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3.3 out of 5 stars
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3.3 out of 5 stars
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on 29 April 2014
Rather than write a review, I'm going to share with you the feedback I gave Zenimax / Bethesda when explaining why I wasn't going to resubscribe to the game. I hope you find it useful.

Hi,

I really like some aspects of this game. The story, voice acting and music are fantastic. Also, I've really enjoyed the humour in this game, which is very unusual for an MMO.

It is because I enjoyed the above that I'm spending the time to let you know why my partner and I (and most probably all our friends who are on the fence and have not yet bought TESO) will not be subbing to this game.

This game was clearly released too early. I have played beta products with better stability, less bugs and more polish.

Having graphical errors like that red and white 'missing' cube in basement levels, or the inn (in Daggerfall, I believe) having it's doorway not clip correctly with the wall should not have been acceptable. Especially, considering I saw both of these bugs within the first hour of gameplay.

Combat is unresponsive and laggy at best, making skill a non-factor. Even worse, is the fact that my combat abilities will sometimes STOP WORKING COMPLETELY. I'm unsure if it's because EU servers are based in US (why?!) or if it's an issue with NB's. Either way, the question has to be asked; "How on Earth did ESO get released in this condition?"

Limited UI features FORCE players to use addons. I'm not talking about recount-style parsers and advances features here. Simple loot management features are absent as well as basic options.

I mentioned how much I was enjoying the story, and I stand by that, but the lack in available activities whilst levelling can become pretty tiresome. I've made it to level 34, and my desire to play the game, particularly as I'm not resubbing, has greatly diminished.

The bots, gold-spammers and the awkward way of reporting them should have been much better thought out, before launch.

Craft nodes also disappear in front of my eyes, and although I know that there are invisible bots teleporting around, gathering materials, I suspect that this is yet another bug.

Tool-tips and stats are often incorrect or do not apply correctly.

I often need to /camp, and relog, in order to see the NPC I'm meant to fight or talk to.

During development, I was really keen to hear of your idea where your mega-server phase was created based on your friends list, guilds, and gameplay preferences (such as role-playing). Instead, at launch, we get an EU server that is not only based in the US, but isn't even separated by language. I'm sure I'm not the only person in the world who feels that seeing zone chat full of a language that he/she can't understand to be alienating. Between this and the gold-sellers, I keep zone chat turned off. I'm in an MMO; I want my zone chat on!

The fact that I can buy a horse with real money, yet the prices for a horse in-game are relatively steep, gives me a bad impression of what will become available in the future. The mounts are not cosmetic, they give the player an advantage. Considering this is a sub-based game, I find that a little hard to swallow.

In summary, I feel as though I've paid a AAA price for a broken beta of a game that I can only play for 30 days. Does this seem fair to you?

I feel you had a good opportunity here to bring back the sub-based model with a quality product, but instead, you've probably put the final nail in it's coffin.

A real shame.

Thanks for reading guys.

Davey

UPDATE: The console version has been delayed for 6 months to give players "the experience [they] expect and deserve." Says it all really...
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on 30 June 2015
I've been playing for almost 3 months now, and this game makes me very angry. The potential is there, it really should be a 5 Star game. But it isn't, in fact it is a long way from a 5 Star game. Graphically the game is beautiful, it has even changed my mind on limited skill bar options ( I genuinely hated having 20 skills but could only use 7 of them in GW and in Wildstar). But the game has so many problems it really is hard to know where to begin.

The prime cause of most, if not all, of these problems is Zenimax's insistence on "being different". Being different is fine, as long as what you are doing works at least as well as that which you are trying to be different from. Zenimax manage to fail at this with such alarming regularity that the Gaming Industry should have a new term "Zenimaxed" - when a company tries to be so different that they manage to break what should be unbreakable. It would be like a new car manufacturer starting from scratch and launching its headline product with square wheels. Sure, its different, it just doesn't work. Zenimax have failed to learn from a decade of mistakes by other MMO companies, and are now making errors that really should have been long gone from the genre 5+ years ago. It is painfully laughable at times.

Areas where ESO has been "Zenimaxed" include:

Crafting: no ability to select to craft more than one of anything, a cumbersome "research" process that can have you taking 60 days just to research one trait - and you'll need to research that same Trait 34 times if you want to be a serious crafter.

