As seems to be the trend with most RPG franchises, Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls is going to become an MMO. It is currently being developed by Bethesda and Zenimax Online Studios and is set to release sometime in 2013. The MMO will be offering all of the danger, heroism and stunning scenery as past games, but this time you’ll be able to adventure across Tamriel alongside your friends as you save the world yet again from a wayward Daedric Prince bent on destroying Tamriel as we know it. We’re expected to hear more at this year’s E3 – so we look forward to that.
Ok, but what do we think? Well, frankly, I’m sad. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against MMOs, but we are losing an amazing franchise. If history teaches us anything, it has taught us that an MMO is the final evolution of an RPG franchise and is, to date, it’s ultimate demise. Has anyone seen WarCraft 4? Nope, never made. How much fun did we all have playing Knights of the Old Republic 3? Oh yeah, it went MMO, too.
Like I said, I have nothing against MMOs – I just miss the games that they replaced. The real problem with an MMO is that it omits or downright ignores the element that makes an RPG great – story. You can’t have a story attached to an MMO – or at least a story that anyone cares about or a story that makes any sense. The issue: stories have an end – MMOs cannot. It’s a fundamental flaw in thinking a story driven RPG will work as an MMO. No story can go on forever. Eventually, the audience will want some closure, will want to know how it all ends. As an MMO has no end, you have no goals. Some will say, “Yes, you do have goals!” Response: Oh really? To level up? To be really good at PvP? Ok, I suppose those are technically goals, but what goals or objectives are there in the story? Do your actions have an impact on the ending? Oh yeah, there isn’t one, so no – you’re actions are pointless.
I really don’t have anything against MMOs, if only they’d be called what they are: A multiplayer variant of their single player counterparts that are set in the game world, but have no story and no end. They are purely designed for PvP. Which is fine, but if I’m playing PvP, I’m playing an FPS, since I don’t have time to level up a character for days on end before I can actually succeed.
It seems like the most recent MMO, The Old Republic, had the same claims that The Elder Scrolls Online has made: it’s a completely new way to play an MMO. No grinding, all story driven, etc. But, is that the case? Well, it’s different, but not new. So you’ve replaced grinding with missions, but to what end? Is the galaxy in The Old Republic closer to being saved or conquered? No, because there is no end to the game! And I’m apparently not alone in this thinking, as we’re seeing SWtoR server population decreasing already.
An MMO can work, but it’s going to take some serious thought and a lot of input by gamers. The current formula, which we all know is based on WoW, simply isn’t working anymore. Personally, I think we’re going to see a lot more co-op multiplayer like we did in Mass Effect 3. With that in mind, why doesn’t a game developer come out with a co-op RPG? Imagine getting to play through Skyrim with a few of your friends battling by your side? You get multiplayer, you get a story – win! That’s a game I would play.
For now, we’ll have to wait and see if The Elder Scrolls Online is anything special, or is just another RPG turned MMO. I guess time will tell.
Image Credit: Bethesda, Zenimax Online Studios