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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.