Console MMOs are almost always written off before they have even had a chance to begin, take for example DC Universe Online, Defiance and to an extent Destiny. The first from my view point is almost never spoken of, Defiance dropped like a hard stone in water and Destiny has a marmite love or hate take on it.
So why is it that a gaming genre that is so well received on the PC with titles like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2 and EVE Online hard for us to even start to imagine enjoying using a PS4 or a Xbox One controller from the comfort of our own sofa?
I have been a fan of MMOs since taking up the Microsoft Games title Freelancer back in 2003/2004 before moving on to the ever popular World of Warcraft in 2005. It's the whole sense of seeing other players around you whilst you happily carry on doing your thing in whichever mystical and magical world you currently reside in.
After playing, spending and absolutely cherishing countless hours on Skyrim back in 2012 over two platforms (PC and PS3) I decided to try my hand at the The Elder Scrolls Online beta for the PC, and the end result was that I absolutely hated it. It wasn't Skyrim and it most certainly didn't give me any reminiscence of my time with World of Warcraft.
2015 and I decided that an MMO for the Playstation 4 was just what I needed and with the current market The Elder Scrolls Online was the obvious choice despite my previous PC impressions. I'm thrilled that a lot has changed since early 2014.
The first quest in The Elder Scrolls Online is your character creation, remember, this is an important step and you have to feel completely confident with the way your character looks. It's an MMO people are going to see you.
You also need to choose one of three alliances with each one housing three different race types. Choice of alliance is always quite straight forward, well for me at least. If you have no knowledge of the actual background of The Elder Scrolls titles just simply go with the one you think sounds the hardest.
After deciding on both your alliance and race it's then time to consider the class you wish your little creation to take up, you have one of four choices which include Dragon Knight (think warrior), Sorcerer (mage), Nightblade (rogue) and Templar (paladin).
After choosing to create my female Breton Sorcerer (I have my own reasons), it was time to launch the game.
You begin your journey with TESO in the prisons of Coldharbour where you are immediately greeted by The Prophet who informs you that the short term objective is for you to rescue him from Coldharbour with him proceeding to announce that he in return will then rescue you. Sounds fair enough if not somewhat complicated.
The whole instance of Coldharbour is pretty much the tutorial for The Elder Scrolls Online helping you understand movement, combat and looting skills.
Upon completion of The Coldharbour Prison I found myself in Daggerfall where the game then really began, picking up quests, talking to clothes vendors and doing the usual activities one would expect from an MMO.
The Elder Scrolls Online works well on a console platform with button mapping working extremely well over the Dualshock controller. You can assign your spells to various buttons on the pad including the , , , buttons and the R1 and R2. Sprint is used as it is in most games by holding down and forward on the L3 button with the options button loading up a very similar menu system as is seen in the Skyrim title.
Questing is easily identified with level indicators in your journal (accessible by the options button on PS4) with players of Skyrim also maybe recalling the quest / destination indicator that is present at the top of the screen to help with suggested direction.
I currently find myself at level 9 in The Elder Scrolls Online having thoroughly enjoyed the time I have spent with it completing relevant quests to allow me the ability for blacksmithing, tailoring, enchanting and herbalism (potion crafting) along with making advancement on the main story line and achieving various side quest activities.
The Elder Scrolls Online requires no subscriptions after the initial purchase of the disc, but does contain a premium currency Crown Shop. Personally the existence of the Crown Shop holds little significance for me, given that I like to think I am in full control of my in-game purchases. Unless of course I keep seeing more and more level 6s galloping around Tamriel on their classy looking nags whilst I (with difficulty) take the poor man's route to my next destination on foot.
That said and as to be hopefully expected with an MMO at launch there are a few issues that need to be addressed with unfortunate glitches in the game arising. I encountered difficulty in the game with some quest NPCs not showing at their intended positions which became rectified with a simple logging out and then back in. The town of Daggerfall and other populated areas have quite significant amounts of lag which I can only assume is due to the current popular demand of player counts.
My biggest bugbear regarding The Elder Scrolls Online which I have actually Tweeted to Bethesda regarding is the blatant lack of role playing intention given to players. When you create your character for The Elder Scrolls Online you are also asked to name the character which then proves pointless as your actually gamertag is displayed above your head in the world of Tamriel as opposed to your RPG name.
First impressions of The Elder Scrolls Online are fully positive, it has everything I would expect from a massive multiplayer online game and I certainly look forward to the next hours I fully intend to spend in the world of Tamriel, it looks beautiful and as previously mentioned works incredibly well with a control pad.
In short: So far The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimted is more than I expected, exactly what I wanted and hopefully a stepping stone for the MMO genre on console platforms. Stay tuned for more coverage soon.