Why Elder Scrolls Online Needs To Be A Sandbox

By Nathan Grayson on May 9th, 2012 at 5:30 pm.

I, Lord AwkwardPose McBlurryFace, will be your doom!
Game Informer has picked up the first official screen of The Elder Scrolls Online (above) and, well, hmmm. I feel like, if I sighted it while at some sort of game screenshot social gathering, I’d congratulate Kingdoms of Amalur and WoW on their successful coupling, and ask them what they’re naming it. Then Elder Scrolls would walk up and inform me that it – and not Kingdoms of Amalur – is currently seeing WoW, and a lightbulb factory’s worth of scandalous thoughts would pop up in everyone’s heads, but no one would say anything. It’d be really awkward.

And yet, despite the inbred fantasy genes of that image, I’m still rather interested in this game. Why? Well, it might not be the Elder Scrolls you know and love, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. If done properly (and, mind you, that’s a big if), it could be even better. Let’s explore.

The primary thing that an MMO can do, which even Skyrim could not, is to break down that feeling that the game world is really just a play put on for your eyes only. Skyrim’s world felt utterly static in spite of your earth-shaking actions, and the entire place – despite claiming to be a living, breathing ecosystem – felt like it revolved around the player. I mean, by the end of it all, I was the Dragonborn, head of the Dark Brotherhood, gleaming-grin-wearing leader of the comparatively saintly Companions, boss of the Mages College using only my colorful array of level one spells, and savior of a down-and-out Thieves Guild. My resume read like that of an over-imaginative six-year-old (“And an astronaut! And a train driver!”), yet no one batted an eyelash.

This, then, could be a good chance to finally make a place out of what is still – at the end of the day – a rather traditional videogame setting, from a structural standpoint. Most modern games of this sort (MMO or not) thrive on Big Damn Hero moments, but The Elder Scrolls tends to drop the ball when it puts the weight of the world on your shoulders. It’s the one world where I like being a faceless adventurer and building a (largely imagined) identity based on random experiences I have moment-by-moment. The Elder Scrolls’ strength has never lied in its lore or pre-scripted stories. It’s the little moments that make it huge.

Logos, the most exciting things.

And on that front, there is hope – whether it’s riding to battle in WoW’s technicolor cartoon dream pants or not. The Game Informer post explains that our intrepid fantasy archetypes are, in fact, making very mean faces at Storm Atronachs, who you may (not) recognize from Skyrim. Meanwhile, if you ride this link over to the full image, you’ll spy Daedric ruins – an Elder Scrolls exploration staple, which will apparently be joined by “various dwarven ruins, ancient nordic tombs, decayed dwemer buildings, and many other ancient locales, some of which players may have discovered in previous Elder Scrolls games.”

So I’m glad there’s a big emphasis on exploration here. Games like WoW basically murder the majesty of their giant worlds by turning them into meticulously interwoven quest chains linked by a progression of orderly hubs. It’s all so… mechanical. Meanwhile, aimless wanderings are an Elder Scrolls cornerstone, and – in necessitating more naturally structured worlds – create a irresistibly alluring sense of mystery. The series doesn’t tell me what’s lurking around every corner, and I love that.

It looks as if TESO has pretensions towards the same sort of thing, and if they get it right in an MMO setting, it could be quite evocative. On top of that, having thousands of other adventurers in the mix – one of whom can even become Emperor - will only accentuate that feeling of being part of something far, far larger than myself. If done correctly, it could be a living world. Granted, there are very few believable worlds in MMOs right now (*cough* Eve *cough*) but there’s always a good reason to try.

That, however, is where The Elder Scrolls Online as we know it begins to struggle and strain under an over-encumbered inventory of good intentions and questionable executions. As Adam pointed out, combat’s king – even where the Emperor’s concerned. 100 vs 100 battles sound wild, especially with former Dark Age of Camelot devs at the helm – and player-driven conflicts are at the top of Elder Scrolls Online’s priority list. This does, however, detract from the overall Elder Scrolls type nature of the thing. As Adam put it: “No vampires, no werewolves, no homeowners, just power-hungry leaders with little regard for the democratic process.”

Whoops, this is a screenshot from Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. How'd this get here?

Imagine, though, if all this outcry causes Zenimax to reconsider and expand players’ potential roles a bit. Replace Elder Scrolls’ rigidly scheduled NPCs who won’t shut up about the knee-maiming sensation that’s sweeping their nation with real, unpredictable human beings, and you’ve got a world I wouldn’t mind simply existing in. No, that general idea didn’t work out so well for Star Wars: Galaxies, but that was a different era for this genre. EVE’s made a sandbox MMO work, and The Elder Scrolls could – if done correctly – find a nice middle ground between EVE and World of Warcraft. It could be a sandbox MMO for those of us who can’t quite hash it as Captain Number-Crunch of the SS Evil Economic Mastermind while also getting The Elder Scrolls over its current evolutionary hump.

Yes, there is still every reason for us to be cautious. TESO is leaning heavily on over-familiar tropes – from an art style that looks derivative of something widely considered to be quite derivative itself to combat . One or two or 250 fresh pairs of eyes can help see new solutions to old problems (look no further than Fallout: New Vegas for an excellent example), but there’s also a big danger of losing sight of the source material.

The Elder Scrolls isn’t just a name. It’s exploration and house-ownership and horse-ownership and being able to kill anyone, anytime and sudden cases of vampirism and Lydia and silly glitches and rolling cheese wheels down mountains. It is, however, greater than the sum of those parts, and it could be more still. But it could also easily be less. Zenimax is walking an incredibly fine line. Right now, though, I’m kind of hoping it loses sight of its main quest and gets a bit lost. Who knows? Maybe it’ll find something incredible.

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134 Comments »

  1. RF says:

    Oh, dear god. That picture looks like something out of the Runescape CGI trailers.

    Compare and contrast.

    • Defiant Badger says:

      ‘Cinematic’ trailers seem to always do such a great job at making a game look utterly dreadful in comparision.

    • Beelzebud says:

      LOL Wow

      • miuyabz says:

        No, the strength in the Elder Scrolls lies in the sandbox nature of it and the unique combat and levelling experience. I honestly believed everyone knew that the lore was just a running joke. I’m kind of surprised to see someone defending it!
        http://store.steampowered.com/app/2270/

    • Beelzebud says:

      Nothing amuses me more than watching Elder Scrolls fans freak out about them changing core game mechanics around and turning it into a WoW style clone.

      Now some of you might get a slight taste of what old school Fallout fans went through.

  2. Chris Evans says:

    First impression on seeing that screenshot, as you said yourself Nathan was of Kingdoms of Amalur. It doesn’t really look like an Elder Scrolls game. I’m sure they can make it work though, not going to write it off based on one screen.

