Tamriel Infinium: The pros and cons of Elder Scrolls Online’s console versions

    
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As of today, you can now play Elder Scrolls Online on your consoles as well as your PC. Finally, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 gamers can play the game that PC gamers have enjoyed for nearly a year already. Of course, if you have been keeping up with our Tamriel Infinium column, you know that the Elder Scrolls Online game that PC gamers received at the game’s initial launch has changed quite a bit, and the game will continue to change as ZeniMax tweaks it.

It’s rare to hear that PC gaming owes anything to consoles because PC gamers like to think that the biggest innovations to games have taken place on the PC first. I’m not here to argue that point, but I would like to thank console gamers for the current pricing structure for ESO. I think it’s likely that the game would not have shifted to its current buy-to-play model if it weren’t for the imminent console release. And that would be a shame because this payment model is one of the best, and it carries across all platforms.

That said, there are differences between the PC and the console versions of the game, and if you’re still on the fence as to whether you should buy the console version or not, then let me give you the pros and the cons. I am familiar with the Xbox One version of the game rather than the PlayStation 4 version, but most of the these pros and cons apply to both.

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The pros

Smooth controls

The first thing that I noticed when watching the beta playthroughs of the Xbox One version was how darn smooth the controls were. I play MMOs mostly on a PC, so I’ve come to accept the controls of a PC, which tend to mostly be about efficiency. However, on the console, it seemed that the game was made for these controls. I don’t mean to suggest that the PC version of the game is clunky; it just appeared to me that the controls on the console enhanced the gameplay. In fact, I’m tempted to hook up my Xbox controller to my PC to play ESO now.

Skyrim-like interface

Some of you might not consider this a positive for the console version of the game, but it works out really well for the Xbox One. The interface looks like Skyrim’s. From the very beginning of character creation to midgame crafting, the interface works as if it were made to be played on the console. Unlike designers whose cross-platform ports are intended to be multiplatform, ZeniMax truly went the extra mile and created an interface specifically designed for console that clearly works really well. It works so well that I’m anticipating that someone will create a PC mod that makes the PC UI look like the console UI.

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Integrated voice chat

You do not have to mess with a third-party program to in order to talk to your friends in your guild, group, or those standing next to you because the voice chat for ESO console is integrated into the game itself. Yes, there is voice chat for group and guild. You can toggle these on and off as you need them via the UI. There is also a proximity voice chat that you can toggle on and off as well. This will allow you to talk to anyone in your general area.

Livingroom gaming

This pro is an obvious one. I know that I spend a lot of time sitting at my computer, and sometimes it’s fun to relax and kick back on the couch. For me — especially during the summer when there are no good television show on — that means that I will get bored and fall asleep. However, if had an awesome MMO to play on my 60 inch TV, then that would be great. And ESO would be a great game to play on the TV because it is an absolutely beautiful game.

Hotkeyed emotes

Maybe it’s silly to list hotkeyed emotes as a pro for the console version of the game. It is a difference between the two versions, though and I like the idea of hotkeyed emotes because you don’t have to slash command them. It’s a small thing, but it’s a fun thing.

Cons

No addons

The biggest con for me about playing ESO on the console is that there are no addons. I love modding and tricking out my games, and the fact that there is no way to do this in ESO for the console is actually a deal breaker for me. Although you could argue that playing it without mods puts everyone on an even playing field in PvP, it’s more important to me to play the game with the interface that I enjoy. And while I also love the idea that everyone is created equal in PvP regardless of his modding skills, it’s just not enough.

Accessible menu

Although the interface for console is wonderful and integrates beautifully with the game, it sometimes takes several button hits to access things like inventory items and the guild menu. On the PC these interfaces are one shortcut key away. Unfortunately, this is a limitation of consoles in general, and although ZeniMax did a great job of making a UI that works wonderfully with platform, the platform has limitations. This is definitely one.

