The Elder Scrolls is one of the most loved RPG series of all time. In May 2012, less than half a year after the release of the series’ fifth instalment Skyrim, the development of a new MMO was announced.
The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) has been in development since 2007 and has many features that will appeal to its already massive fan base. In terms of gameplay, the system won’t change much from those that Skyrim already sports, but for the first time in an Elder Scrolls game, all nine provinces of Tamriel will be accessible. Players will be able to choose from three different plot lines depending on the race they choose, with each play-through reportedly giving as much as 150 hours of gameplay.
After players reach level 10, Cyrodil, the province that hosted the series’ fourth game Oblivion will open up to allow player versus player combat. However, with three separate story lines, going into PvP isn’t essential for everyone, but for the most exhaustive of players, giving many options – no matter what your style is.
One of the most contentious issues for TESO will be the cost. The game will be available on PC, Mac, PS4 and Xbox One and all expect the £40 game cost plus an £8.99 per month fee subscription. On top of that, for Xbox One gamers, there is the need for Xbox Live to play online (PS4 doesn’t require a PSN subscription).
The only MMO that has been able to sustain its subscription is the somewhat infamous World of Warcraft. Meanwhile, many other recent popular MMO’s, such as Lord of the Rings Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic Online were forced to drop their subscription fees early in the game’s cycle to continue to keep player numbers up. This then will led to Bethesda and ZeniMax’s questioning rationality of charging users, particularly as the game itself is so expensive to begin with.
In general, there are a lot of things to like about MMO’s — far bigger quest lines and world area to play and explore compared to offline RPG’s, as well as having dedicated servers to enjoy gaming socially. The problem developers like ZeniMax will have, is being able to produce consistent high budget games while providing ongoing incentives for users who pay the subscription fees.
Even though maintaining subscription fees has been a cumbersome task for developers, there are games that have overcome it and exist with very long life cycles. To name a couple of these games: WoW, since 2004; and RuneScape, since 2001.
Online RPG’s then are still very popular and have huge potential to be great games, whether The Elder Scrolls Online will be one such game though, only time will tell.
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