The Problems with The Elder Scrolls Online
The problems with the Elder Scrolls MMO discussed with why it has received a lukewarm response from fans of the series shown.
What really made the Elder Scrolls games great was atmosphere. Simply having the option to go around and explore a well realized world. The sheer depth of the worlds made the games. The areas to explore and waste a lot of your time in, side skills such as alchemy and fantastic views and natural effects made a truly compelling atmosphere. The problem here is that adding other players, who unlike NPCs are absolutely aware it is a game, can ruin this atmosphere easily. Imagine an Elder Scrolls game with Tea-bagging, l33t speak and pro-players lowering graphics settings for every slight advantage. It would simply ruined the entire atmosphere. While I do believe that this may potentially be resolved through game settings, it would be some work to get it right.
While the precise nature of the game camera has not been fully revealed, it is a little disappointing that Third Person view is likely to be the main view of the game when Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim were each basically First Person. The difference is that third person makes it clear that you are playing a character where as first person suggests that it is YOU. First Person is simply a more instantly immersive game-play experience. It is worth noting that first person is said to be in the game but somewhat hindered.
Grinding is incredibly dull. Some people seem to like it, but those people tend somewhat against being Elder Scrolls fans. It is said, however, that the system will be partially skill based so that if you use a long sword, then you will gain some experience relative to that weapon within the constraints of your class. Furthermore, finesse is said to be measured as well so it is not just what you kill or do but also how you kill or do it that decides ‘experience’. The problem is that while leveling was always part of the series, it progressed somewhat intuitively and seemed to accurately reflex training and gaining skill rather than the sort of arbitrary leveling in games like WoW.
Lack of Depth
Some would argue that games like World of Warcraft have a great deal of depth, but that depth tends to be of the ‘go and do x 10 times to level’. Ideally, an Elder Scrolls MMO would have a bit more depth to its experience but the big problem is that MMOs lean somewhat towards removing this depth by having the bulk of the world as heroes. In Oblivion because you are the hero you can change the outcome of things significantly, in an MMO everyone is like you so you really cannot. This tends to lead to the people most obsessed with grinding and looting having the most sway. The problem is that after a while this is all that the game experience comes about. Leveling to get more powerful to level more and get more powerful, with no real significant purpose.
Dulling of Exploration
One of the good things about exploration is that you are meant to be one of the few people seeing something, it is the idea that you have gone where no other has that makes it exciting. While a dungeon surely suggests that there were makers, those makers may be somewhat foreign and lost to history. While it is clear for anyone playing a single-player game that others have probably explored the area before, the game world does not suggest as much. In an MMO it is entirely likely that people will have something of a ‘been there, done that’ approach to players speaking of their exploration. Somewhat dulls the mood.
PvP can be an absolutely great experience, but it can also be a very annoying experience. The problem is that some players become so obsessive that they will employ every possible advantage that they can get, some of which may well ruin the game. Take for example the sorts of tactics used by players obsessed with winning in modern First Person Shooters such as lowering graphic settings for better vision, changing textures so that they can see enemies clearly, altering sound settings so they can hear footsteps louder and at greater distances as well as outright cheating. I can think of little more that could ruin an Elder Scrolls game than stealthily sneaking up to a foe only for them to see you as a result of their brightness settings and fluorescence green modded enemy character textures.
None of this rules out the Elder Scrolls MMO being a great game, but it does suggest the designers have something of a challenge in getting the atmosphere right in a world outside their control. The big issue is that many people that play games online are a little bit off upstairs, missing the spirit of the game and obsessing over details that are simply irrelevant. For those that have been with the Elder Scrolls series for a while, this MMO promises to be either be a grave disappointment or a great game that will last longer than the other lengthy entries into the series.