The Elder Scrolls Online, the franchise's massively multiplayer debut, is now open to brave adventurers the world over itching to tackle the sprawling world of Tamriel. If buzz on Wikia is any indication, Elder Scrolls fans are ready to team up and uncover the secrets of its rich overworld, loot its cavernous dungeons, and engage in intense PvP skirmishes. To get a gauge on The Elder Scrolls Online's early prospects, we asked some of Wikia's veteran Elder Scrolls admins for their thoughts on this new era of online adventure.
Our Expert Panel
A New Way to Play
When news of an Elder Scrolls MMO broke once upon a time, some of our fans had mixed feelings. "It seemed to good to be true," Flightmare said, remembering that he and fellow Elder Scrolls Wikia admin Timeoin had staged an elaborate April Fools hoaxt years before, faking an announcement. By the same token, TombRaiser, a Wikia Star and admin on The Elder Scrolls Wikia, was initially turned off by Bethesda's decision to incorporate multiplayer into The Elder Scrolls, a franchise known for its singular focus on the grand single player experience. "Multiplayer seems to take away from the whole ‘you're the hero' aspect," she said. After learning more about the game, however, she's changed her mind. "In The Elder Scrolls Online, they seem to have managed to make you the hero along with others," TombRaiser said. "Everyone is a Soulless One, but they are also the hero in their own main quest."
Flightmare is more cautious, fearing that a monthly fee may not be tenable on the long term. "These are hard times for subscription-based MMOs," he said "I can't help but compare ESO to Star Wars: The Old Republic, which started out as a very promising game, but failed." Others, however, saw a clear upside to a subscription-based model. "They do have servers that they have to pay for an maintain and that can't be done reasonably without some kind of income to fund them," TombRaiser said. She also thinks the fee will keep out those who aim "simply to grief and troll people," suggesting that "as long as you are going to spend $15 a month to play a game, you may as well enjoy it." For EbonySkyrim, another admin from the Elder Scrolls Wikia, the fee is, quite simply, "no problem."
Character progression has always been a crucial aspect of the Elder Scrolls experience, and The Elder Scrolls Online is no different, though the way these elements are implemented will be familiar to longtime MMO players. You'll have quite a bit to choose from in terms of race, class, and faction. Some, like Frightmare, ease the decision-making process by sticking to familiar territory. "I play most RPGs as a warrior, so I will be going for the Dragonknight," he says, "I prefer having a mix of offensive and defensive play-styles, so the Draconic Power skill line is probably the first I will check out." He's still undecided, however, when it comes to choosing a race. Having already played quite a bit of the beta, Kennyanddenny has gone with the Khajit, for the sake of flavor and lore. "I wanted to see their homeland, since it couldn't be visited in Morrowind, Oblivion, or Skyrim," he said. As for class, he'll also be choosing Dragonknight, since he was "born to be a tanker." EbonySkyrim hasn't made up their mind, and says they'd "be a Breton, Imperial, Redguard or Nord." As a lover of magic, they said they'd probably settle on a sorcerer class. Though Tombraiser hopes to try every alliance, the first character she'll play as will be a Breton Templar. "Breton characters have racial abilities that boost their magic and magic regeneration," she says, "which will be useful for me as I will be using purely magic." She goes with the Templar class due to its association with the Aedric Spear skill line.
Oh The Places You'll Go
The Elder Scrolls is nothing without its vast overworld. With such a dense landscape to traverse and explore, fans are bound to have favorite locations that they can't wait to check out in Tamriel's MMO incarnation. Frightmare "can't wait to see more of the Summerset Isles." Kennyanddenny has a hard time choosing, but decides he'd most like to visit Elsweyr and Black Marsh. That said, his dream destination is Pyandonea, an island continent located far south of the Summerset Isles, the tropical home of the elusive Maormer. It is unknown whether or not the region will be explorable in the final version of the game. Tombraiser just wants to see it all. "I think we all want to finally discover the provinces we haven't yet explored," she says.
Though the Elder Scrolls Online takes place on the continent of Tamriel, the game is set a millennium prior to the events of Skyrim. The Daedric Prince Molag Bal serves as the game's main protagonist, with the principal conflict centering on his attempts at transferring the entirety of Tamriel to the alternate realm of Coldharbour. Our experts voiced satisfaction with the choice of time and place. "I'm really interested to see how Skyrim looked, exactly, all of those years before," Kennyanddenny says. EbonySkyrim agrees that it's an "interesting time."
Something for Everyone
The Elder Scrolls Online caters to a diverse range of play-styles, covering all the bases you'd expect a contemporary MMO to. From an in-depth competitive Player vs. Player element to an involved, high-end PvE game, MMO players of all proclivities will find something to do in Tamriel. Frightmare is most excited about the large-scale PvP, which players can take part in after reaching level 10. Others were more interested in the game's promise of a rich, explorable world. "I will be spending a lot of time in the PvE mode collecting items for crafting, doing small and big quests." Kennyanddenny feels similarly: "I'm 100% a PvE guy, looking for quests to complete and regions to explore with my friends."
When asked which part of the game they were looking forward to most, all of our experts said they were more excited about the regular level progression. TombRaiser, who isn't familiar with MMOs, believes she'll "end up progressing at her own pace, rather than just blowing through levels to reach PvP zones." Kennyanddenny says: "I'm a PvE guy. I can spend hundreds of hours just running around, completing quests and minding my own business." He's more of a lone wolf, and as such isn't a big fan of working together with a lot of people. Luckily, no matter what your preferences are, it seems The Elder Scrolls online has a little of everything for everyone.
As stated above, some of our experts were lucky enough to try the game during its closed beta over the last couple of months. Though limited, the beta gave players a good idea of what to expect from the final game. Our experts couldn't help but comment on how impressive the game looked. Frightmare commented that "the environment looked great," but wished he could have tried PvP. Kennyanddenny reassured skeptics about the game's visuals: "the game looks absolutely stunning," he said, "it's like I'm playing during cinematics. The characters and world really look 'that great." TombRaiser enjoyed "visiting places [she'd] never been before," but felt that the game's truly exciting moments are going to take place in the final game's PvP battles.
It was only a matter of time before Bethesda took it upon itself to transform Tamriel, a world already brimming with rich mythology and mystical locales, into a persistent online environment begging to be explored with friends. Your journey is only beginning -- and we want to know your thoughts. Let us know what you think about The Elder Scrolls Online in the comments.