  3. lijenstina says:

    Those are some pimping LED lights. Need for Speed Sky 20″ Rims

  4. Choca says:

    I’m confused by this project.

    If you want to do an Elder Scrolls MMO, you either make a PC sandbox or use the series fame to try and create the World of Warcraft equivalent for consoles.

    Doing what looks like a WoW clone for PC and Mac makes no sense to me.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      There are so many brilliant crazy sandboxy things they could include. Instead of having ye olde instances, why not allow players to actually become evil necromancers who themselves take over dungeons and fill them with creatures of the dark? Why not allow a human run guild of good citizens to make notices on the guild noticeboard, hiring up new members of the guild to go out and clear out the lair? What if all quests were run in this kind of crazy human-organised fashion but with some kind of structure to account for levelling? Imagine the sheer variety of situations, the life breathed into the game world, the amazing battles you could just stumble upon…

      This might just be blue sky thinking, but even a few minutes of stupid typing can come up with ideas that a team as talented as the guys making this could really make fantastic.

      • Arglebargle says:

        Sandboxes are very difficult to ride herd on. That’s why there is only one major successful one.

        • S Jay says:

          There are much more unsuccessful WoW clones though

          • Shuck says:

            But there are many more successful WoW clones, though (with WoW itself a clone of previous successful MMOs). This is the problem with the sort of game being proposed – no one has proven the design, and without that, no one has a chance of getting AAA level resources to implement the game design.
            As an MMO designer, I’ve pushed for ideas like this and gotten no traction. A big budget MMO, in order to have any hope of gaining the sorts of subscriber numbers needed to just pay back the dev costs, has to provide an experience that’s consistent in quality and generally newbie friendly – these sorts of ideas directly work against both these goals.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        That would work so well, buy a dungeon, pay for guards, monsters, traps etc. The money you use to pay for them goes into the reward chest at the end. Other players then try to defeat your dungeon, you win money if they fail. You gain money from raiding other players dungeons. I would pay for that so much.

    • thelongshot says:

      I had a conversation with my friend who works with Zenimax Online, who told me why you haven’t seen MMOs on Microsoft consoles and why you probably never will see one. Basically, his argument was that an MMO would be seen as a threat to Xbox Live if done by anyone but Microsoft. If Microsoft did it, they’d probably piss off a lot of their partners, some of which are also in the MMO business.

      Just as a note, we had this discussion a couple of months ago, so I might not have gotten all the details right about his argument.

      • Runs With Foxes says:

        Another example of how closed platforms harm innovation.

    • Vorphalack says:

      Yeah, this is just the wrong IP to try and shoe horn into WoWs old clothes.

      Fans of the Elder Scrolls games will hate this for compromising so much of what makes the Elder Scrolls games good. Fans of WoW style MMOs don’t need this, as the market is probably past the point of saturation (especially if they plan to make it a subscription game). Granted there might be some people curious to see how the mix turns out, but enough to support a MMORPGer? Doubtful.

      They only way I can see them making this work is if they pull off a feat of mechanical brilliance. But by shackling themselves to the tab target, hotkey combat of the old days they probably wont be able to pull it off. Early reports suggest that there may be as few as 6 skills per character, including the basic strong and light attacks, so it’s starting to sound more like LoL or (shudder) Warhammer: Wrath of Heroes (/shudder) than anything with tactical depth.

      The idea of hiding quests, and only hinting at where events are through NPC dialogue, sounds decent enough. That could work alongside a more sandbox-y MMO by killing the idea of hubs and level restricted zones. From what we’ve hears so far though, even a stellar world design might not be enough to save it from the dated, basic combat system.

      • FRIENDLYUNIT says:

        Indeed. I think it might actually “damage” the “IP”.

        Go hard or go home, IMHO.

  5. Jimbo says:

    Oh hi, Shale!

  6. Drakale says:

    If they keep the first person combat mechanic in a massively multiplayer world, I might be interested. If they go for wow style target selection and skill bar system, I will stay far faaar away from this.

  7. Lemming says:

    Gotta agree with the sentiment. If they had to make an Elder Scrolls Online game, then the best way to have it stick out and keep the Elder Scrolls flavour would be to make it a pre-CU SWG for the new generation, but with real-time combat.

  8. Rao Dao Zao says:

    “various dwarven ruins, ancient nordic tombs, decayed dwemer buildings, and many other ancient locales”

    “various dwarven ruins… decayed dwemer buildings”

    “dwarven ruins… dwemer buildings”

    Well excuuuuuuse me, Princess.

  9. Suits says:

    I think we can safely write it off really.

  10. Halbarad says:

    Well, I adore TES games. If Elder Scrolls was a person i’d have sex with it… Hell, throw me a Aeva (the huntress) doll and I’ll do that to show my love of the franchise.

    But the MMO. This is going to be terrible.
    I’m just so dissapointed. I was dissapointed when it was announced and every bit of information just kills off more and more of my hope that this will be worth playing.
    The Old Republic over again. a terrible game, using the name of a franchise to get people interested. TES will start off with massive sales – it’ll have subscription drops within no time.

    Bring on Guild Wars 2 and Salem. The only MMO’s worth looking at.

    • RandomGameR says:

      From what I’ve read about the game so far it seems like they looked at everything that makes the Elder Scrolls series strong and said “that would be hard to do in an MMO, so let’s just make a crappy version of Guild Wars 2 instead.”

      This makes me sad because when it fails miserably people will say that an Elder Scrolls MMO doesn’t work, when really this studio is just not making an Elder Scrolls MMO.

  11. jellydonut says:

    Well, it’s not going to be a sandbox. It’s going to be a WoW-clone carebearfest.

    • Severian says:

      Panda-fest?

    • InternetBatman says:

      Aren’t all of the Elder Scrolls games pretty much a single-player MMO for carebears? Isn’t that what makes them great?

      • Consumatopia says:

        Exactly. The first below the fold paragraph would work better as the start of “Why Elder Scrolls Online Could Never Be A Sandbox”.

        The primary thing that an MMO can do, which even Skyrim could not, is to break down that feeling that the game world is really just a play put on for your eyes only. Skyrim’s world felt utterly static in spite of your earth-shaking actions, and the entire place – despite claiming to be a living, breathing ecosystem – felt like it revolved around the player. I mean, by the end of it all, I was the Dragonborn, head of the Dark Brotherhood, gleaming-grin-wearing leader of the comparatively saintly Companions, boss of the Mages College using only my colorful array of level one spells, and savior of a down-and-out Thieves Guild. My resume read like that of an over-imaginative six-year-old (“And an astronaut! And a train driver!”), yet no one batted an eyelash.

