The Elder Scrolls Online

We’re excited about The Elder Scrolls Online.  The announcement feels old because we’ve had rumors floating around for months.  With so little information available, we have to grasp at the few straws and extrapolate whatever we can get.

The game supposedly takes place across all of Tamriel, “from Elsweyr to Skyrim and everywhere in between.” [Source]  That’s jaw-dropping huge.  Look at the map below.  We played Morrowind and it was enormous.  Oblivion wasn’t as large, but Cyrodiil was still decent size.  Skyrim was also plenty big.  Daggerfall was Hammerfell and High Rock.  Combine all of the areas we’ve seen in all of the Elder Scrolls games and it becomes obvious to us that they’re going to adapt the world to work as a MMO.  There’s simply no way they’re going to handcraft this to scale with a projected release date in 2013.

We have our doubts that players will be able to steal anything, attack anyone, or how this will translate  into an MMO unless it’s a standard issue MMO using the same game world.  We have nightmares that it won’t be a sandbox.  We’ve been somewhat skeptical all along, but those are fears we’ll have to set aside for now.

Cyrodiil will be the site of a three faction PvP conflict.  I’m sure this comes from Matt Firor being being the game director.  Who will be the three factions?  We can think of a few, like the Aldmeri Dominion and the Empire who would be at war during the time before Skyrim.  Our memories of Elder Scrolls lore needs to be refreshed.  Anyone have any ideas or info we’ve missed? How the three faction PvP will work is also completely left to our imaginations.  We’d love to see the area completely open full of locations to control.

Public Dungeons are also mentioned, and again Darkness Falls comes to mind because of Matt Firor’s involvement with Dark Age of Camelot via Mythic.  Darkness Falls is a public dungeon that all three factions can enter together, but the portal/entrance to the dungeon is only active in the realm for those holding the most territory in PvP.  If not Darkness Falls, perhaps EQ or DAOC’s straight forward open dungeons that do not use instancing but remain open for everyone — imagine going into a random dungeon you find in a game like Skyrim to hunt monsters that respawn, and others would be able to enter right behind you.

The possibilities are so great with an Elder Scrolls MMO, and expectations are so high, especially with ambitions of three faction PvP, that we fear it’s a task no one out there will be capable of pulling off gracefully.  This is either going to be really great, or really awful.

  • There have been rumors of this being in development from back when Fallout 3 came out in ’08, so I’m sure they have a lot more complete than we are aware. I hope they take their time and handle this deftly because a failed Elder Scrolls MMO, might damage their single player RPGs too.

    I don’t know – I love Bethesda and Elder Scrolls, so it would break my heart to see them turn out another theme park MMO with a title that represents sandbox to a lot of people. Ughh….

  • Isn’t this going to be manual aiming. Basically the same combat style we see in all the elder scrolls rpgs? If so, that’s strikes one two and three against them.

  • I am frankly too afraid to even think about this rofl…
    The world and feel of Skyrim is on such a high pedestal for me personally, that attempting to go MMO with Elder Scrolls after their latest title is something I eye with incredible worry. all that said, maybe it will be my backup plan (or hope) should GW2 fail to be what I hoped for.

    …but they better make this an open world…with immense traveling and adventuring potential and freedoms.
    tangentially, I wonder when anyone is going to start implementing player-hosted servers with custom rules for their MMO already. ES would in many ways fit perfectly with this model.

  • I would have preferred adding multiplayer to a game set in the universe to an MMO personally.

    I wish them the best of luck but my hype meter is barely moving.

  • No clue what to expect from this. I don’t know the internal politics at 2000’s Mythic well enough to know what Mr. Firor’s creative role was there, so it’s hard to predict whether he’s just trying to leverage his past successes, or was truly integral in making DAOC what it was.

    I heard a rumor that the Hero engine, he of SW:TOR infamy, is going to be involved. That terrifies me, but I can barely believe they’d be blind enough to make that mistake again.

    At this point I feel like there are really two possible outcomes: A) They make a bog-standard MMO with “iconic classes from the world of Elder Scrolls” and a linear questing/leveling model, with a throw-away 3-realm RvR zone, and the result crashes and burns in a few months. Or B) they actually stay true to the spirit of the series in a meaningful way and allow open-ended character customization, stealing, killing NPCs, and mild sandbox elements (I’ve seen this called the “playground MMO” in context of GW2), which is totally a game I’d be happy to subscribe to.

    Option A is easier for me, since it means I can simply avoid the whole project from the word go. Unfortunately, I don’t see much room in the industry for a philosophy that splits the difference these days.

  • “We have nightmares that it won’t be a sandbox.”

