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The Elder Scrolls Online: Looks Good, Even On Mid-Range Hardware

How Well Does The Elder Scrolls Online Run On Your PC?

This is a performance analysis, first and foremost. So, let's get down to it. The Elder Scrolls Online employs a scalable game engine that delivers attractive graphics on budget-oriented cards like the Radeon R7 240 and GeForce GT 630 GDDR5. Given a low-end board, you can expect fairly smooth gameplay at 1280x720 using the Medium detail preset. Even at 1920x1080, those two models barely dipped below 30 FPS in our benchmark, while the Radeon R7 250X (a rebadged Radeon HD 7770) and GeForce GTX 650 seldom fell under 60 FPS. If you don't have a ton of money to spend on new hardware, you can get buy with a mainstream machine and still enjoy The Elder Scrolls Online.

While the Ultra-High setting demands more from your hardware, it won't give you a ton of additional visual effects. Nevertheless, you can still get smooth performance at 1920x1080 from a Radeon R7 260X or GeForce GTX 750 Ti.

Enthusiasts looking to go big with a triple-monitor array should step up to a Radeon R9 280 or GeForce GTX 760, both of which can keep frame rates around 30 at 5760x1080. I'd really suggest a Radeon R9 280X or GeForce GTX 770, though, to keep the game from bogging down.

Not a good sign when an altar eminates waves of pure evil.Not a good sign when an altar eminates waves of pure evil.

On the platform side, Intel's Core i7 enables the highest frame rates. However, even AMD's budget-oriented FX-4170 allows for a fluid experience using the Ultra-High detail preset and a Radeon R9 270 graphics card.

Frankly, this game scales so well that we'd be surprised if anyone with moderate gaming hardware runs into performance issues. If your system can play Skyrim comfortably, you won't need an upgrade to play The Elder Scrolls Online at the same resolution.

And how about the game itself? I know better than to give an MMO a thumbs-up or -down on release day. Without question, though, this one imparts an authentic Elder Scrolls flavor to the massively multiplayer space, and I'm optimistic that it'll turn into something even better over time.

My main concern is the game's archaic subscription model in a world of freemium MMOs. I criticized Star Wars: The Old Republic for the same sin, and it went free-to-play in a matter of months. Say what you will about that title, but The Elder Scrolls Online doesn't have any better of a single-player storyline. Frankly, I'm not confident in the long-term prospects of any MMO with a subscription-based model.

The publisher defends its decision with a commitment to providing high-quality content. Bethesda vice president Pete Hines went on-record saying, "We want to do the version that we think is the best game and the coolest experience, and that means putting a lot of people and a lot of content creators towards having stuff that comes out regularly; every four weeks, five weeks, six weeks. Big new stuff that you want to do."

If the company didn't staunchly defend the decision to fund the game via subscription, I might suspect that Bethesda was already planning a free-to-play transition, choosing to launch with a subscription model in order to generate a quick flow of cash from early adopters. In retrospect, I have to wonder if that was BioWare's original plan for Star Wars: The Old Republic, too.

No matter what you think of the revenue model, The Elder Scrolls Online is a compelling hybrid of the franchise's single-player history and multi-player aspirations. The compromises required to merge both game types won't sit well with everyone. But there's still a lot of entertainment value available if you're willing to keep an open mind and not impose your expectations. Expect to pay $15 a month for now, though.

