Just made an account for the first time. So, you know, hi.
So it's official: there's an Elder Scrolls MMO on the way. Now we can do everything that made Skyrim great, but in a multiplayer setting!
I don't think so.
From what we know, Elder Scrolls Online will take place about 1000 years before Skyrim, which places it around 500 years into the Second Era. Three different factions, symbolized by a dragon, eagle and lion, are all trying to claim the Emperor's throne, but the Daedra Prince Molag Bal is trying to bring Tamriel into his plane of Oblivion.
So that sounds cool, though it sounds a lot like a combination of Oblivion's Daedric Prince invading, Skyrim's multiple factions at war, and the classic fantasy concept of multiple groups trying to claim the throne. Overall, cool ideas that sound like it has more going on than the typical MMO's story (WoW, for example, didn't really have a main plot until the first expansion; TOR has the Sith returning but not much else).
The problem isn't the story, though. It's the gameplay.
That's what Elder Scrolls is. Fallout 3 and New Vegas prove that the open-world gameplay is what makes Elder Scrolls such an awesome and unique-feeling series, especially with new additions such as Dual Wielding and Shouts in Skyrim. But can any of these awesome gameplay elements that make Elder Scrolls what it is be transferred to an MMO format?
I compiled a list of the type of Skyrim-y things you can do, and many of them would be tricky or impossible to do in ESO. First, let's look at the things we can still do (kinda) in an Elder Scrolls MMO:
-Play through guild storylines: While this is true, it'll be interesting to see how the storylines end, if they do, without the usual format of the player character becoming Guildmaster. Usually an MMO will have you play a 'one of many' role, where you're nothing special because you're a soldier, a mercenary, a hired hand; if ESO does this, then you can't logically have the player characters all become the leader of the Fighter's Guild or Dark Brotherhood. And, if they do that anyway, what's next after being Guildmaster? There's no moving up from there.
-Choose how you grow as a character: also a tricky concept. Either you'll have actual classes to choose from in ESO, or you'll be able to pick up any weapon, spell or ability and train the skills in a way akin to World of Warcraft's old weapon skill system (back before the later expansions, the more you used an axe or sword, the more that skill would raise). It may be good to give the players freedom, but why would anyone make an alt character if everything's available from the beginning?
-Explore: while this is true, how small will Tamriel feel when you have flying mounts? Think of how quick it would be to fly from the Imperial City to Whiterun? From the Summerset Isles to Solstheim?
-Collecting crafting ingredients: hopefully there'll be more to this than regular MMOs, but that's just wishful thinking.
-Crafting armor and weapons: this interests me, because it begs the question: how many different armor types will there be? There's, what, about ten different basic armor types in Skyrim? And that's light and heavy armor. I wonder how that'll change with ESO.
-Sneak: if there's classes, there's no need for a warrior to know how to sneak well.
-Choosing from various races: the ten Elder Scrolls playable races will likely all be back. Maybe they'll be linked to one of the three factions, but it's a safe bet to say that they'll all return.
-Guardian Stones and Shrines of the Nine Divines: I see these easily becoming buffs you can grab in towns and shrines in the wilderness, but the MMO may just leave them out.
Now here's a list of things that MAY come from Elder Scrolls games to an MMO:
-Owning property: While I'm not the biggest Everquest 2 fan, their housing system could be worse. At least you wouldn't have to kill someone for their own home.
-Collecting books: this could be a great side profession. Finding out more about Tamriel through books would draw many lore-loving Elder Scrolls fans, and having collectors give rewards to the players would give people who don't care about lore their own reason for grinding that profession.
-Companions: MMOs have, in the past, grouped player characters with companions, and some games like EQ2 have mercenaries you pay for helping you, which could bring some much-needed assistance to weaker players. Let's just hope they don't stand in doorways like douchebags.
-Player marriage: Gay marriage haters may try to ruin this idea by protesting, and Zenimax could possibly fold because of this; besides, that cute Breton girl you're paying 50 gold to marry you is probably a guy anyway.
-Kill any NPC: it wouldn't be perma-death, but hey, I wanna kill Vivec in a 40-man raid, so I want it in the game.