    Setting aside personal opinion/preference, what in the history of the genre since 2004 suggests that a major studio will spend years developing a MMO based on a single player RPG and choose to go with a sandbox rather than a theme park?

  • @Green Armadillo: The Elder Scrolls are sandbox RPGs. If TEO isn’t a sandbox MMO, that will change the feel entirely.

  • Their quality assurance standards aren’t high enough to pull this off. An MMO needs serious polish. They’ve never been good at following through on that side of their games.

  • Looks like the EQ/DAOC style open dungeons and GW2-like Quest system are in TEO. I like both of those. They won’t have the traditional Elder Scrolls combat due to MMO restrictions. Instead they’ll use a system based around stamina and defensive abilities like sprint, block, and interrupt.

  • I wouldn’t write off the Hero engine just because of SWTOR, from what I saw in the limited Dominus(RIP) alpha test the engine is capable of more than SWTOR got out of it. Could be Bioware just had an early version and their modifications weren’t the best that could be done.

  • Wait, the hero engine thinge is for real? Why wouldn’t they use/modify&use their own?

  • I do not expect much at all from this title.

    Reason? They just announced it and its set to launch next year?
    yeah right.

  • Hero engine with a giant studio behind it I’m not so worried about, but hero engine + small studio (like PBG) was a huge problem.

  • This could be amazing…I hope they borrow some from Mount and Blade for the combat system.

  • @Zyler: They’ve been working on it since 2007 if what I read was correct.

    @Darkstryke: EA Bioware behind the Hero Engine wasn’t a home run. =\

    @Balthazar: The article in Gameinformer says it will be a stamina based system utilizing dodge, block, parry, etc. That sounds like it could be Mount & Blade, but it goes on to say the system seen in the Elder Scross system isn’t feasible in a MMO b/c of latency issues; That makes me think we’ll see something more MMO-Traditional.

  • they better come up with a new combat system or i would never play this. I think that is their biggest weakness in all their single player games.

  • PvP battles are intended to scale all the way up to the 100 vs 100 top end the engine is written to support. How could I have ever doubted them?

    This sounds like a complete clusterfuck. I can’t even choose the most ludicrous parts to rip apart, there are too many.

    In short, this sounds like a game that knows – a year or more before launch – that its tech is already 5 years behind and its design will look horrifically dated next to games like GW2. I think they spend more time trying to rationalize why the game is another generic MMO and how limited they are by online technical constraints than they do actually telling you why what they’re doing deserves any attention at all.

    It’s unfortunate, they have some great design ideas: Open world dungeons, the stamina system, a limited, customized skill bar. But good god are a lot of the other choices regressive. No indication of sidekicking (did I miss it)? Arena PvP for “esports”? PvP (seemingly) limited to max level? *Phasing*?

    I think this sums it up in a nutshell: “Making player housing work the way fans expect is too hard to implement in an MMO… No plans to let let you accrue real estate”. If you don’t have the will to overcome the technical issues, then why even make the game?

    Sorry for all the nerd rage, it’s not like I’m surprised by any of it. Hell, I’m not even a big TES fan. But this is just another reason for me to ignore the entire MMO industry, and wish the whole fucking genre would die out and let new blood come in to build on the ashes.

  • I am positive this wont be a full fledged Sandbox but it would be nice if they still had many of the sandbox elements that I enjoy in the TES games. Such as open world exploration, HOUSING (FFS please can we get one housing MMO this decade please), and a classless skill based system. If TES online had those 3 elements then I would be even more hyped ofr it then I am for GW2 at the moment.

    I wonder if the 3 factions would be like the guild system you know, Thieves, College and Companions. But thats more Skyrim based so I dunno.

  • We all have good reason to be suspicious of anything using the Hero engine after SWTOR, but that being said I have read that EA took the engine even as Idea Fabrik cautioned that it wasn’t ready for their game and EA failed to optimize it properly. Maybe it can do more than we think if the right people are behind it?

  • here’s some actual info summarized:

    And some keypoints:

    -Third person perspective
    -The game uses a hotbar to activate skills like other traditional MMOs
    -Visually it looks like other Hero Engine MMOs like SWTOR
    -The general art style is kind of like RIFT or Everquest 2
    -Back on the topic of the skillbar, you have a limited number of skills you can use at any given time, and can change them whenever you’re out of combat
    -The number of skills is equal to (paraphrase) “a light and heavy attack with your current weapon that take up the first two slots, a few more spells related to your class, and an ultimate in the last slot”.

    -There will be no player housing
    -There will be no NPC romances or marriage
    -“Recreateing the freedom Elder Scrolls players expect within the World of Warcraft-style mechanics Zenimax Online is using for this MMO would be impossible without changing the way that players interact with the world.”