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Slight graphical downgrade

I am a bit of a graphics snob, but not so much that a slight downgrade is going to make me declare something unplayable. But you should know that there is a clear difference between the Xbox One and the PC version of the in-game graphics, one that is not related to the time of day like some internet critics want to say. In the image above, you can see a side-by-side comparison that clearly shows the difference between the two versions of the game in terms of shadows, reflections, and texture detail. The differences are so minor that if we didn’t have two the versions of the game sitting right next to each other, we would likely not even be able to notice any differences. But they are there.

No chat box

Perhaps it’s because I am a PC gamer and have played so many MMOs, but the lack of a chatbox in the console version of the game seems a bit odd to me. With voice chat being integrated into the game, I can’t say that this is a deal-breaker for me, but I will certainly miss it.

Integrated voice chat

I included integrated voice chat as a pro for the game, but it’s also a con. My first experience with integrated voice chat was in APB, and it was horrendous. Proximity chat was full of children swearing and saying vile things to each other. Then in DC Universe Online, the proximity chat was super sensitive and didn’t function very well at all. I’m not totally against proximity chat because I think it could actually be helpful in some cases. I’m just really happy that we will be able to toggle it off.

As you can see, the major differences in the platforms come in the form of UI elements, which is an amazing feat when you consider how botched some other console ports have been. Although I can’t definitively say that you should buy one version over another, I hope that my list of pros and cons help you decide for yourself.

Traverse the troubled land of Tamriel in the Elder Scrolls Online. Larry Everett will be your guide here in Tamriel Infinium every other week as you explore together the land created by ZeniMax and Bethesda. If you have any burning questions, send them his way via email or via Twitter.
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JordanHennen
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JordanHennen

They just released the game pad beta for pc and it mocks the Xbox one version of the game entirely. But I’m using my 360 controller right now. Also you can hoom your laptop up to your 50 inch tv and get the same result. Just saying. ;)

Robert80
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Robert80

toophat82  Uh, the difference between the 7850 and 7870 is negligible.  It is basically a few frame rates when running graphically intense stuff.  Yes, it’s modified… such that it can support the CPU when things get tough on the CPU, not so it is a much better graphics card.
Maybe the screencaps are wonky, but every single PS4/XBone shot I have seen looked worse compared to a PC running a 7850 (mine that I am using right now.)  You know, like above… that water texture is so obviously different.  And, interestingly enough, the 7850 water looks like the PC picture, not the junk on the other side.
I didn’t bother looking up the exact card, just went with something I had seen running on a PC that was close.  So, thanks for the lecture, but I was actually trying to give the consoles some extra credit.  Sorry that you felt so offended by my not giving the exact specs… but you should be ashamed of yourself for assuming I’m just spreading lies.

toophat82
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toophat82

People like and want something that is simple and affordable and that is what consoles provide something that is simple as plug and play no setting up, tuning, or maintenance needed or even much know how that’s the Bottomline others don’t mind having to put in a little more effort or requiring a little more know how to get something more. We all prefer and like different things and that is why there is more then one platform and choices nothing wrong with that as it is your money to choose what to buy with afterall and people should always get what they payed for and want. At the end of the day both platforms will provide something better then the other and both will have its pros and cons none are perfect. Personally I own and game on all platforms both PC and consoles as both have something I like and want so it’s all good to me that is what more gamers need to be like not like some of these fanboys that sometimes are part of what’s bad about the gaming industry and will support what they like faithfully but blindly as well and supporting and keeping some of what is bad with the gaming industry going and not changing. Good news is that both PC and consoles keep changing and becoming more like one another with both trying to borrow the pros of one another rid themselves of the cons so one day the line between PC and console will not exsist and the gaming community will be one with everyone gaming and playing with one another no matter what platform they can afford or prefer.

