Many players in my guild are really looking forward to Elder Scrolls Online. Nearly everyone has signed up for beta. I cannot confirm or deny whether some of them might be in playing right now. When I announced that I was taking on the ESO column for Massively, I could feel their questioning eyes burning through the internet: Why would you want to do a column on the Elder Scrolls? You have said that you were burned out on fantasy. Skyrim gave you trouble because of the first-person view. And there are no playable dwarves. They might have caught me on that last one, but the others are partially true, as well. I have played a lot of fantasy games, but TES bends a lot of the traditions of high fantasy. And thankfully, you can play all of Skyrim in third-person view.
There are three major factors that have kept me intrigued with the entire world of the Elder Scrolls. Tamriel is full of deep and rich lore. Granted, most of ESO's lore is future-tense, but a good chunk can be applied to the current timeline -- much as in Star Wars: The Old Republic, my other editorial focus. Secondly, Elder Scrolls Online intends to keep the mechanics and the flavor of the franchise within an MMO setting. This includes a PvP system that pits three factions against each other. Although I usually have a take-it-or-leave-it approach to open-world PvP, I have always been fascinated by how three-faction systems work. Lastly, the community is passionate. I enjoy connecting with people who are looking to connect with each other and share their hopes for a game that hasn't even been released yet.
Those will be the three main focuses of this column. Let me tell you how it will work.
I'm extremely opinionated when it comes to what I like in MMOs and what I believe works and doesn't. I do attempt to maintain a reasonable, balanced, and enthusiastic approach to my opinions, but I'm not beyond a bout of insanity every once in a while. Each week, I'd like to touch on an aspect of one of the three major topics I mentioned above. But most importantly, I'd like for you to comment and voice your own opinion about mine.
Today, since we are just diving into this world, I'll start with an easy one. We all saw the introductory video for the opening storyline. Although I could touch on many different things from that video (Should we be introduced to Oblivion this early in the game? Why are we the great hero again in a game with lots of people? Does anyone else just want to hear Lawrence Schick read a bedtime story?), I'd like to talk about the ultimate facepalm about the story itself: Molag Bal creates his own destruction.
I guess there is no reason to believe that the Daedric Princes are supremely intelligent, but they are supremely powerful. However, I'd think that after hundreds of years of existence, they would know a thing or two, especially that when the Elder Scrolls warn of a thing happening, it will happen. Imagine that a Moth Priest comes to you and says, "Yo, Mo, when you use those anchors to connect Coldharbour to our plane of existence, some soulless dude's gonna stop you. Fo schizzle. Peace out." (I have always pictured that the monks of the Order of the Ancestor Moths were in the hood.) The last thing you would do is create soulless people, right? In fact, I'd lock all my doors and post guards with soul detectors. But no, that's not what Mo-mo does. He creates an army of the soulless by stealing them from mortals. Facepalm. Now, I imagine that the majority of those souls are from people who are now dead, but it didn't even cross his mind that one of those bodies would stay alive? I hope the rest of the ESO stories are a little better thought out.
As I said before, I love community building. The Elder Scrolls brings with it an existing thriving community, but since the ESO announcement, more fansites and communities have been popping up all over the place. I don't think there is any way that I can list all of them, but here are a few I found that are already making an impact on the community:
Each week, I'll highlight one or more of these communities, but not in an interview type format. I want to pinpoint an interesting topic of discussion or a phenomenal editorial from the community itself. Of course, I recommend that you hop over to the site where the discussion started, but I want to give you the opportunity to voice your feelings about it here as well.
This week, I want to point you to Shoddy Cast. An article posted there in November last year has recently been revived as many of the original questions are (finally) being answered. The article and video talk about the hopes and dreams of The Elder Scrolls community. Specifically, the author addresses how to keep ESO an Elder Scrolls game and not a generic MMO with Elder Scrolls slapped on it. Check out the video, then let me know your thoughts. What will it take for this game to be Elder Scrolls for you?
I read all the comments on every one of my columns. I don't always respond to them for a number of reasons, one being that I like for readers to engage with each other first. That doesn't mean I think they are less important. To illustrate how important I think it is for you to not only read what I say but to engage with other readers, I will highlight one thoughtful comment or question each week, then I will follow that up with another question that I'm interested in reading the community answers.
Since this is the first week, we don't have any comments, but I can pose a question to you. I'll keep it simple this time. Which faction will you join? Why is that faction important to you or why haven't you chosen one yet?