I was sent a fascinating piece to read last night from a fellow writer [whom I’m infinitely jealous of, as she and her husband are off seeing Rammstein in Canada. Still salty!], who runs a terrific music blog, that you should go check out right here. Seriously, it’s terrific stuff. But the topic of the piece was that Zenimax doesn’t call Elder Scrolls Online an MMO anymore. They’ve really pushed themselves away from that nomenclature, and I read this right as I was going to bed last night. I found myself sitting up in bed, really contemplating how I felt about this. I’ve written about it a few times in the past, and my first experiences with ESO were genuinely awful. At that point in time, it did feel like an MMO. Every zone had levels, it was very hard to group with people because the level differences were so vast. Guilds weren’t taking “new” people in because we weren’t on their level, or whatever excuse they might have. It was “called” Elder Scrolls, but was it? Of course, it wasn’t. You know the big excuse I always heard in the game because I probably mention it every time, but it is significant: Why are there people in my Skyrim? because the first area looked like Skyrim, but it wasn’t. You were the Chosen One, but you can’t shout. It was online though, and there hundreds of people in every town, bitching about that same thing.
It was a real downer. It’s not that MMOs are bad, far from it. One of my favorite games out of any genre right now is an MMO [Final Fantasy XIV]. But I have enormous amounts of respect for Firor and the rest of the Zenimax team. They have put in incredible amounts of work to make Elder Scrolls Online what it should have been from the start: An Elder Scrolls game! One Tamriel was the first and biggest step. This is the biggest step too; One Tamriel created an Elder Scrolls game out of one that should have been right at the start. They spent too much time concerning themselves with what an MMO is, and less time on what their games were. As soon as they leapt over that hurdle, it was smooth sailing as far as I’m concerned. I think Morrowind as an expansion was a tremendous idea too. They needed a land that the most casual fan could recognize. Not everyone recognizes all the various lands, just the major ones represented in Skyrim, Morrowind, Oblivion. Those are the big three, even if they had other hits.
And honestly? I think people are tired of Skyrim. I’m tired of Skyrim anyway. Every console has it, and while I think it’s a good game, I don’t ever want to purchase it again. So Morrowind is the right choice. 700 years in the past, the hardcore fans get to help set one of their favorites in motion, and the casual fans can explore a gorgeous world that is familiar, but they haven’t truly gotten into. This will lead them to want more, I think. Do I think a single-player Morrowind/Oblivion update would sell? I really do. The other thing I think that makes this such a departure from the MMO scene is freedom. You don’t have to group with people, you don’t have to explore the same path the same way. You have choices, you can do anything, anytime. MMOs don’t let you do that.
Elder Scrolls Online is more like an Immersive Multiplayer RPG. Yeah, they should embrace the word “Immersive”.