5 Things I Want To See In The Elder Scrolls Online

The announcement I've been waiting for ever since ZeniMax Online Studios was founded has finally arrived: there's a massively multiplayer online Elder Scrolls game on the way. Now I can deliver my list of demands suggestions for making The Elder Scrolls Online the best MMO it can possibly be.

Sight unseen The Elder Scrolls Online already has a leg up on other games in the MMO market, being based in a setting that's been in a constant state of development for more than 18 years. The first game in the series, Arena, arrived in 1994, and Bethesda's been adding to it ever since.

It's also got Matt Firor as game director, one of the men responsible for Mythic's Dark Age of Camelot. DAoC was a highlight of my lengthy MMO-playing career. With three different realms, each with its own lineup of unique character classes, it was almost three games in one, tied together with one of the most compelling player-versus-player experiences in MMO history.

With the right man at the helm and a rich world to plunder for content, I've no doubt The Elder Scrolls Online will be a rousing success, as long as they include everything I want to see in the game. Things like…

No Traditional Character Classes

The Elder Scrolls series has always been about the player making their own way through the world of Tamriel. There've been character templates, sure, but they were more of a guideline than a rule, giving players ideas rather than locking them into a specific set of skills.

How would completely open character progression fit into the standard MMO holy trinity of tank, healer, and damage? That's left up to the players, as it always has been.

Funcom's upcoming modern day MMO The Secret World features a similar mechanic. Players can invest in any skill they wish, piecing together a build that suits their play style. Experienced players have the options they crave, and character build cards are available to help the less experienced squeeze themselves into an easier-to-manage mould. They could have borrowed the system from older games in The Elder Scrolls series. The Elder Scrolls Online should borrow it back.

First-Person Action-Adventure

In many of today's massively multiplayer online role-playing games the first-person camera is a novelty at best, completely absent at worst. I generally have no problem with this. I've gotten used to playing in third person over the years. It makes manoeuvring through constantly evolving online landscapes much easier.

In fact, there's only one role-playing game series I prefer in first person, and that's The Elder Scrolls. I might not be completely happy with the way combat currently works the series, but with a little tweaking it could make for an incredibly unique and versatile system that's unlike anything we've seen in the MMO genre.

If players want to swap between views, that's fine. Just give me a viable first-person option. And while you're at it…

Minimal Interface

If we're aiming for Skyrim-level immersion in The Elder Scrolls Online, there's one popular MMO convention that doesn't need to make it into the game: the hot bar. That's the portion of the MMO hud where the player accesses their skills and spells, clicking either their mouse or a corresponding keyboard key to activate them. It's an MMO tradition.

Please kill it.

Bethesda has done a wonderful job in minimising the amount of screen clutter in The Elder Scrolls series. No colourful buttons, no quest-tracking sidebars, no quick-slot displays or indicators of how much gold you've amassed; just a health indicator and a great big beautiful world.

Faction-Based Player Versus Player Combat

An MMO needs player-versus-player combat, but simply throwing in the option to kill your friends isn't good enough for an Elder Scrolls game. If I'm going to raise my sword against my fellow fans, I'm going to need a compelling reason to do so.

Tamriel is a world of intrigue and conflict that's far from ‘this race hates this race, so they fight'. There are powerful forces at work behind-the-scenes, forcing players to throw their lot in with one faction or another in order to survive. Outside of the utter chaos of a PVP server, basing player conflict on factional strife is the only way that randomly killing one's fellow adventurers makes sense.

I'm thinking three or four major factions caught up in a never-ending struggle for dominance. Or better yet, level-based faction tiers that allow players to select their allegiance for each new tier of PVP combat. Side with the Stormcloaks in your 30s, switch over to the Imperial side in your 40s.

It may sound convoluted but hey, isn't that the Dark Age of Camelot guy?

Mods

The unprecedented access Bethesda has given players of The Elders Scrolls over the years has resulted in games that are constantly improving via player input. They've not only enhanced the games, they've improved upon them exponentially. One might say that if you aren't playing the PC version of Skyrim with mods you aren't playing the real game.