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  • 9 Hide
    Djentleman , April 3, 2014 11:28 PM
    760 is the highest tier nvidia card you used for 1080?
  • 7 Hide
    Immaculate , April 3, 2014 11:31 PM
    Now that this pipe dream is released, where is a Fallout 4 acknowledgement?
  • 2 Hide
    templarklimek , April 3, 2014 11:31 PM
    I'm running it at 4K and in ultra it's very smooth with an I7 and titan black. Having said that I don't plan on staying a subscriber. They got my 80.00 bucks to start and that's it. I can't get over the subpar graphics although I realize it's an MMO and can't have the best graphics going for it. Nor does it have the attention to detail, depth, and immersive ness that I expect in an elder scrolls title. I've gone back to skyrim and all the mods. Skyrim at 4k is a work of art. The MMO seem faked with monsters just keep respawning out of thin air and no real meaning or placement in the world around you. Again I understand it's a MMO and not a detailed single player game. What worries me is how will this affect the Elder Scrolls single player? Are they gonna blow that off?.. ;(
  • -4 Hide
    sarinaide , April 3, 2014 11:33 PM
    Am now tempted to get this, just hope it doesn't flop like SWTOR and D3 did.
  • 1 Hide
    blackmagnum , April 4, 2014 12:19 AM
  • 3 Hide
    SchizoFrog , April 4, 2014 12:54 AM
    I played during the final open BETA test and that was enough for me to decide this wasn't for me... and I was gutted by that decision.Any populated area is complete chaos with people, horses and more just spawning out of nowhere all around you. The only way not to get annoyed and distracted is to blank out most of what is going on around you which is a complete contradiction from what is supposed to be an immersive MMO.More than that though is that I found the intro sparse and almost none existent, I felt lost and had no real idea of where I should go, what I should do whren I got there nor why I should do any of it.As for the graphics, it looked good but nothing to blow me away and certainly there was nothing that I felt was better than Skyrim on the same rig, even without Skyrim's mods running. I just want to also add what this article doesn't cover in that your personal PC hardware may well run the game very smoothly but as with any other online game, it's smoothness is more down to the internet connection of yourself and those you choose to game with. From my experience, a fibre connection is an absolute must for smooth gameplay.
  • 2 Hide
    jankeke , April 4, 2014 1:22 AM
    How is the user interface on this ? Is it as bad as in Skyrim ?I am wondering if I should try this game but if the interface is "console-like", it would certainly speak against it.
  • -1 Hide
    Drejeck , April 4, 2014 1:47 AM
    played this game in the beta invitational. it sucks bad just because it changes the gameplay to the boring, old fashion, 1 2 3 4 key skill/spell. i've quit wow because of that, even D3 and GW2 failed at that. The only games I liked nowadays for the combat system are Tera and Neverwinter. TES is nice because you play it like an FPS, and with the gamepad was really nice. just because of this I can judge it a total fail. I've played 3 hours before removing the game. is something changed meanwhile? i want it more action. like a Reckoning Online. no ones roleplays online anymore, the DAoC era is gone.
  • 4 Hide
    Zombie615 , April 4, 2014 2:13 AM
    I watch some people play this live on twitch an being a fan ever since Morrowind I have to say I'm not that impressed or interested. There is a part of me that wants to give it a try but there is a bigger part of me saying don't fall for this money pit. $15 a month isn't really the issue speaking of money... it's just the fact that it cost something every month in general. I love the elder scrolls series but I've never been a fan of MMORPG. It takes too much dedication to feel accomplished in a game of this genre an with that said it takes away from the instant gratification I got playing the other games in this series.It should have just been a multiplayer release an not an actual MMORPG. Like just a single player storyline type of thing but with the option to let a group of friends join you. Kind of like Diablo 3 or Dead Island I guess you could say.The PVP idea IMO is trash. A duel arena against other people using your character from your current campaign would had sufficed. Though there is nothing I can say that will change anything so there you have it Zenimax.... You lost another faithful fan on this title. Hopefully you will announce a fallout 4 (offline) title soon or your next Single Player Elder Scrolls title. If not you can count me out forever.
  • -2 Hide
    AMD Radeon , April 4, 2014 3:35 AM
    why Radeon 280X performance falls below GTX 760?
  • 1 Hide
    ferooxidan , April 4, 2014 3:42 AM
    I'm thinking that this could be very good actually, IF they did it like Torchlight 2 or D2. The ability to play OFFLINE or with your selected friends on LAN and, when you wanted to, go online to participate in war, event, hanging out w/ stranger or something. Double the initial price or whatever, but with those feature I mention, "Shut up and take my money!". If it stays like this, I'll never touch it.
  • 4 Hide
    jkr , April 4, 2014 3:44 AM
    Im running this on the A10-7850K APU using integrated graphics with 8 gigs of dual channel ram on high with no problem
  • 2 Hide
    Plusthinking Iq , April 4, 2014 3:48 AM
    many thing odd and wrong in this article, gpu test has no 780 vs the 290x, and more people run high hz monitor in 1080p than that rare wide thing.the cpu part has amd 8350 that should be expected, but no i5 4670, and still you ppl run aa, pls do not use grafics blur that dont add any fidelety to image. like motionblur, antialiasing and the fucus distance blur thing.
  • 1 Hide
    Haravikk , April 4, 2014 3:52 AM
    I was actually really pleased by how well ESO ran on my Mac, as it's not a gaming machine at all and is now pretty old; it's a 2008 Mac Pro with GeForce 8800 GT, while it's CPU performance is still strong, most budget gaming PCs will run circles around it on most titles. Even so, I was able to run ESO at 1080p (though I think the game graphics themselves were at 720p) and at the High setting with a few tweaks. Looked pretty good, and ran really well, except for the unbearable fan noise on my GPU that is.
  • -2 Hide
    Zombie615 , April 4, 2014 4:32 AM
    I have an A-10 6700 APU with a EVGA GTX 750 Ti Sc but I'll never share benchmarks of it on ESO until they show me that the game is worth my money. Right now I'm not paying $15.00/month until some new content is uploaded an until I see them stay true to their promise with updates that make it worth my while an not just little BS updates that I never would notice.
  • 4 Hide
    XxXGunXxXGraveXxX , April 4, 2014 4:45 AM
    How does the GTX 660 score slightly BETTER than the R9 280X? When i built my gaming rig i originally had a GTX 660 and when i replaced it with my R9 280X it was night and day difference in performance in every game...Am i missing something or is that just a mistake on toms side.
  • 2 Hide
    killerclick , April 4, 2014 4:50 AM
    Now that this pipe dream is released, where is a Fallout 4 acknowledgement?
    It's a different studio. Both published by Bethesda but Fallout and Elder Scrolls are developed by Bethesda Game Studios while Elder Scrolls Online is developed by Zenimax Online.
  • 9 Hide
    Sakkura , April 4, 2014 5:11 AM
    How does the GTX 660 score slightly BETTER than the R9 280X? When i built my gaming rig i originally had a GTX 660 and when i replaced it with my R9 280X it was night and day difference in performance in every game...Am i missing something or is that just a mistake on toms side.