Guild Membership: joining a guild is account wide, so all your characters must be in the same guild(s), to partially offset this you can join 5 separate guilds, but it ruins immersion and the vital element of Alliance vs Alliance vs Alliance that was one of the game's stronger selling points.

Trade System: there really isn't a functional trade system, there are guild trade kiosks, but each player is limited to how many items they can lists so many players join multiple guilds to have access to sufficient trade capacity, the Kiosks cost a fortune per week meaning many guilds charge just for being a member, and because of the costs of kiosks only high value goods are ever listed, oh and kiosks are ALL OVER the world, meaning it may take you 30 attempts to find a kiosk selling what you want and some of those kiosks will in zones you can't get to unless you are at level cap. All in all the trade system is the worst subsystem of any game I have ever played.

Content Updates: This year's E3 trailer had the exact same content at a trailer first shown over 12 months ago and NONE of that content is yet in game. The only "new content" since launch has been Craglorn and the Justice System. Craglorn should have shipped with the game at launch, and the Justice System has only been half implemented because they don't seem to know how to make the other half work. ESO launched with two promises: ESO will always be subscription based, and Regular Content Updates. Both promises have been broken, and it shows.

Gouging: There have been several recent XP nerfs and now we see the arrival in the in-game Crown Store (cash shop) of XP boosters. Other Crown Store content that had lore appropriate and immersive names have been changed to names whose sole purpose is to promote the Crown Store eg. "Vivec’s Old Bone Milk is now called Crown Refreshing Drink".

Community: The in-game community is pretty good. The community relations between the playerbase and Zenimax are, for want of a better word, toxic. Zenimax ignore the playerbase when they are voicing genuine concerns, and offering constructive feedback on how to improve the game and then when the playerbase decry this lack of communication Zenimax start wading in with the Ban-Hammer.

Optimisation: The day I installed the game it was a 36GB download. Just two days later there as a 22GB patch, and since then 3 or 4 more patches each of approx 5GB. Yet I have seen no real content, and very little in the way of fixes to bugs etc that have been (according to longer serving players) been around since Beta. They have nerfed a few XP grind spots though. This week's patch is 5GB, just to rename some Crown Store items and, apparently, fix some audio bugs - funny the audio was about the only part of the game I hadn't encountered any problems with at all... ...maybe they were adding audio bugs.

As a gaming experience, on a good day, it may be worthy of a 7/10 score; but as an MMORPG is would get 3/10... ...on a good day.

Would not recommend.

OK, its now Dec 2016, and after a year of significant changes to ESO I must, in all honesty, amend this review.

The first thing to note is that Zenimax have spent a lot of time listening to the concerns of the players. And the steps they have taken to address those concerns have, IMO, improved the game significantly.

Orsinium now takes pride of place for me as the best Expac for an MMORPG (this had formerly been Mines Of Moria for LotRO and I thought it would never be beaten). The amount of content for Orsinium is amazing, and the main story arc that ties the whole zone together is top notch MMORPG story writing. Add to that both The Thieves Guild and The Dark Brotherhood expacs and there's a wealth of new content, that I am only just beginning to explore.

However, all of that is eclipsed by One Tamriel - the reworking of the entire leveling and craft leveling system that means (much like Skyrim) a player is free to login and go exploring and do, or not do, quests in whatever order they want. The sense of freedom this gives to the gameplay is immense. Unless you played ESO before One Tamriel it is hard to explain just how much of an impact it has had on breaking the monotony of a linear story progression that you really couldn't get off. Now you can you can get off anywhere you like, in fact - and even better - if you want you can chose to not get on in the first place. The freedom to explore fully an entire zone without feeling driven to move on by the story is wonderful.

My initial rating for ESO was just 1 Star (and I honestly felt that was being generous at the time), now I have no hesitation in giving the game 4 Stars (and it would close to getting 5 Stars if they would just fixed that awful trade system).
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on 12 June 2014
I really love this game and both myself and my husband agree that its the most enjoyable mmo we've played in years (and we've tried most of the popular ones)

Positives:

The characters and dialogues are interesting and the quests are really immersive.
Crafting is useful and you can do all the crafts if you wish you are not just stuck doing only 2
Its fun to explore areas and find new quests, items, skyshards, lorebooks, bosses etc
Combat is actually fun as it involves a lot more moving about and choosing which skills to use.