Mods are easy enough to allow in a single-player experience, but when thousands of players exist in a single world, paying close attention to the competition, policing mods that give others unfair advantage becomes an extremely difficult task.

So? Make a mod-friendly server. Make two. Make three. The non-modding players can enough a pure experience on vanilla servers, and the modders can go freaking crazy. Set up a service like the Steam Workshop for specially certified mods. Keep it cosmetic, or let players toy with the mechanics.

When it comes right down to it, there's one surefire way to make The Elder Scrolls Online one of the most successful massively multiplayer online role-playing games of all-time. See Skyrim? Let me play that with a few hundred of my close friends. Maintain that same spirit of adventure, sprinkle in community, and realise that the bugs we thought were funny in the single-player game won't fly in an MMO environment.

How about you folks? What do you hope to see in The Elder Scrolls Online, aside from yourselves?


Comments

    I've never played an MMO so forgive any ignorance, but how could you possibly have mods in a multiplayer game? How would you install the mod that say, adds more foilage, but so no one who doesn't want to see it has to?

    And at a wider glance, am I the only one who ... "likes" the Elder Scrolls games but is pretty critical of them? Skyrim, Oblivion (and even Fallout 3 and New Vegas) are terrible buggy messes with pretty more cookie-cutter game play and content. From a critical stance, Skyrim was a pretty bad game with poor characters and somewhat boring settings (yet highly improved over Oblivion). Almost all the characters are forgettable, and the towns themselves are boring hubs. I don't understand how an MMO would be any better.

      Believe me, you are not the only person.

      MMO??!?! Nooooooo... Well i think its time to admit at 20 yrs old my gaming career is over... first bioware...now bethesda. 2 favourite developers both trying to take Wow's throne.. Both doomed to fail :(

      +1. I got Skyrim for my ps3. I found it to be A) unplayable from about 10 hours in till even now. B) Not different enough from Oblivion for me to care. There are improvements all over the place, sure. But at the end of the day I spent pretty much all of my time playing the game the exact same way.

        About that last sentence, how is that the developers fault. If you don't vary you play style how can you blame the them?

    There's cheat hacks for Call of Duty for instance that make obstacles less visible and your enemies glow so you can locate them more easily. I don't see why a similar mod couldn't be used to just make a game look nicer on your end, even if it's multiplayer.

    I really doubt this game will have mods. And if it does they will be nothing like what normal TES games have.

    Can someone confirm that it is Zenimax developing this and not Beth? I hope it's not Beth because I would rather them spend their time on Fallout 4 or TES6 rather than an MMO that the community never wanted or asked for.

      The Bethesda Blog suggests that Zenimax Online are working on it.

      http://www.bethblog.com/

      I have always wanted TES online, would be AMAZING, imagine PVP in the Arena from Oblivion? would be so incredible

    Zenimax Online is developing the game, Bethesda is just a studio underneath Zenimax.

    So are they opening up the entire map of Tamriel for this? Like updated versions of Cyrodiil, Morrowind, Skyrim etc?

    Never wanted or asked for?
    All I have ever wanted, and have heard out of anyone's mouth who has played any ES or FO game is "is there a MP mod.. or a mmo of this?" - it's the next logical step for the game in my opinion.
    I'll be honest, I lose interest in SP only games in < 1 month. I get to a point where I'm like "yes..but no one can see my awesomeness!" etc etc.

      No offense but I really doubt that that is the only suggestion you ever see for the series. And the few times people do suggest it, generally a bunch of other fans pile on the guy telling them how they obviously don’t understand the series.

      I am not saying that no one wants this, but they are definitely in the minority.

    http://xbigygames.com/the-elder-scrolls-online-screenshots-and-details/

    Screens. It's not first person and looks like a pretty standard MMO.

    Very disappointed.

      ...wow... that's.... really boring looking...

      Phew...and here I was thinking I'd have to upgrade my PC.

      Anybody who thought it would be anything else is deluded. With the amount of money that no doubt went into the game, it was always going to go for "safe bet" genre conventions. The freeform skill systems and first person/minimalist UI don't lend themselves to engaging competitive play - the kind that attracts large (paying) communities like WoW, Swtor, Rift, etc.

