There is a very real and very strong emotion when someone says, “Elder Scrolls”. Crucially, we each feel something different. No two of us feel that same emotion. Elder Scrolls means something different to each and every one of us. We each have a very clear idea of what Elder Scrolls means to each of us. This also means that we each have different expectations regarding Elder Scrolls games.

For me, Elder Scrolls means very, very specific things. I strongly believe there exists a core in every Elder Scrolls game to date that remains true and present. Sure, certain mechanics like combat (one can look at the changes from Morrowind to Oblivion) and skills (one cannot help but observe the changes from Oblivion to Skyrim) may evolve over time, but for me, there has always been one inarguable truth.

Freedom.

This freedom, among the obvious exploration, means freedom to play exactly how I want and without compromise. This is an admittedly rigid and immovable stance. In truth, had these games not carried the “Elder Scrolls” name, I would be more lenient, but for me, Elder Scrolls games absolutely must adhere to this core principal.

On this, I will absolutely not compromise, for it is this very spark that makes these games feel “Elder Scrolls”.

I make no apologies for my stance. The Elder Scrolls Online appears to be missing that spark that is so precious to me. It is simply not there. It is because of this that I will not be playing this game. Yes, I am fully aware that my stance must seem very stubborn and will indeed frustrate scores of you. I do not apologize. I reiterate what I stated above: Elder Scrolls means something different to each and every one of us.

For many of you, your experience in the beta has been enough to convince you that this game will be incredible. In fact, I wish you no ill will. I genuinely hope that you will have a wonderful time playing Elder Scrolls Online. Elder Scrolls means something different to you – and that is not wrong. You have every right to enjoy a game, just like I have every right not to enjoy one.

The Elder Scrolls Online simply does not nail that core, it does not give me that spark. It is not enough for me to become captivated and play.

However, this is by no measure a bad thing. I would like to think that my inexperience with MMOs is actually an advantage. I am not influenced by MMO norms. I know exactly what I expect to see from Elder Scrolls games and I am unwavering my expectation. All of this leads me to a very firm realization.

I am happy.

This may seem puzzling to many of you, but on this matter, I speak my heart’s truth. Some of you may even want to tell me that I will somehow grow weary of the current Elder Scrolls offerings and will yearn for something more. As a leading authority on myself, I can assure you that will never happen.

I will never grow weary of the current games. I have sunk more than one thousand hours between Oblivion and Skyrim and have never had the same experience twice. Pause on that for a moment. I have never felt as though the games were lacking. Never. Not once. And I never will.

In fact, I feel as though I have just barely scratched the surface. My recent adventures in Morroblivion were enough to want me to give Morrowind another shot. I just created a Scout archetype in Oblivion and am having an absolute blast. I am using skills in tandem that I have never used before.

And you know what? It feels absolutely fantastic. There are so many possibilities in these single-player games left unexplored. I feel as if the world has just opened up to me, just tempting me to step outside and cross that horizon.

This is the honest truth I feel about Elder Scrolls. Elder Scrolls will always be single-player games for me. Even though the next game might be a few years off, I have absolutely no qualms about that.

Elder Scrolls means something completely different to each and every one of us. We each have completely different expectations and tolerances. I have so much left to do, so much left to explore, so much left to experience with these games that I simply don’t need an MMO just because it says “Elder Scrolls”.

I’m not done. Not even close.

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Avatar of Shank
Editor for Quest Gaming Network and Co-Host of Elder Scrolls off the Record and Totally Heroes. Shank loves massive open-world Western RPG's. He is known to wander aimlessly for hours and generally ignores quests. While he also likes First Person Shooters, he sucks pretty bad at them. His first priority in any game he plays is graphics - an importance which he will argue to the death. Follow him on Twitter @ShankThTank

14 Responses to “I’m Not Done. Not Even Close.” Subscribe

  1. Kensean January 23, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    Standing with you, my friend. No plans to play it, I’ll stick with the holy trinity of Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim.

  2. Auroness January 23, 2014 at 12:39 pm #
    Avatar of Auroness

    Years ago I was heavily involved in JRPGs and when I discovered that Final Fantasy XI would be MMO, I was heart broken. I was on dial-up and an MMO was out of my realm. I am disappointed I won’t be able to experience the story of TESO for different reasons, and I will have to wait 3 or 4 years for another Elder Scrolls game. On the other hand, I have yet to get a character to level 100, and there are miles and miles of unexplored territory still in Skyrim, not to mention all of the neat stuff underwater that only an Argonian will ever see. In Oblivion, I have never taken a vampire into Shivering Isles.

  3. Martin F. January 23, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    You make me realize why there’s such haters in many games and TESO haters are not so different. They love to downgrade games that they won’t be playing and games that doesn’t appeal to them. Rarely would someone tell me they hated Oblivion or Skyrim and those are players and friends who an RPG’s such as The Elder Scrolls series is not they’re thing. Those of us that have played countless hours in Skyrim loves the game as it is: A single-players RPG where the freedom of play styles is so openly large that anyone can do anything, anywhere, anyhow at any time. Nothing is linear in The Elder Scrolls while TES Online is somewhat linear. In MMO’s you generally level up from starter zone to end-game max lvl zones by following a certain path and quest line. Some people hate a game that isn’t what they expected or wish it was or could. And so maybe that is one of the reasons why there are so many people downgrading TESO because it is not their game they used to love.
    And so I completely understand you when you say that TESO is not the game for you because it is missing that freedom you so dearly love about TES series.

    I respect your opinion.

  4. moefoe January 24, 2014 at 12:09 am #

    Shank, I hope you don’t rule it out completely. Having the in game experiences with friends can be a blast. You could even have a group of followers and go on flower picking field trips.

