— Pete Hines (@DCDeacon) June 5, 2013
This single tweet made me very excited. Why? Well two reasons really. For one, Pete Hines took the time out from his busy day to read my open letter to ZOS. More importantly, this told me that ZOS – all of Bethesda really – were listening to their fan base. Furthermore, this indicates that ZOS is very aware of their player base, a large portion of which are players who grew up playing the Elder Scrolls on a console – like me.
And then last week happened. You know, perhaps the most exciting news for any Elder Scrolls fan? Yeah, this news. During the Sony presser last week, it was announced that Elder Scrolls Online will be coming to next gen consoles. You can only imagine my excitement. In fact, I jumped off my couch, cheered, ran around my living room like a maniac, and then promptly texted Bradford and Brian who were both at E3.
To many of you MMO veterans, this may not be newsworthy at all. And you have every right to feel so, mostly because MMOs have primarily been on PC. But, we must all remember, this game is an Elder Scrolls game first and an MMO second. It has a gargantuan task of appealing to not only the MMO veterans, but also the TES veterans, many of which are console players.
As a fan who grew to love these games on console first, this is massive news. More than anything, this broadens the audience and allows ZOS to appeal to a LOT more players than before. Now, “broadening the audience” shouldn’t be taken as “dumbing down the game” (more on this in a second). It literally means that more players will be able to play the game – which is a good thing!
Don’t have a PC or Mac? Don’t worry! You’ll be able to play this game if you have a console! Just think about that for a second. ZOS has just potentially tripled their player base by coming to console. That’s three times as many players that can enjoy this game now, three times as many players can have fun wandering around Tamriel without feeling alienated because they don’t have a computer to play on. This is huge.
Remember that “dumbing down” thing I mentioned earlier? Yeah, that’s not going to happen, and here’s why. ZOS has repeatedly stated that because Elder Scrolls Online is coming to console, some UI changes will have to be made to accommodate the gamepads on the Xbox One and PS4. This is to be expected. Of course a keyboard+mouse will control differently than a gamepad, that’s just obvious. This means that the menus, etc will be tweaked to take advantage of the respective input method. Again, this is a good thing. There is nothing more frustrating than enjoying a game, only to be slowed down by unoptimized UI, regardless of your input method of choice.
Because it bears repeating, I will state once again that this does not mean that the game will be “dumbed down”. The console players will be playing against players who use a gamepad, thus leveling the field for their platform. Will they have just as much fun as the PC guys? No question. Will they waste countless hours of their lives in Tamriel like the PC guys? Absolutely. Will they be playing the same game as the PC players? Most definitely. There is no “dumbing down”. End of discussion.
Now, a lot of you – no seriously, a LOT of you – have been asking me which platform I will play on. I can say that without a shadow of a doubt, I will buy this game on my PS4. Why? For one simple reason – gamepad. “Aha, but Shank”, you exclaim, “ZOS said via Twitter and other interviews that you can use third party button mapping software to utilize a gamepad!”
This is statement is 100% true, no denying that. But remember what was mentioned above: the UI for this game will be unique to the platform on which it’s played. This means that even if I play this game on PC with a gamepad via button mapping software, the UI will be optimized for a keyboard+mouse – not my gamepad. This is exactly the reason why even though I have button mapping software for Oblivion, I went back to play it on my Xbox. Which brings me back to the whole “it’s not fun playing with unoptimized UI” argument.
Secondly, as I’ve mentioned many times before, I grew to love these games on consoles – even Skyrim (which, by the way, has gamepad support on PC). Elder Scrolls and consoles go together for me. It’s where I first learned about Tamriel. I need my gamepad. It’s just that simple.
Also, many of you have mentioned to me that if I buy this game on PS4, I won’t be able to play on the ESOTR guild. Again, this is completely true. But, remember that I am a newb to MMOs. I have only ever experienced the beauty of the single-player games. Remember also that Elder Scrolls Online can be played solo – a MAJOR win for players like me. I know that I will definitely be playing this game solo for that classic Elder Scrolls feel. It will be me versus Tamriel, just like old times.
I realize that my opinion is not very popular among the community, and I understand that. I come form a very different background and have very different tastes – very extreme tastes considering my playstyle.
But…isn’t that precisely why Elder Scrolls has been so hugely successful? It appeals to players of all play styles. And that’s exactly what ZOS is aiming to deliver on, that promise of “anyone can play this game however he wants to”.
I couldn’t be more excited.
Shadow hide you.