I’m sure there were many in the gaming world who simultaneously wet their pants, went into labor, snorted their milk, contracted a nasty case of hiccups, and spit in disbelief when they saw the news yesterday that Bethesda is, indeed, planning an Elder Scrolls Online.
Oh, the dream come true! Oh rapture! Oh joy!
Oh… it’s going to be an MMO? As in, like other MMOs?
I’ll be up front with you: While I admire Bethesda’s RPGs and have purchased and played them (all the way back to Daggerfall), I’ve never been a big fan. I didn’t understand why these buggy and sometimes poorly designed titles got a pass from fans who were hypercritical of other games for the same reasons. But I have no dog in this fight other than the perspective of an MMO fan. Sooner or later Bethesda was probably going to jump into the online world, and its most popular franchise is probably its best bet. I mean, consider how huge Skyrim is in the non-MMO gaming world — an online Skyrim could be an ambassador between them and us! Or… something.
I played Skyrim restlessly, wishing that it was a persistent world and realizing just how much it could not be without stripping it of what made it unique. It kind of bugged me how I read some folks who used their newfound love for Skyrim as an excuse to bash MMOs, even though the two were really in different categories. Well… now they’re not. Now you’re going to get Skyrim Online (set 1000 years prior in a place decidedly not Skyrimish), and now we’re going to see just how Bethesda handles shoehorning its open world sandbox classless franchise into an online tracksuit.
It’s already got the hordes howling for various reasons. Some see this as Bethesda selling out; they should only make single-player games, darn it! Some are dismayed that Bethesda can’t keep the same open world mechanics but instead is changing it to work with the presence of many folks in the same areas. Some are probably just peeved this isn’t Skyrim. All in all, it’s not the unanimous celebration that Bethesda was probably hoping for.
Honestly, it looks much the same as any other fantasy MMO, just with a higher pedigree. It has the potential to be a major player in the industry with Bethesda at its back, that’s for sure, but there’s a lot of currently unanswered questions about just how different this experience will be from the classic Elder Scrolls “anything you want to do up to and including slaughtering an entire town and stealing their chamberpots” one.
We do know that the dev team has a bunch of DAoC vets in it and that ESO will contain a huge heaping of PvP, so that’s got to feel good for the crowd who loves those types of games.
Let’s end with a few quotes from the current discussion in the blogosphere:
“If Bethesda can replicate their successful gameplay experience in an MMO format then I’m interested, but I’m doubtful that can do it. Sandbox MMOs are rare, and successful sandbox MMOs are rarer still.” ~ Multiplaying
“I know that the Elder Scrolls games have their fans, but Tamriel has never been a place that I want to explore with thousands of other people.” ~ Bullet Points
“My opinion is that we know very, very little right now, and forming an opinion would be premature. Extremely.” ~ Ardwulf
“Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE MMOs. But I hate that we’ve come to a place where everything HAS to become an online multiplayer game to stay relevant.” ~ Dragonchasers
“It’s probably needless to say that I didn’t feel any excitement whatsoever when the plans for this game were announced yesterday (Elder Scrolls Online, aka. ESO). My heart almost skipped a beat though, I hope that counts.” ~ Vagabond goes for a Walk
“Zenimax is missing on the chance to create a true Elder Scrolls-like experience on MMOs, simply by trying to appeal to MMO players, instead of Elder Scrolls fans.” ~ Kemwer