    -There are three player factions:
    –Ebonheart Pact: The Nords, Dunmer, and Argoninans
    –Aldmeri Dominion: Altmer, Bosmer, and Khajit
    –Daggerfall Covenant: Bretons, Redguard, and Orcs

  • i think i see GW2 already casting its shadow and changing the industry even before its launched.

    the skillbar with elite/ultimate skill;
    the waypoint travel/resurrection shrines;
    the propagation of DaoC’s 3 faction war;
    the heart-quests (i think the werevolves example is more akin to the hearts than to the DE);
    cross-proffession combos;
    the implementation of stamina sounds like how mana was supposed to work in gw2 several months ago;
    the aspiration to break the Trinity;
    the modification/omission of the aggro machanic;

    i may come out a bit sarcastic, but I actually point all this with a good heart. i like that obviously gw2 enriched the MMO genome. enough with the inbred WoW clones.

    PS: The Dark Anchors thing sounds like Rift, almost carbon copy 🙂

  • Well so much for my previous post. Looks like this game isnt for me. Yet another company fails to deliver a sandbox or even a sandpark game.

    -Visually it looks like other Hero Engine MMOs like SWTOR
    *Hero engine is shit and can not support a large size crowd as was evident by SWTOR so I imagine 3 player factions will be lagtastic

    -There will be no player housing
    *the single greatest MMO feature of olden MMO’s still will not make a comeback.

    -“It needs to be comfortable for people who are coming in from a typical massively multiplayer game that has the same control mechanisms, but it also has to appeal to Skyrim players.”
    *Why do I read WoW clone when I see that?

    -“Recreateing the freedom Elder Scrolls players expect within the World of Warcraft-style mechanics Zenimax Online is using for this MMO would be impossible without changing the way that players interact with the world.”
    -As such, the game uses a hubless design
    * but does it offer freedom of exploration?

    -The game uses MMORPG genre standards such as classes, experience points, and other traditional MMORPG progression mechanics, but they try to present it “around the core fantasy presented by traditiona Elder Scrolls games” such as traveling around and righting wrongs or seeking riches
    *YAY more CLASS SYSTEMS. Totally not a WoW clone….Did any TES game use a class based system? Because Skyrim and Morrowind DID NOT!

    -The game will have raids and heroic modes for its dungeons as end game content in addition to faction PvP
    *YUP WoW clone, where the haves are better then the have nots!

    -The combat model will not be real time due to latency
    *BORING, Tab Target system + Turn based is what I read.

  • I’m afraid this will be just another EQ/WoW clone with the Elder Scroll label. And why, WHY a LAME class system when they have a fantastic skill based system in Skyrim?

    As Zederok said, thanks the MMO gods for Guild Wars 2.

  • If this means (and I think it does) that there will be no more single player Elder Scrolls games, this suck balls. FFS!
    Same with SWTOR. It was such an awesome single player game! Mind blowing! And they fucked it up, just to make a quick buck!

    I understand that game companies need to make money like any other company, but right now I just hate those greedy mother….

  • ffox i do not think GW2 is having an effect. The guy running this is a former daoc dev. I am pretty sure they likely had 3 factions planned even before gw2 mentioned it.

  • @wufiavelli – the 3-way PvP was not the only point of similarity i made 🙂 actually – the weakest

    although – for the sake of the argument – the same dev was part of Mythic, and we all know that their WAR did’t have the guts to base their faction system on their own success, but rather tried to copy WoW

    i feel in this case GW2 is the excuse to return to their basics, but it’s still following and not leading

  • @Cthreepo
    Well, to be honest, I found SW:TOR to still be an amazing single player game. Personally, even if I completely ignore the multiplayer part which I also enjoyed, experiencing the story like for both sides was a rewarding enough experience to justify the money I spent for the game.

  • I’m sorry, but I dont agree. Compared to the first game, the story (those I tried) was crap. You only have one char (okay, you have a companion, which more or less controlled itself), you cant pause, basicly, to me, its nothing like the single player games. The multiplayer part was close to a joke. I’m close to saying that SWTOR took the worse from the singleplayer part of RPGS and mixed it up with the worse from MMO part. If Elder Scroll online is gonna be anything close to SWTOR i’m staying far far away.

  • @Cthreepo: Well you are entitled to your own opinion of course, but I have to agree with Merovingian on this one. SW:ToR was actually pretty good as a single player game. Not as good as KoToR of course, but it was still quite good.

    Also, the PvP in it is still incredibly fun to me, ever since they got rid of the lag on the skills.

