Back in January when I gave you 10 Reasons Why The Elder Scrolls Online Will Rule 2013, much of the game was still a secret, or in development. And while that’s still the case for the most part, fans are finally getting the chance to play it for themselves at events like last weekend’s PAX East in Boston. So I thought it would be a good time to update this list, and while I have yet to experience the game myself, I am basing this updated list on what developers have told us and what we know from Elder Scrolls Off the Record’s play time at PAX.
So, in no particular order, let’s dive into 20 reasons why this game will rule 2013.
20) Adventure Zones
While we don’t know a lot about adventure zones yet, what little they’ve told us sounds exciting. The impression I get is they are zones out in the world that you can enter with a number of other people and take on new content. I’m imagining that this content will be dynamic and different from time to time, or maybe it won’t change at all, but either way, they will be new places to dive into some extra content outside of your PvE leveling experience. Stay tuned for more news, but count me intrigued.
19) Jeremy Soule
While we don’t know the extent of his involvement, we do know that Jeremy Soule will be involved in the creation of the soundtrack for ESO. That alone is reason enough to get excited! Hopefully we’ll be able to pre-order a special edition of the game that comes packaged with the soundtrack in some sort of massive 5-disc set, but even if not, just knowing he is involved with the project should make long-time Elder Scrolls fans ecstatic. His music has helped create the mood and environment ever since The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.
18) Looks Even Better Than We Thought
I took a lot of flak in the comments of my previous “10 Reasons” article from people saying I was crazy that this game could possibly look as good as Skyrim. After PAX East, wherever you look on the internet, people are praising how good the game looks.
How do you like me now?
Nearly every account from someone who has played the game has said it looks just as good if not better than Skyrim. Granted, graphic quality is a very subjective matter, and the art style in ESO will be different from Skyrim, but nevertheless, this game is going to be pretty. The computers running the game at PAX East were only being run on medium settings, and people were still saying the game looked gorgeous.
17) Plays Just Like Skyrim
We’ve always known this was going to be an Elder Scrolls game that also happened to be online, but ZeniMax has really outdone themselves and stuck to their word. Almost everyone I’ve spoken with who has played the game said it felt more like Elder Scrolls than an MMO. And let’s face it, that won’t be good for some people. If you’re looking at ESO to replace your current favorite MMO, that may not happen. ESO is Elder Scrolls first, MMO second. You could almost coin it an action RPG, but the depth of character development and the size of the world are enough to qualify this as an MMO – just not an MMO you’re used to.
In my opinion, that’s a good thing. I don’t play a lot of MMOs, but that’s because I haven’t liked a lot of them. It’s high time for a game to come along that changes the way we think about MMOs. There’s no rule that says ZeniMax has to follow a certain design in order to please us. They’re making the game they think will please as many people as possible – whether you are an Elder Scrolls fan or an MMO fan. Just beware, if you’re not already an Elder Scrolls fan, and are simply looking for the next great rotation-based blah-fest of an MMO, this game may not be for you.
One last note, because I know this point has stirred up some controversy. I know people love the tried and true formula of the MMO, and I’m not knocking you for that. It’s just that I, personally, have moved on, and am ready for something new.
16) First-Person Perspective
Do we really have to go into much detail here? The most important aspect required to make ESO a true Elder Scrolls game was a functional first-person perspective, and ZeniMax recently announced that it would not only be included at launch, but would be a viable way to play the game. Done deal, sold.
15) Play YOUR Story
During the ESOTR playthrough at PAX East, Dave and Lou were partied up and doing some quests together. Their storyline reached pivotal moment at one point, where both players had a choice to make. Would they let the NPC die, or give them an antidote to save them? Each of them chose a different course of action, but they saw the story play out the way THEY chose.
Let me explain. In a game like Star Wars: The Old Republic, there is a morality, choice-based system included. You can make decisions in your game that either align you more with the light side, the dark side, or to stay neutral. But when playing with a friend, the game mechanics randomly select one person who gets to make the decisions for the entire party. So if Lou and I are playing together in SWTOR, we may encounter a similar situation to what he and Dave faced in ESO. But instead of both of us getting to choose and have the game seamlessly carry on our own story, regardless of what the other person chose, I would have to sit and watch as Lou shamelessly runs a light saber through the dude’s face – even though I would have saved him.
So while you may make one choice in ESO and your partymates may make another, your decisions will not affect what they see on their screen, and vice versa. Brilliant.