        It’s not inherent to single-player gaming that Skyrim be limited like this. In other games, taking charge of a faction could mean changing their policies, declaring war on other factions, redrawing the map–all of which would invite serious repercussions from other agents in the world. (Take Crusader Kings as the logical extreme of this, though Mount & Blade might be a more reasonable comparison.)

        So you can make a single-player game like that, but you can’t make a single-player game like Skyrim like that–with it’s immense scripted content and written lore, and its design focus giving the player regular, consistent rewards for spending time on it. It’s not that Bethesda can’t make the kind of open, dynamic game Nathan might be interested in, it’s that they’ve consciously decided to avoid it. If they make it an MMO, they have to avoid that dynamism even harder–otherwise, genocidal lizardmen could wipe out all humanoids in the online game and I guess that becomes canon for TES6.

        Ultimately, the logic of “don’t rename WoW as TES” becomes even stronger as “don’t rename EVE (or Salem) as TES”. Although I do think the market has a gaping void waiting for a EVE-like game in fantasy/medieval times rather than in outer space, that’s probably not what most of TES players are looking for.

        • Mattressi says:

          Everything I’ve read and heard seems to suggest that the one thing that no TES player wants is a WoW clone.

          I think that wrecking the lore is a terrible excuse for not making it a sandbox – they’ve already wrecked the lore with this game and if players do it, just don’t make it lore! When I played as a Stormcloak and drove the Empire back, I ruined the lore of the game (or vice versa, depending on what the lore says actually happened) as much as hundreds of thousands of people playing the game would ruin it. The lore is what Bethesda say it is; not what the players do.

          I really wish they’d make it an open sandbox world set in a vague time-period so that players could have complete freedom to be anything from a humble farmer to a mighty ruler who’s army takes over various lands. Honestly, the story of TES games has always been secondary (or tertiary) to me, with open world gameplay being significantly more important. I can’t say I’m in the majority, but I can say that it seems the majority don’t think that TES being a WoW-clone is what they enjoy about it (or is even representative of TES at all).

          • Consumatopia says:

            Eh, sure, the people who talk and write about games online don’t want a WoW game. But Skyrim is a lot bigger than the set of people who play games online–I mean, I actually run into, you know, normal people who play Skyrim. And, maybe they wouldn’t like WoW. But I absolutely guarantee you that they would hate even more a game where you’re trying to build a house or a farm and adventurers are breaking into it and stealing things as soon as you’re off line, or the empero burns the whole thing down and demands tribute.

            I think what offends people about TES being turned into WoW is that it dispels the illusion that it was ever anything deeper than WoW. Skyrim is spatially open, but your progression through the game is managed, metric’d, and “gamified”. There’s no way Bethesda would release a TES online game where other players can treat you the way you can treat NPCs in Skyrim.

            I really wish they’d make it an open sandbox world set in a vague time-period so that players could have complete freedom to be anything from a humble farmer to a mighty ruler who’s army takes over various lands

            I would really want to play such a game! But it’s silly to expect TES Online to be such a game.

  12. Tei says:

    This game is like a Time Capsule from 2007. Absolutelly nothing that has happened in gamming after 2007 have any influence in the conception of the game, even, most importantly all the last TES games. The shadown of Skyrim is gigantic. The shadown of this thing is minuscule. I am sure theres something freudiam here, but I cant put my finger on it.

    • Arglebargle says:

      I see some MMO tropes shoehorning the Elder Scrolls aspects. More than just two sides in the player conflict is good, but hard coding it to the races involved? Tsk! This is DaoC cookie cutters cramming things into their procustean bed.

      I do wonder if they now look at decisions they made four or five years ago, and go ‘gulp’. I think this one will be pretty hard to do well, and may cause a lot more reputations to go into freefall.

  13. lijenstina says:

    I prefer Type o Negative’s Summer Breeze.

  14. RizziSmoov says:

    Oh god I think I can see the amount of polygons in Lord AwkwardPose McBlurryFace’s face.

  15. SirKicksalot says:

    Even Skyrim with Guild Wars style instancing would be better than this.
    I wonder what the devs feel like when they look at TOR.

    • Bart Stewart says:

      Both BioWare and Zenimax Online were early licensees of the “Hero Engine” MMORPG development system from (then) Simutronics.

      So if the TESO producers are thinking anything, it’s probably “Hey, how come SWTOR shipped first?”

  16. McCool says:

    “The Elder Scrolls’ strength has never lied in its lore ”

    How amazingly wrong can one statement be? Somewhat tantamount to saying “Team Fortress’ strength has never lied in fun, team-based combat”. You are very silly.

    I totally agree with the premise of the piece, though. The one hope for TESO is that we can make something interesting out of us, if they give us the scope. Here’s hoping.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      Different priorities perhaps?

      I’ve played TES games since Daggerfall and never given a toss about the lore. I played Skyrim for 75 hours before bothering to look up how, if at all, it related to Morrowind. And now I can’t remember what I found out. I just don’t care.

      Nor can I, I think name a single Daedra (if that’s the demon people). Or tell you the name of any emperor or god. A couple of provinces perhaps.

      Edit: it’s not that I just close my eyes and go lalala when playing. I just don’t care all that much. I still refer to the emperor in Oblivion as Captain Picard. Or Mister Fish Eye, depending on mood.

      Same goes for the cat people and the lizard guys. I can’t remember what they’re called, but I frequently call them kilrathi and… well, lizard dudes. I’m not imaginative, really.

      • fish99 says:

        Have to agree, while I loved Oblivion and played 100+ hrs, I never cared about the lore or world at all. The word just seemed generic and bland to me, even quite silly with the cat people and lizard men.

      • Arglebargle says:

        I bet you play the generic male Shephard, and as a soldier to boot! Don’t you?? Don’t you!? C’mon, admit it….

        • Premium User Badge

          Stellar Duck says:

          For the record, seeing as you ask, I’ve played both man and lady, soldier, sniper, stealth dude and jedi in it.

          Which brings up another point: I’ve never opened the Codex in Mass Effect. Just don’t give a toss. Or Dragon Age Origins for that matter.

          The thing is, I really can’t be assed to spend that amount of time getting to know the back story of a game.

          • Arglebargle says:

            I don’t think we’d work well together in the MMO.

            I suspect you might axe me pretty quick, but I’d be able to tell you where the axe was made, and what Daedric lord it was bound to…. ;)

          • Premium User Badge

            Stellar Duck says:

            Well, I consider myself rather mellow and I don’t mind at all if people take a lot of time pouring over the details and lore. I just don’t do it myself.

