The Elder Scrolls Online

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Well, it finally happened. The moment we've been dreading -- er, waiting for -- for many years: the Elder Scrolls is going online.

The new MMO is being developed by Zenimax Online Studios, a separate division of the same publisher responsible for the original franchise. In other words, it's not being made by the same team that brought you Skyrim and there is a reasonable chance that it won't look anything like it.

The game is being directed by Matt Firor, the producer behind the very successful Dark Age of Camelot MMORPG. The game has been under wraps for several years now (Matt was brought on in 2007), but the possibility of an Elder Scrolls MMO has been speculated about for much longer than that.

Molag Bal
Molag Bal | Source

Update for May 4

You can now check out Game Informer's exclusive teaser trailer on their web site:

Elder Scrolls Online Teaser Trailer

Story

The events are set a millennium before the events of Skyrim, well before the events of even the first Elder Scrolls game, Arena, which should help to avoid egregious narrative conflicts between the original series and the ESO, though it will no doubt introduce many lore violations for veteran ES fans to gnash their teeth over.

The story apparently revolves around an attempt by Molag Bal, the Daedric Prince of domination, to drag the world of Tamriel into his private version of hell. To quote the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages, the ultimate reference to all things Nirn:

Coldharbour, the immense realm of Molag Bal, is also one of the most inhospitable realms, consisting only of charnel houses and vast slave pens. Any mortal found here is captured and placed in one or the other. It resembles Nirn except colder, darker and more beaten and violent; according to some a premonition of the future of Nirn itself.

Having played Skyrim, I'm not entirely certain that the people playing ESO will be entirely successful in their efforts to defeat him.

Gameplay

Not much is known about the game at this point, though there are apparently three main factions to choose from and at least one game mode will involve PvP warfare across the province of Cyrodiil.

It's not clear if all of Tamriel -- from High Rock to Black Marsh -- will be included, or if it will be restricted to a smaller area (like Cyrodiil). With any luck, long-time Elder Scrolls fans will finally get their dream of a complete, border-free Tamriel experience. If that's the case, and the world is well designed, that alone will be worth the price of admission.

Get Caught Up

Arena and Daggerfall, the first two volumes of the series have been available as free downloads for a while now:

Arena

Daggerfall

The rest of them are worth their weight in gold if you're an RPG fan.

Reactions

Contrary to what you might expect, many long-time Elder Scrolls fans are not pleased with the prospects of playing their favorite single-player RPG online with a bunch of new converts who are more interested in power-gaming than role-playing and who don't get the game's lore, which is voluminous and can be, quite frankly, a little arcane to noobs.

The fact that it is being developed by a different team of developers has also raised concerns, though it has relieved just as many. There's no doubt that the core team behind the Elder Scrolls franchise gets their own work: they know the world of Nirn and the unique experiences that the series makes available to players better than anyone else. There is some doubt, however, that they would be able to produce a balanced and bug-free MMO experience. Elder Scrolls games have always had their fair share of bugs, and they have never gone to great lengths to ensure that every character build is equally well balanced; in fact, a lack of strict one-to-one balance between character builds is one of the things that makes the series unique and interesting to play on multiple playthroughs, and in a single-player game, there isn't as great a need for balance.

By contrast, Matt Firor has extensive experience with the MMO universe and I have no doubt that he and his team are going to take pains to make sure that the Elder Scrolls Online experience is as stable and balanced as it can be. What has many players concerned is how well another team is going to be able to stay true to the franchise. As many in the forums have already said, if it just turns out to be a tired rehash of other MMOs, they don't want anything to do with it. Only time will tell if the ESO experience can really compare to the 'real deal' or if it just turns out to be another mass market alternative to a uniquely seasoned cuisine.

