While we wait for The Elder Scrolls 6 to arrive one way or another, and endure an even longer wait for Starfield, The Elder Scrolls Online remains Bethesda’s flagship all-you-can-eat title. And it wasn’t even developed by Bethesda Game Studios.
When it launched in 2014, TESO made a lot of mistakes – something that sadly feels like tradition when it comes to big online games. Chief among them was the decision to go with a subscription-based model to try and get a bite out of the real state of World of Warcraft. The Old Republic couldn’t even pull that off with the full power of the Star Wars IP and BioWare’s expertise. Unsurprisingly, things didn’t go too well for ZeniMax Online’s MMORPG at first either; Less than a year after launch, TESO dropped the mandatory subscription and worked towards actually becoming The Elder Scrolls (but) online.
2015 and 2016 brought the changes that essentially made TESO the unique MMORPG it is today. Of course, turning the mandatory subscription into an optional offering for the hardcore gamers was a big step forward, but it was the One Tamriel update in late 2016 that won many players over. The game’s biggest overhaul removed level restrictions tied to areas and core activities, effectively adding the layer of player-driven freedom that had defined Bethesda Game Studios’ games for over a decade.
Mind you, TESO still plays like a modern MMORPG, but it’s one of the few major online titles that doesn’t constantly take you to the next big step in a long list of mandatory missions and progressions. Turns out TES diehards didn’t want a World of Warcraft reskin, they just wanted The Elder Scrolls Online. Who would have thought that?!
After ZeniMax finished the first batch of sizable DLCs and core game overhauls, 2017 introduced the Morrowind expansion pack, which marked the game’s first step into an annual model of updates built around a larger content drop – much like at Destiny 2. It’s a strategy that has worked amazingly well for Bethesda and ZeniMax, and has made TESO’s overarching narrative and constant evolution much easier to follow.
For a casual MMORPG player like me, trying to make sense of a non-stop barrage of updates and revisions is exhausting at best and crippling at worst. And this is unavoidable in the age of ever-growing online games struggling with too much free time to meet the unrealistic demands of players. But the TESO team seems to have found a good balance between entertaining the most rabid part of its player base and gracefully guiding casual gamers through the many changes in Tamriel.
You can always expect a fat live stream early in the year telling you what the next big thing is in the seemingly never-ending TESO saga. Timed events and smaller updates peppered each year can be referenced, but the focus is on the main attraction. Additionally, the smaller DLCs that lead into – and continue – the storylines of the main expansions are clearly outlined in roadmaps that aren’t bloated with video game-esque stuff about other aspects of the MMORPG.
In stark contrast to Blizzard’s headache-inducing streams and presentations for WoW, ZeniMax trims all the numbers and more technical BS to focus on what makes TESO – and The Elder Scrolls as a whole – important to so many people: the world and the narrative. where do we go next Who do we meet? Who are we fighting? I can certainly read blog posts and patch notes about every little tweak and system overhaul.
For example, the most technical thing these streams ever get is outlining tangible changes in how the case works or companion systems, maybe giving players an update on how optimization efforts are progressing… That’s basically it. Still, and as I mentioned earlier, any information I might need is available elsewhere. And this order of priorities is also felt within the game, which is why I am writing this article in the first place.
We’ve already talked about how TESO could be the perfect solo-friendly MMORPG experience, and it has a lot to do with how the developer has handled its approach to the franchise’s trademark open-world RPG freedom. But there’s also a special sensitivity to how the studio delivers the content and lets the players flow through it.
First, I never feel like I’m missing out. Yes, the game’s many activities may be tiered, and timed events scream “come on grab those shiny loot boxes” in my face every time I log in, but it’s really not a requirement to enjoy the world of TESO and many many quests to optimize… or even the high-level dungeons!
With One Tamriel, the playing field for TESO’s main area of zones and quests “softens”, progressing through story arcs and jumping between regions is smooth as butter, and most group-based activities I (maybe) want to grind every time I Spring into game Don’t lock me out because I’m missing the latest meta build.
Additionally, I can start any quest line I want and understand much of the narration included without having to read/play through years of dense TES lore. As interconnected as it all is, the game’s larger stories work well enough on their own, and I never feel like I’m missing a specific little DLC to make sense of the latest major expansion.
Best of all, the overall experience for hardcore gamers hasn’t suffered from TESO’s love for its casual audience. Its endgame has a lot to offer, characters can grow almost forever, and its massive PvP can be enjoyed as the sweatiest online conflict if you will. Of course, some restrictions apply, but there must be some kind of reward for people who put hundreds of hours into the same game, right?
For now, I’ll eagerly await the High Isle expansion pack – coming in June – while I buy new furniture for my cozy mansion in the Skyrim countryside that nobody ever visits, and play through a main quest line that was shelved nearly two years ago . And who knows, maybe I’ll roll a new character onto the side. I’ll catch up with you all… eventually.
https://www.vg247.com/cant-keep-up-with-elder-scrolls-online-content-drops-and-thats-a-good-thing I can’t keep up with The Elder Scrolls Online’s rapid content drop – and that’s a good thing