Fear Not, Elder Scrolls Fans: ESO is for You Too

Zenimax knows what it has to do to keep the ES faithful happy
This article is over 11 years old and may contain outdated information

It’s no secret that one of the keys to Elder Scrolls Online’s success will be its ability to impress the Elder Scrolls faithful following… and that has a lot of people worried.

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Let’s be honest: if ESO can’t satisfy Elder Scrolls fans it could be the downfall of the much anticipated game. To make matters worse, many of the fans of the long-running single player RPG series are already skeptical. They fear that the move to MMO will ruin the prestigious Elder Scrolls franchise. So how can Zenimax accomplish the daunting task of creating a game that will please single player RPG fans and MMO fans?

Mission Impossible?

At first it may seem that bridging the gap between RPG and MMO may be impossible. If you take some time to read through the comments posted under ESO news articles you will find comments from Elder Scrolls fans such as “Can I play offline?” or “Can I turn off seeing other people?” These kinds of questions arouse some serious doubts as to whether RPG players will ever be able to make the transition into an MMO. But fear not, there is still hope.

First of all, RPGs and MMOs are inherently similar, so making the jump from one to the other may not be as difficult as it seems. Things like questing and character progression, which are hallmarks of the MMO genre, are also prevalent in RPGs. This means that even if some aspects of the game are foreign to ES players, there will also be a lot of familiar components to the game as well. It is also important to consider all of the steps Zenimax is taking to address these very concerns.

Designed with You in Mind

The people at Zenimax aren’t stupid; they know that by taking Elder Scrolls into the MMO space they’re running the risk of alienating single player RPG fans, and as such they’re undergoing their entire development process with the ES faithful in mind. Zenimax has stated several times that their priority is to deliver an Elder Scrolls game first, and an MMO second. In fact they don’t even like to use the term “MMO” and instead use phrases like “Online game” or “Multi-player experience.” So clearly Zenimax knows what they have to do, so the question becomes: can they do it?

The first thing everybody notices about any video game is the aesthetics, and ESO will be no exception. In order to appease the ES faithful it is absolutely critical that ESO looks and feels like a true Elder Scrolls game. From what we have seen so far out of beta footage, it looks like Zenimax has nailed it. Recently Zenimax has even announced that a first person view, which has been a trademark of the Elder Scrolls series, will be available in ESO. In terms of feel, ESO’s action combat seems to be right in line with the combat of previous Elder Scrolls games, but until we can actually play the game for ourselves it is difficult to say if ESO will “feel” right.  As long as there are no major changes from the closed beta footage we have seen, ESO looks like a real Elder Scrolls game, which will help the ES faithful to feel right at home.

Doesn’t Play Well with Others

As long as ESO looks and feels like an Elder Scrolls game the final obstacle will be addressing the multi-player aspect. Many RPG fans fear that they will be lost in the crowd of an MMO when they prefer an isolated experience. It’s going to be difficult for Zenimax to cater to the needs of these isolationists. One potential route which could help to solve this conundrum would be to utilize ESO’s phasing. While Zenimax has not released all of the information about its plans for phasing, the basic concept seems to be that ESO will maintain one mega server which will use a kind of instanced phasing system to break up players. Could ESO use this system to help isolate players who wish to have a “single player” experience? This remains to be seen, but it seems plausible.

The mere title of “Elder Scrolls” will undoubtedly get a lot of people in the door for ESO. The challenge, for Zenimax, comes in avoiding a SWTOR situation by keeping those players coming back for more. Obviously it is still fairly early on in the development process, so nothing is for certain, but so far it seems like ESO is a game designed to please Elder Scrolls fans above all else.   

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