There’s this thing called the Hook. Not Captain Hook, that’s a different thing. In writing, advertising, TV, or what have you, the hook is something that catches the reader/viewer/listener’s attention and makes them want to know more. It’s the sting that happens before the credits, the mystery that’s set up, or in the case of pre-launched MMOs, the big selling point of the game that makes this different than all the rest of the field.
So answer me this: What is the Elder Scrolls Online’s hook? Let me know, because I’m having a hard time figuring that out.
This has to be one of the strangest MMO announcements when you consider the juxtaposition of the major IP it hails from with how utterly boring the devs are making it sound. Just about every new MMO that’s ever tried to make it on the scene has come out with its hook right there, up front: dynamic events, true action combat, the fourth pillar of story, naked bosoms, bears bears bears, etc. TESO’s seems to be, as far as I can tell, “We’re an Elder Scrolls game! Just minus everything you’ve come to love about the franchise!”
I mean, I know I’m not alone in having expected TESO’s devs to announce the game as a massive multiplayer sandbox. People would have delivered babies on the street, right then and there, if that was the word. Instead, the devs have taken great pains to stress just how unlike Skyrim and Oblivion this game is, particularly in regards to its casting off the skill-based system that those titles were known for.
The most chatter we’re getting is on how TESO will have a 100% soloable single-player story experience, which sort of sounded fine until the lead kept talking: “And if another player wants to join you? NUTS TO THAT. Because you are a special hero! The only hero! We’re going to put you into so many instances that you’ll be literally blind to everything else going on in the game!”
Even SWTOR made an effort to allow players to group with each other through their story and instanced missions. This? It’s like someone is deliberately trolling the MMO community. “We’re like an MMO except we’re not, and we’re like Elder Scrolls except we’re not.” It’s just puzzling and… kind of boring.
Something new we learned today was the return of public dungeons, which is certainly curious. I’m kind of amazed that the lead developer can’t think of a single game after EQ that had them, because “Vanguard” leaped to my mind, as did DAoC and WAR.
Boring is a good descriptor to the vibe I’m getting from this game. The races? Bland. Thank goodness they got their two or three elves in there, though. The time period? Moved backwards, not forwards in the series. Three-faction PvP? Um… yay? Pretty much every screenshot released (and I know it’s just the onset of the game’s promotion, so I’m giving it as much leeway as possible) screams to me “GENERIC FANTASY!” It looks like Vanguard on an off day, to be honest. Here, check it out:
The Elder Scrolls Online is on the right there — nothing special, nothing fancy, just two guys enjoying a civil discussion about the 2012 elections. On the left is a screenshot from the probably-never-will-be-released Copernicus, just one of many insanely lush and epic screens that make me really wistful that we won’t get to see that world.
The point is, the devs aren’t selling me on TESO, and apart from the brand name, I don’t know how they’re selling anyone on it. This should be huge, huge news, and yet it sends me into fits of yawning every time I try to absorb it.
Am I missing something? Or is their strategy to defeat hype now and then release the killer MMO of all time?