    The game clearly favors Nvidia graphics cards, at least with the build tested. But as you also see with the absence of SLI and Crossfire profiles, driver work isn't done on the game, so it's possible AMD just hadn't optimised their drivers while Nvidia had, giving Nvidia a huge artificial advantage. Time will tell if that's the case.
  • 8 Hide
    Traciatim , April 4, 2014 5:19 AM
    Sweet, look at that 8350 rocking out almost nearly catching an i3.... go AMD!
  • 6 Hide
    Shinethelight99 , April 4, 2014 5:31 AM
    I just started playing this game a couple of days ago and I'm having a good time - My advice is do not listen to the negative people in regards to this game Most of them view the game with preconceived notions and are mostly butt hurt single player fanboys that didn't want them to make a MMO. There is no way to make a MMO exactly like a single player game like Skyrim. Making a MMO is way harder and a huge investment,. The game is way high budget and they are committed to the game for the long haul and will be adding tons of content. They claim there is something like 40 million different types of weapons which is probably more than Diablo 3. Monthly sub fee is no big deal most successful games have had it. WoW has had a monthly fee for almost 10 years now. Monthly fee gets you content - F2P does not. I'm playing the game with a quad core, 4gb of ram, and a Radeon 4890 so you don't need a new, expensive video card to run the game.
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