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ESO: Morrowind

Aren’t trailers horrible and awesome at the same time? That game looks awesome.

Back to reality, I want this to be great. I so badly want for it to be a true Morrowind experience. So much of me hopes it will be an amazing expansion and era of growth for ESO. Yet, so much of me remember the pains of ESO. ESO wasn’t the worst MMO I’ve played. But that’s really where the ‘praise’ ends.

We’ve given ESO more chances than it deserved. We played it on multiple platforms, played all 3 factions, and made numerous characters. It simply fails to ‘hook’ the player.

Additionally, the cash shop vibe it puts out turns me off completely. I’m not going to debate whether the shop is fair. Having one bothers me. An RPG — especially a mmorpg — loses immersion when I’m presented constantly with buying things from the cash shop.

From the official website:

Return to the iconic island of Vvardenfell for over 30 hours of adventure in a brand new location, with a new class, a new PvP mode, a new Trial, and so much more.”

So it’s like a mini expansion. That doesn’t seem fitting for Morrowind. One of the greatest RPGs of our time simply adds a class, a battleground, and 30 hours of questing.

I find myself once again grumbling over what this could have been. They could have gone the extra mile and made this into a new type of MMORPG that was more open and sandbox. They could have aimed for a new ‘game’ and attempted something in at least the same ballpark as Morrowind.

I’ll try to get over my skepticism and my disdain for what ESO failed to be and focus on what it is and what Morrowind may end up being. Despite my ridicule, I’ll try it out.


My Wife Plays: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Theme on Piano

Bri continues her quest of arranging all of the greatest songs from video games. This time she’s playing The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind’s main theme song, which I believe is titled “Nerevar Rising.”

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Full disclosure, I never actually played a ton of Morrowind. Graev has told me countless times I should play, and I know he’s right. I know it’s a phenomenal RPG. I think it’s time to actually add it to my list of must-plays in the backlog.

So which song is next? She has quite the following here at our local elementary school. When the kids come into the library they are greeted each time by her music. Apparently they’re all perfectly silent and listen when her music is on. She has received a few hundred requests for “Minecraft music!” I think she’ll have to oblige.

As always, she’s taking your requests as well. Anything you’d like to hear?


TESO: Evolving or Devolving to be a MMO?

Last week I wrote that MMORPG’s are not single-player games as a response to the revelation that TESO will have a “core” part of the game be entirely single-player in which we pretend that other players aren’t even in the same world.  Matt Firor, Creative Director,  was published on PC Gamer today with more about the nature of TESO’s “evolution”.

TESO will have traditional MMO classes.

I want to approach the subject of TESO from a different angle this time.  Instead of saying MMO’s aren’t single-player games, how about The Elder Scrolls aren’t MMORPG’s?  I think too much of The Elder Scrolls is having to change in order to accommodate the MMORPG mechanics.

“Since we have a PVP component to our game it’s very difficult to make a skill based game like in Skyrim, so we went back to a more traditional character based system like in the older Elder Scrolls games just to make it easier to balance to make sure the PVP system worked,” Firor explains.

“Well the Elder Scrolls formula has kind of evolved over time, and if you look at Elder Scrolls 1: Arena to Daggerfall to Morrowind. Things have evolved in every game, so it’s not like they’re all exactly the same as the one before, there’s a clear line of evolution. What we had to do to make it an MMO is to kind of evolve over to the multiplayer side and there are some things that come with that.” [PC Gamer]

Despite having classes, previous Elder Scrolls games were reliant upon a skill-based system.  Most of you are probably familiar with the way Morrowind and Oblivion handled choosing a class, where the class simply determined which primary and second skills helped your character level.  Skyrim changed in a way that removed classes entirely and became more of a free point allocation to be whatever you want.  Arena and Daggerfall had classes, with skill components.  Matt is correct by saying that things have evolved in every game, but in my opinion he’s very wrong by saying that TESO is evolving by changing to a MMORPG class system.  It feels much more like devolving.

I love MMO’s more than most people, but I won’t pretend for a second that the traditional class system is evolved ahead of anything else out there.  The single-player approach, an obvious themepark nature, and looking at how far they’re going to have to alter their winning RPG formula to accommodate the oft clunky MMO mechanics worries me.  I foresee a very tough future ahead for TESO.

Hopefully I will be proven very wrong.  I won’t mind at all.


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.