TES Online

The Elder Scrolls Online

It’s been a busy week for Bethesda. First there was the 10-year anniversary of the multiple award-winning game TES III: Morrowind. Then they announced their first expansion for Skyrim (Dawnguard). Finally there was the announcement of The Elder Scrolls Online to be produced by ZeniMax Online Studios, which you may know from Dark Ages of Camelot. Yep, the best singleplayer RPG series enters the ever-growing world of MMO’s hoping to become a leader in that genre as well.

However, they will first have to defeat the likes of Blizzard’s World of Warcraft (who has more than 10 million monthly subscribers worldwide – that means they each pay at least € 10/month depending on the subscription plan they have), Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic, Trion Worlds’ Rift & many more… Even for a franchise such as TES it won’t be easy to pass those two giants in MMO’s.

I could make a post about MMO business models here (pay-to-play vs free-to-play) but that’s not what this post will be about. Let’s get back to the announcement. Immediately after the TES Online announcement was made, lots of players expressed their concerns about TES going online. “The Elder Scrolls has no place in the MMO world.” was the common thought among the fans. Some however were enthousi… nah not really. I tried to find some positive reactions about the announcements but I couldn’t really find any…

And then they released some screenshots and the place exploded:

  • “A CARTOONY TES GAME.,, it’s an insult! A colorfull monstruosity!!!”
  • “TES was all about being the “chosen one”. How will they accommodate having hundreds of thousands of “chosen ones”?”
  • “WHAT? THIS NIGHTMARE IS REAL!!! AND IT´S BURNING MY EYES!!!!”
  • “You gotta be shitting me. This looks like a beta screenshot for Morrowind.”
  • “Have you guys gotten any positive feedback on this game yet?”
  • “Colorful environment, check. Stereotyped sexy females, check. Unrealistic portrayal of characters, check. Bright colors everywhere, it hurts the eye.”

Myself, I have to agree with the angry mob. However Bethesda has clearly stated this will only be a side-project to them and their main focus will still be the singleplayer franchise. Which is a big relief to me. After playing WoW for about 7 years (with sometimes long periods of  interruption!) I vowed not to play any MMO’s anymore. They are too addictive, too expensive and too little story for me. After seeing the screenshots, it does indeed look like a weak WoW-clone. I’d rather stick to the real stuff (yea, Skooma too…).

The only multiplayer in TES I would encourage is to do some PVP or co-op with 2-4 players at max, like they do in Diablo and other top-down combat RPGS. This would however bring other restrictions such as a slow-time spell which would irritate the other players… They would have to make a separate multiplayer-mode such as they succesfully did in Mass Effect 3. In the end I’m glad the way things are right now.

What about you? Do you prefer MMO’s or rather the immersive Singleplayer experience? Would you play TES Online?

  • lennartbnl

    I kindof have to agree with the angry mob as well, but I still have so much love for the franchise I can’t just turn my back on them. I’m sure it will have lots of great things from the franchise combined with a mediocre/maybe good MMORPG. Which, for an elder scrolls junkie, is still worth playing and probably more fun than WOW for example.

    But I also vowed not to play MMORPGs anymore (after Lineage), at least until I’m REALLY excited about one and have at least SOME spare time 😛

    • ForEach

      Well the fact that it’s not developed by Bethesda itself makes me fear that it’ll miss the real Elder Scrolls feel… in other words, I don’t believe the spirit of the elder scrolls will be recognizable :)

      • lennartbnl

        And sadly the screenshots display exactly what you’re saying :(

        • ForEach

          it looks alot like RIFT tbh… 

  • Jeroen Savat

    interesting choice to say the least :) 

