The Elder Scrolls Online Might Be Your New Entry-Level MMO
Keeping PvP like PvE
TES Online’s PvE play seems to have a lot going for it to make it easy for Skyrim veterans to just jump into without much difficulty, and its PvP situation is geared toward making it easy for PvE players to get involved without a steep learning curve. Firor said that on the PvE side of the game, the enemies you run into won’t just be a random amalgamation of statistics — they’ll actually have character builds based on the character builds players can create for themselves. That means that when you kill skeletons or bandits in TES Online, you’ll be facing off against the kinds of characters you might see in player-vs.-player combat.
Firor also took a second to show a really short video of what PvP will look like. In a word: massive. We didn’t get much in the way of details, because the video lasted only a few seconds. In it, Firor showed us “hundreds” of characters racing toward each other across a field littered with ruins. He says that those PvP battles will operate a lot like PvE battles — you’ll be able to block enemies’ attacks and use your spells together with other players to create special effects — but they’ll also have their own elements.
Specifically, expect to see game types in which players siege castles. And those castles will have destructible walls. Firor didn’t get into too much detail beyond that tidbit, but what we saw was at least a lot of players on the screen at once, and that was exciting.
Going It Alone
Finally, perhaps the biggest enticement for players new to MMOs to take to TES Online is the fact that the “multiplayer” part is optional.
Firor mentioned that the main quest can be tackled alone, if players choose to approach it that way. He also mentioned the in-game compass, which is meant to help players find things to do. Like Skyrim, TES Online is going to provide you with plenty of things to do at any given moment, and you’re not necessarily going to need to stop by a quest hub in order to locate those possibilities. As you traverse the world on the way to finish a quest you already have, for example, the compass may pick up another possible quest and direct you to its starting point. At that moment, you can decide if you want to keep doing what you’re doing, or divert to the other location.
That’s going to provide lots of players with things to do while they’re out on their own, it seems, and while you can tackle those quests with pals, you don’t necessarily need to. Of course, there will be higher-level content that’s going to require players to band together. But it seems that, for the primary experience of TES Online, if you prefer to play alone, you’re welcome to do so.
Firor also showed us a moment during one quest in which a player-made choice had an effect on the course of the story unfolding. Players were able to choose what happened to a character — basically, choosing to save her or not — and that choice had ramifications further on. It provided new quests to play through, and that content might open up new avenues players wouldn’t have otherwise seen. The choices don’t seem as extensive as in SWTOR, for example, but there definitely is some engagement among players as to what happens to other characters and how you affect the world.
Drawing in the Non-MMO Crowd
All these features taken together seem to point toward a game that will appeal to players who haven’t been MMO fans up to now. It’s a bold strategy for TES Online, because while it opens the game up to more players, it may also offend players who like their MMOs to require a higher barrier of entry. A game that draws a bunch of MMO newbies in may cause MMO veterans some headache as their forced to deal with people who don’t know the meaning of phrases such as “DPS.”
But overall, it at least seems as though it’ll be easy to pick up TES Online, jump in with your friends (or not), and still get a social experience out of it. The question remains, however: Will it feel like The Elder Scrolls? Time will tell. I’ve analyzed what we saw in the demo (and its Skyrim-iness) in a companion piece: “Don’t Expect The Elder Scrolls Online to Feel Like a Skyrim MMO.” Check back for that tomorrow.