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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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Latest The Evil Within trailer is sort of creepy, then very creepy, then kind of nice, but then very creepy again

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Latest The Evil Within trailer is sort of creepy, then very creepy, then kind of nice, but then very creepy again

The Evil Within, she ain't so pretty, but Bethesda's third person psychological horror is certainly creepy as balls. It's an unerringly scary game by the legendary Shinji Mikami, he of Resident Evil (and Dino Crisis!) fame, and sees private investigator and trilby botherer Sebastian Castellanos wandering ever deeper into the guts of an asylum. Try to piece together the plot from the latest trailer if you can. I think you'll find that Acts Two and Three are very much concerned with the pervasive themes of all of your blood spilling out.

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All Reich Now: Wolfenstein trailer paints post-war world in bloody reds and nostalgic greys

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All Reich Now: Wolfenstein trailer paints post-war world in bloody reds and nostalgic greys

The latest Wolfenstein: The New Order trailer doesn’t open where you expect it’s going to, geographically speaking. There’s no gothic castle; no Nazi-filled bullet train. Instead, pop culture turned pulp.

It ends in a more familiar place - but the journey there is just as tense and twisty as that train ride.

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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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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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Wolfenstein: The New Order release date is either larger or closer in Europe and Australia

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Wolfenstein: The New Order release date is either larger or closer in Europe and Australia

Last time Bethesda tried to announce something about Wolfenstein’s release, it was buried beneath the deafening rumble of ten thousand people intoning: “DOOOOOOOOOOM".

Now that it has room to breathe, however, we can appreciate MachineGames’ Riddick-indebted adventure shooter on its own terms. And enjoy the knowledge that we’ll all be tackling the alternate reality Third Reich together as a sort of international taskforce.

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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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New pre-order: Wolfenstein trailer has us board the train to Berlin and disembark with wet pants

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New pre-order: Wolfenstein trailer has us board the train to Berlin and disembark with wet pants

Wolfenstein is a shooter, first and foremost. But it'll also take advantage of its first-person perspective to put you in a variety of palm-sweat inducing situations. You might remember one from our Tim's The New Order hands-on, involving a leather-clad Delores Umbridge and her pet Nazi, named Bubi.

It's every bit as unnerving in the frame as it was in text - an Inglorious Basterds table scene infused with Blazkowicz's B-movie monotone. Enjoy.

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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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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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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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Rumour has it that Arkane's Dishonored 2 has boarded a plague ship bound for E3 2014

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Rumour has it that Arkane's Dishonored 2 has boarded a plague ship bound for E3 2014

Dishonored 2 is in development at Arkane, according to somebody with a photo of a TV screen. That’s not entirely a surprise: since Bethesda’s Pete Hines started making positive noises, an Arkane-developed Dishonored 2 has been the worst kept secret since “Corvo didn’t kill the Empress".

What’s more surprising is just how soon it’ll be upon us. The photograph indicates that we should expect a “full reveal" at E3 in June this year.

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The $15 question: Bethesda will "continually work to prove" Elder Scrolls Online sub is worth it

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The $15 question: Bethesda will "continually work to prove" Elder Scrolls Online sub is worth it

Short of a frenzied in-app purchase adventure, you’re not going to spend more money on a game this year than you might on The Elder Scrolls Online. Its full-price box comes with the industry-standard 30 free days, but beyond that you’re travelling Tamriel on your own dollar - 15 per month, to be exact.

Bethesda’s Pete Hines expects players to “warm to" ESO’s cost once they’ve taken the game’s continent from its highest peaks - but is keen to reassure that Zenimax Online will earn that asking price over and over through “continuous" and “meaningful" updates.

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Hammerfell: here's Elder Scrolls Online's crafting system explained by its makers

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Hammerfell: here's Elder Scrolls Online's crafting system explained by its makers

I spent my Elder Scrolls Online beta time tip-toeing my way around the slopes of Daggerfall, avoiding combat where I could - and occasionally very loudly thwacking the iron ore out of the odd rock jutting up from the greenery. 

Crafting has always been one of a compelling set of reasons to meander around Tamriel - one quest in Morrowind was notorious for sending players on an hours-long walk for a nice flower - but it’s become maybe more alluring (and certainly more complicated) in ESO. 

Items can be tinkered with and taken apart for their traits, and some bonuses are exclusive to well-hidden areas on the map. Creative director Paul Sage, lead gameplay designer Nick Konkle and lead user experience designer Chris Strasz elaborate on all that in the video below.

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