toophat82
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toophat82

You have no idea what you are talking about and should be ashamed of yourself to be spreading complete lies. The GPU in ps4 is actually better then a Radeon 7850 do some research before you spread lies, keep in mind that due to the how consoles operate both hardware and OS wise they can get a lot more out of less and use and dedicate more resources into games. If you notice they can get games to run and look a lot better then it should on the hardware used.
Ps4 uses a modified 7870 HD which is more then a good enough GPU on PCs that a lot of people still use or cards similar in power too not every PC owner owns a high end video card nevermind own a high end PC most still own low to mid range pcs which ps4 and Xbox one can compete with at the end of the day and for a good price. Now that modified 7870 HD is equal to a nvidia GTX 580, 660, 660ti, and basically all good cards that PC owners still use today. Now while it won’t run games on ultra settings always you can count on it running medium to high settings which once again is what the average PC gamer runs their games on only people with high end video cards that cost 400 and over will and can normally run on ultra settings to max settings which once again may I remind is not the norm for most PC gamers who normally own low to mid end gaming PCs. Now in this review he doesn’t state what the PC picture is being run on and what settings it could be ultra to max settings and on a high end gaming PC so of course it wouldn’t compare but if it was run on a low to mid end gaming PC and video card then you would see that the difference isn’t much.
I Speak from personal experience as well as research as I own a Radeon 7870 HD on one of my gaming PCs and I could run ESO on high settings with decent fps and looked good and on par with how it looked on my ps4 but of course when I run ESO on my Nividia GTX 780 TI a high end card I run ESO maxed out and with high fps and of course then you can see a lot more of a difference but still not say it’s like day and night like some people make it out to be. So before you speak do some research because it is not as simple as comparing the two platforms flat out due to fact that no PC is equal to another and both platforms do not run and operate exactly the same either.

seemsthatway98
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seemsthatway98

thatchefdude I’ve played D3 on PS3, PS4, and PC. By far, the best version is the PS4 one.

Cyroselle
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Cyroselle

mark_t50 Cyroselle yeah, it makes a pretty rough comparison, and that’s really too bad. I hate pop-up, it’s one of my top gripes in console games, and I’m always disappointed when that gets ported over as well by unimaginative devs that can’t quite seem to understand that we PC/Mac users don’t actually *have* to just deal with it – we have the option to expand, upgrade and tweak what we have, rather than waiting for another 5-10 years for a generation refresh. I *do* like console games though, and as emulators don’t do a perfect job, I still feel tempted from time to time to buy one of the new boxes.

AngelBlack
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AngelBlack

thatchefdude AngelBlack The DX11 client for Heavensward will only be released for PC according to game director/producer Yoshi-P

Robert80
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Robert80

thatchefdude AngelBlack  Yes, it is.  Essentially it is using a Radeon 7850 equivalent.  That is, a 1GB graphics card that should support DX11.  However, the consoles have shown to handle it poorly.
Sadly, the game on PS4/XBone (ESO) just doesn’t compete with an older 1GB card on PC.  Not even close.
FF14 does have some of the same texture and resolution issues that ESO has, but the graphics are more friendly toward the console hardware, and the DX11 texturing on both consoles is poor… so it likely will gain even more of a noticeable difference.  Still, it does a much better job to date of maintaining an appearance that is at least close to what a decent (4 year old) computer will put out.

Rohirrim
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Rohirrim

2 more pros:
1. No bots. Unless i missed something there are no bots working on consoles..this is a huge plus for me.
2. Everyone play on equal hardware. On pc some people might have a mouse with 10+ buttons while others a simple mouse.
Also about the myth that you can play on pc from your couch with wireless controllers.
1. Most people have on pc a 21-24 inch monitors and not a 50 inch tv. Sitting on 3 meters away is not possible unless you are a kind of superhero with bionic eyes. Also plugging your pc to your tv in living room just to play that game with a controller isnt an option too.
2. Most pc games are not designed for controller..even eso ui is much different on console to fit the controller game style. Playing with controller a pc game is sometimes frustrating.

Vincynt
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Vincynt

Nreff Vincynt ApathyCurve You implied it was just them.  But I’d hate paying a sub on top of my sub too and don’t play console games…