A Closer Look at The Elder Scrolls Online

Friday, 9th November 2012 02:18 GMT By Mark Limburg

The development team on The Elder Scrolls Online have released a documentary-style introduction to their upcoming MMO, and it looks as excellent as we were both hoping and expecting. You have have already seen the video, but let’s take a closer look and give it some analysis.

So, what can we take from this visual feast? Let’s break it down into smaller servings to help us digest it all.

Visually, it looks excellent. If you’re running Skyrim on a mid to low end PC or perhaps console, I would say the MMO is looking to be identical to that in many ways. Of course, this early vision doesn’t provide any information on just how far we may be able to turn up the visuals but even so, the game does look very nice indeed. From sweeping vistas to the attention on minor details, the world you will be experiencing looks immersive and deep.

The lore of The Elder Scrolls is arguably one of the core features of the series, and that focus continues. Set some 1,000 years before the events of Skyrim, all that searching for tomes and reading of books will pay off with a deeper understanding of the realm you will find yourself in. This provides a great wealth of story and potential.

Exploration will be a key dynamic, giving those with wanderlust the rewards they seek through finding new lands and moments. With questing being interwoven with exploration, you have the opportunity to decide not just where but how you will face the world. With such a large environment, I think it’s wise to incorporate this as a core mechanic although the concern can be raised about “travel fatigue” that haunts many MMOs. Pacing will be key here, and I fully expect more details in this regard to arise soon.

Combat and interaction seems to be continue what we expect from an Elder Scroll game, with less attention to button bars and more on mouse controlled immediacy. Whilst this seems to be the norm for previous games and appears such here, other screens do give a different viewpoint. I would expect things to be a mixture of both, where basic interactivity is akin to previous Elder Scroll games, but that complexity of options be available for those who wish it. I just don’t see end game raiding to boil down to a few hours of mashing one mouse button or the other. The same applied to near all other MMOs, the basic stuff is just that – basic. But when you really need to get into it, when dealing with the challenge of complex game mechanics, it will require a different style of play.

In a similar vein of previous games, character creation and development begins with the choice of one of nice races and your starting class. Expansion from there will expand depending on how you play your game, as much as where you send your points. Can you reset your points if you don’t like the direction you’re heading in though, or to help fill a need in your guild? Perks will come back into the mix as well, including such significant concepts as being a Vampire or Werewolf.

Mega-Server! We know it’s possible, EVE Online has proven it and others have followed. Shifting your server technology from individual shards to a more “cloud” like dynamic is a challenge technically but the rewards are significant from a social aspect. From getting online with friends to building the guild you want, there is nothing else that makes as much sense. One of the critical aspects for any MMO to succeed is getting that social angle right, and it looks like they’ve been addressing that as well.

The end game sounds like typical fare, it must be said. It will come down to how it is implemented for it to shine. Raiding dungeons for loot, the staple diet for end game, seems to raise its all-too-familiar head but perhaps the focus on lore and experience can bring some change to that dynamic. The PvP side does sound exciting, if only for the three factions. Most of us MMO vetrans are pretty sick of the usual one side fighting another side, and it’s been well demonstrated that three factions battling on the same ground add a significant factor to both playing style and strategy. Not to mention siege weapons, taking towns and CROWNING YOURSELF AS AN EMPEROR.

Of course, PvP isn’t only for end game. It’s sounding like attention is being given to encouraging lower level characters to get in on that aspect of the game as well. I do wonder though, will they be fodder for other troops (CHARGE THE WALLS, BOYS!), in level specific areas, or perhaps they will embrace the temporary max level mechanic other MMOs have used successfully.

To sum up .. there is a lot to like so far, and things seem to be progressing very well. The video doesn’t so much as provide answers, as it does lead us to ask further questions and I’m quite sure that is the aim for the release. You can expect much more vision and discussion in this space, and I for one, am very much looking forward to it.

Thanks to AusGamers for the heads up.



  1. cyberrblob

    Looks promising!

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Puggy

    I don’t know…
    TES was always about improving your character, maxing everything out and learning skills by doing. MMOs have that tendency to not allow you such freedom. Understandable, since you will end up with the same characters (all maxed) everywhere, what would most likely be boring. Still, it is what makes TES interesting for me.
    Run around, pick flowers, brew some potions, level up. Real level up, not some useless crafting level that has no meaning in the game. And actually be able to sell something for profit. also not present in most MMOs (mine ore, buy stuff, make sword, sell for less then sum of raw materials).

    Sneaking around a dungeon, not being noticed, instant stealth kill guards as you do so Can’t see it in an MMO, since you have to prove your button pressing and timing skills. spam one, do rotation Alpha three, loot, repeat.

    Ah well, lets see how it all works out. Though I get the feeling of another Star Wars here. :/

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Mark Limburg

    I’m concerned with that also Puggy, that the draw to the world Lore and such will overshadow “what works” in an MMO. It’s too early to say, but it’s a lingering concern.

    The balancing act will be, many things that work in a single player game simply don’t within an MMO and visa versa. As much as the company is saying “This is a True Elder Scroll Game”, the reality on game mechanics will also come into play. Where and how they deal with it, will be telling.

    Some say there are MANY people devoted to the Elder Scrolls games as well. And sure, that’s true. But then, there’s plenty or Star Wars fans.

    I’m optimistic, so far, but I wouldn’t say I’m confident. Mega-servers are a big thing, a needed thing, and that’s great to see they’re heading that way. But, the devil is in the details as well.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes, and I’ll certainly be playing it Day One. It’s Day Thirty Two that I’m unsure of.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Erthazus

    “Not to mention siege weapons, taking towns and CROWNING YOURSELF AS AN EMPEROR.”

    That was done before in NC Soft’s Lineage II.
    Siege weapons and etc. – Guild Wars 2

    “Set some 1,000 years before the events of Skyrim, all that searching for tomes and reading of books will pay off with a deeper understanding of the realm you will find yourself in. ”

    just for achievement.

    Anyway, this looks like the most generic MMO to date with Elder Scrolls brand on it. That thing will die at the same level like SW:TOR

    I said that SW:TOR will die since it’s announcement and this will be no different.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Erthazus

    “the game does look very nice indeed”

    I disagree on that too. It looks not much better than the RIFT and for the Elder Scrolls Game it feels very Generic.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Custard Ganet

    ^ Yah and when do you ever have anything positive to say about anything? just constant negativity in every thread,why bother like? everything seems to rile you up and cause you so much pain and anger.

    #6 2 years ago

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