14) No Raiding
I am prepared to take a lot of flak for this one as well. After all, the fact that the game doesn’t have “raiding” shouldn’t really be something for me to celebrate, since I could simply choose to not play raids. But in today’s MMOs, if you’re not playing raids, you’re missing out on some of the game’s biggest content; what the developers have spent most of their time creating. So for ESO to say that raids, as they are currently known, are not in the game, just means they’re catering to the hardcore Elder Scrolls player even more. They’re not telling me, “Hey, so I know you like to solo and stuff, but you’re going to miss out on the game’s coolest stuff if you don’t do raids.” They’re saying, “Hey, we’re developing this game so everyone has something to do. Solo player? Go crazy. Group player? We’ve got our end-game dungeons.” And as they stated at PAX East, they are listening to fans. So if you DO want big group raids, let them know. After launch, they just may add them in if enough players (subscribers?) want them.
But as for me, I do not care about raids. I want to explore Tamriel, craft unique items, dabble in PvP, and try out the other factions in 50++ content. I’m glad to know that I won’t be missing out on a huge part of the game.
13) 50++ content
ZeniMax announced recently that once your character reaches level 50, you’ll be able to visit one of the other factions’ territories and continue your story there. Once you finish that faction you can then go into the third faction. As much as I’ve decided I’m not going to rush to reach level 50, this is almost reason enough for me to change my mind. How awesome, that despite what we initially heard about not being able to explore in enemy territory, your character WILL be able to explore all of Tamriel. It’s just that you’ll need to work your way up to reach that point.
This is another one of those points that was necessary to making this a true Elder Scrolls game. Open up the world to me, give me the ability to see everything. Thank you, ZeniMax.
12) 2nd Level/Story of Dungeons
In addition to exploring other factions after hitting max level, you can also return to all those dungeons you cleared earlier in your leveling process, and experience the second part of the story. Monsters will be back, but not just more difficult versions of creatures you already killed. The dungeon will have new monsters, new bosses, and new layouts (due to rooms that were previously locked now being open, or natural events occurring, like cave-ins). It will be a new experience, and a continuation of the story you started when you previously played through it.
11) No PVP/PVE Specific Gear
All players should rejoice about this, as it basically boils down to one simple point. You don’t have to have one set of gear specifically for PvP and another set specifically for PvE. This will eliminate the negative effects on PvE players that comes from the developers tweaking and nerfing PvP gear (and vice versa). Since you can wear anything you want, regardless of class, race, weapon type, etc., there will be no reason to need two different sets. Use crafting to improve gear you’ve found in the world or made yourself. You’re certainly welcome to swap out gear for the different play types as you want, but it won’t be required in order to be successful in either scenario.
The ORIGINAL 10 Reasons
10) SOCIALLY CONNECTED
Many people may scoff at this, but being able to be connected to the outside world while still in game, to me, is a great thing. Whether it’s sending out a tweet while fending off some wolves to invite my friends to join my game, or updating my Facebook status so my high school friends can see just how nerdy I really did turn out, this is a great idea. To me, it doesn’t have to have a lot of features, just let me connect my accounts in a menu somewhere, and then in the chat window just be able to type “/tweet” or something, and my next 140 characters will be sent out into the world.
9) MASSIVE WORLD
Elder Scrolls games are known for being massive, and this game is incorporating the entire continent of Tamriel, meaning the game will be so big there are no words to describe it. With so many place to visit, explore, and adventure through, The Elder Scrolls Online is prepared to offer players years of entertainment. In fact, the scale of the game is said to be even larger than that of existing games, meaning as big as Skyrim is in its current form, it will be even bigger online.
8) THE FACTIONS
It’s pretty exciting to me how they have divvied up the races. The Aldmeri Dominion, the Daggerfall Covenant and the Ebonheart pact will be warring with each other, which creates the drama that is needed between payers online. Additionally, it’s great they have a common goal of rising against the Empire, which should provide some fun interactions as each side fights to become the superior faction on the (mega) server.
7) THE MEGA SERVER
Speaking of the mega server, this technology amazes (and admittedly) baffles me. I don’t truly understand how I’ll be able to be online with everyone else all at the same time, but not really all in the same place… I don’t know, I’m not even going to try to explain it, I just know it’s cool. So even though I’m on the west coast, I can join up with my east coast friends without having to worry about whether or not I’ve created a character on the right server. They’ll just be there.
6) THE STORY
Whether you’re interested in your faction’s story, or the personal story of your character, there is sure to be an amazing show unfolding before your eyes. The Elder Scrolls games have not exactly been lean on the storytelling in the past, and there’s no reason to believe Zenimax Online Studios will be skimping here either. Whether it’s enjoying whatever road you take in your quest to get back your soul (which we know is stolen from you at the beginning), or just filling your days with “side quests” and exploring the wilderness, you’ll be able to make your character truly your own, and unlike any other in the game.
