My opinion of the game as it stands now most certainly isn’t without reason. For posterity’s sake, I’ll be exploring a few reasons to look forward to ESO next week. Stay tuned.
There’s a Subscription Fee (And You Have To Buy The Game, Too)
One revelation we received back when the game was announced – and something which, perhaps, should have been the first warning sign – was that ESO would require both a one-time purchase and a subscription fee. While that may not have been so unusual just a few years ago, these days World of Warcraft (being the still-reigning king of the MMO) is the only game that can truly get away with it. Every other title that’s tried has ended up going F2P within a year or so.
It Completely Changes The Aesthetics Of The Elder Scrolls’ Races
What bothers me most about The Elder Scrolls Online is that the races…honestly don’t really look like they’re from Tamriel. While the races of men are relatively untouched by the game’s appearance, the races of Mer (more specifically, the elves) have all received distressing makeovers. As a result, the High Elves of ESO bear only a passing resemblance to their predecessors, while the Bosmer and Dunmer basically resemble your prototypical Wood Elves and Drow. The Khajit and Argonians look fine, at least. That’s something, right?
It’s Overhyped, Seemingly Without Reason
I’m always cautious when I hear the games media gushing about a sequel or new property (particularly if it’s from the Snake Oil Salesman Peter Molyneux). The thing about hype is that the more you listen to it, the more unreasonable your expectations tend to become. It gets to the point that virtually nothing will satisfy your lofty opinion of what the game should be. We saw this a great deal with Elder Scrolls Online when it was first announced, and now that we’re getting closer to release, we’ve already seen that hype die down – never a good sign.
It’s Not Developed By Bethesda
This is a big one on my list – Bethesda has been the developer of the Elder Scrolls franchise ever since Arena was first released. That they’ve suddenly decided to switch hands to Zenimax Online Studios could well mean that it won’t feel like an Elder Scrolls game, even with Bethesda as the publisher. That, ladies and gents, is a problem.
The Imperial Edition Is Totally Shameless
So…turns out that, atop the $60 purchase and $15 monthly fee, Bethesda’s deemed it fit to announce a special collector’s edition version of ESO, known as the Imperial Edition. Granted, Collector’s editions aren’t all that unusual – most titles have them, including World of Warcraft. The problem isn’t so much that the $99.99 preorder bundle exists as it is what it includes: namely, the ability to play an Imperial in the game, equipped with exclusive gear and an exclusive horse. Imperials were originally intended as an NPC race, and include a whole host of unique bonuses, crafting styles, and abilities. Oh, you’ll also be given a pair of Rings of Mara, allowing you to get an experience point bonus.
Basically, they’re turning a subscription-based game into a Pay To Win offering. That, ladies and gents, is anything but okay.
It Destroys Established Lore
So remember how the Dragon Fires went dark in Oblivion with the death of the Empire, leaving the fate of all Tamriel uncertain? Remember how Mehrunes Dagon tried to invate through the use of Oblivion Gates? Yeah, turns out Molag Bal apparently did it first – up to and including destroying the royal line. The difference between Molag Bal and Dagon, of course, is that Dagon was trying to invade Tamriel – Bal simply wants to pull the realm into his own. Oh, and apparently the Aldmeri Dominion – traditionally a pro-elves faction – will allow any race to join their numbers.
I get that ESO is going to be disconnected from other games in the series, but lore’s always been a huge part of The Elder Scrolls. The fact that Zenimax is playing so fast and loose with it here simply isn’t acceptable.
It’s Sort of Generic
Perhaps the most damning problem with The Elder Scrolls Online is that, well…it’s honestly kind of generic. It doesn’t do a great deal to establish itself from other titles already on the market, nor does it manage to look particularly exciting besides. Combat isn’t bad, but it’s not mind-blowing. The character creator is robust, but not particularly revolutionary. And the story, well…
As I’ve already said, Oblivion kind of did it first.
Elder Scrolls Online isn’t going to be a terrible game…but I get the sense that it’s not going to be good, either.
It Will Be Compared To Skyrim…And Found Lacking
Skyrim might be several years old at this point. but thanks to a robust and particularly active modding community, it’s actually aged extremely well. There are mods out there that allow the player to turn the game into a completely different experience, in every way superior to what Bethesda initially developed. That experience is what the Elder Scrolls Online is going to be competing against…and it’s probably not going to have the best of luck.