If you want a sorceror wearing heavy armour who can heal, damage and has pets then you can do - you can wear what you want and play as you want - obviously there are some optimal roles which if you are interested in high end group stuff you may need to use while grouped - but for solo and casual play you can spec however you want and just have fun.

Why I believe this game has been slated by some players:

All complaints from other players mainly fall into the "THIS IS NOT A WOW CLONE" category which if you find this refreshing as I do - you will probably love this game.

This game is about the journey - there are a huge amount of quests and things to do for a newly published game while you are leveling - but for players that want to reach max level in 2 days so they can stop leveling - obtain their legendary armor and spend their time raiding or pvping - this is not the bias the game has at the moment. It may come later but for now the journey is key.

This game is about being immersed in the area and actually watching the screen and whats going on around you - rather than watching your 10 rows of skill bars without looking up to see whats happening in the vicinity.
You basically have 5 skills and 1 ultimate - which is doubled at lvl 15 as you can then swap weapons - not 50 spells on a screen at once. This makes the game more tactical as you decide how you are going to play that particular fight and put them on your bar - a different fight may need that to be adjusted - so on the one hand you can learn to do far more things than most mmo's but on the other you have to choose from all the options what you will use - and that is fluid. This is a major pro for me but again many are so used to the traditional they are not happy with a different approach.

Following on from the "look at whats round you" is the fact that again this game is not staring at skill bars and numbers flashing on your screen in combat - you want to know when to get out the way - watch the character that is throwing stuff at you - there are no add ons telling you when to run dodge etc - basically if its red don't stand in it - and move move move - again I love it but some players want the traditional tank stands and keeps all the adds in one place - and everyone else stands there and dpses it - this is not the way ESO works - everyone is responsible for crowd control and everyone moves keeping the fights more fluid.

There is also no Auction house - which again for me is a plus as players can't just buy everything and it gets you involved more with your guilds - you can have 5 - hopefully there will be more buying options with the guild shops working better but I have not found the lack a drawback as I'm in an alliance where we help everyone out with items anyway - so if someone needs crafter gear or a recipe there is a good chance someone else can make it or its been donated for use.

If you are into PVP there is a great area where you can do PVP and PVE quest dailies - again I really like this area but for players that only want to PVP there have been some issues.

1 - Although in theory the area will level you up if you go in at level 10 - in reality chances are you will get squished very easily.

2 - At the moment the campaigned have been for too long and there are too many pvp areas as only vets tend to use them these days due to point 1. This means they are fairly empty of players as many are still leveling and don't want to go in too early.

ESO is trying to sort this by changing the system to have shorter campaigns and separate the veteran and normal players in some campaigns - but until then its a great chance for players that are more PVE inclined to explore the area without having lots and lots of enemies to fight - but still gives that extra adrenaline kick when you do do some PVP.

So - yes this game has some bugs as all new games do - perhaps I was fortunate but relogging solved most of my issues and it certainly wasn't game breaking for me. And yes this game does have a bot problem - but thankfully as there is no auction house their effects are minimal - or have been for me.

So for casual players and explorers its great in my opinion - for hardcore traditional MMO players I'd suggest forgetting the "traditional" way of doing things and giving this game a chance.
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on 16 May 2014
This game COULD be wonderful. However, at the present time (a month after release), it is full of bugs which really should have been sorted out before now. It is also overrun with bots and goldspamming. Support are unresponsive to bug reports.

For a game which cost £35 when released, and £8.99/month subscription THIS REALLY IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

The graphics are nice, and the voice-acting is excellent, but the difficulty of the quests is very variable (and randomly so), and the game is very unbalanced.

Perhaps in a few months the bugs will be ironed out, and the bot infestation dealt with. Unfortunately though, until then, AVOID.

Paying Zenimax £8.99 a month for the thankless task of effectively beta-testing their game for them is not my idea of a good time.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 January 2015
I played the open Beta of this last year and wasn't blown away, certainly not enough to fork out over forty quid for the game, plus a recurring subscription charge. The price of the game has dropped significantly since launch, provided you're not buying it off the official website, and it still comes with one month's subscription.

