Parents' Guide to

The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr

By Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Desert expansion asks tough moral questions.

Game Mac , PlayStation 4 , Windows , Xbox One 2019
The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

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Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
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When it comes to style and story, this expansion lives up to The Elder Scrolls' usual standard of excellence and is well worth the cost, even with some AI character flaws. Considering that The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr descended from a series of single-player adventure/role-playing games, it's perhaps no surprise that it does solo play better than other MMOs. The expansion throws you into the heart of the action, expertly creating a sense of peril while making you feel what you do makes a difference. As it goes along, the main quest line introduces you to a series of new characters (and reacquaints you with a few old friends) who quickly become allies in the fight against the dragons. Difficulty for a solo player is generally good, though occasionally you'll need a few friends (or friendly strangers) to progress. You can, of course, build your skills up by completing optional side quests, and Elsweyr offers you plenty of these, with situations and narratives that are tragic, funny, mysterious, and scary -- and that explore serious themes related to the suffering of an oppressed people. Whatever their emotional tenor, they're worth playing through.

The Necromancer, the new character class, is equally worthwhile, with three complementary skill tracks to follow and numerous interesting spells. (For the uninitiated, Necromancers manipulate souls and raise the dead.) Of course, you have to be careful where you display these ghoulish abilities; turn into a Bone Colossus in town, and you're likely to have words with local law enforcement. In any case, the kingdoms of Northern Elsweyr are a lot of fun to explore, but if you're a loot hound, you could be disappointed. This isn't a loot-centric game, so searching every bag and chest is generally a waste of time. Also, if you're seen carrying stolen goods, the guards will force you to pay a fine. (How they know you have stolen goods is anyone's guess.) This represents one questionable mechanic in the game, and points to another: lazy AI. Too often you find yourself adventuring with AI characters who stand by and do nothing while you fight off enemies. There's no narrative reason for it; they just don't help. Worse yet, if a monster chases you into a city and you engage in combat, the townspeople stand like statues, not reacting to the attack. It's a let-down -- a dead spot in a world that otherwise feels so alive. In spite of this, The Elder Scrolls: Elsweyr offers a range of moving and entertaining stories, an abundance of new challenges, and a good number of exotic locations to explore. Granted, because of its mature themes, near-constant violence, and blood and gore, it isn't the best option for kids. So keep it for yourself, and steer your kids toward a different MMO.

Game Details

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