  • Do I need to post any excerpts from Firor and his ToA interviews? I am immediately doubting he can deliver anything unique and un-grindy. 🙂

  • It’s not even out yet, but so many of you think you know EXACTLY what it’s going to be like.

    Errrrr, jump the gun some more….

  • I’ll be remaining pessimistic as usual…

    That Hero Engine doesn’t impress me at all, and that Gameinformer information seems to point in the direction of yet another vanilla MMO with sprinkles of Elder Scroll lore on top.

    I just don’t feel like the Elder Scrolls is a good candidate for an MMO. It has far too much breadth at this point. They’d be better off officially wiring online play into Skyrim, Oblivion, or Morrowind than building something from the ground up with the word “MMO” stuck in their heads. It puts ideas of a different business model on the table along with expectations of what an MMO should be like instead of what -Elder Scrolls- should be like.

    I say they should just let it go, and avoid possibly staining the reputation of a great game series. One day, a company will have the money, technology, and willingness to be true to the Elder Scrolls series, but that day is not today. And that year -certainly- isn’t next year.

  • A huge open fantasy world to explore plus 3 faction pvp that allows you to be able to become the emperor. Sounds cool to me.

    Just no freakin’ cash shop…please.

  • Yeah, I’ve seen that feature list somewhere else – this is not going to be Skyrim online, sadly, but just another WoW clone.

    We can only hope that GW2 will be a massive success and will force them to revisit their plan to make it more like their single players are.

  • I have always expected a more traditional MMO approach to combat, abilities, and progression from an Elder Scrolls MMO. What I’m hoping they can capture is the world and sense of sandbox ‘existence’ and progression.

    I haven’t read anything yet that makes me immediately think WoW Clone.

  • @Mark: “””Do I need to post any excerpts from Firor and his ToA interviews? I am immediately doubting he can deliver anything unique and un-grindy.””””

    So Firor was the reasons why we got ToA? Please dig those up, this will be another death knell for the game if true as ToA was the single greatest blunder in MMO history, worse the SWG:NE and UO Trammel (although TBH trammel actually brought in more subscribers)

  • @Mark

    I’d be curious to check those out as well. I know he was still around after ToA, but I’ve heard from DAoC vets that it was all downhill after Matt left and even that he left after having a fallout with Mark Jacobs who wanted to take DAoC the direction it went post-ToA and Matt did not. I’ve heard several DAoC vets commenting on looking forward to ZeniMax’s project because of his involvement in DAoC too. I wouldn’t imagine that would be the case if he was the mind behind ToA. I’ve had nothing to back those assertions up and I wonder if it was just speculation that got repeated over and over as fact. So, I am curious to see anything concrete that would clear that up.

  • The devil is in the details. Too early to say what this game will be. 3 realm setup is a key, without it everything else is worth nothing (for open world)

    Other stuff I can be flexible on. They have to be optimizing the fuck out of the engine for big battles. DAOC (that is 10 years old) is minimum in performance terms, something like Lineage 2 would be ideal 600-1000 player battle = NP.

    Past that.. leveling need to take some time, screw the questing btw.

    Worst part is that Nords are allied with Dunmer NOOOOOO

  • I do wonder if it will be have a sub or be F2P? I guess we should know more about the game next month at E3.

  • i dont know why your excited. this isnt a real TES game, the soul is gone, and the look is HORRID. cast bars, 3rd person, no marriage, no houses, no vampire/werewolf forms.


    ^ if this doesnt break your heart, and your “excitement” for TES, you and your bro our sadly fools.

  • @Vundal: Half of the reason people like TES is the lore and the world not just the skill based leveling system. I actually love TES but hate the skill based leveling and usually mod it so it becomes XP based. Classes also won’t be a big deal if they do it something like GW2 where it doesn’t really feel like classes.

  • @Drathmar: I respectively disagree. You might like it for the lore but I would bet more then half enoy TES Series for being an open-ended free roam world with hundreds if not thousands of things to do.

  • I enjoy the gameplay and the world the most. The combat is nice, but it’s no Mount & Blade, and the skill system is just okay — in fact, it wasn’t great at all in Skyrim.

  • @Zederok: The open-ended free roam has pretty much nothing to do with the skill based leveling system however that was the point of who I was responding to. I love it being free roam and being able to do hundreds of things and go where you want with no real set path unless you make one. I just dislike the skill based leveling and actually prefer an xp and class based system.

    @Keen: I agree about the combat, it’s probably one of the worst in real time RPG’s.

  • Here is a link to the posting of the interview with RPG Vault, which apparently no longer exists. Google more if you need too.

