will be "slightly better" than its found equivalent

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In The Elder Scrolls Online, crafted gear will be "slightly better" than its found equivalent

Zenimax have gone to great lengths to ensure that The Elder Scrolls Online, like its namesakes, is exploration-driven - and for the most part they’ve succeeded. Skill points are acquired from magic crystals secreted around its maps, and you won’t find many if you stick to the cities.

Sometimes, though, it’ll make sense to chain yourself to the leg of a crafting table. Because the level 10 axe you put together yourself is going to be ever-so-slightly better for cleaving with than the level 10 axe your friend will ride back into town wielding at the end of the day.

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Elder Scrolls Online to be lovingly cluttered with more items

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Elder Scrolls Online to be lovingly cluttered with more items

When we sat down to play Elder Scrolls Online, Nick, Jeremy, and I all separately came to the conclusion that there wasn’t enough stuff. We didn’t care what it was - plates, butter knives, blank bits of paper - we wanted more of it. This is an MMO based on games like Morrowind and Skyrim, after all, the kings of game worlds filled with detritus.

Zenimax Online Studio have answered. In the near future we’ll see the world populated by things. There are a great many other changes coming, too.

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Nostalgia trip: Skywind ‘Road Most Traveled’ trailer takes us through Morrowind’s first quest

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Nostalgia trip: Skywind ‘Road Most Traveled’ trailer takes us through Morrowind’s first quest

It’s years since I first woke up in the port town of Seyda Neen but I remember it well, the rough shacks, shoddy lighthouse, and rotten planking. Bethesda’s opening for Morrowind sticks in the mind because they were making a different sort of RPG from everyone else at the time.

The latest trailer for Skywind, a remake of Morrowind in the Skyrim engine, shows team of volunteers know their stuff. The locations between Seyda Neen and Balmora, the game’s first quest, are captured perfectly.

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PvP macro abuse upsets Elder Scrolls Online beta players

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PvP macro abuse upsets Elder Scrolls Online beta players

MMO players are used to flinging bits of their interface around, snuggling chat bars in convenient corners of their screen and gluing quickbars to the ceiling to suit their needs. But Zenimax Online have gone one step further, allowing players access to a modding API that allows for dramatic revisions of the game’s UI.

Some of those modder-built add-ons have - and that’s concerned some beta players, who worry The Elder Scrolls Online is only one step away from normalising game-breaking macros.

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