5) THE GRAPHICS
From what we’ve seen so far, ZeniMax has been pretty modest. At one point they said they would have to tone the graphics down from Skyrim’s levels in order to make the game playable on most machines, but it’s looking more and more like they’ve found a way to work some magic, as the graphics don’t appear to be dumbed down at all. Whether this is just for show or if the game really is being developed this way remains to be seen, but it has me incredibly optimistic that I’ll be playing not only an amazing MMO, but a beautiful one.
4) THE PVP
I’ve never been much of a PvP player, but The Elder Scrolls Online has me thinking differently. From the small amount of video footage we’ve seen of huge armies storming the Imperial City, I want to be a part of that! I don’t even care what kind of missions or objectives are put into place, I just want to get in the middle of that epic battle and be a hero, be the one to fend off the last attacker, or be the sole survivor that brings down the wall. Whatever the objectives are in PvP, I can’t wait to get in there and tear it up.
3) THE USER INTERFACE
One of the things that has always bugged me the most about MMOs is the incredible amount of icons necessary to have on screen at any one time. My Star Wars: The Old Republic characters have more skills on their hotbar than I do in life (ok, maybe that’s not saying much). It’s overkill, it’s distracting, it ruins the immersion, and it’s just ridiculous.
In The Elder Scrolls Online, players will have a minimal amount of icons on-screen. You’ll use your small selection of skills on-screen, and level them up by using them. You don’t have to worry about paying a trainer to level up a skill that you might someday, possibly use. You level up what you use, and whatever else is in that small hotbar at the time. This is such a great idea, and it’s one that will hopefully going a long way towards keeping players in the game, and not being distracted by what skills they need to put where, and in what order to use them. Just go kill something!
2) THE COMBAT
Back when news of The Elder Scrolls Online gameplay broke, I wrote an article on how combat would work. Not much has changed in terms of what we know, but it bears repeating that this will revolutionize MMOs. You engage in combat in this game much like you engage in combat in Skyrim – in real time. You click your mouse to use your weapon, and depending on how well you aimed, you will hit or miss your target. The more successful you are at attacking, and even dodging attacks, you will build up “finesse” points, which you’ll be able to apply to a power move of sorts. Once you deliver this killer blow, you can begin refilling your finesse points and use the move again.
Additionally, as you are playing in the world, whether by yourself or with friends, any time you happen to be engaged in a battle with another player, your attacks have a chance to work together – “in synergy” – and create some amazing attacks. For example, another player may cast a spell that when combined with one of your moves, creates an even bigger, more devastating attack. The game will notify you that this ability is ready to use, and you can wail away on your opponent. It should create a lot of motivation for either grouping up, as it creates a huge benefit to both parties to work together.
1) THE FREEDOM
Last but not least, it wouldn’t be an Elder Scrolls game if you couldn’t play the game the way you wanted. You want to take a race that is predominantly known for being an archer and turning him into a two-handed sword warrior? Go ahead! Maybe you start the game as a sword and board kinda guy, but decide you’d rather switch to archery. Don’t worry about finding someone who will do a skill re-speck for you, just switch! The way the leveling system in this game is designed, any player can use any weapon at any time, so there’s no reason to get rid of the epic axe you just found, even if you think you probably can’t use it. In this game, you can.
Additionally, you don’t have to follow linear quest paths to make progress in the game. Maybe you don’t even want to quest at all? That’s ok! Just head off on an adventure all your own, hunting wildlife, bandits, and who knows what else. You can spend your time in-game any way you want, and you’re not punished for doing so. You’ll still be able to level, you’ll still be able to PvP, and you’ll still be able to hop in with your friends at any time as well. This game will not restrict you in that sense, and players will be wise to spend some time on their own, just seeing what Tamriel has to offer.
Well that’s it guys, my top-10 (now 20) reasons why The Elder Scrolls Online will rule 2013. I’ll admit, I selfishly wrote this post, just because I wanted to talk about ESO some more. I didn’t have any news to share, but any reason I can come up with that gives me a chance to talk about this game is reason enough for me. I hope you’re all excited for this game, and either way, let me know what you think in the comments below. Remember, this game is being made as an Elder Scrolls game that just happens to also be online. I hope all you doubters out there will give it a chance, and hopefully be blown away by what it has to offer.
Here’s to hoping 2013 hurries up and gets to whenever The Elder Scrolls Online is released…