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Comments 10 comments

Hi 3 years ago

Well I really dont know what to expext I like skyrim but the idea of a mmorpg is cool but I don't think that it will work as well as if the elder scrolls prdusers did it


Jester4554 profile image

Jester4554 4 years ago from California, United States

Hah, that just shows off how up-to-date I am with the latest technology and entertainment, doesn't it?


j-u-i-c-e profile image

j-u-i-c-e 4 years ago from Waterloo, On Author

@Jester: Ah, well, you probably know better than I. My experience with them is fairly limited. By the time I found out about it there was already a forum, a Wikipedia article, and probably a few dozen articles. There were even related articles on Wikipedia that had already been updated to include the announcement. 'First' is a pretty hard game to play on the Internet. :D


Jester4554 profile image

Jester4554 4 years ago from California, United States

Haha, as an aspiring fantasy author, I must say that if I were to be fortunate enough for my story line to be used for a MMO there would be no way in hell I'd allow players to create their own instances in my world. If I were to implement dungeons in a game design it would be based on what I believe fits best in the story.

A big reason MMO's have lost so much appeal as of late is because there's a lack of community. They've almost become fantasy based FPS games like Modern Warfare or Battlefield. Players don't really need to work together, it's actually seen as somewhat of a chore and the player base treats it as a nuisance that must be bothered for the sake of victory in whatever endeavor they are attempting.

Honestly, what I have in mind wouldn't be difficult to pull off, it would simply require a group of people dedicated to keeping a wonderful game going strong rather than selling out mainstream. If anything, that might be considered simple. What's really difficult is trying to stick to one's original intent with a product and developing it in a way where everyone can find something to like without weakening any other aspects of the game.

----

By the way, thank you for writing this article xD I was quite amused to turn on the TV earlier and have the first thing to come out be about Elder Scrolls Online. My immediate thought was, "Pfft, I've heard about this already!"


j-u-i-c-e profile image

j-u-i-c-e 4 years ago from Waterloo, On Author

@Jester: That kind of design is going to be hard to execute. Allow players to create their own instances of the game world and invite other players? Only one player can be the head of a guild and can only be the head of one guild. It would be kind of cool to have a small group where every player ended up leading a different guild. Or, have a few more players and let them fight over who gets to lead the guild. Let players buy castles/houses/etc. and start new guilds. As long as there aren't too many players and everyone abides by a sort of mission statement it might work. Dunno. I don't play very many MMOs.


Jester4554 profile image

Jester4554 4 years ago from California, United States

Personally, what would be incredibly spectacular is if a company decided to accept having a lower player base for the sake of having an MMO that's truly worth playing for the level of immersion it offers. A game that brings players into the world and acknowledges the contributions they're making so that they keep coming back for more.

Grinding, as easy as it is, becomes so repetitive and mind-numbing that it's almost impossible for me to get into an online game these days. I play WoW for the sole sake messing around with different characters, and even that's beginning to finally lose its edge with me.


j-u-i-c-e profile image

j-u-i-c-e 4 years ago from Waterloo, On Author

@William: I feel pretty much the same way. Nothing short of spectacular is going to impress me, and a lot of existing fans feel the same way.


William157 profile image

William157 4 years ago from Southern California

Not sure about this one. Oblivion and Skyrim were fun because you could immerse yourself in the story and get lost in a cave somewhere. The endgame of MMOs doesn't appeal to me like it did when I was younger; I don't want to grind for my loot, I want to be told an interesting story.


j-u-i-c-e profile image

j-u-i-c-e 4 years ago from Waterloo, On Author

That's correct. ESO is being developed by a different team. ZeniMax Online Studios and Bethesda Game Studios are both divisions of ZeniMax Media (id is also owned by them). I imagine that they will keep the teams separate and allow them to develop in parallel. I have no doubt there will be more single-player Elder Scrolls titles for the very reason you mentioned.


Jester4554 profile image

Jester4554 4 years ago from California, United States

Interesting, the last I had heard about any sort of Elder Scrolls MMO was shortly after Skyrim had been released. At the time, I remember Bethesda announcing that they wouldn't break from single-player gaming for multi-player because they were worried players would lose out on immersing themselves with the game.

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