There has been a lot made in the far corners of the internet about whether the recent Elder Scrolls Online “The Alliances Cinematic Trailer” trailer depicts a true “Elder Scrolls” world. I read an article by Forbes Magazine online (which we all know to be the ultimate in video game journalism) that called it “devoid of content”, a “terrible trailer”, and that it had no sense of character or plot, and no dialogue… Additionally, the writer said, “I certainly wasn’t seeing the world of Tamriel as I know it.”
I’m not sure what these guys were expecting from an early trailer for a video game. This is certainly not the first game to use cinematics to hype up its game, as games like the Madden football series, StarCraft, and Call of Duty have all implored the technique. And to be upset that it had no dialogue… I’ll pass along a note to the folks at ZeniMax Online Studios to give the writers for General Hospital a call. I’m sure they can work up a nice little story for ya.
The only thing I’ll maybe give the writer a little credit for is wondering if this world really was Tamriel. It looked more fantastical, more gritty, and maybe even more dark than we’ve ever seen it. But what makes an Elder Scrolls game truly “Elder Scrolls?” What is it about Skyrim that makes it clear it is part of the famed series? What will The Elder Scrolls Online need to have in order to fit nicely into the Bethesda catalog? For all those out there hating on this game (there honestly aren’t that many, they’re just vocal), I’m going to argue that what we’ve seen so far, and what we know already, indicates this game will have everything required in order to be considered a true Elder Scrolls experience.
History and Lore
First and foremost, an Elder Scrolls game must be rich with history and lore. Considering that this game is set in a time where a lot of the lore we read about in other Elder Scrolls games is created, this should be a slam dunk. This game will MAKE Tamriel history, in addition to drawing off of Bethesda’s massive library of history that has already been established. It will be the first time we’ve gone back in time rather than progressing, but it also gives ZeniMax an opportunity to expand on some of the lore we’ve learned from previous games, so chances are, the storylines will be epic, and familiar. We don’t have to worry about getting something like the Star Wars prequels, where the technology seemed far and away more advanced than what was already established in the original trilogy. ZeniMax is clearly recreating the world of Tamriel as we already know it, but everything we’ve seen so far indicates they’ve taken care to make sure it looks appropriate in the timeline.
Freedom, and Lots of It
In Skyrim, Bethesda took the idea of being free to play the game any way you wanted and took it further than we’ve ever seen. ZeniMax has promised the same kind of flexibility for Elder Scrolls Online, and it’s no more evident than in a players’ ability to play any race, any class, and with any weapon they want. Some may argue that this deflates the importance of having classes, or of creating a variety of characters, but I disagree. To me, this approach will ensure players come back time and time again, because even if you’ve made 10 Nord characters, it’s possible you’ll have 10 different builds. And that’s just for one race! It may take years for a player to discover exactly what combination of race, class, weapon, and armor makes them the ultimate hero. When I think “Elder Scrolls,” I think freedom, and Elder Scrolls Online will surely fit this description.
The first thing I did in both Oblivion and Skyrim, after I felt I’d wandered and explored enough, was play through the Thieves Guilds. Both games presented some of the best storylines, the most exciting gameplay, and some of the best quests available in this guild. They were arguably even better than the “main” quests. The fact that ZeniMax will have guilds (the Dark Brotherhood, Fighter’s, Mage’s, and Thieves Guilds have been confirmed), gives me high hopes that this game will feel completely authentic. Guilds provide extra quests, stories, weapons, armor sets, spells, and NPCs, which makes sticking to just the “main” quest a big mistake. So even without seeing any gameplay, this game is already “Elder Scrolls” just because of the ability to play through these quest chains.
Weapons and Armor
One of the things I’ve always loved about Elder Scrolls games are the variety of weapons and armor sets available. Whether it’s a variety of swords, different spells that perform amazing attacks on enemies, magical armor, or specific armor sets and weapons you can only get through guild progression, Elder Scrolls games have always provided many different ways to make your character the hero. We already know that ZeniMax is dumping a huge amount of weapons and armor into the game, so much that you shouldn’t have to worry about looking too similar to another player. And since any character can equip any item, you won’t be locked into certain kinds of items.
These are just a few of the pieces required to make an Elder Scrolls game. I didn’t even have room to get into the music, the side quests, the scenery, the accessibility, the devotion to the single player experience, or the humor. But trust me, with Bethesda having a hand in the development of this game, we have nothing to fear. The Elder Scrolls Online will be built from the ground up as the ultimate Tamriel. Whether or not this most recent trailer looks exactly like the finished product’s gameplay is ridiculous to worry about. Games rarely match its cinematics, as they’re just that, a cinematic preview. They’re designed to draw you in, get you excited about the game, and maybe attract some people who have never even heard about The Elder Scrolls before. If you’re upset because a six minute trailer has no dialogue, or if you don’t get or understand the story (there WAS a story in the video, by the way), then I’m not sure how to help you. Other than to assure you that everything we’ve seen so far indicates pure “Elder Scrolls.” It’s just the first time The Elder Scrolls has been presented to us in a multiplayer format, so naturally, things will be a little different. But at the end of the day, the history and lore, the freedom, the guilds, and the variety of weapons and armor are enough to prove that this is “Elder Scrolls,” through and through.
And I can’t wait to play it.
[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://mymiddleearth.com/wp-content/uploads/avatars/2330/209800074bd5c82316e83f77e0d73de4-bpfull.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]SilentFury writes for The Quest Gaming Network, rips it up in Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, and accepts Steam bucks as bribes. You can follow him on Twitter at silentfury007, and read all his work here: @silentfury007.[/author_info] [/author]