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

Problems, Crafting, And Voice Acting

Spammers, Dupes, Bugs

Spammers have plagued The Elder Scrolls Online since before day one. Gold farmers set up their operations in the game well ahead of the public launch, and were already hocking tens of thousands of gold just hours into the limited, Imperial Edition pre-order early access. A duping bug crashed bank accounts and ruined the nascent economy a mere week post-launch, and spammers and gold farmers have evolved constantly to keep one step ahead of what feels like an after-the-fact approach to eliminating them by the developer. As mentioned in other areas of this review, bots have been present in perpetuity in dungeons at boss spawn points, with customer service only recently taking action to eliminate them in large numbers. 

In 2014, not having spammer or bot prevention active at launch is not an option for an MMO which aspires to be a triple-A game. These are problems that were addressed literally a full decade ago and have been the subject of baseline expectation by players. Not having spammer, bot, and dupe prevention in-game at launch is inexcusable, and asks your players to tolerate brokenness in the most fundamental of systems in your product.


Crafting in The Elder Scrolls Online is surprisingly well done. While it can be a pain in the butt to lug back a couple of dozen weapons or pieces of armor for deconstruction, and resource collection is arduous without the necessary skill points invested, the system itself feels fleshed out. Don’t think you can play as a crafter only though. There are no quests for crafters, and you get most of your materials from deconstructing things you find along the way in your adventures as a hack ‘n slasher. 

There is no auction house at all. If you want to buy and sell, you have to join a “trader’s guild” and use their guild store. Alternatively, you can pay attention to the spam-ridden general chat where players are hocking their wares, and do some selling of your own. Crafting, though comprehensive, remains much like the rest of the game: monotonous and uneventful.

Voice Acting

In The Elder Scrolls Online, you are first treated to the dulcet tones of Michael Gambon, whom you know and love as Dumbledore. Monty Python’s John Cleese then regails you as Sir Cadwell, and a litany of other A-list actors are featured voicing characters in the primary fiction. Unfortunately, this still only accounts for an infinitesimal portion of the voice acting you’ll experience. While we can certainly chalk this up to something that is definitely nice to have in an MMO, the script is so unbelievably boring that every piece of voiced dialogue text falls short in capturing one’s attention. 

The dialogue is so monotonous, so dull, that by the time you reach level 10, if you aren’t listening to a primary NPC character in the main storyline arc, you are probably skimming dialogue text for keywords pertinent to your next pedestrian, by-the-books, drudge-fest of a quest.

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