The Elder Scrolls series has captivated gamers with its rich and immersive fantasy world for decades and garnered immense popularity with its latest title Skyrim. How does this formula translate to an online RPG? In this in-depth comparative article, we will explore the key differences and similarities between The Elder Scrolls Online and The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, delving into aspects such as world space, timeline, main story, character creation, combat, modding, and more!
ESO vs. Skyrim Overview
Let’s start with the bare-bones basics. ESO and Skyrim differ fundamentally in their gameplay experience. Skyrim is a single-player RPG known for its expansive open world and immersive storytelling, while ESO is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that allows players to venture into the Elder Scrolls universe alongside others to fight massive player versus-player battles or band together to take on dungeons and dangerous bosses in player versus environment scenarios.
World Space Differences
One of the primary distinctions between ESO and Skyrim is the scope of their world spaces. Skyrim focuses on the region of Skyrim itself, set within the greater world of Tamriel providing a detailed and meticulously crafted environment.
ESO, on the other hand, offers access to the vast world of Tamriel encompassing a plethora of provinces, including Skyrim, and also series favorites like Morrowind, Cyrodil, and Daggerfall but also never before seen places such as Elsweyr (Home of the Khajiit Race), Black Marsh (Home of the Argonians), Alikr Desert (Home to the Redguard Race), and Orsinium (Home to the Orc Race) that were previously only described to players via in-game books within the Elder Scrolls Series.
Players can start their Elder Scrolls Online journey in many different ways and locations. Be sure to review our list of the Best ESO Starting Zones before beginning your journey.
Naturally as a result ESO’s world space provides a greater sense of exploration, variety, and sheer scale of the world of Tamriel to players than we have experienced or seen before in the single-player RPG’s.
Another massive difference that can be jarring for some players is that while it is very much the same world of Tamriel that both games are set within, ESO and Skyrim also diverge in terms of their timelines. Skyrim is set in the Fourth Era, specifically 200 years after the events of The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion.
ESO, however, takes place in different time periods, depending on the expansion or chapter you’re playing in. It explores various eras, set within the Second Era. You play either during the Three Banners War (The conflict between the 3 factions of the game) or during the events preceding and following the Planemeld in the Daedric War (Via the main quest and various DLC Expansions such as Blackwood, High Isle, and now Necrom). So while it might come as a surprise to some, the Elder Scrolls Online is a historic Prequel to the events that unfold in the single-player titles such as Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim.
Review our list of the top ESO DLC here.
Main Story Differences
This naturally leads us to discuss the main differences between how the games handle their Main Story and the differences between those as well. First, it should be noted that the main storylines in ESO and Skyrim offer distinct narrative experiences. Skyrim centers around the Dragonborn, a prophesied hero with the power to defeat dragons and save Tamriel from Alduin, the World-Eater. This takes place in the sole Province of Skyrim. The main quest is linear and in chronological order with the potential for the player to go off the main story and explore an entire world of possibilities but ultimately narratively culminates in the end of the main quest.
ESO, on the other hand, weaves together various factions, Daedric threats, and political struggles within the entire Elder Scrolls universe centered on your character known as the Vestige. ESO’s main storylines are expansive and provide opportunities for group play and collaboration but also notoriously hard to follow, there’s an entire subreddit that’s been built to guide players through the order of content to play in order to experience the story chronologically. Each province, faction, and guild has its own “main storylines” and as a result, the narrative is massive, and depending on how you travel the world of Tamriel it can feel quite overwhelming and somewhat disjointed as a result.
This is one of the few sections of this article where we will find the greatest number of similarities between the two titles. ESO certainly was influenced heavily stylistically and evidently mechanically in its character creation process.
The same level of extensive hours-long customization options and playing with sliders is available in ESO as found within Skyrim. ESO offers further cosmetic customization through in-game rewards and purchases.
Furthermore, both games offer the same 10 playable races, Altmer (High Elves) Argonian, Bosmer (Wood elf), Breton, Dunmer (Dark elves), Imperial, Khajiit, Nord, Orc, and Redguard. However, it should be noted that the Imperial race is offered only in the Imperial Digital Upgrade.
Wondering which Race is best to start your ESO journey? Review all 10 Elder Scrolls Online races here.
Combat mechanics in ESO and Skyrim also exhibit notable distinctions. Skyrim features a real-time combat system that emphasizes melee, ranged, and magical abilities that are performed with mouse clicks. Archery, Blocking, Stealth gameplay and insta-kill finishing move mechanics are highlights of Skyrim’s timeless combat. Skyrim also provides players far more freedom to create and build their character however they’d like with the various abilities, skills, and magics accessible right from the start.
ESO, as an MMORPG, incorporates a more robust but rigid combat system with various active abilities, synergies, and passives. ESO’s combat is designed to accommodate group content, including dungeons, trials, and PvP battles and has rotations, actions per minute, and various classes and their unique abilities and skill lines built into account for the typical MMO roles of tanking, dealing damage (DPS), or healing.
In ESO the stealth and assassination gameplay, one of the highlights of the Elder Scrolls franchise/Skyrim in particular falls flat in comparison and is sadly not a viable method of playing the game, despite fan-favorite guilds such as the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood being apart of ESO.
