The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited - Thieves Guild (PC) Review

By Aria DiMezzo 12.03.2016

Review for The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited - Thieves Guild on PC

The Elder Scrolls Online is a curious anomaly of MMOs, as it avoids the rigid class structures and overcrowded ability bars of its competition, instead aiming for something that is decidedly more "Elder Scrolls-like" and generally succeeding. It was not the "Skyrim Online" that many expected and hoped it would be, but the roots were clear. Whether due to disappointment or because MMO players drift inexorably toward World of Warcraft, the playerbase dwindled, which grievously undercuts the main appeal of any MMORPG. Now that the highly anticipated Thieves Guild finally is making an appearance, is there sufficient reason for absentee players to return?

The most glaring problem of The Elder Scrolls Online is the inherent conflict between the customisation options and the pervasive need for the game to be console-friendly - without giving PC players an obvious advantage. There are more abilities, talents, and perks on offer here than in the lauded Skyrim, yet "loadouts" are restricted to only five abilities at a time, while players are restricted to having only two loadouts. Having such extremely varied options and such limited ability to use those abilities creates a sense of schizophrenia that persists through the game.

Screenshot for The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited - Thieves Guild on PC

Is this Elder Scrolls, or is this an MMO?

Seeing as recent entries to the franchise - as well as Bethesda's other works - have been more akin to "single-player MMOs" than true role-playing games, the conflict shouldn't even exist... yet it does, and the Thieves Guild DLC does little more than add some new content to a product already suffering from multiple personality disorder.

As always, since this is a Bethesda title, there is this legendary group of people, and here it is the "Thieves Guild," and it is up to the player (the Chosen One, at the end of the day) to ride throughout the land, righting wrongs, rising through the ranks of various organisations, becoming the leader, and sewing together the remnants of these ancient orders so that they are once more bastions of whatever trait they are supposed to have. This loses a fair bit of impact when there are a few thousand other Chosen Ones all doing the same thing, however.

Screenshot for The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited - Thieves Guild on PC

Of course, the DLC offers up more than a single quest line, and there's plenty to do here of sufficient entertainment value to make the purchase worth the cost, but the nagging sense that something is wrong impedes at every step, and it comes back to that original question: Is this Elder Scrolls, or is this an MMO?

Even the single-player Bethesda games don't particularly value verisimilitude, and it has always been more exhausting than anything for the player character to always be the Prophesied Hero of Legend in this group, that organisation, that cult, and this other clan. Carrying this into an MMO, where you can literally see hundreds of other Prophesied Heroes of Legend, causes a schism between the story and the experience that is difficult to circumvent: the plots directly contradict the gameplay.

Screenshot for The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited - Thieves Guild on PC

New skills liven up the experience of sneaking and thieving, and these are welcome introductions to gameplay that was otherwise lethargic and mostly pointless, while there are new ways to actually benefit from criminal actions beyond simply selling the loot and making money. Rewarding players for non-standard activities is certainly a step in the right direction, but it still doesn't mesh particularly well with the core aspects of MMO gameplay: grinding to the level cap, and then raiding or PvP'ing. As a result, it all becomes more like a mini-game within the game, rather than something that truly stands alongside the rest of the experience, although this isn't to say that it's any less enjoyable.

Screenshot for The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited - Thieves Guild on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


Even if the experience is schizophrenic, The Elder Scrolls Online earned its award as the Best MMO of 2015: it's fun, engaging, and unique. It breaks free of so many conventional standards of the genre that orienting oneself anew is quite a challenge. It's well worth it to do so, though, because the plethora of quests, adventures, and journeys to be had - like with this new DLC, Thieves Guild - make its single-player cousin look almost quaint. This influx of new content, new abilities, and new areas are meant to revitalise, not reinvent, and they fit pretty well with what most people would expect of a typical MMO's content patches.


ZeniMax Online Studios


Bethesda Softworks


Real Time RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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