The big news of the day is that The Elder Scrolls Online is officially, openly, a real project. The MMO blogosphere is torn, with many gasping in ecstasy at the very idea, and others clawing at their hair because it’s such a bad idea. My opinion is that we know very, very little right now, and forming an opinion would be premature. Extremely.
On the one hand, it’s an exciting idea. The Elder Scrolls series seems to me a natural fit to an MMO. Of course, translating the features that made a game like Skyrim such a titanic hit will not be a simple task. What works in a single-player RPG doesn’t necessarily work in an MMO. There’s the question of scale, for one — Skyrim is big enough for one player to wander around in and think it’s huge, but if there were hundreds, much less thousands or people crawling around in every dungeon it’d seem like a lavish fantasy shoebox. There are obviously other issues as well, but that’ll keep for later discussion. In the main, the trick will be to capture those elements that make the Elder Scrolls games special without being able to rely on the crutches of single-player games.
But on the other hand, it seems that in some corners people are leaping to imagine that the in-development title will necessarily suffer from the limitations of MMOs. This at a time when we know “there will be an Elder Scrolls Online” and just about nothing more, and despite the fact that the single-player games in the series have avoided some of those common traps.
From where I’m sitting, it’s too soon to tell. But what is certain and sure is that starting today there will be a lot of eyes on this project.