Now that The Elder Scrolls Online has launched for console, the virtual holding pattern that the game has been in for the past few months should hopefully be ending soon. These months did bring us some idea of the general direction of what to expect for the console versions, but for many of us PC players, things have been in a general lull since update 6 was released, with talk having shifted to the console audience. Fair enough, as an MMORPG release like this on console is significant, and while the game is, of this writing, having similar launch issues as most PC MMOs (welcome console players to launch server issues and lag!), things will get sorted. This week, it seemed like a good time to discuss a few things that new ESO console players should know, and PC players should be happy about.
Consoles' Even Footing
ESO on consoles presents, for some, a feeling of even footing outside of a game that features a series of add-ons as well as rampant animation canceling. While, as a PC player, I don't know firsthand if animation canceling is possible with console controls, but without add-ons and with the game's native lack of an inspect option, all of it should create the feeling of even ground. While yes, add-ons are free, and animation canceling on PC is available to everyone, it adds an unintentional layer of exclusion, as well as impedes players who either aren't aware of the process or don't know how to do it effectively. Inspecting other players in most games is a tool for exclusion. In ESO, if you have two characters, one in high-level armor you know is good, and the other wearing a wedding dress, with no hint of the armor underneath, there's no way to tell what the other player's output is. Most of the time, players turn to stats and learning how to exploit animation canceling in order to exclude and beat other players. The console versions simply feel like they might provide the most level playing field yet.
Playing Together or Going Solo?
You may have heard that ESO wasn't friendly to players who wanted to play together, but many of the changes that happened over the past year on PC made the game much more grouping-friendly, and this all follows onto consoles. For those with steady gaming buddies lined up, I'd recommend getting a Pledge of Mara for the rings that grant two players XP bonuses for questing together. This will also grant the 10% XP bonus otherwise provided by a subscription. If you're a PC player who copied an account to console and had Rings of Mara, the bonus will only work if your corresponding pledge partner also copied an account to console. Otherwise, Pledge of Mara can be obtained as a crown store item for 1,000 crowns, which is under the cost of a one month subscription.
If you don't have friends lined up to play with, the consoles' voice chat seems to have its pros and cons when finding groups. Another aspect of ESO is that it is very solo-friendly. I suspect that many console players are likely to be playing solo more often than not, because it's convenient, and the game lends itself well to it with the story, voice acting, and quest design. Additionally, the familiarity in controls and UI to Skyrim and the reliance on delves as small group PvE play should also serve to acclimate solo players. Some things like the decentralized economy might be a bit odd to navigate at first, but overall, the game holds up storywise as an entertaining RPG and as an MMORPG, it works for both the social and the solo. PC is going to be more ideal a platform for some players, but this game was definitely aiming for a console release from the start, and despite delays, it seems like the second chance ESO truly needs.
Hold Off on the Subscription
Since the game is now buy to play, with a subscription entirely optional, now is a good time to start to play, settle in, and explore Tamriel. While the PC launch was wracked with issues that ended in some free time awarded to subscribers, the console launch should hopefully be running more smoothly by the time you read this. That said, since the game switched to sub-optional, new purchases no longer come with a free subscription month. New accounts do get 500 crowns to use in the crown store, which is enough for some of the basic items or even a small pet. The other immediate benefit of a subscription is 10% gain bonuses for things like XP and gold, but unless you're someone who really enjoys cosmetic items, the gain from paying the subscription right now isn't very substantial. Not including a free subscription month with the game purchase as an initial enticement is not unheard of, but it does feel a bit lacking.
As my colleague Ryan Getchell also acknowledged, there hasn't been much on the PC front in a while, there have been no DLC announcements yet, and the game's entire content as it currently exists, is open to everyone who owns a copy of the game. While players should support the developers of the games they enjoy, feel free to poke around for a while and explore the land, play the story, and take your free month or beyond while we wait for news on DLC. On that note—
DLC Announcements Will Finally Be Coming!
Fellow PC players, there is something for us too. All of us, actually. Welcome, console community. The clock is ticking as to the first major DLC announcements. As noted, it has been rather slow in the ESO department over the past couple of months, with PC players enjoying the game, but with most of the marketing and development focused announcements on the console. Zenimax tried to lure PC players back with changes, but some understandably felt miffed at having paid for a game undergoing extensive changes, only to change models and then cease major updates for months after frequent new content or changes at a speedy clip for a year. While we're not completely certain just yet what DLC release across three separate platforms will look like, the community can now be united in anticipation for some new content reveals, right?
It's almost certain that things will be console focused for the next couple of weeks as the studio makes certain to smooth out the console launch and work out any kinks. Yet, with previously confirmed or hinted-at content set to come to the game, such as the Dark Brotherhood, Thieves Guild, or the Imperial City, along with other potential additions, an announcement sooner, rather than later, would be great. The only concern is whether sometimes lengthy console patch approval processes will mean PC updates or DLC will be pushed back to accommodate simultaneous release across platforms or if releases will be staggered.