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The Elder Scrolls Online

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
  • Extremely disappointed it's only going to be on the PC. Thanks for forgetting about the console players!

  • MMO's are not console games. They'd suck with limited interface and inputs. Im not sure why people are so bent on getting this.. Unless they've never played an MMO. Lock on targeting with hotbar combat blows no matter how you break it down. People complained about Skyrim combat and that was miles above what they are looking at. It's not action, it's strategy. I'll try it regardless but I really hope they spend more time figuring out how to make combat exciting all the way through end game. I'll say it again, see TERA.
  • Actually it is for Mac as well :)

  • So bethesda is going to screw the people who dont play pc games so they can make an extra buck. Sounds alot like Bioware and EA to me. Unless they can make this for consoles too then im NOT intrested. I know this is going to start a "mmo games gant be played on a console" war but i dont care. im tired of all the best develepers ruining their games by going mmo when they DO NOT have to and leaving those people who dont and cant play pc games in the dust all the time.
  • @Donnie - http://games.gamepressure.com/games_encyclopedia.asp?PLATFORM=PS3&CATEGORY=MMO Here's a link to several MMO games on a console, so YES. MMO's ARE console games. Ever play it on the PS3? I'm guessing not otherwise you would know that you can hotkey what you want to either certain buttons or to a combonation of buttons. Oh, and here's another example of an MMO on a console, DC Universe Online and it's got a "hotbar". It's a good attempt at trying to knock down console players (who by the way, make up for over half their sales in Oblivion and Skyrim) cause you don't know what's out there. I've been playing since Morrowind on the console and feel that Elder Scrolls should be on the console as well. More money for them and I'd still get to enjoy the game.
  • I can appreciate that Game Informer is trying to be cordial and attempting to defend this game from the huge backlash against it, but I'm still not happy.
    I'm a new school mmorpg fan, even though I began trying to play mmos long ago. The tired old WoW-style way of things is why no mmorpg company currently gets my money every month, but I intend to play some of the new games coming out within the next few years that are taking risks and improving the mmo experience. I'm also an Elder Scrolls fan.

    Firstly, no player housing? Lots of mmorpg's have that, even free to play mmos, so it does make sense to have player housing in an online game, and there is no good excuse for excluding it in my opinion. If they intend to put it in later, fine, but if not at all, it's almost a game breaker for me. Will we even get apartment style housing, ala EQ2? Isn't player choice of housing a reality in several of the single player TES games, something that is rather rare in single player games in general? Why would they not have it in this game, when it makes more sense in TESO than in almost any other game there is?

    Secondly, no fast paced combat? Why? Why go on and on about the epic PvP battles if the actual combat is the typical lackluster mmo fare with a few added goodies? Is that really exciting at all?

    Several mmos that have come out, and several more that are being released within the next few years, have action combat instead of slow typical mmo combat. Again, they really have no excuse imo. It would be in keeping with the spirit of TES to make the combat at least hack-n-slashy if not fully twitch, and this is clearly doable. Can they even change it now if they wanted to, or are they stuck with the rather unimpressive (again, imo) engine they bought and the game they made back when everyone was copying WoW and can't go back and change things now without going broke?

    The rest sounds okay, although some of the other points I'm not crazy about either. Unless those two major flaws are fixed or seriously improved, I'm probably out... unless it turns out to be amazing, somehow. I hope the devs have truly and deeply considered how their game will look next to their competition in 2012 and onward. There are some real beauties on the horizon.

    I'm not trying to be disrespectful, and I have considered that perhaps the devs like the game that they're making. I have thought about whether or not the devs simply like these features and/or lack-of features, rather than assume that they are lazy or in it entirely for the money.

    Indeed, it may be true that they just aren't making this game for me, a TES and neo-mmo fan. But I'm clearly not the only one who they aren't making this game for, so if the TESO devs are willing to lose our money, then they should just keep on keepin' on. It is their game. I'll play a different online game, and wait for Bethesda to give me the next single player TES game that I'll love.

  • Okay, something that is implied in this article but never clarified. Because it is a MMO it will be exclusively on computers, right? If true then, narrowed down some more, like all MMOs it will require an expensive gaming windows computer. So to the po' kids like me who can finally get an xbox five years after they come out, what are you saying? To those kids like me who are typing on a 200$ used 2005 macbook because that is what they could afford and they absolutely needed one for college, this game is saying, like Borat's sister, "You will never get this. You will never get this." And we are the brother sitting in his cage, excluded by the randomness of birth. In Borat's brother's case he happened to be born mentally deficient, in our case we grew up in a poor family. Thanks so much, I was almost thinking I would be able to play a multiplayer ES game with my friends.
    Unless they do make it for console. In that case thank you to the gods of the videogaming world, Master Chief and Sephiroth, for looking out for the little people.
  • I wonder how much they'll charge a month.

  • Sounds rather enjoyable really.

  • When I first saw news of an ES MMO, I basically crapped my pants.  And I'm not writing the project off yet--it could turn out way more amazing and way less generic than it sounds.  But I'm not totally sure that just because someone likes other Elder Scrolls games, like Skyrim, that that will automatically translate to liking the ES MMO. I stay away from MMOs because they're by-and-large PC-exclusive (I have consoles and a crappy old Mac), and because they all look the same to me (even if they're not).  

