Can The Elder Scrolls Online Revive The MMORPG Space?


Considering how much World of Warcraft revolutionized the Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) entertainment space, it seems almost awkward to ask if The Elder Scrolls Online will revive the MMORP space.

But, sadly, that’s a question we’re forced to ask. You see, the MMORPG space has hit a hard wall. I am not talking about graphics. New MMORPG games boast of downright awesome graphics and fine attention to detail. World of Warcraft (WOW), if it wanted to, could just ‘re-skin’ itself and look as up to date and sleek as its recent competitors.

I am not talking about story and game lore. Indeed, if anything, the MMORPG space has been quite amazing in the variety of themes it can assume. From pirates to Jedi to different fantasy eras, MMORPGs exist for almost any theme. No, it’s not a failure of theme or game lore I am talking about. The hard wall is the underlying game play behind most MMORPGs. Sadly, they are all the same.

They all follow the same predictable sequence of: talk to NPC, get quest, quest is either fetch or kill, fetch item or kill bad guy, go back to NPC and claim your reward. Ho hum. So boring. Sure, WOW spices it up by stringing up a chain of NPCs giving you the same fetch or kill type quest which takes you from one corner of Azeroth to another but, at the end of the day, it all still uses the same tired formula.

This is the rot that threatens to neuter MMORPG gaming and permanently transform it, in terms of gaming hierarchy and marketing, into a ‘kids’ game’.

Can We Place Our Hope On The Elder Scrolls Online?

A lot of MMORPG fans are excited about The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) because, after all, it carries the well-respected and well-loved The Elder Scrolls brand. Few people who have played Morrowind and Skyrim did  not get impressed by the game’s breadth, game lore, graphics, and game play. TESO was all about story, story, and story. It truly is an immersive game that made players wade waist deep into the lore of the game. It truly sucks you in.

The problem is, is this enough to fix the problem I mentioned above? If you played The Elder Scrolls in the fast, the game follows the standard RPG rote of  get quest, fetch or kill, come back to claim reward, rinse and repeat. TESO needs to fix this. Sexy graphics and deep storylines can only go so far.

Unless it solves the dead end and predictable gameplay fundamentals described above, after all the hoopla and hype die down, TESO might just be yet another ‘me too’ MMORPG trying to nick off some of WOW’s juicy monthly subscriber revenues like Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Is TESO even a good fit for the MMORPG format?

Another unsettling question I can’t get off my mind is the fact that the pacing of a standard Elder Scrolls quest is slower, more deliberate, and more intimate than the pacing of standard MMORPG fare. Take WOW for example, the pacing for that game is fast. You zip through instances, you quickly fight through quests. The focus, after all, is leveling and getting items. You just don’t have the time to stop and smell the murloc scales you just scraped off.

Considering this is the pace many MMORPG fans have grown to love and expect, it will be very interesting how TESO manages to change the core of The Elder Scrolls game to fit with expectations. If it does this would it effectively make TESO another WOW wannabe with better graphics?

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