Some might be wondering what will shift my stance from cautious to hopeful when it concerns The Elder Scrolls Online since it has admittedly been the first fantasy MMO, let alone MMO in general, that has actually garnered a real interest in me and I have actually decided I wanted to beta in a long time. Well that’s a complicated question, but I think it deserves a few bits of analyzing.
First thing on that list, for me at least, will be open world that isn’t locked down. This is a bit of a loaded response, of course, because it’s hard to gauge this one. But to put it basically I want to explore and I want to roam at my leisure, not to have overt or covert barriers in my way preventing me from doing that. Most MMOs have covert barriers, usually through artificial level stigmas or just enemies that are flat out impossible because you don’t meet an imaginary toughness rating. Some games have a very overt barrier as in things are just plain locked out to you until you actually hit that level or do something special. I want to be able to wander about and explore, and that is very important to me. And artificial barriers don’t help my view either. If I see an interesting creek down in a valley, for instance, I don’t want to run towards it only to meet the world wall and be told I can’t go on. That is frustrating in and of itself. While Zenimax and Bethesda are promising a huge world, I am remaining reserved there.
Second thing that is important is my immersion factor. I like to RP, in fact I think I can say that is the one thing that has been killing my enjoyment of MMOs lately, is there is no way to feel a part of the world itself and thus my desire to RP in it is diminished greatly. Part of this stems from the fact of feeling like I am just being led by the nose from point A to point B, giving me no chance to break from the tired and worn path and look around for myself. In short if I am following the same path that someone else just beat down not more than five minutes ago then it’s already ripping out my immersion. But also offering me the chance to become the character I create in the world is also a huge step in that direction. This is something a lot of MMOs these days also don’t offer, because you are still in their very tight and limited story. If I see a cave I want to explore it, being told I can’t just kills it for me. Again, Bethesda and Zenimax are promising a lot in this case, but it is something that has caught my eye. RP for me isn’t always hanging out at the local tavern and conversing because I just can’t stand sitting around doing nothing all the time, but actually integrating events going on as a part of my character to. So this is a big part for me.
Third; the freedom to play my way is very important to me. Regardless of what people will tell you of current generation MMOs that have recently come out, there is very little choice or options on ways to play your character in those games. Once the dust begins to settle and people start figuring out how things work, stats, builds and gear all start floating towards a singular point. There is no denying this fact, even in TSW specs, gear and abilities are already doing this. People denying this are just purposely being blind and obtuse. The concept, right now, of me being able to play a rogue that can tank it up, or cast spells or range or really a lot of things has caught my interest a lot. My character concept before has always been sort of roguish, but because of the lack of utility and playing my way that current MMOs offer, I was often left being more of a warrior character just to fill in that tank role. These are things that matter to me and I want to have the option to be sneaky one moment or just go all out smash the next or just blast people in the face with fireballs or heal others when I want to.
Fourth, crafting has to mean something to. This is something I think all current generation MMOs have missed on greatly. Crafting has been more or less shuffled off to a basic after thought in the current MMO climate and it leaves much to be desired. As I’ve stated elsewhere, my biggest memories of MMO times don’t always come from the dungeons I go through or how many people I beat down in PvP, but just hanging around in a local town and creating things for others that want it. In UO, I use to hang around Brit forge just either making weapons and armor or repairing gear for people. I built up a small reputation based on that even, and when I wasn’t there I would run a shop that sold fairly well. I would love to be able to do stuff like that again, to just sit and relax some days and converse with people while making stuff. In short I hate being idle just to be idle, I like to actually be doing things while socializing.
Fifth, the team based game play actually has to be strong and engaging. I am a team player when I am not socializing or forging. Solo play can be fun but tends to get dull. In a game that emphasizes that socializing and teaming are key points, having the game mostly being soloable just doesn’t cut it for me. It harkens back to those D&D table top days for me of friends gathering around exploring dungeons and what not. This doesn’t mean that it requires the holy trinity, though that does help, but people should be able to fill in those roles they enjoy, and I want to know that the content is challenging and engaging. I think the major problem people have with the trinity is that it just makes them think the content is all tank and spank, which is dull. But if the content itself offers greater challenge for the team as a whole, not just a simple tank and spank mechanic, then it goes a long way in enforcing those roles, not taking away from them.
Finally, the game play has to be balanced. I don’t mean every class has to be the same but there needs to be a way to counter things so one spec or build doesn’t rule them all. This is a trap that many MMOs fall into, which leads up to my above statement that despite all the work and claims of people saying choice matters, in the end certain specs, abilities and gear just end up trumping out in the end. Things need to be balanced so that everything is viable in its way to allow for all play styles those chances. This goes for PvE and PvP. Changing tactics is smart, but changing builds because I am planning to do one thing or another isn’t. I shouldn’t have to require a specific build for PvP or PvE I should be just as viable at both as long as I can use my abilities and skills smartly.
These are some of the things that would need to be looked at for me, it’s not a completely comprehensive list, of course, but it’s a start. I won’t lie and say that the fact I can make a werewolf character, something most games haven’t really offered before, hasn’t caught my eye either. In fact, it was the first question I asked. My interest wasn’t that high when they said no, but now that they’ve been saying yes you can, it has actually intrigued me more. It’s a wait and see in the end, but I am trying to keep my expectations grounded until I learn more information. I haven’t really cared for most MMOs these days because of how static and linear they are and they fall into the basic MMO traps.
Anyways, leave comments if you can. And as a side note, despite me saying I would never start one again, I decided to anyways. I am forming a guild for TESO in the Ebonheart Pact, currently; The Black Wolves on Guild Launch. Ebonheart being my most logical choice because I actually like the Nord and I really hate elves, and I’ve always hated elves since I first saw them in D&D; a clichéd race as any. Guilds aimed at being a bit more tight knit this time, not aiming to be a huge guild, focused more on small team and skirmishes. And definitely for the RP. If you want to join you can check out the application, or if you just want to chat on those forums, you are more than welcome to.