      "players will be utilising a hotbar for various attacks and actions"

      Suddenly I have almost no interest in this game. So bored of this sort of mmo combat. Really hoped because of the combat in the single player games an ES mmo would be different. Guess not.

      it looks nothing like TES

      Guys stop judging the graphics by current standards, who knows what standards will be like in 2013.

      Dissapointment is a valid reaction.

      Just wanted to pick up on the article though about "Minimal Interface". Yes, I agree... However the reason they could put in that minimal interface is the fact that the second you use anything other than your bound numberkeys you have paused the game (insert link to live action video everyone has already watched).
      But yeah. They SHOULD, but you cant say they have already with Skyrim.

    MOds?!?!
    In am MMO?!?!

    what the fluff....

    I hope they have a vibrant pub scene. Thats the only time (at the pubs) I kind of wished other people were around when I was playing the other elder games. I mean you just killed a million bears and you head into town and sit at the bar, cycle through your drink menu for a refresing mead and the only other people there are not real people.
    Kind of sad.

    Better yet, let people have there own pub, then have the pub owners set all the fetch quests for the other players.

      Maybe someday something like this will happen. It's the kind of talk developers have been throwing around since before the term "mmo" was even coined.

    I'd say I'd like to see a non-crappy interface, less bugs, better hit detection, and stuff like that, but I'm not gonna play it anyway so it's moot.

    if this was multiplayer Skyrim i'd be interested...but its looking like TES themed Wow...so no thanks

    I honestly think they can pull an Elder Scrolls mmorpg off, so as long as they tie it into the existing lore right.

    For instance, Skyrim's primary antagonist, Alduin, had been sent into the future by the use of the Elder Scroll. Around the time in which it was used, there were many heroes fighting against the forces of evil. This paves the way for many heroes, controlled by players, to be part of the universe.

    As for MODS in an MMO, are we forgetting the add-on's from various MMO's like World of Warcraft?

    Mod based servers are in Minecraft, so it is possible. However, I still doubt it would happen, let alone be successful.

    One of the things that has been missing from Elder Scrolls (we the last couple) bigger econimic oppurtunites (apart from amassing a vast fortune that you cant spend).

    I must admit the thought of setting my own little blackshiths and improving my crafting skills is appealing

    No MMO thanks.

    Minimal interface is a user choice. Some people like the quest listing's. Especially if it goes down the traditional way most MMO's do in gating of content by level.

    Mod's simply wouldn't work. Since you'd just have people making armour with Impenetrable defence and weapons that 1 hit KO anything they touch

    I think mods would be limited to graphical enhancements only.
    This way if another person doesn't have them it just wont render the same so only they see them.
    ie textures and meshes.

    If it affects game play or adds playable content I think it should be denied.
    Things like companion mods, cheating mods, weapon and armor imports with their own stats..anything that can basically give a player an advantage over another.

    saw the screenshots... disappointing... just yet another mmo in a sea of mmo's that all look and function the same. break the template and keep the fps skyrim engine.
    At the end of the day, people just want a multiplayable version of skyrim.
    Just give it to us already. :/

    Er, I think they are going to have to do a bit more than the couple of tweaks touched on the article for this to be anything more than "leaveraging the IP".

    I realise many people play these games (even WoW, still) but there are a lot of them out there and many of them "free".

    i hate MMOs but i like CO-OP wuld it not be easier to release a DLC that would allow you to just make like a 16 player max server and just play skyrim, thing with MMOs is you have just all these random people running around that i dont really care about and all of a sudden heros destined to save the world outnumber normal NPCs its breaks immersion in the game, this is why i can never play WoW

    So.. You actually thought pausing the game to rifle through a menu every time you wanted to use something other than the weapon in hand was a better design than having an action bar? Well, good to know at least someone enjoyed it.

    Didn't the Red Mountain explode destroying Morrowind? Will that be available? WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE DUNMER?!

    So, to summarise.

    * Traditional character classes.
    *Third person.
    *Kitchen sink based UI.
    *No mods.

    If the author is extremely lucky, they'll see 1 of the 5 things. I'm interested to see a follow-up dealing with the author's crushing disappointment.

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