    I think the overall concept of using the MMO formula to expand upon the “true” RPG genre has huge untapped potential, but combat is surely not a huge part of it. 
    My thoughts: imagine skyrim, where every NPC is a player who – through the years – has earned a place/house in a town. Being able to “become” a questgiver is an option. Becoming a respected smith is an option. being a townguard or the town’s drunkard is an option. Being a hermit living in seclusion on top of a mountain in a cave is an… you get my point. Something like that. Obviously given this formula you could just as well be a respected smith *and* an adventurer. Give people as many options as possible, and through creativity/roleplaying they’ll create a very interesting world. One where every type of gamer can do what they love, enhancing everone’s playing experience simply by being there and making the world come alive. Call it an alternate reality, with combat only being one aspect of it.
    Obviously making that work would be a very hard thing to do (human nature, social systems being very different in real life compared to online, “leetspeak” gamers breaking immersion, …). It’s been tried before, but not much and hardly very well-thought out.
    But I’d love to see it happening. somehow, sometime.
    (then again, with mmo’s already being as addictive as harddrugs maybe games can be “too good”…but that’s a very different discussion)

    One thing’s for sure – the world doesn’t need another “status quo” MMORPG. 
    And what they’re showing -so far- sure looks like one. 
    wrong focus guys. wrong focus.

    • ForEach

      What you’re describing sounds more like a multiplayer simulator :) I have a few remarks about it though :p

      What you’re describing is in some way recreated by the players themselves in many mmo’s on specific RP servers. People play their roles and everyone knows who the mayor, the suicidal bard & the innkeeper is. However there’s only a small percentage of the total community playing that style of game. All the others are playing the MMO for the action. So no matter how many people love your idea, there will always be more people that are just there for the fast paced action and couldn’t care less about the story, the immersion or anything that takes patience… So that’s why I don’t think that will ever happen, there’s more money to be made in a fast-paced action game than in slow RPG’s where everyone leads a ‘second life’. Speaking of which, Second Life may resemble a little what you describe. But there are alwyas party poopers in MMO’s… 
      To cut things short… To achieve and find what you just described, you need to find the right community and some imagination. I don’t think any marketeer will ever see profit in working that all out for roleplayers…

      • Jeroen Savat

        valid point, but if you’re gonna make an elder scrolls game mmo (and you want it to *feel* like an elder scrolls game) there should be more to it than what they’ve been showing so far. in which way or form is up for discusion.
        about that ‘
        there’s more money to be made in a fast-paced action game than in slow RPG’s  ‘ -> skyrim’s definitly not “just” about fast-paced action though. and it looks like they did pretty good there. not saying that’s not a requirement though. success is the sum of small efforts. There’s RP servers where people play roles *despite* there not being any mechanics to really support it, but that’s not the definition of RP I (or most people) like to play. When i say “you could be a townguard” I really mean your character’s purpose in the game is to look out of burglars, help adventurers etc. Not necessarily being “in character” and walking and talking like a townguard. Hardcore roleplaying is not for everyone, just like hardcore endgame raiding in modern MMO’s are not for everyone. But you can definitly make it more accessible. wow proved that.All i’m saying – mmo’s could use more depth.

        • ForEach

          Can’t do anything but agree here :)

  • Dennis

    I heard that SW:TOR did pretty good in making an online game that is still story driven and  when you want you can still play solo. So if they go for this aproach in TES online it might still be a good game for old and new. 

    I also took the vow not to play any MMorpgs anymore after the last Lineage period 3-4 years ago and still going strong!

    on a side note: saw that you posted some things on FB about Diablo 3. Don’t know if you tried the open beta stress test 3 weeks ago? In the open beta you could play till lvl 13 and try 1 dungeon. It was a great experience, D3 has that old diablo feel about it. I enjoyed the few hours of gameplay alot. Very addicting gameplay! Pretty sure im going to buy it at the launch.

    • ForEach

      I did try the open beta weekend! It was actually amazing and I was sold on it rigth away. Liked the witch doctor :) was even more fun when you played with a friend! I’ve heard of so many people that are going to play it, it’ll be like a massive MMO & RPG reunion 😉

      It was just the week before my blog released, otherwise I would have made a post about that too, now it’ll be for when it’s released 😉