The Elder Scrolls Online may not even have a release date, but I’m already thinking about all the great pre-order bonuses that ZeniMax Online Studios may choose to include with the game. Will there be several editions to choose from? Faction-specific packaging? Bonuses for the first 1,000 orders? The possibilities are endless and exciting, and I thought today I would break down some of the possibilities I’d love to see once the inevitable pre-order is announced, as well as what kind of chance I think they have of actually seeing the light of day.
The first, and most important, item I simply MUST have included in my exclusive, ultimate, mega-fan, limited edition is a physical copy of the soundtrack. Jeremy Soule has been confirmed to be involved, and while we can’t be 100% sure that means he is composing the score, it does mean that it should be simply epic. If it’s anything close to the soundtracks he’s put together for previous Elder Scrolls games, it will be a CD set that doesn’t leave the stereo for months…
It’s likely that there will be digital pre-orders as well, as many games are doing these days, and in this case, I doubt we’ll see a digital version of the soundtrack. Only recently were all of Soule’s past Elder Scrolls works made available on iTunes, as he is one of many artists that still prefers the sound of physical CDs to digitally compressed files (and I can’t blame him). But that makes me think that if there is no physical version to pre-order, we may not get the soundtrack. But I’m convinced there will be a physical version, so don’t fret.
Another thing I’d love to see in a physical pre-order is faction-specific packaging. I’m thinking big and deluxe, like the World of Warcraft Collector’s Editions, but with your choice of artwork. If you’re hardcore Aldmeri Dominion, your box should be adorned with Queen Aryenn images or crests. If Nord blood runs through you, hopefully you can get a deluxe box brimming with Ebonheart charm. Sure these boxes take up space, but if they could be made to look like an artifact pulled directly from the faction’s archives, it would add to the immersion and excitement that much more.
Many games these days come with behind-the-scenes DVDs featuring documentaries with inside looks at how the game was made. There has never been a game I’ve wanted a behind-the-scenes DVD more for than ESO. I want an inside look at the developers testing ideas, trying out combat, character design, world design, and so much more. I can only hope there has been a secret documentary crew embedded in the ZOS studios all this time, and we’ll get a full-length documentary for being loyal pre-orderers.
Probability: HIGH (maybe not for the full-length documentary, but a documentary of some kind)
Another item I’d want to see included with a physical pre-order is a realistic, cloth type of map of Tamriel. It wouldn’t necessarily be super useful in navigating the world, but that’s not the point. The point would be to have a piece of Tamriel hidden safely in your desk, next to your Queen Aryenn collector’s box, to share with friends and help you get lost in the world. Although with something that epic, I might just frame it and put it above my computer.
Now let’s talk about digital pre-orders, or items that could be included in the game digitally for pre-ordering. Many games these days are offering incentives to players to jump in by offering experience boosts, increased gold find bonuses, or even increased crafting abilities right out of the gate. Defiance is a recent example of this, where if you pre-ordered on Steam or in a store you could get a variety of bonuses, including extra lock box space, XP boosts, and more. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about these. I don’t feel like ESO is a game that needs experience boosts, gold find boosts, or any other such enhancements that take away from a player’s need to explore the game. This is a game all about realism, practicing, and perfecting your combat/crafting. So I hope they don’t throw in any “increased XP for 30 days” types of things.
I don’t have any problem with increased storage capacity, or even in-game items. Lower level items aren’t going to make too much of an impact in PvP, but something like starting out with a bow (so you don’t have to search for one), or maybe a shield that has a couple slight buffs to it to begin with seems like a good incentive for some players to order early.
What I like even more than is the ability to unlock a special “pre-order skin” for your weapons and armor. For example, let’s say you and a friend are playing ESO together. You pre-ordered, he did not. You both venture out and at the same time find a one-handed sword that is not particularly interesting. But thanks to your pre-order, your sword glows, or shimmers, or has a special hilt that no one else will have unless they pre-ordered. It wouldn’t necessarily provide you any extra damage, but unless you’re willing to pony up and pre-order the game, there will be no other way to get these exclusive kinds of items.
The last item on the list is possible, but also unlikely. Simply because while this idea is certainly possible, there are a lot of back-end logistics and expenses that would go into play that I won’t even pretend to have all figured out. But what I want even more than any of the above items is a service provided only to pre-orderers, where you can have your in-game character created as a miniature statue. Other games have had this ability through various providers in the past, but not to my knowledge has it been available right at launch. But bear with me, I’m not suggesting you get your level one squishy Khajiit immortalized forever.
What I’m thinking here, is that when you pre-order the game, your account is embedded in a database somewhere. You play the game, taking as much or as little time as you want, and when you finally reach level 50, the database knows it. You are sent you an email asking if you’d like to have your character created in statue form. Your first character would be free (thanks to a more expensive, SUPER exclusive, ultimate, mega-fan, limited edition) but any additional characters would come at a price. You would have the opportunity to gear up your character however you wanted, based on items you had in your inventory, and then send it off to the company to be created. In a few short weeks, a statue of your hero appears that you can display in your home or office to show the world exactly how epic you are.
I’m sure there are a ton of complications with this idea, but certainly it could be done if ZOS wanted to. It would have to be a very open-ended system at first, because many players who hit level 50 aren’t done playing or exploring, so they may not have the gear they want forever displayed on their character yet. But the offer of a free statue would be there waiting for you until you were ready. I believe this service should also be made available to people who did not pre-order, but probably not until quite a while after launch, maybe 6-12 months down the road. And again, they won’t get the opportunity to have a free statue made.
I realize there may be third-party providers who pop up offering to create your statue (like in World of Warcraft), but this option would be the only “official” way to get the Bethesda and ZeniMax artists involved in the creation of your hero statue.
Well that’s it, some ideas I expect (or hope) to see as pre-order bonuses and some that probably won’t make it. What would you like to see bundled in with your pre-order? Share your thoughts below, let me know on Twitter, and stay tuned to Elder Scrolls Off the Record for all the latest.