Do MMORPGs really have such an intimidating reputation in the gaming community these days that studios feel as though they need to mollycoddle prospects who might otherwise skip over their products? Elder Scrolls Online apparently thinks so, as its created a solo player’s guide to the upcoming Morrowind expansion.
“Most games of the genre are singularly, er, singular affairs, where it’s you against the world,” the team wrote in the guide. “And maybe you think those skills wouldn’t transfer to the massively multiplayer universe of Elder Scrolls Online. But nothing could be further from the truth. Elder Scrolls Online is, first and foremost, an Elder Scrolls game, and that means fans of previous games like Skyrim — and of RPGs in general — will find plenty that’s familiar.”
I have always found this part of the development cycle to be the worst part. Right now, we are sitting at the point in Elder Scrolls Online when you really don’t want to move forward progressing your character because some of the endgame or character progression, in general, will change next week. However, you are very excited about what is to come in the next expansion, and you really want to play ESO at the same time.
It’s a strange phenomenon, and one that is unique to MMOs. When Skyrim was about to release Dragonborn a few years back, it had been a little bit since we had visited Skyrim. For me personally, I had a little game called Star Wars: The Old Republic that I had been playing, so when Dragonborn came out, I replayed Skyrim to refresh my memory before jumping into that expansion. However, MMOs are meant to be played all the time, and well, we’ve been playing ESO this whole time leading up to Morrowind. How do we do to channel our excitement?
Well, I have some fun suggestions for every Elder Scrolls fan. These are my five suggestions for things to do while waiting for ESO: Morrowind to release.
Funcom is working its tush off on Conan Exiles’ combat, a new Q&A with Joel Bylos suggests, but make sure you understand the end goal. “We don’t ever expect combat in Exiles to be on par with an action game like Dark Souls,” he cautions players. “We want combat to be fun and interesting in its own right, but without years to invest in the combat system we are not going be creating something that competes with Chivalry. Our ambition for combat, clearly stated pre early access launch, was Dark Messiah/Skyrim (modded) levels of combat.” But he admits the team hasn’t “achieved [that] ambition” yet — and that means a heavy focus on eliminating “clunky” combat feel, weapon balance, and sorting out where the game should rely on action vs. roleplaying elements.
Bylos also says Funcom is working on map improvements, creature AI, expanding the dye system, respawn rates, drawbridges, NPC looting, container ownership, thrall rescue, and character customization.
That’s gotta be good news for fans of the game, who’ve seen its playtime popularity on Steam fall sharply since February (by comparison, ARK: Survival Evolved has held relatively even; its current monthly peak is 10 times Conan’s).
Over the last week or so, ZeniMax Online Studios opened up parts of The Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind test servers to the press and public, allowing us to hop in and take a long and unfettered look at the developing expansion. In fact, that’s why I shied away from saying anything about the Elder Scrolls Online patch notes controversy — I’ve been buried in the real thing all week. Although I can now talk about the negative, I can also finally talk about the positive bits Morrowind has to offer.
I want to be fair about my analysis of ZOS’ depiction of the island of Vvardenfell and the Dark Elf culture, so I will have to put aside some of my nostalgic feels and take the experience for what it is: a solid entertaining MMORPG with a handful of flaws. I’m not going to pull any punches, but I should let you know that I really like this next chapter for ESO.
I’m not going to give everything away, but there is an interesting story involving a god, a priest, and a giant crab.
When I took the trip to ZeniMax Online Studios to check out Morrowind a couple of months back, I was sitting at a table with other games press and a handful of ZOS developers, including Creative Director Rich Lambert and Lead PvP Designer Brian Wheeler. The conversation wasn’t exactly off the record, but it wasn’t really an interview setting either. We were just talking, mostly about our lives: how Brian had to leave soon because he might get in trouble with his girlfriend and how Rich spent many overnights at the same hotel that the press had been staying in because he was at the office late and had to be there again early the next day.
During the course of the conversation, we ended up talking about how the press had originally received the Elder Scrolls Online and how it received it since the console launch. It’s not a big secret that I said some pretty critical things about ESO shortly after its PC launch. Rich pointed out during the conversation, possibly not knowing the outlet I was from, that he was surprised at how the opinions had turned around, especially Massively’s. And when he said “Massively,” I don’t think he realized that it was specifically my opinion that had that changed, drastically, since I’ve been the site’s ESO columnist since before the game’s launch.
It’s been a big spring so far for The Elder Scrolls Legends, Bethsoft’s Elder Scrolls franchise online collectible card game. Just a month ago, the game ripped off the beta tag for its formal PC launch. Then it launched for tablet iOS. This week, the game has introduced players to the assassins guild with its first content injection, dubbed Fall of the Dark Brotherhood. It’s just shy of 20 bucks if you’re buying it for cash, although the studio says you can pick it up for in-game gold too.
“The Fall of The Dark Brotherhood is a new PvE Story that tosses players into the role of a double agent hired to infiltrate the ranks of the fabled Dark Brotherhood. Recruited by a sinister group to bring down the infamous Elder Scrolls guild of lethal assassins, players will need to make key choices that both impact which missions they will play and determine how the story unfolds. This massive new adventure takes place prior to the events of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and is broken into three sections, or maps, introducing more than 25 missions and 40 new cards to the game. By completing missions within the new Story, players will unlock new cards available only via The Fall of the Dark Brotherhood, including three new Legendary cards. Players will face a variety of new challenges, lane conditions, and scenarios as they play through the new Story. There’s a pig you have to keep alive, a fight that takes place during a ball where things keep moving around, a prison fight, a skooma den battle, and much more.”
