Beloved by the fantasy nerds amongst us (that’s me included) for ages, starting with.. well, ‘Arena’ back in 1994 I suppose, though it came to my attention with titles like Morrowind and Oblivion. The Elder Scrolls reached critical mass with the insanely popular Skyrim. Helped, no doubt by the increased shine the Dragonborn and his adventures in Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls Online has been incubating for a long, long time. We’re finally about to get the legendary World and lore of Tamriel in the MMO space. Or perhaps it’s the other way around?

Release Date: April 4, 2014

Console: PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4

Genre / Rating: Fantasy RPG MMO / M

The MMO is changing, or, at least it’s trying to, having taken part in both the Elder Scrolls Online, and Wildstar’s Betas I can say this with a reasonable amount of surety. If there’s any genre of game that needs it more, I can’t think of it. It’s understandable though, something that big with that many people? It took Blizzard to nail it on the head in the first place, and after that, well, how else are you going to fill such a large space with content for so many people? Gather, fetch, kill, gather, fetch, kill. Not that you won’t still be doing those things, of course, but it seems that technology and time have finally caught up to this behemoth of a game type, but then, I’d never expect anything less from Bethesda. Open character progression, first person view combat, changing how we think about crafting… consoles?!? Madness! Or is it brilliance?

Going against the tide, Bethesda and Zenimax Online are opting out of the Free-to-Play business model that’s all the rage these days; Elder Scrolls Online will be monthly subscription based. This has probably earned a rousing chorus of ‘boos’ from the entitled masses, but in a move I can appreciate Bethesda responded. The long and short of it being that Elder Scrolls Online won’t be for everyone, but it will be a content rich, massive game supported with more than  superficial DLC packs, but dense content that only a dedicated development team can maintain. It’s that sort of mentality that made WoW such a success. Free-To-Play is fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but there is a trade off and if subscription fee’s aren’t your bag, there’s a ton of options out there for you. For the Role Playing hardcore who want something a little more, well, now there’s this too. Let’s face it, Elder Scrolls is a proven franchise with a dense libraries worth of lore and history to draw upon.

This time around, we’re a 1000 years prior to Skyrim, and three factions are vying for control for Tamriel. Oh, and then there’s that big ole stinker Molag Bal, a Daedric Prince bent on swallowing Tamriel into his dark dimension of Coldharbor and enslaving the souls of its people, because that’s just how some of those Daedric jerks get down. 

The folks at ZeniMax Online Studios are attempting to take the free form style of a game like Skyrim, and introduce it into the MMO, for that, they deserve some applause. I don’t mind ye old stereotypical premade fantasy classes, but as time goes by many of usare finding that their preferred styles aren’t always so easily defined. So what if I want to be a sword wielding sorcerer, or a bow rocking warrior? The customization options are deep, much deeper than your standard class based skill trees at any rate, and folks who fancied some atypical point allocations in Skyrim will be at home here.  Full exploration of these systems will take some time after the full game launches to properly explore, but, from my early experiences this is refreshingly different from other MMOs.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of The Elder Scrolls Online is its multi- console release. An MMO on consoles? Blasphemy! No, but it might be the wave of the future, provided the business model can be proven out that is. I expect, even just for novelty to say nothing about the fact it’s Elder Scrolls, that people are almost certainly going to join and play via consoles to begin with, but retention is going to have a lot to do with how the experience transfers over, and that’s the tricky bit.There’s no doubt that the Xbox One and Playstation 4 are beastly machines and perhaps we’re far enough along in the progression of hardware that the experience will be a streamlined one. If it turns out, well, you might just be popping a Blizzard product (NCSoft, etc) into your home console someday soon.

Planning on going Console? Comment Below.

The Elder Scrolls Online is available for PC, Xbox One,and Playstation 4, and don’t forget the Imperial Editions available for PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4.

Pre-order today for early access April 1st, and in the mean time, here’s this awesome cinematic to get you drooling:

A firm believer in "you have to get old, but you don't have to grow up," I've been an unabashed lover of nerdy things for a good long while and don't plan to stop anytime soon. With experience on both sides of the video game, both as a consumer and a producer, and a love of the written word, I've managed to combine all three right here with the Plug-in blog