The Elder Scrolls Online

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
The Elder Scrolls Online Game Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Online fantasy game is rooted heavily in bloody violence.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 13 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

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 & Representations

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's 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. Windows PC versions of the game use a mouse and keyboard for control. The console editions use a gamepad.


Action is made up of frequent and bloody fantasy combat. 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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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... Continue reading
Parent of a 11-year-old Written bysomewhatdiligent December 10, 2018

Interesting stories, some fantasy violence.

I love that this game has so much to offer in terms of stories and content if one has the patience to read through the content and in-game books (yes, there are... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love role-playing

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