So let’s assume that you’re a regular MMORPG player who’s never really been into Elder Scrolls series, wasn’t around for TES III: Morrowind, never picked up Skyrim’s Dragonborn DLC, or didn’t side with the Ebonheart Pact in The Elder Scrolls Online. Or maybe you just have nothing but antipathy for dark elves in fantasy. If you’re in those groups but are still interested in The Elder Scrolls Online as just a solid themepark MMORPG rather than fanservice, you might be wondering just why the heck everyone is freaking out in anticipation of the Morrowind expansion.
That’s exactly what ZeniMax’s new lore piece out today tries to explain, giving newbies some backstory on the island of Vvardenfell during the time period of the MMORPG, from the politics to the ecology of the region.
It’s starting to get serious now.
As we well know, people are highly opinionated about everything, but when it comes to music, there seems to be a (pardon the pun) higher pitch to the passion of those arguments. I’ve been doing an MMO music podcast for over three years now, and believe me when I say that there have been countless times when myself and my cohosts were aghast when someone hated a tune we liked and vice-versa, even though we shouldn’t have been surprised.
So as we head into the top 10 of the best MMO theme songs, as voted on by the Massively OP community, expect a lot of opinions and controversies. You may not like the picks, the order, or the comments, but hopefully one or two of these will make you happy (and there’s always room to be pleasantly surprised by a track you never heard before!). Suck it up and jump with me!
ZeniMax has put out a fresh Elder Scrolls Online Morrowind video this morning, this time showcasing the PAX East reception for its battleground content and new Warden class. “Lucky players went head-to-head in Battlegrounds, fighting for supremacy in 4v4v4 showdowns using devastating new ice spells, tossing enemies into the searing lava of Red Mountain, and battling massive War Bears, which tore apart anything and anyone who dared attack their Warden masters,” gushes the studio.
It’s a little cheesy, admittedly, with carefully cut clips of journalists and players, but there are a few familiar faces, including prominent Skyrim vlogger “Grandma” Shirley Curry, whom everyone should be watching.
Morrowind took home our “most anticipated” award at this year’s PAX, and our ESO columnist Larry Everett has since deep-dived the battlegrounds in particular, raising concerns about their impact on the future of the game’s PvP. Check out the new trailer below!
Last week we were off to a great start as we listened to the first batch of player-voted favorite MMO themes. As I said then, the results of the voting, in which I asked players to nominate up to 10 of their favorite main themes from online games, were both predictable and surprising. Nostalgia and familiarity obviously play a strong role in many of these votes, but no one was asking for objectivity here!
Today we’re going to continue our countdown to the top spot by looking at numbers 18 through 13 of your favorite MMO themes. I think there’s a good mix here, perhaps with tunes that I would have placed a little higher, but overall it’s gratifying to see each one of these make the list.
Enough jibber-jabber, let’s get to it!
The Elder Scrolls Online has a new dev blog out this week all about the game’s planned Morrowind PvP additions. Thanks to our discussion with Lead Designer Brian Wheeler a few weeks ago, we already knew that the star of the new provincial PvP will be the short 4v4v4 arena battles that abandon factional and racial loyalties for the sake of pure bloodsport. Players will be working through capture-the-flag, deathmatch, and domination modes in exchange for a spot on the leaderboards, alliance points, experience points, loot, and medals based on what you did during the match — and yes, the game scores things like healing, soaking damage, and defending flags, so maybe it won’t even be a total clusterfudge!
Meanwhile, if your talents are more of the decorating sort, you should probably take a peek at the ZeniMax’s new home contest: You’ve got until the end of March to submit screens of your house according to the categories, which include one for PvP, hoarding, party pads, and “fantastical constructs.” Grand prize winners will walk away with a ton of prizes — even an Earthtear Cavern of their very own.
The Elder Scrolls Online‘s wildly anticipated Homestead patch has rolled out today, introducing housing for the first time for the MMORPG. But it’ll be far from a first for the franchise, which has been well-known for its housing systems for over two decades. In today’s video installment of Working As Intended, we’re taking a trip back through my (often gloriously overmodded) installs of Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, and then ESO itself to reminisce about just how far the series’ housing content has come. Bring your own silt strider!
Part of the job of writing for Massively OP is encountering new games and trying to get a handle on what they are so that we can succinctly relay that to you, the reader. In the case of Legends of Gaia, we have to admit defeat because the site doesn’t really explain what this MMORPG is all about, just that it’ll be gosh-darn awesome.
We can chalk up some of the difficulty in understanding to the odd Patreon pitch, but the official FAQ is a wealth of vague information about possible small details (will the game have “nerve gear?” What is nerve gear?) without ever painting a big picture about the title. We do know that the team is highly inspired by the anime and game series Sword Art Online, and to a lesser extent, Skyrim.
The team boldly states that this will be one of the most ambitious MMOs ever made: “We consider that its standards and mechanics breaks with the current ones that will change the whole way of playing forever.” We’ll hold them to that assertion.
Check out the trailer for Legends of Gaia after the break!