My fears for The Elder Scrolls Online.

Tamriels darkest age is drawing ever closer, daring, dedicated heroes are needed more than ever. But a feeling of disquiet has stolen over this loyal daughter of Skyrim. What if Bethesda’s upcoming MMORPG episode of their wondrous Elder Scrolls Saga turns out to be just another MMO? What if…

* They have decided to make “their” World of Warcraft? Don’t get me wrong here. I love WoW, it’s immense, consuming, and fun. But no Elder Scrolls game has ever been similar to any Warcraft game. They play differently, they look different, they feel utterly different. But every single MMO since WoW has tried to make “their” WoW and failed. Often horrifically. My hope is that this MMO Elder Scrolls will feel more like Skyrim, with extra player characters wandering around.

* I. Stand. Alone! One of my favourite aspects of the Elder Scrolls games is that, of late at least, you can have companions, but you don’t have to. If you want to you can stand completely alone. You, your skills, and the enemy. I love this aspect. Yes, sure once in a while I wish for the ability to share my adventures with my friends; but over all I want, no I need to stand alone.  I hope that Bethesda have kept this aspect of their series in mind while they designed their new game. I may choose to team up with others sometimes; but I want to be able to solo everything as well. (Insert shameful, but much loved earwig)

* That Glorious Music. So, dearest reader, would you like to know how I play most video games? Well what would you think if I told you, in total silence. I generally do not have sound in my games. I find most game soundtrack distracting, and most game sound effects infuriating beyond belief. There are very few exceptions to this, Borderlands 1 & 2, Dragon Age: Origins, and The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and Skyrim. The sound, and music in the last two Elder Scrolls episodes have been nothing short of glorious. I just hope that in the inevitable rush to get Elder Scrolls Online out to the public that Bethesda  don’t let their perfect track record tumble down.

(Homework: Listen to the entire of the clip below. This is all three opening themes from the last three games. Bethesda if someone is reading this, you listen extra hard sonny-jim.)

* Criminality. It’s so easy to  become a criminal in Oblivion or Skyrim. All you have to do is have a finger slip, and whoops the entire town are out for your criminal blood. That said, it’s even more fun to do it on purpose. To rob every last character in the game blind. To become the death that creeps in the night. Or just the best/worst horse thief to ever walk the land of Tamriel. Elder Scrolls Online will lose something special about it’s predecessors if this is not included in this latest part.

* Dragons, Shouts, Vampirism, Lycanthropy and Dungeons everywhere.  Dragons are just awesome, and awe inspiring when you see them. They’re huge, dangerous, kind of random and deadly; and Bethesda got them exactly right. You can and do run in to dragons randomly, fire/frost breathing mountains of reptile flesh that bears down on you out of frikking nowhere. I hope that they’re much the same in the new Online format.

Shouts made for an interesting addition to the magical segment of Skyrim. And again represent something which would be a true loss if they were removed from the online game. Obviously they should only be available to Nords. And only after that Nord works her ass off finding, and developing the skills needed.

The curses of Vampirism, and Lycanthropy really need to always be a part of any Elder Scrolls game. I know people who immediately start looking for a vampire when they play, just so they can spend the game as one; complete with all the advantages and disadvantages this entails. And with Skyrim, ditto werewolves. They add an immensely entertaining, and enjoyable extra layer of game play to this series. So it would be a shame to see them left out of the Online experience.

And finally dungeons need to be frikking everywhere; and I do mean everywhere. Part of the joy of the last two games in particular has been the fact that you stumble on dungeons left, right and center. Not just a generic dungeon type either; but dungeons of every type imaginable.

Don’t feel like wandering the world? Find a hole in the ground and explore it.

Don’t feel like a hole in the ground experience? Raid a crypt filled with the undead.

Don’t feel like that? How about a day of hunting mammoths/wolves/bears/your fellow humanoids.

The greatest joy of the Elder Scrolls Saga, lately especially, is that you can do anything in this world. You can cook, you can make a home, get married, hunt, make new and better equipment, you can explore for hours, delve in to dungeons that take anything from 5 minutes, to hours to complete. It’s joy is the sheer flexibility of the games, and how that flexibility translates in to fun.

And that leads to my greatest fear.

* This kills off the Elder Scrolls. No matter what, the Online experience will not be precisely what we expect from an Elder Scrolls game. It may be close, or it may be so far away from what we’ve come to expect that it leaves us totally disheartened. I honestly see Elder Scrolls Online as a bold, and potentially dangerous experiment by Bethesda. If it’s successful, if it’s well received, and well loved by long established Scrolls fans, like myself, it will be a blinding success. But if it drifts too far from what we expect from the Elder Scrolls…it could end in absolute disaster.

But regardless of how it ends up, right now, I am holding all judgement until I’ve played it, and I can’t wait to get my greedy hands on the latest installment of my favourite fantasy role playing game series of all time.

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