            I’ve recently started playing ToR, and I expect that some of the people I’ve played with have been through the codex. Haven’t really been an issue. :)

          • Arglebargle says:

            Sorry, was just being snarky. Good sense of humor is the number one asset for MMO players, imo.

          • Premium User Badge

            Stellar Duck says:

            Yea, I hear you on that. TOR is my first MMO and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the people I’ve met. I’ve botched a lot of stuff with my noob behavior but have never once been shouted at. The common reaction seems to be ‘No worries. Let me buff you up and we’ll have another go.’

            So that’s been nice.

          • McCool says:

            I’ve never opened the Codex in any Bioware game either. In fact, the fact they even have a Word of God codex is one of the primary reasons The Elder Scrolls’ lore is so vital, and recent Bioware games’ lore is not. TES is a world full of stories, of opinions, legends and myths, metaphysics and biographies that all contradict eachother. There is no possible codex for TES, the best thing we have is the fan-made Imperial Library, which simply brings together the huge amount of in-game text.

          • Premium User Badge

            Hidden_7 says:

            For people that are interested in Elder Scrolls lore, but maybe only at an apprentice level at this point, I’d reccommend the Elder Lore podcast: http://elderlore.wordpress.com/

            It doesn’t tend to be anything that you can’t find out from reading some of the in-game books, and the guy’s style at times can feel like he’s reading off book report notes he’s made, but he’s very thorough, and as someone who does read books in game and who has spent upwards of 1200 hours in Elder Scrolls worlds over the years, he does drop tidbits now and then that I didn’t know before.

            The episode on Metaphysics in particular is properly nuts. That the Elder Scrolls is a world that has its own out there metaphysical philosophical debates in universe is part of why I’ve got such love for it, and have stuck with it since Daggerfall.

            A lot of times these games get accused of being very bland traditional fantasy settings, and okay, fair enough, on the surface that can certainly be true at times. But dig deeper, and there’s an awful lot of digging to do deeply if one is so inclined.

    • Lemming says:

      It’s right though. The lore is derivative tosh, but what else can you expect from a series that has the laziest races in any fantasy series, ever. Even the craziest ones (lizardman, catman, orc) are as humanoid as possible and are perfectly civilised. All the characters seem to be playing roles in a wonky 90s tv series. No matter what race they are, they look like ordinary people in make-up and light prosthetics.

      No, the strength in the Elder Scrolls lies in the sandbox nature of it and the unique combat and levelling experience. I honestly believed everyone knew that the lore was just a running joke. I’m kind of surprised to see someone defending it!

      • Arglebargle says:

        On the other hand, I watch people carry on about 40k all the time, and if there was ever a bad joke taken too seriously, their lore is it.

        I thought they did a good job with the elder scrolls stuff later on, especially since they had to spackle over all the earlier stuff.

        • Premium User Badge

          Stellar Duck says:

          Interesting counterpoint. I can spew 40K fluff (I will forever refuse calling it lore) by the truck load if prompted.

          • Arglebargle says:

            Squats!! What happened to all the Squats??

          • Premium User Badge

            Stellar Duck says:

            Ha! You managed to hit one of my blank spots. There are plenty of those though. I honestly can’t recall what the hell happened to the squats, though I suspect they might have been killed in a war. :P There’s a lot of that going around in 40K.

          • Davie says:

            They were retconned into being all eaten by Tyranids! You’re welcome!

          • theleif says:

            The where killed in the Tyranid invasion, I believe.

            Edit: Damn ninjas.

          • Arglebargle says:

            You are all helping to support my point!

            Thanks for the info though…I did not know that tidbit.

        • Lemming says:

          Hey at least 40k has some unique design. And the lore is essentially just war stories.

      • McCool says:

        Depends which Elder Scrolls games you are talking about. Show me a game with more fascinating lore than Morrowind. For a huge amount of people, TES’s primary appeal is still the lore. For an even larger amount of people, I’m sure they like riding about on horses and hitting goblins with swords. TES has, historically, been the marriage of these two.

        • The Greatness says:

          This is me exactly. I loved Morrowind, not really for the actual gameplay but the immersive world and lore. It’s so much more than a generic fantasy world and I completely agree that this is one of the main strengths of the Elder Scrolls series. Saying things like ‘all the races are civilised’ is also completely wrong in my opinion, after all, look at the Dunmer. They’re a race that rely on slavery, state-sanctioned assassination and extreme xenophobia. It’s things like this that make the Elder Scrolls great for me.

          • Arglebargle says:

            That’s true about the Dunmer: think of what the uncivilized races are like!!

            I mean, everyone knows the Bosmer are cannibals.

          • The Greatness says:

            Can’t believe I forgot that. Exactly!

          • Azhrarn says:

            @Arglebargle:

            I think I can counter your argument with a little quote from the Dark Eldar codex for Warhammer 40,000.
            Basically the Dark Eldar are very much like the Dunmer in the Elder Scrolls universe.
            It goes something like this: “We Dark Eldar are the most sophisticated race in the galaxy, we have more ways of killing each other than anyone else.”

            Much like Dunmer society, the Dark Eldar are rather heavily xenophobic, see assassination as a valid way to advance ones career and are very fond of slavery. Although for rather different reasons than the Dunmer.
            Dark Elder wither away without constantly feeding on negative emotions, a side-effect of surviving the Fall of the Eldar the way they did. Their captured slaves are the primary source of this energy.
            And much of their technology revolves around extracting, transferring and using the psychic energy released by torturing their victims. The same goes for their weaponry, the lighter stuff will rarely kill you, but will certainly make you wish it had.

          • Arglebargle says:

            @Azhram

            Well, that does come from a universe where the Human Emperor is a Vampiric Darth Vader type….and he’s the good guy!

        • InternetBatman says:

          Fallout. Baldur’s Gate. Mass Effect. The Void. Even Dragon Age to an extent. Perhaps Bastion, although you don’t get to explore it well. Deus Ex. Geneforge and probably Avernum. Amnesia. Planescape. Bioshock. The Penny-Arcade games. Blood bowl. That last one was a joke, although I probably would read Blood bowl lore.

          I really don’t think the lore was that great, although the disappearance of the dwarves was pretty cool.

      • Davie says:

        I have to completely disagree with you there; TES lore has never felt particularly derivative to me, and actually comes across as extremely interesting. It probably has to do with the fact that much of it is ambiguous, being told through various in-game writings by a variety of different authors, so there are often several variations on a single recorded event. There’s also all that crazy stuff with the pantheon and how the gods assume a different aspect depending on the culture that worships them, and some of the myths and legends are just wonderfully bizarre. Sheogorath creates music by ripping a woman in half! The orcs are transformed when Boethiah eats their patron god!

