The issue of Game Informer packed with info on the newly-announced Elder Scrolls MMO is already in some people's hands and, well, if you were hoping for a game that was basically Skyrim only with real people, you're in for one hell of a disappointment.
From everything contained in the article, it sounds like "Elder Scrolls Online" is basically "Just Another MMO".
Things start going wrong on the very first page of the story, as ZeniMax Online's Paul Sage says "it needs to be comfortable for people who are coming from a typical massively multiplayer game that has the same control mechanisms, but it also has to appeal to Skyrim players".
A page later? You're playing the game in third-person, and its combat centres around hotbars activating skills. Your attacks have cooldowns. In clear terms, that means no real-time combat. It is literally explained as using "World of Warcraft mechanics".
You can't do something or go some places in the game unless you're appropriately levelled up, just like a regular MMO. ZeniMax is "keeping large areas inaccessible to save them for use as expansion content". Only "some fraction" of the caves and other landmarks in the game are waiting completely unmarked and unexplored. You can't own a house because it's "too hard to implement in an MMO". NPC characters don't run on the same clockwork schedules they do in the main games.
It's not all doom and gloom. Some aspects, like the fact the game has public dungeons (ie, dungeons part of the game world and not separate "instances") and a system where the faction which controls the Imperial City gets to name an Emperor from amongst the playerbase sound kind of cool.
But overall, my heart, it is sinking. Why, exactly, is this game being made if, a few bells and whistles aside, it's just another fantasy MMO, and retains so little of what it is people play Elder Scrolls games for? It even looks like just another fantasy MMO, losing much of the refined elegance of Bethesda's games in exchange for a simpler style that looks little like the past few games in the series.
If I sound overly negative on this game based solely on someone else's preview, well, that's because I am. I don't play conventional MMOs because I find their tropes, especially their combat, to be tiresome and artificial. To hear those bones will be propping up this game is all I need to hear to already be more than a little bummed out.
People always wonder why no MMO has ever beaten World of Warcraft. It's because the people who want to play World of Warcraft...already play World of Warcraft, and don't need to play something built using the same system. This franchise, like Star Wars: Old Republic before it, was a great chance to try something new, something that can capture the imaginations of the hundreds of millions of people who don't play WoW, not the 10 million who do. To hear it won't be, as a massive fan of the Elder Scrolls series, is disappointing.
Subscribers to the magazine should be getting their hands on the mag over the next few days. Everyone else, info like this will be added to Game Informer's online hub in the weeks to come.
Elder Scrolls Online [Game Informer]