It had been rumored for quite some time, but this week RPG super giant, Bethesda Softworks, announced that The Elder Scrolls Online was indeed a game in development and would eventually see a release. With the overwhelming success of Oblivion and the recently released Skyrim, it was only a matter of time before an announcement of the rumored title finally saw the light of day. MMORPGs have had great success in the past, and one based in the world of the Elder Scrolls franchise seems more than destined to grab some shares of that market. With the amount of gamers that have experienced at least one of the popular Bethesda role playing games, it may be the most highly anticipated MMORPG in history, maybe even more so than Star Wars: The Old Republic. So a game made by such a successful development team, with insurmountable hype behind it warrants a few questions and even more speculation.
The Elder Scrolls series has been nothing short of epic. In just its first month, Skyrim nearly eclipsed the total lifetime sales of its predecessor, Oblivion, and clocked well over half a billion dollars in retail sales before the end of 2011. That kind of growth will put any Elder Scrolls title at the top of the hype meter and you can expect similar numbers from the online game. The game will sell well, and even has the possibility of surpassing MMO superstar World of Warcraft as the most popular multiplayer online RPG. So, what can we expect from The Elder Scrolls Online? What type of features might it have and what kind of gameplay might be expected? Let’s go over some of the stuff we might see and some things we hope to discover from this upcoming title.
If recent history is a factor, you can bet your bottom dollar that the online version of The Elder Scrolls will have no shortage of dragons and shouts. Fus Roh Dah has become a phrase well known in the gaming community, and everyone loves dragons. If dragons are featured, they will most likely play a part in dungeons and raids, with a high possibility of spotting them around towns and villages during real time world events. As for shouts, it would be very likely that one of the playable, and possibly most popular, classes would be that of the Dragonborn variety.
As for the other classes, it can be expected that the typical classes from Elder Scrolls past will make their returns. Splitting up mixtures of ranged, melee and magic seems like more than a possibility, with typical classes such as mages, archers and warriors making an appearance. Bethesda, however, will be creative enough to label these classes with better titles other than the basic ones used for so many MMOs. As for races, there would be little point in changing them from the traditional Elder Scrolls games, since that is what the vast majority of fans have already known and come to love. So you can expect Nords, Orcs and a variation of Elven based races will make an appearance, as well as some of the others from previous titles such as, Argonian and Breton.
Dungeons, like every other MMO, will be part of the experience. How else will you be able to team up to obtain the highest level weapons and equipment? Dungeons will each have their own back stories and enemies, but how these dungeons will be accessed has yet to be seen. One possibility may be the use of Oblivion Gates that allow teams of players to enter and begin destroying the baddies within. Regardless of how they are accessed, they will most likely be the same basic “instance” practices used by most other MMOs.
The world of The Elder Scrolls Online will most certainly be breathtaking. The previous games have been known for their beautifully sculpted landscapes and large, expansive worlds. In a game that will have to feature such things; Bethesda will absolutely come through in this category. According to the popular RPG creator, the entire continent of Tamriel will be available to explore. Previously each Elder Scrolls game featured a specific “province” of Tamriel, such as the eastern territory of Morrowind, the capital city location in Cyrodil (featured in Oblivion), and the northern, snow capped kingdoms of Skyrim. Each of these maps will be available as playable areas, and the game will be set approximatley 1000 years before the events of Skyrim took place.So, you can expect the most expansive and incredibly massive world that has ever been seen from the popular software developer.
Recently, MMO games have taken a turn from a more turn based attack system and implemented a system that involves more action. Like in the previous Elder Scrolls games, you can expect that Bethesda will continue the growing trend and stick with a non-turned based battle system. They seem to work better, and since Bethesda is already used to creating such RPGs, which is most certainly what we will see in the online title.
We all know that they will be there, and any combination of Bethesda and an MMORPG will have its fair share of bugs. The game will be heavily tested and probably feature a lengthy series of open and closed beta test before release. Regardless, bugs will be everywhere in the first few months of the games release, we can only hope that they will be minuscule and not be anything game breaking. With the amount of people that will be playing the game at launch, it can be determined that the first month of so may not be a pleasant experience, so keep that in mind.
Now that we have gone over what you can expect from The Elder Scrolls Online, it’s time to delve into what they can do to make sure this title lives up to the hype. What do us as gamers want to see? What changes can they make to ensure that this experience is a fresh take on a popular genre? What might they leave out that would enrage the internets?
We need dragons. Plain and simple. Good, now that the dragon conversation is over, The Elder Scrolls online has one major issue that needs to be addressed before any speculative talk can begin. That is the big issue here, and it needs to be solved before it becomes a problem. Bethesda has had these issues in the past, and MMOs are traditionally the worst when it comes to bugs. Make sure this doesn’t break the game, and we can all live the rest of our virtual existences happily. Also, the game needs to be unique. Gamers don’t want to play an Elder Scrolls version of World of Warcraft, so don’t try to imitate them. They may have a great product, but you have a great intellectual property and tons of fan support. There is no reason anyone should pop this game in and see the same old thing they have for the past few years, i.e. Rift, Warhammer.
One thing that WoW doesn’t do well, but others have succeeded in doing is the world event. This has become a staple for popular games such as Rift. This would be fairly easy to do with Skyrim having random encounters with dragons throughout the world. The same should apply in the online game as well. How great would it be to visit a small village in the middle of nowhere, only to see it being decimated by a vicious dragon? Screaming over the local chat channels to rally troops around the village in order to take down an invading dragon seems likely and should happen. Did we mention we love dragons? Also, random spawned Oblivion Gates would be a welcome addition, especially amongst party groups. Hunting down these gates throughout the world and obtaining high quality gear and weapons would be a fun and innovative way to infuse some of the history of The Elder Scrolls lore, as well as, work in some great world event features.
The game is nowhere near release, yet speculation and hype will continue to build until it does. Fans everywhere will be looking for info on what is to be expected and what features we will see, and until Bethesda releases that information; we will all just have to play the waiting game. With all the tools and fanfare surrounding The Elder Scrolls Online, there should be no real reason why the game can’t be a huge success. There has yet to be an MMO that has taken the reigns from World of Warcraft, but The Elder Scrolls Online has the potential to slay the giant. One thing is for certain, no matter what happens, no matter what has been said or what will be said, The Elder Scrolls Online will sell like no other. Bethesda will make sure of that. The game will more than likely break records for MMO sales at release, and if they can minimize the bugs, may continue to do so.
The Elder Scrolls Online is currently being developed by Zenimax Online Studios and Bethesda Softworks and currently has no set release date. As soon as more information arrives, we will be more than happy to report it. Until then, we will just have to wait and see.