        I guess, overall, it has the variety and detail of historical mythos like those of Greece or Scandinavia. It’s unashamedly fantastic and doesn’t try to shoehorn its universe into our own, what with the two corpse-moons and the stars being holes in the sky, but it also pulls off all this insane backstory with the feel of actual mythology, as though it could be real, or it could be something confused mortals came up with to explain their incredibly complex world.

        Whew. The main storylines of all the TES games are on the weak side, but Bethesda’s background writers deserve some serious credit.

    • Brun says:

      TES’ strength has always been in allowing the player to do pretty much whatever he wants in a (relatively) convincing sandbox world. The lore is only somewhat important because it helps to establish the convincing sandbox world.

  17. djbriandamage says:

    This is destined to be the most console-friendly MMO ever. Call me a pessimist but I expect this to be a very shallow game appealing to the lowest common denominator. It takes much more than a big name make an MMO work (Warhammer and The Matrix flopped) so Bethesda\Zenimax have a lot to prove before I take this seriously.

  18. Dougal McFrugal says:

    meh

  19. pilouuuu says:

    Why Elder Scrolls Online needs to be Single Player and Offline.

  20. Premium User Badge

    dangermouse76 says:

    What news from the MOD community on trying to get Skyrim multiplayer friendly ?

  21. fish99 says:

    Basically if you’re an Elder Scrolls fan, just forget this game exists. It’s not by Bethesda, it’s not 1st person, it won’t have Elder Scrolls style combat/magic (not that Elder Scrolls has great combat, but it’s still way more involving than a hotkey MMO), it won’t be about exploration, you won’t make your mark on the world, you won’t become the hero, it’s apparently focused on PVP rather than questing…..

    It’s just a cynical use of a license to make another bog standard MMO that no one cares about. Just wait for the next RPG that’s actually by Bethesda instead, i.e. Fallout 4 or Elder Scrolls 6.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      BethesdaMax may not be directly involved in developing the MMO, but I’ll bet my last Septims that they’re going to be directly involved in the number of crashes, bugs, and glitches in the game when it finally sees release day.

  22. Premium User Badge

    HermitUK says:

    Your vision of an accessible sandbox MMO is something I’d love to see made reality.

    Sadly, I don’t think Zenimax will be deviating too far from the WoW template. More than happy to be proved wrong, though. A TES MMO done right is something I’d love to play.

    • scim says:

      Sandbox almost by the definition we gave it, has a couple of things that are extremely hard, if not impossible, for a more casual MMO player to swallow (especially if they came from WoW). I love CCP and their approach to their games. They want to put as much of the narrative/gameplay in the hands of their players. They see an MMO as a set of tools for their users to have fun in (similar to Minecraft). That’s why their policies are not restrictive and we can see things like infiltration or all out war campaigns in any part of the game world. EVE is the only (maybe Darkfall as well) successful western sandbox MMO out there. Another thing is that they start small and build out from there. They don’t want a juggernaut from day one, they feel that if they continue support they can grow their playerbase and exposure over time (which is also something a LOT of MMO devs are forgetting these days).
      The problem TES faces is that for it to be successful it needs its gameworld to have the ambience that their single player games have, but at the same time it needs the “I can do anything in this world” aspect of the single player games. Which probably means that each and every part needs to be designed and thought about. This is also one of the reasons why I liked WoW so much, there is almost nothings in that gameworld that seems out of place and it feels like it is there for a reason. The way I see it if you want to appeal to the masses you kinda have to set up two separate entities. In one players can experience MMO’s most of them are used to: so big world, quests, instances, no/limited pvp (that is the big one for most). Then the rest of the gameworld can be open for players to populare, you have to fend for yourself, you can create an empire if you want to, most of it is unmapped or only roughly mapped (and through player interaction terrain/structures appear/disappear over time) and you can explore it to your hearts content.

      Tbh I’m doubting that this will be a success. 2013 (if they make it) would mean that they release with a 6 month window of Guild Wars 2. Another thing I’m quite certain of is that Blizzard is ramping up development on their new MMO and announcing something next year. We’ll see what happens, maybe they’ll surprise us, but I don’t think they’ll take that risk. Personally i’ve been waiting for a company with enough guts and know how to do for the sandbox type MMO what WoW did for MMO’s in general, ie. make it accessible for everyone (and not casualize it with the first expansion pls).

  23. derbefrier says:

    yep could have been great but most likely will not be. just some generic fantasy MMO with the TES name tagged on to help it sell. though we could all be wrong and it could be awesome but this game needs some sandbox in it

  24. Roshin says:

    So this is essentially what the XCom and Syndicate remakes are? It says Syndicate on the cover, but it’s not really Syndicate. It says XCom on the cover, but it’s not really XCom. Change the title and some place/character names around in this and it could be any of a thousand generic fantasy games.

  25. Stevostin says:

    OMG so ugly.

    Hey Zenimax, let me explain this : Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas, Skyrim, all huge seller, isn’t it ?

    Well, let me put it this way : you have this kind of game, which obviously a lot of people want to buy and play.

    And you’re the only one to do them.

    So let say you double the schedule so we have say one title every year and half. You’ll sell twice as much.

    Simple isn’t it ?

    OTOH there are MMO, which no one seems to want to play as much as they wanted to play WoW. A gazillion of publishers are doing those.

    So basically, instead of doing secure big success which everyone wants and you are the only one to deliver in that field, you go on hugely risky stuff that a lot people are already trying to do.

    It’s one thing to do the EA yearly stuff, endless exploitation of just the same thing. It’s another one to become the only team delivery huge open world solo RPG, at least achieving big big success with it, and not delivering what a lot of people just want to play.

    Someone deciding stuff at zenimax should clearly be replaced by any wood chair. That still would outsmart him by a long shot, clearly.

    • Jimbo says:

      I think part of the appeal is that these games aren’t coming out all the time. Each one still feels like an event.

      That said, I am surprised none of the other big publishers have tried to rip them off yet. I guess it’s a lot of work and very hard to do well.

      • marcusfell says:

        If the tools are as complex as what they released to the public, then they may as well have a bunch of monkeys in the office. (smithing, anyone?…)

  26. mmalove says:

    I hate everything about this game, and it’s not even remotely close to done. I’m just disgusted with the core concept. SWTOR was the last straw for me: I’m tired to death of persistent immutable worlds, and more tired still of failed MMOs that absorb so much developer talent to produce massive wastelands abandoned because what was created is a great one-time experience, but lacking any replay value.

  27. Nemon says:

    It looks like rubbish. Truly cartoonish and meh.

  28. TheFatDM says:

    They should take Ultima Online pre-trammel into this future of AAA-MMOs.

