Let me start this article by answering my own headline: It's partly because I'm an idiot and cannot let go of this IP.
Star Wars: The Old Republic has been a part of my life for over six years, and not having it there to fall back on would be difficult. But I could still play SWTOR without a subscription. Many of my friends still do! The truth of the matter is that I'm still having fun in the game, just not playing the game. I still have a guild of about 50 people who log in regularly to participate in activities. I have friends whom I've grown close to. And as much as I hate to say it, there is no other game that can give me my Star Wars fix.
I guess it's possible that I could still log into the game and not pay a dime for it, but hopefully, if I tell you what happens during my typical game day, you will understand why I still hold a subscription for the game, despite not playing a single bit of the content BioWare has given and sold me.
I've read all the impressions from the PAX East show that I could find, and they were all overwhelmingly mild -- including ours. As you hopefully know by now, Elder Scrolls Online showed off its instanced PvP battlegrounds, and the media consensus is that they are... coming. And that's it. This really surprised me. It's superficially hard to tell whether people have come to expect one thing from battlegrounds (because so many other games already have them) and ESO really isn't changing the formula -- or the battlegrounds really aren't anything to write home about.
If you were to take Lead PvP Designer Brian Wheeler's word for it, battlegrounds will change PvP in ESO forever because they're a type of PvP that ESO has never had before, which is true. Personally, I do believe not only that battlegrounds will bring something special to Elder Scrolls Online but that other games should pay attention to ESO because it's actually doing something innovative without drawing too much attention to it.
Battlegrounds aren't perfect; there will be some drawbacks, but let's take an honest look at what this new PvP type means for Elder Scrolls Online and maybe other MMOs in the future.
More than a handful of die-hard Elder Scrolls fans do not like the direction that Elder Scrolls Online Morrowind is taking. As someone who did not play TES III: Morrowind, I didn't quite understand the significance of this disdain for the announced story when we know so very little about the story in the first place. After all, the primary reason behind ZeniMax's choice of this time period for ESO was that there is so very little written about it. The only thing really said was that this was a time of upheaval, that there were many short-lived Emperors and that eventually Talos would unite Tamriel again. Most everything that had happened with the Chimer and Dunmer had already taken place centuries ago.
As someone not as heavily invested in the lore of Morrowind, it was hard to grasp what the issue was. I was told over and over that it has to do with the fact that this was supposed to be the golden age for the Tribunal, the three living gods of Morrowind. During the golden age, there is no way for one of the Tribunal to be losing his power, right? Well, according to the announcements coming directly from ZOS, Vivec -- the warrior poet god of the Tribunal -- is sick and losing his power. When I visited ZOS a couple of weeks ago, I asked Creative Director Richard Lambert about this supposed controversy. Unfortunately, the only answers I received was "You will have to play through the story" and "It will all make sense."
I've been considering writing this for awhile now, but I've not been sure how to broach the subject. I've not been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic
. That's not to say that I haven't been logging in or that I've not been paying attention to the community and the development of the game. But when I do log in, it's to roleplay with my guild
or GM one of the campaigns my guild has cooked up. I've not run operations, I've barely run Uprisings, and I've been done with PvP for over a year now. Usually, the developers have some event or story content that would bring me back or keep me sucked in, but not this time.
I know it doesn't mean that I will never be back to SWTOR; it just means that the gameplay itself -- in its current state -- is no longer interesting to me. It also doesn't mean that I will not log into the game. In fact, I will probably log in regularly because my roleplay guild is extremely active and healthy. And although I could probably unsub and play the just fine, I think that I will stay subscribed because the subscription isn't expensive, and I do like the perks. But I'm certainly not going to support the overzealous cash shop.
I've been covering this game for about six years, so it's probably important that I discuss the details behind my stepping away for a bit and what's been the final nail in the coffin.
At last week's Elder Scrolls Online press event, I sat down in the ESO Live studio to talk to the PvP designer in person: Lead Designer Brian Wheeler, whose high enthusiasm for PvP in the upcoming expansion Morrowind is nearly absurd. Sheogorath-absurd.
Now, I would not consider myself an elite PvPer, but I am a fan of good PvP design, one that incorporates a good class meta, interesting maps, and meaningful leaderboards so that PvPers can prove to their friends how good they actually were. I was sitting on the edge of my seat as Wheeler and I discussed the ins and outs of this new game-mode for Elder Scrolls Online. Let's dig in!
Along with a new expansive 30-hour long story, Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind will introduce us to the game's first new class called the Warden, a class I previewed at last week's press event at ZeniMax HQ. And although it is called a "class" because that's the term that gamers understand, Game Director Matt Firor likes to call it a "theme," and the theme of the Warden is nature.
By now, I hope you've seen the Blur Studio trailer for the Morrowind chapter. The Redguard with the giant bear in that trailer represents the Warden. He shows off many of the abilities that are specific to the Warden, including the bear pet. But of course, there's much more to the class than a fuzzy friend, so when I spoke to Game Director Matt Firor and Creative Director Richard Lambert in person, I asked them all about our new class and the role it plays in the expansion.
