Posted in Elder Scrolls Online

Elder Scrolls Online: The Yawnening

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?

18 thoughts on “Elder Scrolls Online: The Yawnening

  1. We’re not as completely different as I thought Syp. These are my feelings in a nutshell.

    Now if you had made this same post a year ago about SW:TOR then, well, I don’t know what. Maybe I’d have baked you some cookies.

  2. When rumors started circulating of an Elder Scrolls MMO I hoped it was just that, rumors. The way I saw it, the things that makes the Elder Scrolls games great just wouldn’t work in a MMO made with the same mold as the majority of the ones we have today.

    Then when there was the official announcement that yes, there will be an Elder Scrolls Online after all, that it would be a three faction game, part of me still kept hoping some of the spirit of the single-player games would still be there. Even though there were signs already that it would not.

    Then the news that came after that pretty much killed any hope I had for the game. So, yeah, it seems like it will be an Elder Scrolls game in name only. I won’t even cry doom now and say that it will be the biggest MMORPG launch failure since Final Fantasy XIV because I can’t honestly think of one person excited by the game that isn’t one of the game’s developers.

  3. I still totally don’t get why they’re releasing an MMO. Maybe it will cancelled in the cloud of doom and gloom that surrounds the industry at the moment. Based on the features they are announcing, it would be no big loss. Admittedly, I have never been a fan of the IP. Now, if they had tried to become the ultimate fantasy sandbox MMO, that might have had some pull on some people.

  4. Yes, my prediction on the myth and legend of Copernicus didn’t take long to come to pass!

    So you are annoyed by screenshots from a company who has already delivered games which people have praised for many things, including their environments, based on a comparison with some pictures that *might* be from a game none of us have ever seen, and will likely never see, from a dev team whose only remaining play is to build some sort of grass roots support?

    Okay then.

    Otherwise, I do agree with you. I don’t really get what they are going after here. I am not sure their IP needs to be an MMO, and apparently neither do they. A mass of adventurers denuding the landscape of all living things certainly kills the mood of their games up to this point. But so does PvP in any sense I have ever seen it in MMOs. So why make the choices they appear to be making? Why not make a small group co-op version of the IP?

    I fear that the siren’s call of subscriptions and cash shops have infected yet another executive team and now we’re seeing the compromises to try and let the IP co-exist with the MMO genre. Unless they have more up their sleeve, I cannot see the appeal.

  5. I don’t understand the need for an Elder Scrolls MMO either, and I can’t quite see how they’ll do it.

    But – it’s Bethesda, and I have a lot of faith in them, and I’ve enjoyed every RPG they’ve produced.

    If that sounds silly, consider many peoples’ reaction to SWTOR when it was first announced. Yeah it was Star Wars but also, it was Bioware – and many, many people love Bioware’s RPGs and have fond memories of playing them over the years. They trusted the developer to make something similar.

    Personally I find Bioware RPGs fairly run-of-the-mill and boring so wasn’t as excited about SWTOR as some (though I have played it). But *anything* by Bethesda will spark my interest!

  6. Problem is that it isn’t Bethesda that’s developing it or did I miss something somewhere? Zenimax are doing the grunt work… But yeah it all seems very -bland- and samey and I to am unsure what exactly they are trying to do other than create a cookie-cutter fantasy mmo just to make cash on the IP… we’ll see I guess.

  7. Surely post-EQ MMOs that don’t have any shared dungeons would be a shorter list?

    I don’t much like Bethesda’s games so I’m not riled up the way a lot of people are but i also have no idea what on earth they think they are doing.

    Maybe it’s a tax write-off.

  8. @ Wilhelm – I’m bored by TESO’s screenshots. I put the comparison to Copernicus just to show just how stale they are. I could equally have used GW2, WildStar, RIFT, or any other. It’s just that the day I wrote this post, both of those games’ screenshots were on my radar.

  9. @Luranni: you are correct. It’s not Bethesda, it’s Zenimax Online, a studio completely independent of Bethesda with only the parent company in common: Zenimax Media

  10. Why? One looks visually interesting to me, the other looks visually boring. It’s a pretty straight-forward subjective comparison.

    Plus, as some have noted, it’s not Bethesda making the game, it’s Zenimax. Do we know if they’re using the same graphics engine or doing their own stuff? This does not have the visual shine and detail that I saw in Skyrim.

  11. “What is the Elder Scrolls Online’s hook?”

    Probably the best one sentence summary of the essential lifelessness of the Elder Scrolls Online announcements I have yet seen.

    I know a lot of people are already getting plenty of enjoyment trolling and flaming on forums, personally I’m not sure how they even muster the enthusiasm to troll and flame given the absolute meh-ness of everything we’ve heard.

  12. I agree, and that makes me so sad. I think their hook is supposed to be ‘look! We’re playing in the Elder Scrolls world!’ aaaand that’s all there is to it. I desperately want to love the game – please give me a reason too!

  13. I agree with the post, TESO looks and sounds about as ‘meh’ as can be. It has zero interest for me, and I’ve loved TES games since the second one.

    Also saw this post on the same day that had the same opinion:
    Thank You Zenimax for Letting Me (and Everyone) Know Elder Scrolls Online Will Suck

    Why are they even making this game? It isn’t an Elder Scrolls game by design, so why even make it?

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