  29. rustybroomhandle says:

    Personally I rather enjoy the lore in TES games. Having other people bouncing around in the same world spoils it.

    My Tamriel might be full of people that repeat themselves a lot, but none of them bounce around yelling “ima pwn teh nubz!!!!” while the reigning emperor is someone named “winkycheezbizkit”

    I’m going to go with a “crash ‘n burn” prediction on this anyway. I just can’t see it being successful.

    • Phaedruss says:

      There’s an ignore button for a reason and server rules for a reason.

  30. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    If this comes out after GW2 yet sports the same systems as WoW, it’s doomed.

  31. BurningPet says:

    But i am still waiting for a proper morrowind sequel.

    • Flavioli says:

      We will be waiting for eternity, my friend. Skyrim was just too successful and got too many perfect scores, for whichever reason.

    • Premium User Badge

      Hidden_7 says:

      Morrowind was too successful to ever see a proper Daggerfall sequel.
      Oblivion was too successful to ever see a proper Morrowind sequel.
      Skyrim was too successful to ever see a proper Oblivion sequel.
      Elsewyr/Summerset Isles will be too successful to ever see a proper Skyrim sequel.

      And so on.
      Morrowind fans like to think they have the monopoly on being annoyed at the change of direction TES has gone in. I however, was around being pissed off at how different Morrowind was to Daggerfall waaaay before that sentiment was cool. I’m super hip that way.

      Then of course I stopped judging Morrowind on the ways in which it failed to be Daggerfall 2, and started judging it on its own merits, and found an amazing and special game. Oblivion came along, and was different from Morrowind in a lot of ways, but great on its own merits in other ways as well. So too Skyrim.

      Each of these games have had their strengths, and their weaknesses (yes even Morrowind had flaws), but they all provided an amazing experience (for me at least) that is very hard to find elsewhere. One of the things that makes the Elder Scrolls games so special, is that the team doesn’t have a slavish attachment to what they’ve done before. When they make a new game, pretty much everything is on the table.

      Sometimes this desire to do something different results in mechanics or decisions that aren’t as good as what they’ve done before, sometimes it results in something better. Still I applaud their desire to start over each time, and the better elements have a way of sticking around (e.g. the way Morrowind’s world was designed was totally new for that game, and has pretty much endured throughout).

      If they ever DID do a straight up sequel to Morrowind (I wonder what is meant by that; going to Morrowind again? Or exactly Morrowind’s mechanics in another of the weirder Tamrielic locations like Valenwood or Blackmarsh) I feel like that would be a bigger betrayal of the Elder Scrolls spirit than Oblivion or Skyrim ever could be.

  32. Ateius says:

    I dunno, I think I might prefer seeing an NPC chopping wood and spitting out the same line for the fifteenth time every time I enter my home city, rather than XxBairYHallSxX doing jump-squats on top of the blacksmith anvil with no trousers on, screaming broken profanity at all and sundry.

    As a fan of the Elder Scrolls games, I of course dearly hope this turns out well, but so far the preview material has only dampened my enthusiasm.

  33. Dazakai says:

    “The Elder Scrolls’ strength has never lied in its lore or pre-scripted stories.”

    Err, so you’ve never played Morrowind or Daggerfall then, and therefore know pretty much fuck-all about the series overall, and your opinions are worthless. To say the narratives in those games were not one of their strongest aspect, is patently retarded. I mean, wow.

    “It’s exploration and house-ownership and horse-ownership and being able to kill anyone, anytime and sudden cases of vampirism and Lydia and silly glitches and rolling cheese wheels down mountains.”

    You sound like a 5 year old. Jesus, physics glitches in TES games didn’t even -exist- till Oblivion came out. There was no physics engine in the previous games that COULD glitch out. So trust me, that wasn’t a major ‘selling point’ or aspect of the series… and the rest of the stuff you listed was in the games prior to Oblivion (Daggerfall, Morrowind).

    Worst article i’ve ever read (and i’ve read some real pieces of shit). You sound like you know nothing about what you discussing.

    I hope Numidium crushes you for your crimes.

    :P

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      As I mentioned earlier in the thread: it’s possible to play a TES game and not give a toss about the lore, narrative and world. I should know. I’ve done so since I spent my entire time in Daggerfall as a burglar and collector of ladies dresses.

      • Dazakai says:

        No offense, but I wouldn’t call that seriously “playing an Elder Scrolls” game then, so all my points stand. If you go to a movie, and just listen to the sounds, but don’t watch the visuals, would you say you’ve really “watched the movie”? Are games merely just the game ‘mechanics’, and the story and ‘context’ just incidental? Not for me, so I don’t think they are… so you aren’t really “playing” the games I have. Lets call it “messing around”.

        • Dazakai says:

          I suppose if TES was a -real- total sandbox, and you were creating your own ‘narrative’ through your actions, I would call that “playing the game”, but ultimately, it would be quite a short, shallow affair in TES games to date, if you merely played it -entirely- as a burgler ‘simulator’, or a thief ‘simulator’, or even a pure combat ‘simulator’. The games don’t stand on there own by mechanics alone, and the world you go around DOING your lore-ignoring, story don’t-caring actions in IS the TES world. You are experiencing the lore merely by exploring or interacting with this world. So, infact, you guys are into the lore probably just as much as others… you just cba to remember anything too specific or peripheral to what part of the lore you are experiencing in that precise moment..

          • Palindrome says:

            Or the fluff is simply not good enough to hold my interest. I have played all the Elder Scrolls games since Morrowind and I can barely rememember any of the lore. I think that says quite alot about how engaging I found it.

          • Dazakai says:

            Or it shows how bad your memory is; or how bad your taste is, take your pick. Infact, i’d like you to name some fantasy stories you actually thought were ‘good’, from a writing and plot perspective, with a few minor justifications. I’d be interested to see what you think ‘good fantasy’ writing is, and your reasons why.

          • Palindrome says:

            Fantasy games are almost universally poorly written. The only 2 that really spring to mind are Planescape and Baldur’s gate II.

            It would also be advisable to moderate your tone. I realise that this is the internet but I really hope that you don’t talk to people in the real world in such an aggressive manner.

