Open Discussion – Elder Scrolls Online

Alright, to be fair, it seems I am entering into this discussion a bit late – the Elder Scrolls Online. I talked about it the other day, but it’s been on my mind more than that. As I imagine many of you do as well, we have a number of friends and family members considering this game.

And there are a lot of reasons to. The Elder Scrolls games are known for being open-ended worlds where you explore and do what you want, and go around exploring, adventuring, and generally having fun. However, this has also always been a single-player experience, and your achievements and adventuring aren’t shared (I still remember this Penny Arcade on the subject… no one will ever see his horse).

So now that it’s multiplayer, and better an MMO, have they created the perfect MMO? That is everyone’s hopes, I think, attached to this game. And I seem to recall that some of the buggiest and worst times for an MMO are right at the start… and yet, we’re considering a pre-order of this game, to join up with the people we know playing. So I am just going to go through a couple of my thoughts, and then, I really want to hear your thoughts on the Elder Scrolls Online – are you planning to play it?

System and World

So first, after my discussion the other day, I have to think about the game world, about the system and classes and all.

World

I got into this series, like many, with Morrowind, and I created a huge number of characters in that game. Tried all sorts of combinations and approaches. Never beat it. Then I played a little of other people’s copies of Oblivion… loved the Patrick Stewart voicing, in particular. Fun world, and the sudden fear of dealing with the Oblivion Gates was fun.

Then there was Skyrim… and Holly and I didn’t get into it much. Yes, I created a lot of characters. Even tried to replicate my D&D Swordmage. But I decided I needed to try to get further. I set a goal. To become Archmage. And… I did, and I haven’t played since.

Skyrim, with the potential threat of a dragon at nearly any time, added a level of necessity to the game: you had to have a way to defeat a dragon. I looked at a lot of my builds and plans, and realized they would not work well against a dragon. Anything else, maybe, but a dragon?

Dragon.

Anyway, Elder Scrolls Online. Some of my problem with the earlier games is a lack of goals, which is fun, but is easy to distract you from. Either with a new character, or a wholly different game. And with a pay-to-play MMO, you need to invest some time into it to make it worth it!

I also don’t know that I necessarily like the goal of leveling and getting to the max in MMOs… I enjoyed the exploration and experience of working my way through. And choosing where to go, and different places. Which actually sounds a LOT like the Elder Scrolls games. So really, this is what these games have always needed to be better than they already are.

System

One of the things I’ve always liked, as a system, in the Elder Scrolls games, is how you level the abilities in the game based on using them. That’s a wholly logical system, right? You get better at the things you use, by using them? So if you want to be better with a bow, you ought to use your bow!

And so while the games had “classes” before, this was more around the starting point for the various skills, which ones you started a little better at. And maybe a bit of which ones increased faster. But you could still use anything.

Elder Scrolls Online however has classes with unique abilities, unique skill trees. So I was worried. I looked at it harder.

And what it looks like is that, yes, there are classes with a few active and passive abilities. Then there is your race, which comes with some abilities to learn. But then, you can use any weapon, and there are the weapon skills. This includes offensive and defensive magic, so healing is weapon-based and not class-based. And the tanking seems to come in part from using sword-and-shield. Then there is armor, and you can wear any armor, and there are armor skills.

Oh, and you can join guilds like the Fighter’s Guild, much like in previous games, and even those come with other abilities you can learn.

Combine this with a limited number of skill points, and a huge number of possible skills… and you can build a highly unique character in this game! Hopefully the balancing is such that you really can use a variety of ways to tank, heal, and fulfill the needs of a group in this game. If well executed, this system is really exciting to me – again, you can check out my post the other day to see why.

Here’s a link to more info on the classes: http://elderscrollsonline.info/classes

Pre-Order and Subscription

The time is now – this game comes out in a few weeks, and pre-ordering can even get you into the game a few days early. Our decision should really probably be this week. So let me explore some of the aspects around pre-ordering, and then some of our concerns around this being a subscription-based game.

Pre-Order

Specifically pre-ordering the game through their website, in particular, gives you bonuses. Here’s a link to the details: http://elderscrollsonline.com/en/preorder

A couple of days early access only matters for those couple of days, and so that’s not necessarily something to think too much about. However, the aspect of getting to play any race, any faction, can be huge. At the moment, each race is part of specific factions, which reminds me of WoW, with the Horde and the Alliance.