    Long story short, I really want this one to be different from other popular MMOs and at the same time very similar to other ES games like Skyrim.  I'm not sure if that's a doable thing, but I guess--that's the point, isn't it--I'll just have to wait and see...

  • The main reason you can't have an MMO on Xbox is because Microsoft controls the **** out of Xbox Live and it's pretty much impossible for developers to work with. To everyone who thinks you can't do an MMO on consoles there's already a few on PS3 and I played Champions Online on the PC. It was designed to be released on both PC and Xbox and the control scheme was perfect for the Xbox controller. And considering how good Xbox's VOIP is compared to the PC it could be possible to use voice chat in parties and just use a usb keyboard for chatting in public areas. Regardless of this I'm very skeptical that this game is going to do well, it may post pretty good subscription numbers at first but history shows that no MMO besides WoW can keep a high subscription base for longer than a year. And I also feel that as long as there's a TES MMO there won't be a single-player Eoder Scrolls game released. It wouldn't make sense for Zenimax to release a single-player game that would end up competeing with its own MMO. And it also makes sense that Zenimax wouldn't release a single-player game in hopes of compelling fans of the Elder Scrolls to play the MMO, which they'll have to pay a monthly subscription for. And if the MMO does fail, which I feel is inevitable, the Elder Scrolls property is going to be damaged by that failure. And someone asked how much it'll cost.......My money sais $15/month, just like every other MMO. Maybe, just maybe $9.99/month but I seriously doubt that. GW2 is the MMO to watch.
  • after reading the combat is once again a hotbar with targeting, no player housing.. this game sounds like almost every other mmo out there with ES sking... yawn, no thanks.

  • i like the elderscrolls lore and story and stuff but i just hope that

    the combat will will not be as boring as in 'common' MMOs...

  • Zenimax seems to know what they are doing, I just hope they know what they are doing.

  • No housing? Why the heck not? WOW's developers have always bandied housing around in their concepts, but have never decided if it's right for their game. But this is not WOW. MMOs practically put housing on the map, and Elder Scrolls has always been above all else about gathering your own horde of treasures, weapons, armors, and trophies and setting them up in your environment of choice. How do they do away with something that is such a staple of RPGs and MMOs and act like it's because of MMO constraints? Could there be a more appropriate MMO for housing than the Elder Scrolls? I can't stop scratching my head there. It's bad enough they're ignoring what Firefall, Tera, and Dragon's Nest have shown about the boring tab targetting combat system. I'm so tired of standing still and watching my character dodge and hit things in MMOs after 10 years. I thought if anyone was going to show what a real simulated fantasy world could be like it would be an Elder Scrolls MMO. This seems to have some novel features, but for the most part they are playing it far too safe and expecting far too large a playerbase, and the game's lofty concepts are suffering for it. Sigh. I'm hoping to be proven wrong.
  • Lock on target toolbar? Ummm. defeats the whole combat experience of Elder Scrolls. They re making arch types and making you stick to class sets. Against totally against ES. So besides name and lore what is this going to offer that is elder scrolls?

  • How about this, make this a classless game. Like the old Star Wars Galaxies. Some of the youngins may not know this, before SOE screwed up the game and made it like WoW. But, SWG had the best system. You could truly be anything you wanted to be. You could be a full on Doctor or a Combat Medic or have a few self heals and throw poisons. It was the best...

  • Wow you guys are desperate to help ESO get rid of the WoW-clone stigma huh?

    It doesn't matter what all the little differences are, if it doesn't have the Elder Scrolls game-play that fans expect and love (real-time combat (first or third-person) is paramount here and CAN AND HAS BEEN DONE IN PAST MMOs AS EARLY AS 1996 with Meridian 59 which was basically an attempt to bring Daggerfall and Arena gameplay into an MMO environment.

    How are you guys so out of touch with game history that you would say real-time combat is "impossible" when Darkfall and Mortal Online have it to this day. Adam you need to do your research on MMOs before writing about them. It doesn't matter how successful or not real-time combat MMOs are, the reason why none of them have made it is because A. they've never had a big franchise behind them and B. because of that they have never had the funding they need, so they end up as very rough niche MMOs.

    ESO should be first/third-person, full-contact direct-action combat, gritty dark fantasy style, no race-based factions, skills+attributes system (limited with no levels or classes), player housing, several FFA full-loot servers, etc. There's no reason they can't do any of this. It is simply that they won't because they are cowards who lack vision.

    Even if they just added real-time combat I would be in. But without it, I am out.

    The more I learn about this game the sadder I get that we will ever see a successful MMO truly break the mold. Elder Scrolls was the chosen one! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QD6udqmCnMQ
  • No housing in Elder Scrolls Online?  Even though housing plays a pretty big part in Oblivion, Skyrim, etc.  Extremely poor decision.

  • This seems like it's going to be really fun. It just is too bad i'm going to miss out on it.