          • Dazakai says:

            Baldur’s Gate 2 had an excellent story, but it was much more personal in scope than either Daggerfall or Morrowind, which had much more overarching narratives (not that that is good or bad thing in and of itself). Same with the first Baldurs Gate. That is another of my favourite fantasy worlds (Forgotten Realms as a roleplaying setting overall, not just the BG games). Now, I would contest, openly, and at length, that either of the Baldur’s Gate’s (with the 2nd one probably being in my top 3 games of all time, and possibly receiving no-less rose-tinted nostalgia ‘help’ than D-fall/M-wind are) had a superior story to Daggerfall or Morrowind. Infact, inferior in many respects to Morrowind’s, in my opinion, a game which made excellent use of the Tribunal / Ashlanders, Dumner / Imperial concepts to explore narrative areas like Religion’s role in the State, Globalism vs Communalism (and the ensuing racism that can occur from conflicting interests, they re-trod this ground in Skyrim with the Nord / Imperial angle), social issues stemming from societal advancement and development – the history of conflict between the Tribunal and Great Houses with the nomadic Ashlander brethren, Fate vs Determinism – in terms of your role as a Neverine, the corrupting influence of power – not just in terms of Dagoth Ur, but the entire Tribunal, it’s 3 namesake gods, all the way down, retribution and karma – in terms of your role, as Nevarine, and Dagoth Ur’s only late understood role as an avenger of long past misdeeds, a tragic figure, not a merely evil one… I could go on and on).

            So yeah, in short, if you’re citing Baldur’s Gate 2 (one my favourite games of all time) as an example of “great fantasy” (which it is), but are delineating Morrowind (and even Daggerfall) as separate, based on poor lore / writing, well… you have failed to make a case that wins me over. Baldur’s Gate 2 had some great stories (well, mainly Irenicus’ fall from grace, and the late game discovery of the love-story background with the elven queen which turned him from a (though very imposing and effective) cardboard cut-out adversary into a real villain with some depth. However, as i’ve mentioned, Morrowind trode alot more ground, over a lot more subjects, with an equal / greater amount of nuance).

            PS: My first post was very aggressive, the rest have progressively become entirely civil.

          • Premium User Badge

            Stellar Duck says:

            To go beyond Daggerfall which I played ages ago and head to Morrowind, the best TES game as far as I’m concerned.

            Now, the main story: Some guy called Dagoth Ur is the bad guy. I assume he’s threatening the world for whatever reason. He created a bunch of zombies in his ash land around the volcano he lives in. It’s guarded by a laser fence I think. Also I think Vivvec has a quarrel with him. Anyway, I got named Nerrevarerereine or something and Hortator of the houses and collected a hammer and some stuff and killed him.
            That’s what I took away from the main quest line of Morrowind.

            What mattered to me that game was exploring the game world. I traveled around on giant insects that made whale sounds, I saw a guy fall out of the sky. I explored ruins by the truck load. I killed a lot of weird animals. I made a ring of flying and spent a few hours killing Cliff Racers in the air, I stole the souls of pretty much every damn thing I could, I collected books and clothes and arranged them nicely in a house I had stolen, I became the Centurion of the Imperial Army or some such, I jumped over Balmorra in one stride, I climbed mountains, I got insulted by a lot of dark elves, I freed slaves, I sold drugs (skooma?), I found a pirate lair under the water, I dove for treasure, I became a pit fighter, I became an assassin, I found a floating city (Vivvec?) and whatever else.

            I dare say that’s more interesting than reading though a ton of tedious in game books on “lore” and history.

        • InternetBatman says:

          I personally found the lore ten miles broad and three inches deep. There’s a lot there, but its of very mixed quality. It never gets as interesting as some of the weapon descriptions from Baldur’s Gate, and certainly not as much as the village histories in Fallout or the Factions in Torment.

          • Dazakai says:

            “Now, the main story: Some guy called Dagoth Ur is the bad guy. I assume he’s threatening the world for whatever reason. He created a bunch of zombies in his ash land around the volcano he lives in. It’s guarded by a laser fence I think. Also I think Vivvec has a quarrel with him. Anyway, I got named Nerrevarerereine or something and Hortator of the houses and collected a hammer and some stuff and killed him.
            That’s what I took away from the main quest line of Morrowind.”

            This is an almost impressive level of over-simplification of the narratives. Wow. That’s what i’d expect (i’ll use the charge again) a 5 year old to walk away with from Morrowind, in terms of understanding of the events / motivations of the characters.

            Seriously guys, just because that’s “all you took away from it” doesn’t mean that was all that was there, or that there was no nuance or depth in how old concepts retrodden in the game were dealt with. The impression I get here, is almost like someone cooking someone else a really nice, gourmet meal, and then the person eating having no interest, and therefore saying no skill was involved in it’s creation, merely because that person only enjoys fast food, or really simple cuisine. IF you missed alot of the emotional ‘point’ and context of a game… well… I guess I don’t know why I (as in me, myself) am surprised you walked away missing 80% of the contextual framing which made the events in the game worth paying attention to.

            Yeah, there’s a real “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” problem going on here with alot of you people, and appreciating lore. Half of you don’t even seem to understand the lore you’re not interested in.

    • Soon says:

      The roof jumping glitch in Daggerfall was one of the best bits.

      • Dazakai says:

        A final reply to Stellar Duck :

        Stellar Duck : “What mattered to me that game was exploring the game world. I traveled around on giant insects that made whale sounds, I saw a guy fall out of the sky. I explored ruins by the truck load. I killed a lot of weird animals. I made a ring of flying and spent a few hours killing Cliff Racers in the air, I stole the souls of pretty much every damn thing I could, I collected books and clothes and arranged them nicely in a house I had stolen, I became the Centurion of the Imperial Army or some such, I jumped over Balmorra in one stride, I climbed mountains, I got insulted by a lot of dark elves, I freed slaves, I sold drugs (skooma?), I found a pirate lair under the water, I dove for treasure, I became a pit fighter, I became an assassin, I found a floating city (Vivvec?) and whatever else.

        I dare say that’s more interesting than reading though a ton of tedious in game books on “lore” and history.”

        Dude, that’s actually quite amusing. Because I did all of what you described, myself, while STILL being able to pay attention to the actual storyline / history of the world.

        Also, do you want to know how many of what you call “in game books on ‘lore’” I read during my like, one and one half playthroughs. Hmm, maybe about 5. Also, some of that ’5′ were like ‘The Lusty Argonian Maid’, which infact, have very little to do with TES lore directly, and were included for comedic purposes. Hell, that book in particular has been kicking around TES games since Daggerfall. I think i’ve read it in Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion AND Skyrim. So I suppose I didn’t even really read it in Morrowind. So, actually… around 4 books I read in Morrowind.

        You see, what I know of the lore and history, mainly, is a result of simply playing the game, understanding how a plot is laid out (understanding concepts of writing composition helps people to identify them and remember them. No understanding > no memory created to recall in the first place, like you with your simplistic explanation of Dagoth Ur’s conflict with the Tribunal), and simply paying attention to quest dialogue, or talking to NPC’s. I guess having played Daggerfall, and having bought -alot- of official and unofficial guides for that, read shitloads of lore on that, I had a good grounding for the info that started popping up in Morrowind, but I doubt it would of been necessary (it just gave -some- concepts in the story more depth, because I knew more about them from the get-go).

