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What Elder Scrolls Online Offers Skyrim Fans, MMO Players

Zenimax Online faces the difficult task of appeasing several different sets of expectations from gamers who come from different games and genres. Read on for how The Elder Scrolls Online aims to appeal to several different fanbases.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

  • Seeing more of the world. Haven’t you ever been curious what the Argonian homeland looks like, or what riding through Daggerfall in a game with a modern graphics engine would look like? ESO includes sections of every province in Tamriel, so you can explore many of the locations you’ve only read about in books until now.
  • Lore. The Elder Scrolls franchise has an enormous body of backstory, and ESO is blowing it out even further. Zenimax Online is working hand-in-hand with the loremasters at Bethesda Game Studios to flesh out Tamriel’s Second Era, so lore nuts should have plenty to digest.
  • Finding adventure wherever you wander. Isn’t that what Elder Scrolls is all about? The Mage Guild’s gameplay revolves around finding ancient texts and bits of lore and runs throughout the entire game. Unmarked dungeons, ruins, caves, and other adventure-filled areas dot the landscape, so wandering through the Black Marsh isn’t a matter of grinding giant bugs for experience as it is a hunt for lost artifacts of ancient Argonian civilization, even though no NPC has given you a specific task to do so.
  • Touchstones. Daedric princes, birthsigns, guilds, and many more elements that players strongly associate with the franchise are all integral parts of the game. Some things, like player housing, aren’t making the transition to an MMO because of the constraints inherent to an online game, but Zenimax Online is including everything that makes sense.

World of Warcraft

  • Working with other players. While WoW’s world design and game rules expect you to fly solo outside of designated elite quests and group dungeons, Zenimax Online is going out of its way to make sure helping someone else out always benefits everyone. For instance, there’s no “tagging” and so helping a random stranger kill a monster results in both of you getting full credit.
  • That old BRD feeling. Blackrock Depths is often mentioned as a favorite dungeon of old-school WoW players for the sense of exploring a huge, hostile city instead of fighting through a series of corridors. ESO’s public dungeons, unless Zenimax Online badly botches the design, should recreate some of what made BRD special...but hopefully without the painful process of finding a group that wants to accomplish the same subset of goals that you’re looking to do.
  • Non-instanced PvP warfare. Remember the good old days of open warfare in the Hillsbrad Foothills as huge mobs of players fought over Tarren Mill and Southshore? Expand that to the entire province of Cyrodiil. Take out the server-crashing lag, since the engine can handle up to 200 players onscreen and Zenimax Online has still-under-wraps plans to divert excess population. Forget about lowbie ganking, since everyone’s stats are automatically boosted to level-cap status in Cyrodiil. Oh, and there are things to fight over besides murdering helpless questgivers. Like, for instance, keeps whose walls you can bash down with trebuchets.
  • Familiar but innovative combat. ESO has lock-on targeting and a hotbar, but it shakes up quite a bit within that framework. Limiting the number of available skills to a handful (currently six, but that number could change) but making each ability awesome sounds great. The addition of stamina for blocking, sprinting, interrupting, and disable-breaking should dramatically increase the moment-to-moment depth of combat.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

  • More fully voiced story. Does anyone want to go back to walls of text after Bioware showed the world how it’s done with Star Wars’ dialogue and story? No, no we do not. And we won’t have to in order to play ESO with its full voice acting.
  • Working with other players (see WoW entry, above). Outside of flashpoints, cooperating with other players in SW:TOR is extremely limited in scope. That hopefully won’t be the case in ESO.
  • Dynamic, large-group combat. SW:TOR did a great job of throwing different types of encounters at players even in its solo content, and ESO is following suit. The baseline solo encounter design has players taking on three enemies at a time, and they work together to bring you down by combining skills like lighting oil patches on fire.

Rift

  • Public content. Rifts are amazing, and Zenimax Online hopes to recreate the sense of working together with random strangers with the Fighters Guild content (destroying Molag Bal’s randomly appearing dark anchors) as well as public dungeons.
  • Polish and technical competence. Remember when Rift came out, and we were all blown away at how a team of veteran developers with a whole lot of money behind them could put out an MMO that was solid at launch? Well, ESO has a similar situation – game director Matt Firor was heavily involved with Dark Age of Camelot, creative director Paul Sage worked on Ultima Online among others, and team members at Zenimax Online across all disciplines can boast similar credentials. Anything less than a Rift-like level of stability and polish at launch will be a huge disappointment for ESO.