Modding has been a significant aspect of both Skyrim and ESO and if you’re a player that likes to customize and modify your playing experience then you’ll be in good hands with either game. Skyrim has had a vibrant modding community that offers an unfathomably extensive range of modifications, from visual enhancements to new quests and gameplay mechanics. There are over 60 thousand mods on Nexus Mods website for Skyrim alone. ESO, while more limited in terms of modding support due to its online nature, still allows players to utilize add-ons that enhance the user interface, provide additional information, or improve quality of life such as mini map markers for quests or collectibles. Most of these add-ons are available only for PC users of the game however, leaving console players at times with a much harder go of it than their PC counterparts. Be sure to check out our article on the best Add-ons for ESO for more details.
The Final Word
In summary, The Elder Scrolls Online and Skyrim offer distinct gameplay experiences within the Elder Scrolls universe. Skyrim provides a single-player adventure with a focus on exploration, storytelling, and a rich open world. ESO, as an MMORPG, offers a vast and dynamic multiplayer experience, allowing players to explore a larger world space, engage in cooperative gameplay, and participate in epic battles.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Elder Scrolls Online like Skyrim?
While both games share the same Elder Scrolls universe, they offer different gameplay experiences. Skyrim is a single-player RPG focused on exploration and storytelling, while ESO is a multiplayer online game with a larger scope, cooperative gameplay, and ongoing content updates.
Is Elder Scrolls Online the same as the Elder Scrolls series?
No, they are not the same. The Elder Scrolls is the overarching series that includes games like Skyrim, Oblivion, Morrowind, and indeed ESO. Elder Scrolls Online is a specific installment in the Elder Scrolls franchise, offering an online multiplayer experience set in the same universe as an alternative to their strictly single-player titles.
Is Elder Scrolls Online bigger than Skyrim?
In terms of sheer world size, ESO is exponentially larger than Skyrim. ESO encompasses Tamriel and offers a more expansive and diverse world space compared to Skyrim, which primarily focuses on just the province of Skyrim itself.
Is Elder Scrolls Online fun to play Solo?
ESO can be enjoyed solo, as it offers a wealth of content specifically designed for solo play. The game features a main story, zone quests, exploration opportunities, and solo dungeons that cater to players who prefer to experience the game on their own. You can even zoom in from third-person view and play the game in first-person view to get stylistically closer to Skyrim’s gameplay if you want.
There are also companions in ESO that act similarly to our favorite player aids in Skyrim. If you’re struggling with Solo play in ESO be sure to check out our Solo Guides section or browse our powerful Solo ESO Builds.
As with any comparison between games, personal preferences and playstyles will ultimately determine which experience resonates more with individual players. Both Skyrim and ESO offer unique and immersive adventures within the Elder Scrolls universe, and players can choose the game that aligns best with their preferences, whether it be a solitary journey or a collaborative online experience.
We hope you found this article helpful, to find more tips, tricks, and guides for all things Skyrim and ESO be sure to check out our website!
More Guides For ESO
This article will help you unravel the nuances of mounts in ESO and the various ways you can get your hands on them. We will also guide you through the process of summoning your mount, regardless of the platform you are playing on.
Use these powerful tips to increase your inventory space in ESO!
Skill Points make your character more powerful in ESO, but how do you get them FAST?
The Endless Archive for ESO is a new, never-ending dungeon packed with challenges and rewards! This guide will explain all the basics plus give you the best strategies to survive.
ESO doesn’t end at Level 50! Here’s what players can REALLY do after level 50!
Both ESO and Skyrim are great games – here’s how to know which is right for you.
ESO Plus Membership can be extremely useful IF you are this type of player…
Here’s how players can enjoy ESO completely free!
Addons can be extremely helpful in The Elder Scrolls Online. Ready to change your game for the better? All the BEST Addons for ESO are here!
This guide will explain everything you need to know about each class in ESO so you can pick the best class for YOU!
Learn how to progress through the Mages Guild ranks in ESO, from the quest line initiation to the various methods for swift advancement.
In this article, we will delve into the best strategies and tips for efficiently leveling up the Undaunted Guild, from embarking on the quest line to taking advantage of daily quests.
In this guide, we will explore efficient methods to swiftly level up the Fighters Guild, from initiating the quest line to maximizing your progression with daily quests.
By unlocking the Psijic Order skill line, you can gain access to powerful abilities and become a true master of temporal magic!
Learn how to start the Dark Brotherhood questline and delve into the dark arts of assassination as well as find out the fastest way to level up!
Unlock the secrets of leveling up the Thieves Guild in the Elder Scrolls Online (ESO)!
Transmute Stations are a valuable tool that allows players to modify the traits on their weapons, armor, and jewelry, and rebuild sets they have already unlocked via the Collections System.
If you’re not sure which Alliance to pick or you need help changing your Alliance then this guide is perfect for you!
How to get your first ESO mount, as well as the various ways to improve and customize it to suit your needs!
Changing your Race in ESO is easier than you might think! Here’s how!