Now, or now-ish might be a good time to take another look at the game, however, if the subscription put you off previously. From March 17th this year (St. Patrick's Day, no less) the game is dropping the mandatory subscription and going with as "buy to play" model. ie you pay for the game and can play unlimited hours, but there will now be microtransactions for customisation, DLC etc.

The option is still there to pay a subscription, which will get you extra XP, access to DLC areas and some other, apparently non-essential, perks.

The actual game is... well it's okay. It's not the multi-player Skyrim that most people would have preferred, and comes with typical MMORPG grind and the potential irritation of OTHER PEOPLE in your personal story, but if you're no longer hindered by the need for a subscription and if you can still pick up a cheap copy then I'd definitely recommend it for fans of the Elder Scroll series.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 22 April 2014
Please read my review first and you will understand why i only gave it 3 stars (and that's being generous)...

I was super excited for this game, all i will say is I'm glad i used the free 30 trial period before you have to start paying per month even though you have to enter your card details beforehand. This is suppose to be Elder Scrolls online, A huge open world MMO set 1000 years before Skyrim! Yet it feels detached and sparse compared to all other Elder Scrolls games i have played. While playing the game you can only see and interact with players that are in your faction, so straight away it isn't open world as you can only interact with so many people, people in other factions can't be seen especially outside PvP. When you reach level 50 you can play in other faction areas BUT again you can only see YOUR factions players..stupid or what? Graphically the game is on a par with many other games but nothing to write home about. Audio wise the game really is impressive, perhaps the audio is the main success with an EPIC soundtrack but that doesn't make up for how the game currently is, especially when you factor in the initial outlay and then the monthly subscription. It's extremely buggy with many quests freezing midway through and you can be waiting for things to happen for hours on end, my character once glitched off the map which required a reset and indeed the game itself has crashed many times over.

Gold drops take the p***, with 1 or 2 gold being dropped for defeating enemies and when you take into account a decent horse can cost over 42,000 Gold (a standard horse costs over 17,000) you realise it's going to take you forever to get even basic things (you would think a simple horse to be just that wouldn't you?), now i know many included myself will battle it out to earn the gold but lets be frank most people won't have the patience. They've made it ridiculously time consuming just to get the basics with everything costing ridiculous amounts of gold made worse by the fact that gold drops like i said earlier are so stingy. (if you buy the collectors edition you get a horse included). The thing that really gets to me is you would think being an MMO it wouldn't be restricted yet you can't even go back and replay past quests to help a friend out and that also applies if you've started the quest and not even finished it... well i'm sorry but how crazy is that? It essentially makes it a single player game if i can't go back and play through with friends, so if you intend to play with friends i suggest you wait till they get the game otherwise you won't be able to go back and play with your existing characters.

There are other stupid things that come into play too. A friend of mine and i started a new game together and while doing a quest if there are multiple puzzles to do for example, i can't do so many and my friend do the others, WE BOTH have to do all the puzzles! Again this takes away from the whole purpose of working together and playing together which gives the feeling that the game is nothing more than a single player but with friends that can tag along (sure you can defeat enemies together but that's about it), for everything else you're on your own. Another problem is people can enter the dungeon your currently in for example and kill every monster there is which can completely ruin your strategy (if you want to go stealth that is)...these people take the money and then leave, great so that's another dungeon that's pointless completing.

Some quests are truly great and exciting yet many are the most boring quests you will ever have come across, literally, you will be moving your sleeping bag and pillow to your computer it's that bad. The Daedric City invasion which was advertised on the TV and internet with a fantastic computer generated trailer is NOTHING like what it is in the game, gone are the floods of enemies emerging from hell and instead you get a trickle of mediocre enemies to fight.

