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  • Breaking News

    The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, Bethesda’s sprawling online RPG finishes its journey to Xbox One

    We knew that Bethesda’s massively multiplayer take on The Elder Scrolls was coming to Xbox One, but not when or how its pricey subscription fee would translate to the platform. Now we do. The game is due in June, and that subscription fee is being ditched outright in favour of an in-game microtransaction store offering ‘convenience and customisation’ items. Read: experience boosters and hats.

    On PC, where the game has been out for a little shy of a year, the change is being cited as a sign of trouble; if the subscription fee had been profitable, that argument goes, then the change wouldn’t be necessary. Ultimately, that doesn’t matter a huge amount.The new deal is better for players, and makes the game easier to recommend.

    We played TESO extensively after it was released on PC, and given that Bethesda promise exact parity between the two versions including post-launch updates we’re in a position to tell you what to expect. Despite aspiring for Skyrim’s look and feel, this doesn't offer anywhere near the same level of freedom or even visual fidelity. Much has to be sacrificed to make fair multiplayer a balanced option, and that means curtailing your dreams of stealing every cheese wheel. Similarly, its attempts to tell a single-player story within that multiplayer framework falls flat. A cast including Kate Beckinsale, Bill Nighy and John Cleese fail to enliven a script so dry it could dehydrate the Mariana Trench. This, at least, it has in common with pretty much every other Elder Scrolls game.

    It’s also a rather flat game, lacking the vertical dimension that makes Skyrim’s mountain-scaling hikes so memorable. Extensive reuse of scenery throughout makes it feel like there’s less to discover, and a truncated draw distance (although we’re yet to confirm that this will be a pronounced issue on Xbox One) denies the game the series’ staple vistas.

    Let’s move on to the good. The combat system is more abstract than is traditional for an Elder Scrolls game but also deeper, still relying on twitch skill to a degree but matching it with special abilities that take advantage of planning and co-operation. This is supported by an excellent, freeform skill system that enables you to build the character you want by picking and choosing from multiple subclasses. Magic archery, healing warriors and sword-wielding mages are all options.

    TESO has its fans and its detractors, but there’s nothing like it on Xbox One. This is an open-world online RPG with scope that dwarfs Destiny. Although it can’t match Bungie for looks, Zenimax has its number when it comes to content. Our advice, though, is to temper your expectations and wait for the review.

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