I've been roleplaying in Skyrim since I started
my channel 6 years ago. I never considered ESO because I hate the idea of MMOs (play with others! Never! Muh immersion!) but I was looking for something to do with my patrons for the upcoming 100 patrons celebration and I decided to give ESO a try. I did try ESO during the beta and hated it and never went back, until now.
To my great surprise, I don't just like ESO, I love it. MUCH more than Skyrim. Here's why:
Elder Scrolls Online is very roleplayable, even if – no especially if – you are playing solo
For some reason, I did not feel as connected to the world through roleplay as I do in Elder Scrolls Online. You may be thinking, as I was, "I do not want to play with others!" but I realized pretty quickly, that you do not have to in ESO! And because the world changes based on your actions, your roleplay matters to the world your character inhabits. Solo roleplay is as viable in ESO as it is in Skyrim.
Bonus Points: The skill system is so flexible. If you are not concerned with powerleveling, PvP, end-game group content and all that stuff, you can make any type of character you wish. Great for roleplay and creating unique characters from a skill perspective.
ESO is gorgeous, right out of the box (and even better with Reshade)
I was so surprised at the quality of the lighting and graphics in Elder Scrolls Online. I had to mod Skyrim up the wazoo and never got even close to the beauty of ESO. (Full disclosure, I only played Oldrim.)
Writing is better than Skyrim
The writing seems less stilted, less forced. However, you do not have the branching choices that are a little more available in Skyrim. There have been few evil or even roguish choices that I have noticed so far in dialogue. You are pretty much a hero, saving the world.
Quests seem less "errandy"
Quests just don't seem like a chore. I felt that I was doing things for a reason that furthers the story. All quests are part a story, even if it is a small one. Also, some of the quests are very sweet or touching. Lots to roleplay in response to the quest and how it changes the world. And stories can be found EVERYWHERE, even just little touches in the world. Every dungeon, delve has it's own story.
A larger variety of voice actors and better direction
Every single word is voice acted and the acting seems less "wooden" which is, I imagine, a result of better voice direction. Also, Alfred Molina, Malcolm McDowell, John Cleese and Tim Russ. ❤♥ By the way,
, Alfred Molina complimented the writing of the game too.
Bigger World, Less empty space between things to do
Obviously, the world is bigger because it is all of Tamriel (and I only own the base game and Morrowind right now, there are two more chapters and even more DLC available), but there is much more to do in it compared to Skyrim. I have many memories of walking and walking in Skyrim with nothing really happening. But somehow ESO feels more alive even with other players running everywhere (more on that below).
ESO is moddable (called addons in this game) and it is SO MUCH EASIER!
Here's how you mod ESO:
Here's how you mod Skyrim:
- Take a month off work…
NPCs reactions and Zone environments change based on what you do!
When my character,
, saved a village and nearby docks the NPCs commented on it and applauded her when the battle was over! No more looking at ruined Whiterun for well, ever.
Emotes make character seem less wooden
I am a roleplayer and anything that makes my character seem more alive the better. The character even has a voice and you can choose from a number of voice styles. Since I voice all my characters in my livestreams this is not essential but it is a nice touch. I love that Esme can bow in gratitude, wave hello, point the way, look out over the battlefield and much more. I highly recommend the Lovely Emotes mod for favoriting and keybinding emotes.
You can even get into personalities (idles for your character) to give your beloved character even more depth!
There is an arena in game (two if you have the Orsinium DLC)
I know that the loss of an arena in Skyrim made a lot of people unhappy. More on group content in game here (though the Orsinium Arena, Maelstrom, is solo):
Much better FPS and Smoothness!
No matter what I have done, I have been unable to get Skyrim to feel, I don't know, smooth? I always got a headache after playing for an hour or so. There was always a flickering and jitteriness. With ESO, no headaches! FPS stays around 100 FPS for me and smooth! Even when FPS drops to 80 or even 60, it is not noticeable. (I keep the FPS counter that game provides up in the right corner since I want to make sure thing are smooth for recording and streaming.)
Bonus points to ESO: It has not crashed on me, not even once. The Public Test Server crashed once, but I had stuffed it with addons.
Crafting System has more depth and so much you can make compared to Skyrim
I have not even gotten into the crafting side of things but you can craft Clothing, Woodworking, Blacksmithing, Alchemy, Enchanting, and Provisioning. Summerset added Jewelrycrafting as well. You can make your own furniture and there are TONS of houses in game. (One you can get from quests that I know of, but many cost real money from the Crown Store.)
You can, with an addon, move and resize the UI
One thing that really put me off MMOs was all the clutter on the UI. I was very happy to find that I could move and resize most of the UI with the Azurah addon. I also got rid of the reticle when I am not looking at something interactable with Wykkd's Immersion addon. This is what my UI
looks like normally and
with the chat and emote window.
Zones don't seem separate, you can see one from the other, the world feels whole.
Someone here on Reddit said it better than I could: https://www.reddit.com/r/elderscrollsonline/comments/blkxnw/one_minor_detail_that_i_love
You can play with your friends no matter what level your characters are!
You can hide your helmet without a mod. A subscription is NOT required to play.
There is a subscription service that offers QoL, cosmetic upgrades and a craft bag, but I am avoiding it for now as I do not plan to do crafting for a while, if ever.
The community, at least on PC, is very kind. I have been gifted gold, armor and weapons and soul gems from friendly players. I have been shown through a dungeon by a random player who saw me struggling. Lots of positives and very few bad eggs so far. So helpful!
Skyrim is still better in these ways:
No respawning enemies
I was surprised, to say the least, the first time I turned around after lockpicking a chest and the danged scamp I had just obliterated back to Oblivion was on me again.
No players running around
This is a pro and con. I admit that players running around everywhere is super distracting – at first. What I did was see them as soldiers and mercenaries for the war that rages in Cyrodiil (The PvP area). During wartime, there are people running for supplies, sending messages, running to unexpected battles and ambushes, etc. So by seeing players as part of the story of the world, I was able to "get over it" more or less. It's still annoying and I do not understand what the heck is the danged hurry! but whatever.
Note: You can, very well, play ESO solo. If you are an introvert like me, you can just play alone, turn off chat and immerse yourself in your character's story. I have spent most of my time playing just in that way.
You can play in a small roleplay group as well through Discord! It works like this: Each of you are on a shared group call in discord and you can stream your games in the call. (Has not affected my performance one bit either ping or FPS, by the way.) Then one person (the person "driving" so to speak) turns up their game volume in Discord and everyone else turns theirs off in discord. Then in game, everyone except the driver turns their dialogue volume down. Then when you talk to an NPC, everyone clicks on the NPC at the same time and you can all hear the NPC through the discord call and the person driving talks in character with the NPC and everyone RPs along, the group deciding what they want to say next, etc. It's really fun!
A few more things that Skyrim does better or can be modded in:
The lockpicking is less annoying in Skyrim. No way to use magic on locks, AFAIK. No torches or lanterns in ESO. I miss camping in Skyrim. No followers that you can hire or befriend. No Inigo! 🙁 I am voicing the clannfear a sorcerer can summon who acts as my character's protector, tank and nursemaid. >.< 🙂
ESO is very one-dimensional in how the character can move. You cannot climb. You cannot dive. Skyrim is definitely better in this regard.
"But I can't live without my DRAAAAGGGGGOOOOONNNNSSSS!"
, young Dragonborn. Early access May 20th for those who pre-order.
Tl;dr: To my surprise, Elder Scrolls Online is a much better game than Skyrim in my opinion – even though I am a primarily solo roleplayer.
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