I’ve spent most of my gaming career trying to avoid MMO’s after reading horror stories of people’s lives being ruined by their addiction to them. I had dipped my toe into WoW and Eve Online briefly but felt the tug of “just another hour”, realised it was 4am in the morning and decided it wasn’t a good thing, didn’t log in again.
In 2012, that all changed with the announcement that The Elder Scrolls Series was going on-line and Zenimax Studios, a subsidiary of Bethesda was at the helm. I had been a big Elder Scrolls fan since Oblivion and the chance that this world, “Tamriel”, that I loved visiting was going to be a persistent one that I could visit anytime appealed greatly.
The Elder Scrolls are to me, the Dungeon Crawler series that I always wanted to play since reading Tolkien and being obsessed with the Ian Livingstone & Steve Jackson Fighting Fantasy growing up.
The Elder Scrolls have deep complex dungeons with loot, monsters and various weapons to collect and use. Quest lines were interesting and the same with the characters that you encounter on your travels. Graphics were cutting edge and it was always exciting to see what they would do with each next instalment to improve on the last.
Every Elder Scrolls player was on the Skyrim come down when the news of the Elder Scrolls Online was announced. It was met with a very split reaction when it was released two years later. It came down to the simple fact that players wanted more of the same Skyrim experience on-line, nothing else would suffice.
Zenimax was faced with how to make that a reality and hit the pitfalls of handling thousands of simultaneous players on their servers. Quests were criticised for being very weak with mundane actions such as putting out fires and there was a serious amount of bugs.
All this amounted to a very “Not Skyrim” experience and Players were logging off and in their droves. Skyrim was a Polished offering with a solid story line that was engaging and fun to play through and ESOL did not live up to that same standard.
Now moving forward to 2016 ESOL has come along way. It has survived its infancy and has millions of players on all formats. ESOL won best MMO 2015 from MMORPG.com and has picked up numerous awards. All in all this is quite the turn around for a game that looked destined to fail. Zenimax worked hard with the community to address bugs add new mechanics and create better more engaging story lines. Their Mega servers were hosting giant PvP battles consisting of hundreds of players and cut out a niche’ in the MMO market that set them apart and has ensured their survival.
The Elder Scrolls community is passionate, fun and most of all fully immersed in the lore of Tamriel. It’s becoming the world that I wanted all those years back, it’s still not quite Skyrim but in some ways it surpasses it.