Pros: Graphically it's about par even on full settings * Sounds amazing with epic music * voice overs and character talk * certain spells are cool to use * weapons & armour aren't class restricted * siege battles (above level 10) feel like a giant mosh

Cons: Feels like a single player game in which friends can tag along and play at the same time rather than a game that promotes working together * feels very basic and sparse with too few players in your world * Gold drops are the worst I've ever seen in any game, EVER! * everything is ridiculously expensive to buy using in-game money * some quests bring a whole new meaning to the words boring and pointless * I've had quests bug out and mean i or my friend have been unable to complete them * people sit around farming off certain enemies that spawn and can spoil your experience of the game as they hog the action * Not worth the monthly subscription (even if the price was cut in half)

VERDICT: Bethesda who are behind the Elder Scrolls saga have up until this point done a good job with past outings like Skyrim which really impressed me both with the content and scope on offer. Elder Scrolls online however, is completely different and has been designed by a different studio within the Bethesda group called "Zenimax Online". To be blunt it really shows and perhaps Bethesda should have given the job to a studio that has more experience of MMOs as i understand this is their first attempt and it fails on multiple levels. I have no doubt that the game will get better over time but when it's this bad at release, it will take many patches over many months to get it to an acceptable level, the fact they have tried to screw everyone over by charging a monthly fee on top of the initial outlay is the final nail in the coffin given the state of the game.

A very poor attempt at taking a great Gaming series and turning it into an MMO, it needs at the very least another year or two in development to be anywhere near acceptable! My recommendation is to avoid this and buy Skyrim instead, if you haven't already done so.
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on 15 July 2014
I loved this to start with, but after a few months it gets old.... quickly. Quests blend into each other. There might be a wonderful story but by the time you've listened to 100 of them it gets tedious. Classes unbalanced. Not a huge amount to do outside of the questing. PVP seems like it could be amazing, but for me at least it just involves riding for 10 minutes to find something, then dying and having to start the ride again.... Plus they increased the npc level to VR5 so you can forget about doing any solo dungeons etc until later game.
I really wanted to love this, I've been aching for a wow replacement having cancelled my sub six months ago, but this is not it for me. To little flavour, little excitement and the lack of basic things like speech bubbles and even a mail reply button strike me as poorly thought out. For an MMO it's a curiously lifeless experience. The bugs that everyone goes on about haven't bothered me, my issues are deeper ones. Perhaps in 6 months when they add racing, sort out the god awful guild store searching etc etc I'll come back. For now, I've cancelled my sub, and dearly wish I hadn't paid for several months upfront.
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I played this game for several betas and then as a customer I have to say this is by far the worst game Bethesda have released. While the graphics are beautiful and the voice acting is great the gameplay itself is very basic and not at all as immersive as previous titles. In fact once you get to a certain point the game get incredibly boring as it more or less repetitively killing the same things over and over with very little puzzle or interaction required with other players. This could have been a solo game, the online capability should have been optional, not necessary.

The online play is a gimmick and this game is not even a quarter as immersive nor exciting as titles like Oblivion or Skyrim. I suspect the subscription fee will go down in price eventually.

Like others I do not believe in paying a subscription fee AND having to pay for items. It should be one or the other, not both. Game is a clear cash cow and the milk is already well sour and out of date.