        There’s not really any crime in not being greatly interested in the lore of a game, but you should respect the people who are able to not only play like you (and get the fun out of the game in the way you do), but who ALSO can pay attention to a story, and thoroughly enjoy that as equally or moreso than any other aspect.

  34. jwoozy says:

    TES has some of the weakest fluff and artwork of any major fantasy property and the only real strength of the series is its gratuitous, paper-thin scope and miles of content. It’s the perfect MMO.

  35. wodin says:

    When 90% of Fantasy books are generic shite what hope have games got? NONE!

  36. Blackcompany says:

    -”This time, saving the world from the awakening of ancient evil is only the beginning. What happens when hundreds or thousands of prophesied heroes all think that they should be Emperor?”

    That was all I needed to read in order to fully understand just how much this is going to suck.

    Elder Scrolls fans are not fans of MMO games, in general. MMO fans have more than enough options. Copying WoW does not work (see recent EA losses and their plummeting stock prices.)

    This is a disaster in the making. If Zenimax had any modicum of common sense they would scrap this now, and either remake it as a true sandbox or make a better, single player TES game.

    Edit: Just read more details of this game. Whoever, at Zenimax, made the decision to go ahead with this project, should be fired. Immediately and without hesitation.

    They are doing everything SWTOR has already done. On the same engine. With basically the same setup and combat. And anyone who believes that Elder Scrolls has nearly the following – and will suck in nearly as many people based on name alone – as Star Wars, is simply a fool.

    Zenimax has doomed this game to failure nearly a year before its release. A WoW clone. In 2013. It has not worked yet; it won’t work post-GW2, I will personally guarantee that.

    To major Publishers: I know your marketing guys are telling you “Everyone is ready to jump ship. The time has come; the game has gotten old. Gamers are ready for the next WoW.”

    News flash: They don’t mean it in the literal sense. Yes, gamers are ready for the ‘next WoW.’ Trouble is, that is a metaphor for “next great game that will revolutionize multiplayer online gaming.”

    Ask EA about the end results of making another WoW clone in this day and age.

  37. Innovacious says:

    “The Elder Scrolls’ strength has never lied in its lore”

    I had to stop here and comment, because you are the only person I’ve seen say this. Its one of the main reasons i dislike what they have said so far about online, because half of what they have said is tearing the already established lore a new behind. Sure not everything about the past has been shown yet, there are a lot of blank spots in the timeline, but a lot has happened over all the games, and all the books and dialog have created a well established history. There’s quite a bit of stuff here that just seems to be disregarding that.

    There are 2 people i know that i often get into deep discussions with about elder scrolls lore. When this was first announced and they said 1000 years before Skyrim, we speculated on the exact time frame based on the existing lore. there is quite a few things in the mid 2nd era that could be good for this. I speculated that it would be set around 430-440 in the 2nd era. Morag Tong had just killed the leader if the empire and his heirs, so that fits in with what they said about the game. We spent quite a while talking about all the other things happening around that time as well. Akaviri still had a presence in the land, potential enemy factions there. But then they go and say one of the player factions will be the Aldmeri Dominion. Even the original Dominion wasn’t formed until the 800s in the 2nd era. That’s nowhere near 1000 years before Skyrim.

    Glancing through the comments, i never realised so many people do not care for the lore. I don’t personally know anyone who would wholly agree with the statement, and it just seems astonishing to me. I suddenly feel like a minority and that i have been all along but never realised.

    • Dazakai says:

      “Glancing through the comments, i never realised so many people do not care for the lore. I don’t personally know anyone who would wholly agree with the statement, and it just seems astonishing to me. I suddenly feel like a minority and that i have been all along but never realised.”

      I felt / feel -exactly- the same way, guy.

  38. Miltrivd says:

    I’m just gonna block all news from this from my mind. Skyrim was FAR less than was I expecting, seemed like an improved Oblivion at most, but was fun, beautiful, original (comparing it to other games, TES games have a special feeling) and engaging, my first run was like 3 weeks playing only Skyrim on my free time.

    This, from only the graphics, looks awful, there is no signature, no aesthetics, TES games always have this look that tries to be realistic, austere, that a castle looks great for what it is, a giant stone building, nothing else. This feels so… MMOish! That’s an insult btw.

  39. gritz says:

    Asheron’s Call pulled off the sandbox MMO way back in 1999. If Bethesda can make a modern equivalent, I’ll be impressed.

    I won’t hold my breath though.

  40. Runs With Foxes says:

    Considering TES games play like single-player MMOs already and are not the least bit ‘sandboxy’, it’s not realistic to expect the actual MMO version to be more of a sandbox.

    • gritz says:

      The TES games are pretty much the genre definition of “sandbox game”.

  41. Zemalf says:

    Would Zenimax really have the balls and live up to the Elder Scrolls name and make “a fantasy RPG sandbox MMO” in the spirit of “EVE in Tamriel”?

    What if there was NO NPCs in TES Online?

    What if all traders, trainers and bandits were human?

    What if one could truly live a meaningful “life” in the virtual Tamriel without EVER swinging a sword, casting a spell or shooting a bow?

    What if the best weapons and armors would ALWAYS come from crafting and not via drops/loot?

    What if all inns, taverns, stables and other services were ran by a human?

    What if the kings, queens, jarls, archmages and the like would be human? And those positions could be taken by another human not by a sword, but by politics?

    I can dream and hope, but chances are we’ll see “yet another MMO” that will sell with it’s name, but be something I couldn’t care less about.

    I just hope I don’t get to see any near naked ladies in revealing armor in any TES Online promo material. If that happens, all hope is lost.

    • Innovacious says:

      This would really be amazing, but would require a lot of commitment and good role playing.

      “I’m sorry, you cannot see the jarl today, he and none of his aides have logged on since the weekend”

      • -Zarathustra- says:

        Innovacious, it wouldn’t be all that different from Eve Online. You wouldn’t receive quests as such, the player Jarl would simply be the leader of player faction. You would occupy yourself with whatever you were hired to do by the player ‘Jarl’ or his representatives when you joined their faction/guild/kingdom – i.e. mining, fighting, smelting, tanning, spying, etc. There could of course be, like Eve, NPC kingdoms that allows you to do traditional fetch and kill quests, but these would be – again like Eve – just training for the main meat of the game, which would be a vast landscape ruled and fought over by players.

  42. D-e-f- says:

    brownie (pun intended) points for “Big Damn Hero” nod ;)