These are just a few elements of The Elder Scrolls Online that should appeal to the fanbases of various games. Fans of the franchise have a lot of questions yet to be answered, like how the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood will work in an MMO setting and how Zenimax Online is going to approximate the rich interactions with objects in the world that we’ve gotten used to since Morrowind. Nonetheless, writing off ESO as “just another MMO” or “WoW with daedra” is doing this ambitious project a grave disservice. Click the banner below to go to the hub, where you can see Firor and Sage explain their philosophies in video interviews, see screenshots, and get more details on the game as we roll them out all month.

Comments
  • All of the reasons listed for TES fans being interested in this game have nothing to do with the gameplay; they only have to do with its reskinned-ness (of WoW).

  • Why is everyone hating on this game? I've been an Elder Scrolls fan since Oblivion and I love this idea. Sure, it's going to be different, that's inevitable. But bashing the game before you even really know anything about it, or played it for that matter, is ignorant. So, lets all just wait until 2013, and let the game speak for itself.
  • Still not big on MMO's and making an TES MMO just sounds like a bad idea too me.

  • If it delivers on all of these things we will definitely be in business. I can't wait for this game.

  • Here we go with all the butthurt people. Why is everyone criticizing this game so much? This article shows that Zenimax is looking at competing games in the market, analyzing their games and how the Elder Scrolls Online can be different in ways those games were never like. If anything, they're doing the right thing and so far I am really happy with what I'm seeing. The game is perfect for an MMO, with the massive areas for pvp and the awesome sounding public dungeons. Also, everyone complaining about the game not having first person should think about what they just said. Can someone name any MMO's that have first person? Perhaps there may be one if any. I have played Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim in both first and third person and let me tell you, it's great to experience the game from both visually-appealing views. People don't seem to be accepting change and it saddens me. Keep it up Zenimax, you're doing an amazing job so far.
  • They're doing this wrong. They need to make an massively-multiplayer Elder Scrolls, not an Elder Scrolls MMO.
    And really? A selling point is them promising to make each ability "awesome?"
  • Are you boxed into classes or can you play however you want to like in skyrim?
  • Wow, is this GameInformer or Zenimax talking? I know you guys love your cover stories and want to keep them a big deal, but this game sounds underwhelming in pretty much every possible way. I don't think any amount of words can convince the skeptics otherwise - they probably have to see it in action to believe it's more than just another MMO. Even all of the bullet points in this article make it sound like another MMO. Especially the combat - "innovative"? Please.
  • Gay as hell, they're ruining all my favorite games by making them MMO's! I was hoping this one would be different and have Elder Scrolls combat style but no it's just another regular MMO *** you game companies!!!

  • I really don´t care about this, if it doesn´t require a monthly fee and the combat system isn´t retarded like in most MMOs I might think of trying it.Meanwhile I will enjoy the single player elder scrolls :) still play morrowind, oblivion and skyrim and also both fallout 3 and new vegas, they are my favorite games because it´s some of the few games that have no multiplayer feature and because of that they are not poor in single player content like in most games nowadays.
  • I still have no opinion on this game, but it looks promising, I hope some good features are added in.

  • But that art style... it doesn't work for me. :(

  • I'm still really skeptical after seeing the art direction they are taking with this game, TES is known for having a very gritty art style (besides oblivion) and this game looks hideously cartoony. I really wish they had leaned more toward Rift's art style.

  • Tor has already disappointed me so honestly I don't know anymore I can't and won't take this game seriously until I try it for free for a week or month from there that's when they can either have my money or my hate.

  • Yea, I have wanted to explore more of Tamriel.  In a real elder scrolls game, not this wow-clone

  • "Non-instanced PvP Warfare"

    YES. That is what so many MMOs lack - lively open world PvP. Wouldn't hurt to add some incentives, like maybe gold loot for each player enemy killed.

  • Everyone complaining about graphics: well, first of all, stop in general. Graphics are down pretty damn far on the list of things that matter in the overall greatness of a video game, pretty much at the bottom. Also, did you REALLY expect a realistic-styled graphics engine in this game? With 200 players and the ENTIRE map of Tamriel? This game is going to be absolutely massive, you would need the most high-end gaming PCs just to be able to play it. And the graphics REALLY aren't that bad. They're essentially between Skyrim's graphics and Oblivion's graphics. Actually, it's more like Skyrim's graphics with a softer tone to it. So stop your *** whining, you sound like immature, ignorant children, and it's honestly embarrassing to see fans of the series to turn away from the franchise solely because of the *** art style. It's a bit insulting to the creators, really.
  • the ONLY reason i will be getting this game is because i want to see the rest of tamriel, mainly elsweyr and summerset isles!
  • Why does it feel like this article is trying to *convince* me that this game isn't going to be bad?  

  • For me it's all about the lore and exploring lands such as the Black Marsh and Elsweyr.

    But then, I don't do the subscription thing.