The Elder Scrolls Online Review: Epic Adventure Or Epic Fail?

Copy Pasta And Loot

Copy Pasta

For your edification, oh attentive reader, I’ve taken to assembling an infographic to list all of the dungeons that you can explore in The Elder Scrolls Online. There are 104 in total across the lands of Tamriel, not accounting for a small handful of “public group” dungeons. Seventy-three of those 104 dungeons are copy/pasted, and 31 are (as of this writing) not duplicated. 

70.19% of dungeons you explore in The Elder Scrolls Online will look the same, because they are the same.

The interiors of buildings in each of the alliances fare no better, with roughly a half-dozen grand total structural interiors between the three alliances. If you, as a player, have already been in an area where the game looks remarkably familiar, that’s because it is. In gaming circles and on Reddit, this heinous practice is called “copy pasta”, and this reviewer has witnessed no greater offender since Dragon Age 2 burnt our eyes out and made us beg for our fifty bucks back.


Loot is part of the reason we play MMOs. It makes you feel a sense of accomplishment to find a nice piece of equipment you can swap out, a sparkling gem that you can sell for a good chunk of change, or a nifty rare item that makes you feel accomplished for vanquishing that tyrannical boss monster. In The Elder Scrolls Online, if you kill a boss, you can get a gold piece or two, and possibly some worms that you can fish with. Side note: although cooking and fishing are both skills, you cannot currently cook any fish you catch. Anyway, the loot table does not appear to scale or change by much, as low-level bosses appear to drop the same amount of gold (one to four pieces each) as higher-level boss monsters. As for context on what a single gold coin can purchase, know that a decent horse clocks in at around 42,000 gold.

Therefore, there is very little sense of victory or success in defeating an enemy, because you know that you’ll not likely get anything worthwhile from it.

The Elder Scrolls Online, while scant on the other qualities that Elder Scrolls games have brought to the table, somehow managed to keep the irritating “feature” of being able to collect utterly useless trash items at a breakneck pace. If you’re really keen on securing that eighth copy of the recipe for Goat Dumpling Stew, or those bug guts that the epic atronach overlord had on him after he died, you’ll find the items gleaned from your adventures to be fulfilling. Even more brutal is the fact that the gear players collect and cobble together causes every player of the same race to end up looking like every other player of the same race, and even the rare set pieces look like the non-set pieces. 

During one’s time on the newbie island, you can encounter a goodly number of chests to open as you explore and go adventuring. After level eight or so, chests get rarer and rarer until spotting one is an extraordinary event and entirely unexpected.

Joe Pishgar
Joe Pishgar is the Community Director of Tom's Hardware US. He oversees the number one tech enthusiast forum in the world.
  • blackmagnum
    Fus Ro Dah?
  • tomfreak
    I say Epic Fail.
  • gaborbarla
    I am hoping that Bethesda goes back to what it does best and make single player games. It is disappointing that they have used so much of their resources to jump on the MMO bandwagon, surely this must have delayed something great that would have come out by now.
  • sumuser
    I admit, Joe Pishgar has a humorous perspective on some of ESO shortcomings.

    Joe brings up good points and I would say the review is honest from the standpoint of someone who just doesn't "get the game". I'm certainly not here to be Zenimax's fanboy, if one doesn't like the game then by all means unsub / uninstall.

    However, I'm having a great time with ESO so far and it seems like there are a lot of patches, fixes, improvements, tweaking, and even more substantial content on the way. If swords and magic is your idea of a cool MMO game than its worth checking out for yourself in my opinion.

    If you're a "temperamental" gamer who wants minimal bugs and glitches with polished content and mechanics in a modern MMO, maybe wait 6 - 12 months after release to try it out ;)

  • jossrik
    I played the beta, and it sounds like it hasn't gotten a lot better, personally, I couldn't see paying the sub. There are so many f2p/buy the game no sub that are good, not great even, but good that the sub methodology just doesn't work for me anymore.
  • stevenmi89
    wow joe bent zenimax over a small table and made their butthole raw.

    i played beta and was not impressed whatsoever.
  • LongLostUser
    I personally find this game very enjoyable. Theres been alott of negativity around eso before release and I seems like this colors the press. Every game has got problems in the start. Ive played more than a few mmos and eso got fewer starting problems than many of them.
    Public dungeons are pretty boring, but I find the quests and the variety to be quite good. The maps and areas are different from each other and quite visually good. Regarding open world bosses and dungeon bosses, well. the writer should really put some extra time in trying to fight them. If he gives up after 10 seconds and die, he really doesnt have a clue what he's doing. Some bosses requires more than one player and a good combination abilities.
    I think its sad that eso get so poorly reflected reviews like this. Its a faaar better mmo than Guild wars 2 and I recomend people to give it a try.
    What a sad review. Toms should really be able to do better.
  • maxiim
    Was downvoted to oblivion a year or so back when I said on some article here that ESO will be a over hyped polished turd. Guess many were just mad, wonder how they feel now if they ended up spending the money buying the game....
  • Zombie615
    I couldn't have said it better myself. This game is the biggest waste of $60 I've ever spent on a game. As much as I hate to say that it's entirely true. I've never been so disappointed in a game and I would have never expected this magnitude of disappoint to come from the one series that I've known an loved since my younger years.

    Personally they should just chalk it up as a failure an move on. I literally cancelled my membership 2 days after purchasing the game because it only took me a few hours to decide it was the worst pile of horse dung I had ever encountered. After realizing I had practically been fooled into purchasing this game my thought in mind is how many steam games I could have bought for that $60. Honestly things have slowly degraded in all aspects of gaming. So many companies are going to the quick money grab route an luring people in with enticing trailers where half the advertised content isn't even included.

    If you haven't purchased this game I highly recommend you spend your dollars elsewhere. I'd consider purchasing Skyrim 3 times over before I bought this game an I wasn't even that into Skyrim. That's just how bad this game is. Do yourself a favor use that $60 to go out an have a nice dinner. You won't have a sour taste in your mouth afterwards like you would had you purchased this trash.
  • zzzaac
    Ah, it isn't an Elder Scrolls game without bugs