The internet is abuzz with the news that the world’s worst kept secret – Elder Scrolls Online – will finally be revealed in this month’s Game Informer. Sure, we know that the domain elderscrollsonline.com was bought umpteen years ago, and seen the various public recruitment ads from ZeniMax Online, but we still don’t know what they’ve been doing all this time.
The scant information published today suggests that the new game will take place a thousand years before Skyrim, back in the Second Era when Oblivion‘s antagonist Molag Bal was on the rampage. From the teaser cover, it looks as though the whole realm of Tamriel will be included, and the article indicates that three main factions will be involved – the player joins one of these for PvP battles.
Check out Game Informer‘s hub tomorrow for trailers and further news, but in the meantime, here is my personal wishlist for Elder Scrolls Online:
1. Player vs Environment Gameplay
Hell is other people, and there’s no domain more hellish than being stuck on some server with a smartmouthed 13 year-old camping on your spawn point. One of the strongest points of Guild Wars is its compelling, satisfying PvE missions, which allows for fun and relaxed gameplay. Just grab a bunch of your favourite friends, crack open a beer, don your Skype headset and away we go.
2. No grinding
Does anyone seriously enjoy spending hours and hours hunting goblins to level their character? The levelling system should serve the game and not vice versa. It’s supposed to be entertainment, ffs.
3. No monthly fees
There’s a reason that Guild Wars held up against World of Warcraft and it wasn’t just Jeremy Soule’s amazing score. I took out WoW‘s free trial, and aside from the garish graphics, the main reason I didn’t take out a subscription was “why would I want to pay for this when I can already get it for free?” Yes, you have to buy the game itself, but at under £30 for about 9 million hours’ play, it’s pretty good value for money. Then again, with Guild Wars 2 coming out, it would be absolute lunacy for ESO to charge a monthly fee.
4. Jeremy Soule’s music
Per my previous point: it just wouldn’t be an Elder Scrolls game without it.
5. Player housing
If I recall correctly, this is something they’ll include in Guild Wars 2, and it’s something I’d enjoy. The GW guild halls were a real highlight, and they set the scene for many a virtual birthday party (us chatting over Skype, drinking wine and eating peanuts while our characters paddled in the guild hall pool) – but we always lamented the lack of interiors to run around. A guild hall with a nice beach/pool outside and an inside to retreat to would be just about perfect – especially if it could be personalised in some way.
I’m on an unstable rural internet connection, so playing with other people isn’t always possible. I’d like to be able to enjoy the game without having to worry too much if my connection drops mid-mission, so being able to play with virtual teammates would be a big plus. It would also be handy if, again like GW, you could just take one or two friends on a mission and make the numbers up with NPCs.
7. In-game events
One of the most fun ways to keep players engaged is through regular in-game parties. It would be great to see the fireworks of the Fire Festival, get drunk at Harvest’s End (some funny in-game visual effects, please!) and tell spooky stories on Tales & Tallows.
8. Emote animations
Sometimes you’re chatting in-game and someone tells you they’re having a hard day. Wouldn’t it be nice if your character could hug their character?
9. Deep, interesting plotlines
Although it’s ZeniMax and not Bethesda who are making this game, it’s still from the same stable and I can fully expect a beautiful and engaging world that I’ll definitely want to save. What I want to see is a reason to save it – the sort of rich, engaging storyline that sucks the player in and builds genuine tension.
10. Mushroom trees
Because every game is automatically better with mushroom trees. Oblivion was charming, but nowhere near on a par with Morrowind until the Shivering Isles, and then it was instantly a million times better. I blame the mushroom trees.