  5. Cheesepleroma January 24, 2014 at 4:39 am #
    Avatar of Cheesepleroma

    I would say that if this was a similar game with a different title you’d be more willing to give it a few chances simply because your bro’s will be on it. Maybe you just really don’t like multiplayer games though. As for me, variety is the spice of life. I would buy an Angry Cliff Racers game if they made it, just because I love anything TES.

  6. Itan-Rus January 25, 2014 at 12:20 am #

    Cool, I would like to say that I did not see this coming, but I really dont feel like lieing right now. I totally support your decision shank. MMO’s are not something you just jump into and be a pro at or even feel comfortable with, especially not your first time, you have to learn the systems which takes time and patience, then you have to learn how to play with other people and how to pick up their slack, and to have 400 people next to you all trying to talk to papa quest giver is something so very alien to one only versed in the way of single player, to say it takes some getting used to is an understatement. but i hope you had a great time anyways :)

  7. shootyoureyeout January 25, 2014 at 8:12 am #
    Avatar of shootyoureyeout

    I have to second Moefoe. I am curious…..all obvious reasons aside (i.e. this is a TES podcast, the game is based on TES lore, etc.), would this game interest you at all if it was NOT promoted as an Elder Scrolls game? When I played the beta, I was hesitant, as my gameplay in TES games is very similar to yours and I don’t play MMO’s. So I chose to approach it from the mindset that this was an entirely different game, with no expectations that it would be anything like the single player game, and I ended up thinking it was fantastic. I would never ask or expect you to compromise, but I can’t help but wonder if one’s expectations were a hinderence. I viewed it as brand new experience, and I couldn’t be much more happy with it.

    • Shank January 25, 2014 at 3:01 pm #
      Avatar of Shank

      Thanks for your comment and question. “Elder Scrolls” name aside, it still wouldn’t interest me

      • shootyoureyeout January 25, 2014 at 8:00 pm #
        Avatar of shootyoureyeout

        More than fair enough. One million kudos to you for sticking to your guns & not compromising for anything! I feel pressure to like it due to it’s name, I can only imagine the pressure you must feel!

  8. Exadus January 25, 2014 at 2:41 pm #
    Avatar of Exadus

    The way I look at ESO is I finally get to travel across all of Tamriel in one game. It is something I always wished I could do in other Elder Scrolls games. Now I will be able to do that soon. I can’t wait.

  9. Some Guy January 26, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    I may or may not have been in a recent beta, but I can personally attest that if I HAD been, I would tell you about how I spent the entire weekend exploring every inch of the starting island, gaining experience just for discovering new places, and gathering flowers/mining ore to sell to another player, who used them for crafting items that he in turn sold to another player, who went to other areas to bring the items to market. Incentivized exploration and a free-market economy? I’m primarily a TES fan, but my theoretical experiences have left me feeling that the multiplayer aspects of TESO will not obstruct freedom, but actually enhance it in a way that single-player experiences can’t give you. The fact that it’s an online game just means that you have THAT MANY MORE ways to interact with people, real actual people who respond to you in a hundred unanticipated ways. This is why I believe ESO has the potential to be one of the greatest games ever developed.

  10. Bad english, no offense January 26, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    ESO zones with different and constant levels is ok for me, as long as i can step in these zones whenever i want, at level 1 for example. I dont care if i die by lvl 30 monsters, perhaps i could sneak, perhaps call some help, perhaps just gather special ingredients and return later, its great for me.
    But if zones is divided with uncrossable hills, rivers, seas, gates etc., because i have not appropriate level or quest, it take away my freedom. Its no good.
    I dont know how these zones would be divided in ZOS. Maybe these zones would be big enough in itself to feel free? I dont know.
    I have concerns too, but i try this game, i have to stay open for some new fun in my gaming, perhaps ZOS have it, i hope so.

  11. Maracas January 27, 2014 at 5:56 am #

    Shank i respect you man at least over nine thousand times. You are definately one of my highlights on elder scrolls off the record with your funny voice impersanations and ‘wandering’ playstyle. I am also an elder scrolls player who refuses to fast travel and i walk everywhere. It just makes the game so much better. I am only surprised that you have already ruled out the possibility of even trying out ESO before it even comes out. I know that Elder Scrolls were and always will be hailed as some of the best single player open world role playing games ever and I honestly do think its a bit of an odd move to make it into a multiplayer title. I just think that we should give it a go, you and me. I was and still am quite hesitant about trying out a multiplayer game that’s branded ‘elder scrolls’ as it might not have the elder scrolls touch of ‘freedom’ and ‘intricate stories’ but i still think that we (and anyway else that feels this way) should give the new game a go. Then at least if we dont like it then we can take it back and continue playing Skryim and Obliviion. All i think is that at least you should give it a go but if you really still want to stick to your guns then i respect you none the less
    P.S if you have already played the beta and do not like ESO then please disregard everything i just said :P

  12. Mrwhitepantz February 5, 2014 at 1:56 pm #
    Avatar of Mrwhitepantz

    Good on you for sticking with to your guns, there’s nothing wrong with not enjoying a game, just like there’s nothing wrong with enjoying it. I find it amusing that, like you, I appreciate the great amount of freedom that is offered in the Elder Scrolls universe, but I feel differently about the single player versus mmo games.

    I have hundreds of hours between morrowind/oblivion/skyrim, and I still think they are fantastic, although recently I’ve noticed certain limitations that I haven’t yet noticed in ESO. For example, trying to make a Heavy armor-archer class is rather difficult thus far in the single player games, because overall bows are fairly weak, so most of your damage comes from sneaking/poisons. I am hoping with the way skills work in ESO, more damage will come from the bow and arrow skill line and the bow itself, rather than sneak bonuses.

    In some ways I think both are limiting, but both are very free as well, especially when compared to other rpgs.

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