-Becoming a werewolf/vampire: transforming into a werewolf for 60 seconds doesn't sound exactly crazy, and with all the different forms of the vampire disease, what says we can't have vampires that are fine in sunlight? I just hope they don't sparkle.
-Playing in good first-person: likely won't happen, and even if it does, the world wouldn't have the same Elder Scrolls vibe anyway, but it's possible that they'll see it as an important enough part of the Elder Scrolls games to add it in.
And here's the final list, of things that WILL NOT HAPPEN in Elder Scrolls Online:
-Killing dragons/using shouts: dragons weren't in Tamriel 1000 years before Skyrim, so fighting them and gaining the ability to shout are off the table. Maybe the Greybeards will teach you how to use 'Fus' after a decade of practice.
-Skill books: MMOs use experience points and levels to grow characters; skill books would, at best, be a profession that gives xp for each book you read (and could double as lore-collecting, as I mentioned earlier).
-Stealing/moving things around you: won't happen in a MMO. I wish it could, but that gameplay element can't work in an MMO world.
-Anything involving a physics engine: this is what made Skyrim so much better than the other Elder Scrolls games. Shouting someone off a mountain, or freezing a bear down a slope, neither will be possible in an MMO.
-Learning how to do EVERYTHING with one character: Not everyone will be able to do everything unless Zenimax wants everyone to only have one character. I'm betting the skill system will not be in ESO at all, and will be replaced with either classes or archetypes (fighter, mage, thief).
-Random encounters: can't work in an MMO. Mobs stay put or move when needed, so don't expect to run into random bandits along the road.
-Looting pretty much anything from the dead: SPEAKING of bandits, it'll suck that this won't happen, but I can't possibly see an MMO having you able to take all of the equipped items from a corpse and being able to wear or wield them. That's how many people like myself upgraded gear in Oblivion, but be glad it wasn't a huge part of Skyrim's equipment getting because now you're not used to it in an Elder Scrolls game.
In conclusion, I wonder what the Zenimax Online team will take from previous Elder Scrolls games, besides the actual world and lore, and bring into the MMO they're making. They've already been quoted as to saying that their goal is to make the greatest MMO ever, but will that mean cherry-picking good gameplay elements from other MMOs or trying to 'innovate' in a way like TOR did with their attempts at making a story-focused MMO?
Oh, also, here's some other gameplay questions that I haven't heard many people mention:
-Will the game's graphics look more realistic, like Everquest, or more cartoony, like WoW and TOR?
-Will players make their own guilds or be able to join the existing ones?
-If players can't make their own guilds, but can form guild-like groups, what will that be called?
-Will all of Tamriel be included in the game from the beginning?
-If the world includes all of Tamriel, will all expansions be like WoW's Cataclysm or will the players travel to other continents and planes of Oblivion?
And most importantly, what mounts, besides horses, could exist? With rumors of Skyrim DLC having other creatures to ride appear in the game, it's not a crazy idea. I want an Argonian mount who can fight by my side as a companion when I'm not being carried by him. And now, after thinking about it, so do you.
And I know what you're thinking: "Why not Khakiit?" Because I'm not a furry, that's why.
But there ARE scalies, which is somehow even more creepy, and I don't wanna be connected to those creepers.
I'll just have my in-game wife be my mount. And if NPCs can't be spouses, then they'll just have to allow player characters to hop onto each other and use them as mounts.
But you have to be married first. No premarital mounting.
Okay, I gotta stop now or I'll keep going. Point is, ESO can't have the same gameplay type that the Elder Scrolls series is known for, which begs the question: why the fuck are they making an MMO in the same world? Keep in mind, however, that World of Warcraft is the biggest MMO today, and was made from the RTS Warcraft series, which has absolutely nothing but basic artistic style and story connecting the two. So maybe ESO doesn't have to be a like the Elder Scrolls games to be the next big MMO, but I can still be grumpy about the lack of dragon shouts. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed for some kind of Greybeard class, even if I can't shout my wife off the Throat of the World. read