Last Wednesday, one day after Bill ran his column asking ZeniMax to tell us more about Elder Scrolls Online, they did something major, they announced their launch date! So in less than five months Elder Scrolls Online will be coming to a PC and Mac near you. On April 4th we will all be entering the next chapter in the lore of Tamriel. So what does that bring us over the next few months? Well, let’s think about it.
The full blitz of media love and announcements will most likely come after the New Year. However, even as early as yesterday they dropped the artwork of the Emperor’s armor. For the end game PvP campaigns it is possible for a player to achieve the rank of Emperor over the main PvP zone of the old empire. Getting to this title will be extremely difficult but there are plenty of players and powerful guilds already being made that will try. Great to see the artwork, but as Bill mentioned last week we really want a good look at how guilds will be structured and what options they will have. Almost every modern MMO now has to support a vast guild system, hopefully we get much more news on that soon.
The next major events you will see are Beta tests. A ton of testing will go into the game over the next five months because now it is all polish and fixes. The good news is a lot of people will be able to play and check out the game early. The closed beta has been going on for a while and hopefully we will see more focused testing in the few short months. One of the biggest areas for tests will be the PvP system. Seeing how many players will be fighting in the zone and how the single server shard approach will interact with the game world is something critical to keeping players in the same zone and battling it out.
The big question with any open PvP zone is when do you enter? There is only one major fear with PvP that comes up in any open zone. That is the concept of siege warfare. A lot of players love to attack keeps and castles and bring them down. However, in past games several of these mechanics did not work as well as say an open PvP hunting zone. Dark Age of Camelot began this system and as we all know many of the ZeniMax teams are veterans of that game. Hoepfully, they learned from their mistakes when it comes to sieges. Players do fall into a rut with nothing to do, especially melee classes. Warhammer Online showed that some of the siege techniques did not carry over well into their game. Guild Wars 2 did have a successful system but again, they need to keep changing the PvP dynamics to keep it fresh. While the keep system does work, it only works for a while. More than anything having creative objectives for players to battle over instead of just knocking on giant doors goes a long way for the health of the end game.
In recent weeks we have seen a lot of talk on skill lines and speccing your character. The system that ESO has in place can be summed up as “easy to use, difficult to master.” The more knowledge ZeniMax shares on this topic, the better. Players will need to seriously think about what combinations are best. Mix this in with a complex but very fun crafting system and PvP abilities and you have a very complex character template. That is a good thing though as you are always investing in yourself when you play the game. The only dangers with the open ability system in terms of say weapons is, you may find some weapons just work much better than others. Suddenly half of the players are all searching for two-handed swords.
These are just some of the ideas that ZeniMax needs to either focus on or release information about in the coming short months. Even though April seems like a long springtime away, it is very short in terms of game development. It will be a wild ride into April so be prepared for a ton of information to hit.
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