Last week, I trekked out to Baltimore to visit ZeniMax Online Studios and get a first glimpse at Elder Scrolls Online's upcoming chapter/expansion, Morrowind. After all, it's been fifteen years since anyone explored the island of Vvardenfell; it would have been extraordinarily dumb of me to turn down the offer. The press event also afforded me the opportunity to speak personally to the ESO developers, including Game Director Matt Firor and Creative Director Richard Lambert, so believe me, I took advantage of every opportunity that I had to get our readers questions and concerns addressed.
During my visit, Lambert and Firor gave a presentation about Morrowind story, the new Warden class, and battlegrounds. Later this morning, I'll have articles about the Warden and battlegrounds, but in this piece, we're tackling the Morrowind story and what's happening on Vvardenfell some 700 years before The Elder Scrolls III.
When Star Wars: The Old Republic
launched, I was champing at the bit for raids. Then when I heard about the launch bugs from friends, I really didn't want to have anything to do with that. But thanks to the Darth Hater crew and eventually my raiding guild in Nefarious Intent, I came to really enjoy raiding. I started raiding in SWTOR
when Karragga's Palace was the top-tier raid. I raided every week for three years. We were never the best raiders on the server, and I don't think that we ever really tried to be because it was about having fun in a team-based PvE.
After a two-year gap, the developers at BioWare decided that it was time to introduce a new raid. With Update 5.2, players will see additional story, dailies, and the first boss of the new raid on the planet of Iokath. Although I am very excited to see all of this hit the game again, I can't help but wonder if the interest in raids is strong enough to make that kind of gameplay viable again.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me tackle the questions: What is coming with Update 5.2: War for Iokath, what does the existing community think of it, and will it be enough to draw people back in?
Traditionally, in this Tamriel Infinium column, I have been extremely critical of The Elder Scrolls Online, and I promise you, I'm sure I'll lob criticism at the game in the future too. But I also like to give proper praise to video game developers when they do something extremely right, and that’s the case with Homestead.
My first MMO experience with housing was probably very similar to every other old-school MMO gamer's experience with housing: Ultima Online. But I didn’t really play UO for a very long time, only a month or so. My first real experience was in Star Wars Galaxies. Unfortunately, that game is shut down now, so I can’t show you just how powerful and creatively flexible that housing was. Since then, I’ve experienced housing in a number of different MMOs. I’ve seen EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, WildStar, and of course, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Although some of these housing systems have elements that I really like, I don’t think any of them reach the level that ESO reaches. And to help illustrate what I mean, I’ve compiled a list of four reasons that Homestead is better than those other MMO housing systems.
Every adventurer needs a place to hang his or her hat... or helmet. This week, ZeniMax Online Studios gave all Elder Scrolls Online players an opportunity to find a hat rack and a home to go along with it. The Homestead update hit the live servers on Monday, and to supplement Bree's video from yesterday, the stream team will explore this new addition to ESO.
At 2 p.m. EST, our resident Elder Scrolls fans, Bree Royce and Larry Everett, will give you a first-hand look into setting up your own home in...
What: Elder Scrolls Online
Who: Bree Royce and Larry Everett
When: 2:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, February 7th, 2017
Enjoy the show!
I really enjoyed watching the Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind announcement with all of our readers. The staff here saw your comments immediately as I was live-blogging some of the highlights. I was sure that it was going to be tough for ZeniMax to top the hype that surrounded the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood DLC, but with the announcement of the Morrowind expansion (although ZOS calls it a "chapter"), I am more excited about this than I was about randomly murdering people for Sithis.
The livestream announcement was just under 40 minutes long with so much to touch on. Creative Director Rich Lambert explained that there are more than 30 hours of content added with Morrowind, which isn't counting the repeatable content like Trials and the soon-to-be-added Battlegrounds. There is no way that they could hit every facet, and there were probably many things that just breezed by but will ultimately be important.
I found five items that should have got more attention than they did during the announcement that you probably missed even if you watched through the whole livestream.
On Sunday, one smoky, ash-filled video of volcanic rock sent the fans of Elder Scrolls Online screaming in excitement and questioning what it could all possibly mean. Fortunately, the super-sleuths here at Massively OP will have the answer for you one way or another. We are watching the announcement livestream with you and liveblogging all the gritty details in the comment section.
However, we aren't above giving our own speculations. On Sunday, after careful examination of the ash floating across the screen and the telltale swirly shape of the rock formations, our investigators had one speculation on their minds: Red Mountain. If you are an Elder Scrolls fanatic (or someone who follows dataminers... ahem), then you know that means Vvardenfell, the giant inset island in the northeastern portion of Tamriel and the setting of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.
Are our detectives correct? Does this mean new DLC or something more? Fans are champing at the bit to find out. Join us in the comments below as we watch the livestream and reveal all the juicy details.
We are a couple days early with the Hyperspace Beacon
this week for a reason you're going to love: We had an exclusive conversation with Creative Director Charles Boyd
about the Star Wars: The Old Republic
update releasing tomorrow, and we wanted to give you some insight into what Defend the Throne might offer you. Even though you won the day at the end of the latest expansion Knights of the Eternal Throne
, there are still factions that have problems with you and your Alliance. There are still uprisings all over the galaxy.
The new group content called Uprisings (pretty on the nose there, right?) is the focus of the next update. We'll see five more four-player, intense instances launch tomorrow, along with changes to the Command XP system and (of course) a new Cartel Market Pack.
I talked to Charles Boyd on Friday to get his input on the new content and a breakdown of each new Uprising and the overarching purpose behind them all.