One quote, as over-used as it has become pretty much sums up how I see The Elder Scrolls Online, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. If there is one thing that really grinds my gears after playing through the closed beta for The Elder Scrolls Online, are people saying it is a “sub-par Skyrim”.
It is that kind of tunnel vision thinking which can really affect how well a game is received. The only thing ZeniMax have done to get a negative response is their persistence with pushing for a subscription based model. Other than that, they have done nothing wrong to get silly comparisons.
Sure, it has the title ‘Elder Scrolls’, but it is a completely different experience than what most gamers associate the title with. It has its own style and that is because of two things: it is an MMORPG and it is being developed by a different developer. Having an MMORPG of Skyrim would never work, if anything it might work as a multiplayer game but not more than that.
It had to be a different style, otherwise not many gamers would have the hardware to run the game. If The Elder Scrolls Online had the same design and graphic style as Skyrim, combined with the size of TESO and MMORPG mechanics, it would take a tremendous effort to get the game optimized for EVERY household.
Instead, people need to recognise how well ZeniMax have done in creating a different style, yet still make it beautiful to look at. It is easily one of the best looking MMORPG’s out there and judging by the map size, it is one of the largest. Sure, it might not be as in-depth as Skyrim but that is hardly surprising. Instead of creating one area as detailed as possible in every crook and cranny, they have had to work with all of Tamriel.
So if people start looking at the bigger picture and realise just how big and detailed this game truly is, it has a much bigger chance of overcoming the dislike of a subscription model.
The next thing is simple, despite its launch in a couple of months, it is still very early in development. It is an MMORPG, which means it has to constantly evolve to keep players entertained. The best example of course is World of Warcraft. A game which has topped the MMORPG genre for much of its lifetime since its launch in 2004. A lot of the good mechanics and detail in World of Warcraft didn’t come until several patches, and even expansions later. I played WoW from 2005 all the way up till Mists of Pandaria and my love for the game peaked at Burning Crusade.
It was my favourite expansion and many others too. The other expansions were still good, but they didn’t reach the Burning Crusade level in my eyes. So like I said, it is still indeed early in development simply because it is an MMORPG. It is a genre that never has a finished product because of the necessity for it to evolve. The best thing a gamer can give The Elder Scrolls Online is time to develop, evolve and react with quality which it no doubt has. It won’t be anywhere near perfect in the first couple months, but as the game grows it can only get better.
As mentioned before, giving The Elder Scrolls Online time is critical but it also applies to in-game time. From my 25 hour experience my enjoyment with the game grew with every level. The moves got fun to combine with devastating effect, the gear began to look better and the overall game was just fun. Especially when the PvP opened up, it added a whole new level of entertainment. Sieging a castle with your alliance and overcoming your enemy was rewarding. It actually felt like you were in the battle which is why ZeniMax should be praised for their efforts.
It is a critical component to get right in an MMORPG simply because there are two types of players. The dungeoners and the PvPers. Both occupy as much of the game population as the other. If you have a poor PvP system the game is destined to fail, but ZeniMax has not failed at all. Sure there are a few details that need to be ironed out, but like I said, with time it can evolve with better things. Even the dungeon and overall PvE was fun. Both the PvP and PvE offered tremendous amount of content for gamers to enjoy which is what most people have to realize.
In my eyes, one of the few things people can really give a proper negative perspective of is the subscription model. Obviously not everyone can afford to shell out the 15$ a month which is understandable. So that is where the ball falls into ZeniMax’s hands. Whether they continue the pay-monthly model and risk losing lots of customers and therefore money, or risk losing some money with the gain of enormous amounts of players. It is a difficult decision for them to make but the coming months will give a clearer picture of their future and what there ambitions are.
People have to remember that it might not be financially feasible to make it free-to-play, so for the mean time I can see it staying subscription for a little while. Perspective is everything. So whether they want TESO to be perceived as an average subscription MMORPG, or the best free-to-play MMORG will become much more apparent throughout the year.
It almost seems like the type of game people on the outside want to see fail. The people who actually played it however, loved every second of it. Throughout the two weekends I asked probably about 20-30 people about their experiences and how they have enjoyed the game. Literally every single person had a good thing to say about it and that they would most definitely continue playing when it fully releases.
We won’t really know how good TESO is until the end-game content is reached, but from what I have seen so far, the general concensus amongst gamers has to change. No, it is not a Skyrim game. But that doesn’t make it a bad thing, rather it makes it really good for what ZeniMax is trying to achieve. They have the content, quality and scope that an MMORPG requires, all while still looking like the best MMORPG out there.