Elder Scrolls Online Isn’t Skyrim, and That’s Okay
The folks at Bethesda probably never imagined The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim would live on in the way it does today. While Elder Scrolls games are played for years, even decades by hardcore fans, and previous titles are always held up as the measuring stick for the newest release, Skyrim is being used in a whole new way this week.
Many people have long wished for an Elder Scrolls game they could play with their friends, and The Elder Scrolls Online, which releases today around the world, is the answer to those dreams. While many people (myself included) would debate whether or not a multiplayer Elder Scrolls game is necessary, that’s not what I’m getting at today. No, what I want to address is the unfair use of Skyrim as the measuring stick for ESO’s success. Over the last year we’ve heard many people say “it’s Skyrim Online”, “it looks like Skyrim”, “it plays like Skyrim”… “it’s the Skyrim we always wanted!” And this does a serious injustice to What ZeniMax Online Studios has actually created.
Despite my hopes for the opposite, The Elder Scrolls Online is much more an MMO than it is a Skyrim clone. With the focus on PvP, chat windows, and dozens of other players on screen, ESO is very much a game MMO veterans should appreciate. While I am by no means in that category, I feel ZOS has gone to extreme efforts to ensure this game pleases the ever-important MMO crowd, the rabid, used-to-paying-a-subscription-fee crowd. These people will make ESO a success, no matter how loudly Elder Scrolls vets scream and shout, because they are the ones who are happy to pay a sub for months and months on end. Elder Scrolls vets are only just discovering what it’s like to have to pay monthly access for their game.
ESO is an MMO, and that’s ok
So ESO is an MMO, why does that matter? It matters because people keep trying to compare it unfairly to a number of different games. First of all, it is compared regularly to World of Warcraft. On the surface this may seem like a fair comparison. Both games are fantasy-based MMOs, and both are huge in name. But World of Warcraft will be 10 years old this year, and comparing a brand new game to a time-tested fan favorite is a waste of time. ESO did not set out to be a WoW killer. I believe ZOS when they say their mission was always to make it an Elder Scrolls game with your friends. Sure they may have taken some cues from what WoW has done, and many other MMOs, but by no means is it a direct one-to-one comparison. ESO is not a WoW killer, and it was never intended to be, much like Battlefield 4 is not intended to be a WoW killer. It’s just a game with a big name that is played online.
Secondly, and bringing things back around to my original point, ESO is compared to Skyrim all the time. It’s understandable, considering Skyrim is one of the most popular games in the franchise, and many people’s entry to the franchise. But it is unfair to judge, whether good or bad, against that game. There are many things in a single player Elder Scrolls game that simply can’t be done in an MMO due to the necessity to accommodate thousands of people at a time. Sacrifices must be made to ensure a fun and playable game for everyone. But at the same time, things are added in that aren’t feasible in Skyrim, like the economy. Sure you can play the economy in Skyrim and buy low, sell high and all that. But in ESO you can truly be an entrepreneur. Whether you are a master craftsman making items no other player can get without putting in the time and effort, or maybe you just don’t have the time to craft, and simply want to buy the best items. Having other people in-game will allow you to get more for your in-game money, and maybe even give you a sense of accomplishment. I have more money in Skyrim right now than I could ever hope to spend…
Two different worlds
The point of today’s post isn’t to bash anyone or any game, in fact, it’s to celebrate the launch of Elder Scrolls Online, and to get people to stop comparing it to something else. Enjoy it for what it is – a fusing of two very popular game types. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I think there’s enough here for most MMO vets and Elder Scrolls purists alike to play the game for years. ZOS has brought together two very different worlds, and it will be an adjustment as we all start to game together for the first time. So let’s go easy on each other (except in PvP of course) and have some fun.
Congratulations to ZeniMax Online Studios and Bethesda on the launch of the long-awaited Elder Scrolls Online.