Avoid until prices drop.
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on 7 April 2014
I Pre-purchased ESO through Amazon as I'm an Elder Scrolls fan and loved the idea of seeing all of Tamriel with the added bonus of being able to go questing with friends. I got early access with the Amazon purchase so got to play for a bit over this last weekend. The game itself is okay. Pretty graphics, some nice quests, really appreciate the NPC voicing and the soundtrack is beautiful. However, the game play and interfacing seemed more convoluted and clunky (somewhere in between Morrowind and Oblivion). No where near as fluid and intuitive as Skyrim and the fact that there's no controller support for PC in this day and age is just nonsense. I used controller mapping software (Pinnacle Game Controller) so I could play with a controller and it was okay but everything still seemed so high maintenance and you can't even switch between weapons during combat until level 15.
What really annoyed me the most was, after paying the better part of £40 just to buy the game itself, by purchasing the physical disk version of the game I didn't even get access to my 'free' 30 day with purchase until I'd paid for subscription time on top of the cost of the game! It's a nice enough game and all that, but not for that price!
All in all I think it's an okay game but unless your a hardcore ESO fan desperate to see more of Tamriel than Skyrim, Cyrodiil and Morrowind and willing to shell out heaps of money for the privilege, I wouldn't race to recommend it.
40-DAY GAME PLAY UPDATE: okay, I've now been playing for a while (40 days), I've made three character and have one at level 46 and have basically cleared all the Dominion quests. I am so angry though because I feel like I've spent about 5% of my game time writing bug reports because about one in three quests (in the Dominion section at least) is so seriously bugged with issues like audio and written dialogue not matching, items that are meant to be interacted with to complete a quest not activating, NPC you need to kill or speak to not even showing up, boss NPCs in player-instanced encounters being so insanely powerful that you can't even hint at defeating them until you're at least ten levels higher than the quest level... the list goes on... I've never played an MMO before so I can't really comment on that, but I'm not loving the Cyrodiil PVP area experience either.
Another aspect of the game that's really p***ing my off is the excruciatingly small storage capacity. I'm spending something like 80% of my coin just trying keep up with buying Bank and personal inventory upgrades and I'm still running out of space to store all the unique treasure items you get as quest rewards and this is just for one character. The same Bank storage allocation is used for all your characters (up to eight). At level 46 I've just managed to upgrade my Bank capacity to 110 and my main charater's personal inventory to 100. I've had to resort to using my other two characters' personal inventories as extra storage space for the quest items I've collected with my main character and I'm still finding I have to sell or destroy older quest items to make space for new ones.
There are some aspects of the game I really like but those are primarily because I am (or at least was) an Elder Scrolls fan. For example, I've really enjoyed some of the side quests where you learn a bit more about the Bosmer and Khajiit cultures as a by-product and I've enjoyed learning the alchemical properties of the plants (I've not personally found the potions you make from them to be any use though) and I was giddy like a school girl the first time I heard the keening of Nirnroot and found it looked just like it always has through 'Oblivion' and 'Skyrim' and got at a little buzz from seeing that the urns in the Nordic ruins look like those in 'Skyrim' and many of the Dremora and Ayleid ruins are very reminiscent of those in 'Oblivion' and so forth. Also, I was pleasantly shocked to encounter a number of quests whose principal characters are same-sex NPC couples and have since run into a handful of other gay or bisexual NPCs along the way.
85-DAY GAME PLAY UPDATE: The game has been getting more and more laggy after each update to the point where I'd go an entire combat encounter with an NPC with out actually being able to see them because their graphics hadn't even loaded even though they were able to inflict damage on my character and my summoned familiar was able to apparently locate and attack them. There were even instances where I'd suddenly get a load screen for no apparent reason while walking through some dungeon or other and when the game comes back from the load screen my character is somehow mid-combat with an NPC I didn't even see before the load screen.
Now, five days before my 90 days of subscription is due to run out, the game doesn't even load at all. I just get crashed out before the company logo animations even get to play and the helpdesk seems to think it's Molag Bals fault apparently and I need to update my graphics drivers even though I've been able to play the game for the last 85 days with my current drivers and my machine exceeds the recommended stats to run the game and I can play 'Splinter Cell: Blacklist' and other such advanced graphics games fine on max graphics settings.
I've now just uninstalled the game.
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on 6 April 2014
It feels very much like an elder scrolls game but it definitely has it's differences. The gameplay is the same, you have your main quest and loads of side quests to choose from (or do them all), leveling up and fighting is the same however in the past i usually find myself using the 1st person view, in elder scrolls online i prefer to use third person as i feel like there's more going on around you that you need to be aware of and enemies that are far more agile than in the past.
My choice of third person view may also be influenced on how the game currently doesn't support gamepad use although you can use a emulator like xpadder if you want. I've since got used to mouse and keyboard and with so much going on around you, the mouse definitely helps in aiming at targets quickly and accurately. I desperately wanted gamepad function to be added as a patch quickly but i'm no longer fussed, I now understand why pc gamers have prefered mouse and keyboard for so long.
Graphically it looks a lot like Oblivion, I can say it's got me hooked like Skyrim and Oblivion and i'm also enjoying playing the game with friends.
The download did take the best part of two of my evenings at around 1mb/s at the same time as i imagine a lot of other ppl were downloading it online. In game lag isn't something i've experienced much of even at this early stage but that's not to say there hasn't been any at all (early evening mainly).
I'm hooked, a big fan of the elder scrolls series of games so i'm a bit biased,if you are it's worth a try at least, it still feels like an elder scrolls game. There is a running subscription, i was given the choice of three packages (30 days, a 90 day subscription and something else, possibly 6 monthly subscription pack) and i believe i could cancel whenever. New to MMORPG games but i'm also enjoying that part of the game a lot too.
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