January 19, 2013

An Elder Scrolls… MMO?

One of the most anticipated games of all-time is becoming one of the most anticipated MMOs of all-time. In June 2012, Bethesda Softworks, publisher of The Elder Scrolls and the Fallout series announced The Elder Scrolls Online set to be released at a later disclosed date in 2013.

The game will be developed by ZeniMax Online Studios, headed by one of the founders of Mythic Entertainment who developed other MMOs such as Ultima Online and Warhammer Online. We know that Bethesda is putting this game in good hands, but how will such an immersive series such as The Elder Scrolls work as an MMO?

ZeniMax has released some info about the game. It is supposed take place across all five districts of Tamriel. Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of domination and enslavement, has unleashed hordes of monsters and evil spirits from Oblivion and created warps that would weaken the barrier between Nirn and Oblivion and merge them into a living hell. All the while, the different regions of Tamriel have arranged themselves into three different factions, the Daggerfall Covenant, the Aldmeri Dominion, and the Ebonheart Pact. These factions are all waging war over control of the Imperial City from each other and the hellish influence of Oblivion.

If you’ve played any single installment of The Elder Scrolls series, you know about the games’ massive worlds made up of fully automated economies and towns with NPCs to talk to, as well as hundreds of dungeons and caves and ruins for you to explore. With the newest release in the series, Skyrim, there was even an ecosystem that ran in real-time. Everything in the world happens around you while you’re doing your own thing. Crimes are committed, wars are waged, and lives are taken. All these things can happen halfway across the map while you’re sleeping in bed.

Now the problem arises with The Elder Scrolls Online as an MMO. Firstly, with all of these people running around in one world, many of these automated systems would be thrown off. The ecosystems wouldn’t be able to function as well, especially when there could very well be masses of people hunting a certain species. Towns would be overcrowded and wouldn’t feel as cozy and real as they do in the main series games. A guild of robbers could go out and pillage a whole town, leaving it devoid of any valuables to let the economy flow properly. It just doesn’t seem possible in any way without making it feel like an entirely different experience.

Secondly comes the worst part of any multiplayer experience: The other people. In games like Call of Duty and Halo, multiplayer is filled with tens of thousands of kids whining when they get killed, filling the lobby with obscenities, or some 30-something year old guy bragging about how “MLG pro” they are. Now, apply this to The Elder Scrolls. Imagine a world where people are constantly making “arrow to the knee” jokes and trying to kill you and steal all of your stuff. Does that sound like a world you want to live in? Me either.

As skeptical as this article sounds, I really have high hopes for this game. I’m excited to see if ZeniMax can pull this off. The Elder Scrolls is a magnificent series in all aspects. The gameplay, story, graphics, they’ve all been molded to create a perfect RPG experience every time. I’m just afraid for what the transition from single-player to MMO would be. I’m aware that there are easy fixes to many of these problems that I’ve brought forth, but I can’t see one that won’t turn this into another generic World of Warcraft game. All in all, I truly want this game to be successful, but only if it retains the immersive and endearing experience that made The Elder Scrolls what it is today.

Image Credit: Bethesda Softworks / ZeniMax Online Studios

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Email