    Matt Firor: Master Levels comprise the new skills and abilities that players learn after completing each Trial. The skills / abilities / spells they learn differ depending on their class and general archetype (i.e. fighter or mage, etc.). In general, we are trying to expand the character’s toolbox with these new skills – that is, to make them more well-rounded but not necessarily strictly more powerful. That being said, a player who has completed all nine Trials and has nine Master Levels will be at least a little more powerful than a player who hasn’t.

  • Sorry, forgot to add this.

    It’s not that people like Firor can’t improve, but I’m looking for a unique perspective to a game that allows realm vs realm combat. We need someone to produce a game where leveling is fun and the end game is not months and months of tedious “work”. For my money, Firor is the exact wrong person to come up with something new and different.

    For the way back old man holding a grudge viewpoint.

    – Someone decided, right as DAoC was released, to slow leveling speed way down.

    – Someone decided ToA was a good idea.

    All that said, I will try and watch the development of this game with an open mind.

  • @Drathmar: I still think you are in the minority about the lore and the world. In fact looking at 90% of the posts against this game is because of it not being open world, its a hotbar combat system or because its an MMO (apparantly this isntan MMO site). The lore is nice but its the last thing I look for in a game, apparantly with all the negativity that SWTOR has garnered I am not alone. The world has to be awesome and in TES it is but thats because its large, open and free not because of any thing else. Plenty of other games have large worlds but none of them except for a very few are truely open.

    TESO will still be very much a TES game so I am confused are you looking forward to this game or not? For me going a class based system is the worst thing they could of done. The hotbar combat system doesnt bother me as much as some sandbox fans as I actually enjoy hotbar, tab target combat because it opens up the combat for more abilities to be used. With that being said TESO looks to be a WoW clone through and through with tacked on 3 faction PvP in one zone.

  • Again Drathmar taken from the’s forums:

    I know there are a lot of posts talking about how this game is a WoW clone or what not, and you’re probably thinking…not another one! But hear me out…I think there is a very specific reason why this game is just a bad idea.

    First off, think about the Elder Scrolls games…what makes them special?

    Is it the IP? Is Tamriel a beloved world that people hoard collectibles about and dream of at night like Star Wars or LOTR? No…I don’t think so. It’s got a lot of lore for sure, but I don’t think the Tamriel IP is anywhere close to the popularity of Star Wars or even Azeroth.

    Is it the addicting progression mechanics? No…not really. You can get to “max level” in an Elder Scrolls game fairly quickly. People are definitely not playing these games because they are addicted to a grind.

    …So then what is it that makes these games so special?

    I’ll tell you. It’s the excellent open-ended gameplay.

    People love these games because they allow you to explore an awesome, detailed world and really just pick whatever path you wish to follow. But that’s not all…part of what makes these games so excellent is the fact that the SAME CORE DEV TEAM has worked on Morrowwind, Oblivion, and Skyrim.

    Now let’s look at TES:Online.

    This game is NOT developed by the team that made the previous Elder Scrolls games, and from all indications it will NOT have that open-ended gameplay that people have come to associate with TES.

    So all it’s left with is the brand and the IP. And I’m sorry, that’s not what makes Elder Scrolls special. No one has a mint edition Emperor Whateverimus figure in their basement. No, they have a vintage Han Solo figure or even freaking Hello Kitty.

    The TES IP is just not popular enough to base everything on and frankly, I think that’s what they are doing. They are just trying to make a “traditional MMO” set in Tamriel.

    Good luck with that.

    As I said, the MAIN reason why TES is awesome is because of the open ended world and not the lore.

  • The best a good IP can do for a mediocre game is delay the inevitable exodus of the most fervent fans; SWTOR wouldn’t even still be talked about if it weren’t for the “Star Wars” logo, it would have died a quick and quiet death a few months back.

  • Why they deceided to use the Hero Engine for this is beyone me when they have the Gamebryo Engine which has been used for previous Elder Scrolls games and has already been adapted for MMO’s like Rift and Warhammer Online.

    As it stands I’m not interested in TESO based on what I have seen/read about it so far.

  • Gamebryo and Hero Engines are both crap, should of gone another route like Cry engine or Unreal engine.

  • don’t let that crap fool you. they could have real time combat but they won’t have because heroengine doesn’t allow you to. its a ready-made kit. it comes with gameplay mechanics, a mini-map, etc. its garbage and i can’t believe they used in TOR and are using it here too. i’m pretty disappointed, but maybe they’ll surprise me

  • The question is….will it have the same leveling system as skyrim where you can level the way you want and not be restricted to leveling to one leveling zone at a time like wow’s restrictions?