With The Elder Scrolls Online coming out this year, I’ve been getting really excited at the possibilities of what this game could bring. With the promise of freedom, epic scale, and combat that feels like an Elder Scrolls game, ESO has a chance to be a truly revolutionary game. I’m not saying I know for sure they’re doing everything right, because to be honest, I don’t know enough about the MMO genre to know what needs fixing and what should be left alone. But what I do know are a few things that have largely kept me away from MMOs with the rare exception here and there. And I think if ESO is going to work not only as an MMO, but as the next big single player Elder Scrolls game, I think it will largely be the job of the players to make this a new experience.
Let me explain. I feel like I’ve shyed away from MMOs all these years because I simply don’t have the time to invest in these games that are needed to really get the full experience. Playing nonstop to reach max level and then entering “end game” content, raids, war zones, etc, has just been too overwhelming for a guy who is lucky if he gets to play 10 hours in a week. So for me to expect to be able to hop into an MMO expecting to get to experience everything before they shut down the servers someday is just ludicrous.
So here is my plea to fellow players – as well as ZOS. Let’s make ESO something different. I shouldn’t be forced to play in ways I don’t want to just to experience everything this game has to offer. I don’t want to shy away from a certain aspect of the game because I know I will get ripped by other players for not playing it “right.” This is my game, just as much as yours, and I won’t stand for being told how to play.
So there are three rules I have I want everyone to abide by, and if you do, we’ll all get along just fine.
First of all, please don’t refer to my character as a “toon.” This has commonly been used in place of the word “character,” and I can’t stand it. Maybe it was accurate in a game like World of Warcraft, which had a cartoony feel to it, but I think it does a disservice to our future characters in ESO. This is largely an issue the player base must address, but ZOS can do its part by never using the word, and maybe even try coming up with something else that hopefully catches on.
When I hear my character referred to as a “toon” I am instantly taken out of the game and think how stupid that sounds. It makes me want to put the game away because all of a sudden I feel like I’m playing a silly child’s game. Maybe it’s petty, but my characters in Skyrim are not “toons.” They are heroes (or villains), and I will refer to my ESO characters in the same way. I hope you’ll join me.
Secondly, and this has been a hot topic over the last couple months, but I hope raids don’t become the only way to “truly experience the end game.” I used to listen to my friends talk about their “raid nights” in World of Warcraft and realized just how stupid this sounded. Let me get this straight. You have to show up at a certain time every few nights and play this one part of the game over and over and over again, and if you don’t show up or perform well you can get kicked out of your guild? I thought this was a game?
I understand the appeal of getting together with a large number of friends to take on a big boss and snatch up a bunch of great loot, really I do. But when it becomes more of a job than a game, that’s when you lose me. I used to listen to these friends screaming at their guild mates to back up, move forward, heal them, etc, and it baffled me how anyone could find that fun. It’s my opinion, yes, but if ESO turns into an experience of clocking in at 8 PM every Tuesday and Thursday with performance evaluations and TPS reports…. Sorry, I’m out.
So don’t tell me I have to raid in order to get everything out of this game, or at least, if I DO have to raid, don’t scream at me if I’m not playing the way you think I should be. Don’t get me wrong, I know we’ll need to work together in not only raids, but PvP as well, and I’m down with that. But just because you have a million hours in the game and think you know everything, that doesn’t mean you actually do.
Finally, and it’s pretty similar to rule number 2, don’t tell me I’m doing something wrong. The limited time I have spent in MMOs has been marred by people telling me my build is wrong or I have the wrong offensive buffs or I need to use a different set of armor or I need to choose different perks… Just stop! Again, this is my game, not yours, and if I want to be a sneaky Dunmer wearing heavy armor wielding a cat for a weapon, that’s what I’m going to do! We hear a lot that it won’t matter in this game what your build is, because you can make anything work. But that won’t stop the hardcore MMO players from telling me I’m doing it wrong. Some people just can’t help but tell you how much more they know about a game than you, and will jump at the opportunity to criticize you for wearing the wrong amulet.
I feel like I’ve been yelling at you all for the last few minutes, and if you feel that way as well, I apologize. I’m really just trying to get out in words why MMOs have never worked for me in the past. But the good news is I really believe this will be the MMO I stick with, and there’s several reasons why.
First of all, it’s not truly an MMO, at least not how we currently know them. It’s as close to an MMO/single player mashup as we’ve seen, so there’s reason to be excited. Additionally, ZeniMax knows their audience. They know they need to capture the Elder Scrolls fans first and foremost, as they are the base that will either make or break this game. If we’re not happy, the game will fail. So knowing their target audience should help them make the right call in tough design decisions.
I am really optimistic about this game, and even if you are a hardcore MMO player I believe this game will work for you, too. It’s got everything you expect in being be to build your character, but offers more customization in that build than we’ve ever seen. There WILL be raids for you, and there WILL be end game content for you to plow through nightly. And I hope we can get along and I’ll join you on some of those adventures. Even if I never play a single raid, I am confident ZOS is going to have plenty to keep me occupied, so even though I was pretty negative today, I think we’ll all get along just fine.
Just don’t ever refer to me as a toon…