But especially for playing with friends, being able to play what you want, but then being able to all be part of the same faction… that can be incredibly important. And that is what makes this decision important for us.

The other piece that has a lot of people talking is the pre-order on the Collector’s Edition – called the Imperial Edition. This edition is the only way to access an entire race, the Imperials. There’s also a mount included, but again you can eventually get one in-game I assume.

Now, I’m less concerned about this edition, because I don’t care about playing an Imperial. And the price jump is not a ton. However, players fear about the idea of it – an added price for important in-game content, not just for vanity-type items. Will this continue into the game? This is especially a concern given the game already has a subscription cost – will they combine the pay-to-play model with a pay-for-more model?

Subscription

So I saw a lot of discussion about these aspects. Here’s a few places to look:

  • http://elderscrollsonline.info/buy – the comments on this were interesting, with some people liking a subscription model, and some a free-to-play model. I should note this site seems to want to direct you to Amazon to buy – they likely have an affiliate relationship set up.

I think we actually prefer the idea of a subscription model, because you get the content constantly updating and improving, and you don’t run into pay-walls throughout the game.

However, when you’re paying for a subscription – or at least, I know when we are – you have a feeling you need to get your money’s worth. So you want to play, and play a lot.

I remember from when we played WoW – and I heard similar from others – that you tend not to spend as much on other games when playing a subscription MMO – you don’t have/take the time for them. So that ends up working out, potentially, on money.

Well, at least for one person… However, there’s two of us. That’s $30 a month for us both to play this game – after the initial $120 investment. It’s exciting though, because this game will actually work on our Macs – something many of the MMOs and other games in general do not tend to do. That makes it so this game is even an option.

We have new things to consider now, however. We have a blog to write. If this becomes the main game we play, will far more of our content all of a sudden be about Elder Scrolls Online? Will writing blog posts become a pain – or will it cut into our gaming time, and make us feel like the game isn’t worth it? Will we have the time to play with our friends, with all the other things we do?

It isn’t easy to answer. So these are some of the things I have looked at with this game, and now I would love to hear your thoughts on the game. Are you planning on playing this game? What are your thoughts on the concerns about it? Let us know in the comments below!

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6 responses to “Open Discussion – Elder Scrolls Online

  1. I absolutely loved Skyrim, more than Oblivion actually, but I don’t think I’ll be touching the MMO. Partly because I fear getting sucked in forever, partly because I don’t really like playing with other people, and partly because I’m not at all a fan of the subscription system. Whatever happened to buying a game once, and being able to play all of it without extra expenses along the way? I will enjoy reading about it, though, if you decide to turn your blog into an Elder Scrolls blog, haha!

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    • I definitely agree about playing, at least, with strangers… not really what I’m looking for in a game. But with friends, the question is a little harder. But then, planning the time to play with them, with everyone available? Not at all the easiest thing.

      With MMOs, they tend to try to be constantly adding and increasing and improving the content, fixing bugs, providing support. If done well, the subscription system can be good. MMOs tend to have far more content than your average pay-once game.

      That said… providing EVEN MORE content than Skyrim? That’s a tall order in and of itself!

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  2. The beauty of blogging is that every day one learns (or may learn) something new. I certainly did so today. Thanks for sharing.
    Silvia @
    SilviaWrites

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  3. Played in the beta this weekend. Some bugs, not awful. While I agree the elder scrolls world has been great playing alone-and I love the music at night with the wind blowing. playing it as an mmo will have advantages. It was always a single player game and many fights would have been more fun with both a melee and a Mage together. Or heals and a fighter. during beta there were a lot of guys who had never played an mmo, and therefore had no idea about respawn rates for quest kills or quest givers . But were very happy to be asking everyone for help and most were helping. Real contact is better than online guides. As for the subscription service, I believe there is a place for both. A one time buy game has a limited play time no matter how often you play. When you join a sub game, you are guaranteed more and newer content. We have spent way more on free2play games than we ever did on subs due to needing gems coinage etc. In the case of ESO, I will be playing and paying and I hope I like it as much as oblivion and skyrim and my family’s memories of morrowind.

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    • Thanks for the insights from the Beta! And sorry to hear about the Free 2 Play games… that business model always does sound too good to be true.

      I think Holly and I are intrigued by some of the “public dungeons” that I am reading about… which are supposedly too hard for one alone but good for a duo. We have a duo good to go!

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  4. Pingback: Why We Stopped Subscribing to Elder Scrolls Online | Comparative Geeks

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