Elder Scrolls Online: What did you think would happen?

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?

Oh, the backlash!

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

13 thoughts on “Elder Scrolls Online: What did you think would happen?

  1. postal1 May 4, 2012 / 1:47 pm

    Will it be a persistent world?

    Like, is the cheese going to respawn after I steal it, or will it be gone permanently?

  2. NoAstronomer May 4, 2012 / 3:10 pm

    @postal1 Yes, but it takes six months to mature.

  3. canazza May 4, 2012 / 3:28 pm

    MMO No! Co-op, or Diablo-style small parties would work excellently with the current formula with enough small tweaks to the questing system. Bring your friends into your world, or join your friends world.
    It’s too early to really cry foul of Bethesda, but hopefully the lukewarm reaction to their MMO will mean they’ve got time to listen to their community and make it something unique.

  4. Vagabond (@VagabondEx) May 4, 2012 / 6:56 pm

    Syp, thanks for the mention.
    As of now, I am pretty neutral about ESO. Quite sure though that I won’t buy it, but even that may change over time. We will see.. and that is the most important message about ESO: We will see.

  5. carson63000 May 4, 2012 / 7:22 pm

    I can’t imagine even starting to think about forming an opinion on this topic until we know a LOT more about the game.

  6. saucelah May 4, 2012 / 7:35 pm

    I’ve heard rumors about game mechanics, but seen no proof. If the ones I’ve heard (but will not repeat without evidence) are true, I find them depressing. Are people just making things up?

    Sandbox v. theme park aside, my opinion will rest entirely on the combat mechanics. If fighting doesn’t function like a modern Elder Scrolls game, then it’s not an Elder Scrolls game. If it gets combat right, I’d be willing to forgive it (somewhat, I probably wouldn’t be interested in playing it, but I wouldn’t be wasting time trashing it) for missing the mark on the sandbox and story elements.

    I guess “we will see” is dead on.

  7. Richard May 4, 2012 / 7:45 pm

    From what has been released about their game design plan, and who knows if it’s accurate, they plan to make a SWTOR/WoW style MMO. You know what the market doesn’t need? Another one of those.

    Do something new. Do something innovative. I don’t care if it isn’t the best, just stop copying the same stuff we’ve already seen. An MMO in the Elder Scrolls world could work, but no one will want to play it if it’s the same crap we’re already seeing. It’s going to use the Hero Engine, so you can toss ground-breaking graphics out off the list, and that’s something that Elder Scroll games have always had going for them.

    Their entire game plan seems more like a money grab than to actually do something to improve the MMO market and take it a step forward in the right direction. If they stick to their current plan, it’s going to fail miserably. And that is what has all the Elder Scroll fans pissed off.

  8. UnSubject May 6, 2012 / 3:51 am

    My only exposure to TES has been Skyrim, so correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t get how people can call TES a ‘sandbox’. Yes, it isn’t linear, but there certainly isn’t much of the way of freedom within quests. Or ability to build up or destroy parts of the world.

    Skyrim was a non-linear theme park, not a sandbox. At least in my opinion.

  9. Brazokie May 6, 2012 / 10:09 am

    I’m not a big fan either. I like the games, but I play it on my own way. I just explore a lot and focus on side quests. I never liked the main story much, because main stories where I’m “the hero come from nowhere” I can find in other games. Elder Scrolls to me is unique in where I can avoid being the great hero and just getting lost in the world.

    I never finished the main storyline in both Morrowind and Oblivion (I haven’t played Skyrim yet).

    With that said. I just hope it is a huge sandbox game, which would explain why they mention PvP to it. Something kinda like Ultima Online with with easier spellcasting. Since that style is not the most popular, I won’t hold much hope to it and wait on what’ll happen.

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