The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Un-Warranted

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen! How is your week going?

So, in the wake of the news surrounding The Elder Scrolls Online going Buy-to-Play, I thought it would be a good opportunity to pose a question regarding the game as a whole. Before I reveal what that question is, I want to say that this thought has been burning in my brain since the game was first announced. The concept of making The Elder Scrolls into an MMORPG has always confused me because I was expecting Bethesda to take a different approach to the series. I wasn’t confused because I thought the series would make a bad MMORPG, but, due to my assumption, a single question kept repeating in my head:

Did anyone actually ask for an Elder Scrolls MMORPG?

From my perspective, the answer should be no. This is due to The Elder Scrolls series being a primarily single player experience known for its open-ended-ness and ridiculous replayability. Typically, MMORPGs take the polar opposite approach by being very linear and only occasionally throwing in some minor open-ended content which often yields very little reward for going off the beaten-to-death path (see The Elder Scrolls Online). The idea of making a theme-park MMORPG out of such a sandbox-like series just seemed ludicrous and counterintuitive. The direction I thought Bethesda would have taken (and after seeing how amazing The Elder Scrolls Online turned out, they should have taken) was to add cooperative play to either Skyrim or the game that would follow it.

The only feature missing from Skyrim that I heard was desired by those who enjoyed the series was multiplayer functionality. They wanted a way to play with their friends in the vast landscapes that Bethesda created. They wanted to be able to wreak havoc or be a savior alongside a few friends. Not once did I ever hear someone say, “I wish Skyrim was more like World of Warcraft.” Imagine the outrage that would have erupted if players went from Oblivion to Skyrim to find out that the series had been WoW-ified. Skyrim would have been a massive failure and everyone would have kept on playing Oblivion like there was never a sequel. Hilariously enough, fans of The Elder Scrolls series probably had that experience going from Skyrim to The Elder Scrolls Online. Who would blame them for not acknowledging its existence afterwards?

Anyways, I’ll cut this post short and leave you with a few final thoughts. Were you looking for a more linear experience in your Elder Scrolls game? Did you desperately crave a subscription fee be added to your otherwise free gameplay experience? Or did you just want your friends to join you in shouting at dragons? Join the discussion below.

2 thoughts on “The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Un-Warranted

  1. I don’t think there’s any good way to do multiplayer in these games. Take Skyrim, for example. How do you add multiplayer to that? The whole point of the game is that you’re the only person alive who can do the dragon shouts, besides the Greybeards. Adding three of your friends into the game all shouting everyone to pieces interrupts the continuity.

    Some games add multiplayer by having the other players be side-characters, but that means all of your friends have to choose between playing their game, or being an accessory character to yours, and that’s also counter-intuitive to what Bethesda is going for.

    There’s no way to make Bethesda’s games multiplayer without sacrificing some core component of them. With that in mind, an MMO isn’t so far-fetched, either. I played ESO, and while I thought it was fun, it certainly didn’t feel like an Elder Scrolls game at all, and I think most fans felt that way, as you said in your post. There are threads of the Elder Scrolls humor and style in some of the storytelling, but beyond that, it’s a pretty standard MMO. Dropping the fee is definitely the best way to go.

    One thing I’d like to point out: Bethesda didn’t make Elder Scrolls Online. They’re hard at work on their next games, most likely Fallout 4 and Elder Scrolls VI, while Zenimax Online Studios made Elder Scrolls Online. They also announced they were finished with Skyrim long before ESO launched, so going back and adding multiplayer to Skyrim was never on the table. I don’t think it’ll happen going forward, either; Bethesda is one of the few larger developers around making games with the single-player experience in mind, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

    What might be interesting is to see how Fallout Online plays out. It isn’t announced obviously, but we all know it’s coming. I think the Fallout world lends itself a little better to the idea of playing with other people, but at the same time, how do you portray a collapsed society in an MMO? Sure doesn’t look like the post-apocalypse with a hundred people running around.


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