The Elder Scrolls Online Game Poster Image

The Elder Scrolls Online



Online fantasy game is rooted heavily in bloody violence.
Parents recommend

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The Elder Scrolls Online is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) that lets you decide how you want to play. Positive themes including loyalty, trust, and friendship are found throughout the narrative. However, much of the gameplay is unavoidably focused on violent and sometimes gory combat.

Positive role models

As with most role-playing games, you can customize the look and abilities of your character, including age and gender. Once the game begins players control the character's behavior, including whether he or she is good or evil -- or a positive or negative role model.

Ease of play

There is a learning curve, but those who've played previous The Elder Scrolls games or other MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) should pick it up fairly quickly. Note that Common Sense Media tested the Windows PC version of the game, which employs a mouse and keyboard for control. The console editions use a gamepad.


Action is made up of frequent and bloody fantasy combat, which is presumably the primary reason for the game's "Mature" rating by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Players can use swords, knives, bows and arrows, and other weapons -- including magical spells -- to kill thousands of enemies, many of whom are human. Blood can be seen splashing from wounds and there is some gore. Scenes of torture, mass deaths (e.g. piles of skulls), beheading, and dismemberment are also present.



Players will encounter female characters with low-cut clothing revealing deep cleavage as well as sexually suggestive language. Sexual violence is referred to in dialogue that mentions a male raping a female and vice versa (example: “She...raped the men as cruelly as Bal had ravished her”.)


In-game dialogue includes only mild profanity, such as the words "hell" and "damn." However, because the game must be played online -- presumably with others -- gamers might encounter other people using inappropriate language while speaking with one another or text chatting. 


A monthly subscription is required. The developer has stated there will be other things players can purchase with real money in the game.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The player can purchase and consume alcohol in the game, and even partake in a drinking game (vision becomes blurred and speech becomes slurred). Many missions can be acquired from taverns.

Parents Need to Know

The Elder Scrolls Online is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) that requires players to play online with others to complete many missions. If players allow voice or text communication they may hear inappropriate language spoken by others. Action focuses on combat in which players use medieval weapons like swords and bows, as well as magical spells, to kill enemies. Foes often scream in pain and their wounds gush red blood. Sexual references -- including mention of rape -- exist within dialogue and texts found around the game world. Players can consume alcohol to the point of inebriation, resulting in a camera blurring effect.

What's it about?

After years of critically-acclaimed single-player games in The Elder Scrolls series, Bethesda Softworks has finally launched THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE, a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) based on the same award-winning franchise. Gamers can play online with friends in their homes or choose to adventure alone by setting out in a huge, open world and accepting quests. As with other RPGs, your character will earn experience (XP) points and become stronger in various areas, such as combat, as well as earn new abilities, weapons, armor, and helpful items. The choices you make -- including the characters you talk to, alliances you join, and quests you accept -- will shape the epic story. That story is set about 1,000 years before the events in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Three alliances have emerged, each one fighting for supremacy over the land, just as darker forces are moving to destroy the world. It's up to everyone playing to save Tamriel.

Is it any good?


The Elder Scrolls Online is generally a good game, but be aware a massive, open-ended MMORPG like this must be played for many weeks (or even months) before knowing if it's a worthwhile investment. As a result, consider this review a "first look" at this ambitious game rather than a deep dive. Still, so far, it's a lot of fun. It doesn't veer too far from other popular MMORPGs, such as World of Warcraft, but still offers a few new twists in a universe familiar to fans. For example, it features a smart real-time combat system that fuses strategy with action and is tailored to your individual character's class, abilities, and weapon loadout. It takes a bit getting used to, but targeting, attacking, and blocking become quite intuitive over a short time during which you'll likely encounter only low-level threats. While the game's huge world can be a bit daunting, a handy compass will guide you to areas of interest, including mission objectives, characters, events, and landmarks. The world has a look consistent with previous The Elder Scrolls games, complete with very impressive graphics, animation, and special effects. The voice acting and music is also superb.​

Just keep in mind that you are now expected (but not necessarily required) to venture out and potentially chat with groups of friends in order to complete missions -- a clear departure from the single-player games in this 20 year-old franchise. There is also a PvP (player versus player) option for those who want to play more competitively than cooperatively. As with many other MMORPGs, especially when they first launch, there are some technical glitches, including characters that get stuck in or walk through objects (like walls), frozen screens, and even the occasional crash to desktop. But knowing the talented folks at Bethesda Softworks are behind the game, these issues will likely get smoothed out sooner than later. The Elder Scrolls Online might not reinvent the MMORPG genre, but the developers have added some nice new touches, along with an intriguing story, comfortable controls, and awesome graphics. After two decades of single-player-only adventures, this online game in The Elder Scrolls universe was well worth the wait.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about violence in games. Is violence in a clearly fantasy-based game like The Elder Scrolls Online meaningfully different than that seen in more realistic and contemporary game worlds, like those of Grand Theft Auto V, inFAMOUS: Second Son and Saints Row IV? Be sure to read Common Sense Media's Violence in the Media section for insightful articles, blog posts and handy tips.

Game details

Platforms:Mac, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
Available online?Available online
Developer:Bethesda Softworks
Release date:April 9, 2014
Genre:Massively Multi-player Online Game (MMOG)
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Horses and farm animals, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires, Wild animals
ESRB rating:M for Blood and Gore, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence

This review of The Elder Scrolls Online was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written bySilverySpoon June 10, 2015

Great, adventurous online game

I have been a long time TES series fan. I've played countless hours and I am really happy with The Elder Scrolls Online. I never expected an mmorpg out of it but I sure am glad. TES has everything applicable within an online game but with the Elder Scrolls feel which is a plus! There is violence bit it isn't much at all to be concerned about. The other ES series have much more violence compared to this. Also, there are no real concerns for nudity or sex and I would recommend this to anyone 13 and up (for tactics and more thinking with minor violence). To it's extent, this game has the typical option as of many MMOs to unequip your armor. Women have underwear and bra; men have the brief type of look. *Parents remember*: This is a game played online with other real people. There is free communication so just watch out for any creeps or any information being led out that you wouldn't want to be out there for stranger minds to know. All-in-all this game is a good game with much experience and adventuring to do! My kids also play on my account sometimes and beg me to get them their own so looks like I'll have to eventually get them a console haha :-)
What other families should know
Easy to play/use
Safety and privacy concerns
Teen, 15 years old Written byLeonidas Of Sparta September 24, 2014

It should have been rated Teen, the blood is mostly animated, not to bad, and it's stylized and is in no way over the top! You wont find the gruesome decaptitations from skyrim. A good comparison would be to guild wars 2, imagine that with a tad bit more blood. As far as sexual themes go, they are in there, but you will need to look pretty hard to find them. Its right around the level of games like Final Fantasy 14 and many JRPG's. Over all this is has a soft M rating, and should be at a lower rating.

Parent of a 8 year old Written bymicko1 April 5, 2015
What other families should know
Great role models
Safety and privacy concerns


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