The Elder Scrolls Online First Details and Screenshot

The Elder Scrolls Online First Details and Screenshot

It’s kind of like getting a golden toilet. Once you have one… it’s not all that exciting anymore.

The first screenshot confirmed to be from the recently announced Elder Scrolls Online has made its way out of the murky depths of speculation and into the light of day. The leaking culprit? None other than the one outlet who has the exclusive cover story on the game: Game Informer.

The Elder Scrolls Online

If you’re thinking, “Wait, a minute… that looks an awful lot like World of Warcraft.” You aren’t alone. As it stands, I think people who were excited for an Elder Scrolls MMO were hoping for something along the lines of Skyrim/Oblivion/Morrowind, but with a land teeming with real people. Unfortuantely, that doesn’t seem like it is going to be the case.

Although Game Informer has the exclusive story, some people are lucky enough to have gotten their mits on an issue of the magazine already and have shared some of that information with Kotaku. Apparently the issue does quite a fantastic job of peeing all over everyone’s parade right from the get go.

Those hoping that The Elder Scrolls Online would the MMO to change the course of MMOs forever are in for a major surprise. From the sounds of the article, TES  Online is essentially going to be just another fantasy MMO. That doesn’t mean that everything is going to suck, but it more than likely means that some of the staples we’ve come to know and love within the Elder Scrolls series will probably be omitted for more traditional MMO elements.

For example, Zenimax Online’s Paul Sage is quoted as saying, “it [The Elder Scrolls Online] needs to be comfortable for people who are coming from a typical massively multiplayer game that has the same control mechanism, but it also has to appeal to Skyrim players.”

I’m going to step out on this crumbling ledge and take a whack at what I think that ultimately means and hope for the best. There are many reasons I avoid MMOs, the most obvious being the extra cost, but if I had to choose one, it would have to be excessive screen clutter. Hotbars bursting at the seams with macros, live stream text scrolling through a third of the screen, and minimaps eating up what precious space is left do about as much for me as an ill-timed fart on a hot date.

The beauty of The Elder Scrolls lies in its simplicity. There is nothing more than a minimalistic compass, a small health bar, and nothing but an expansive world laid out before you. As for Sage’s words, I am going to assume he means that the typical MMO control scheme and screen layout are going to appear with some added Elder Scrolls tweeks to make it feel different.

I’m sure I don’t stand alone when I say this, but I’ve played every Elder Scrolls game exclusively in first-person, only switching to third-person on accident from time to time. That right there was a major hype point for me with TES Online, but it’s confirmed that you will in fact be playing entirely in third-person… lending credibility to the notion that this is going to end up just being another run of the mill MMO. To make matters worse, the combat is driven by hotbars and activating skills. Also confirming my fears about screen clutter.

I’m sorry… but while we’re at it, why don’t we just let the rest of the air out of this disappointment-filled balloon?

All of your attacks will have the dreaded cooldown and if you loved owning your own house and cramming all your shit into it, guess what? You can’t do that in TES Online because it’s a feature that is “too hard to implement in an MMO.” Additionally, NPCs are going to be significantly different from the standalone Elder Scrolls games as they will not run on any sort of a schedule. Finally, every gamer’s worst nightmare, the “already-created locked content” will be quite prominent in the form of areas that exist, but remain inaccessible to anyone who isn’t appropriately leveled up. These areas will either serve as level-locked areas or be saved for use as “expansion content.” That right that there tears the heart and soul out of the Elder Scrolls Online as TES is founded on the principals of being able to go wherever you want, do whatever you want, whenever you want.

Sounds nothing like what you had built up in your head does it? I know… I’m picking my heart up off the floor as I type this.

I hate to come down so hard on one of my all time favorite franchises, but I think Zenimax Online is really dropping the ball with this one if these features are indicative of what we can expect. I’ll level with you and let you know right now that I don’t play many conventional MMOs for a multitude of reasons, but after a lengthy stint with WoW, Guild Wars, and Final Fantasy XI, I can tell you flat out that the market does not need another WoW clone.

I am sorely disappointed to hear that The Elder Scrolls Online is not being a bit more ambitious with its approach and attempting to change the face of MMOs as we know them. Why must every game attempt to replicate the success of WoW? Star Wars: The Old Republic was hailed as the game that was truly going to offer up something new, but I avoided that title on a hunch that it would be exactly like Wow, and I was right. The secret to WoW’s was success was that is was so different than anything on the market at the time and that attracted droves of people. It’s sad, but WoW has done for MMOs what Call of Duty did for shooters.

There’s a reason why those who don’t play WoW haven’t adopted it after all these years and simply creating a WoW clone certainly isn’t the way to draw them in.

Hopefully some of the yet-to-be seen features are true enough to the series to offset these massive turnoffs, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Now, if you don’t mind, I have some people to kill in Skyrim.

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