Fluent, as each move determines the next; a constant reminder that death is always near the horizon. The exhaustion courses throughout your body, but seldom does it ever deter you from the mission at hand. Fight or flight, although the overwhelming pride demands only one as an option. A final stance for what seemed long forgotten is praised as a heroic stance; the ambition of a man who knows no odds.
For the last 20 years, the Elder Scrolls franchise has made these sensations synonymous to the gameplay Bethesda develops. In 1994, The Elder Scrolls: Arena was feebly taking its infant steps toward the powerhouse franchise that has taken the videogame industry by storm. Twenty years later, we wait anxiously as The Elder Scrolls: Online pioneers the already impressive catalogue towards the usual ever-expansive world, but this time, friends follow along through your trek of Tamriel.
Before unveiling the Elder Scrolls to the world, Bethesda focused their attention mainly on producing athletic games, such as Hockey League Simulator and NCAA Basketball: Road to the Final Four. Ted Peterson, one of the early developers for The Elder Scrolls, recalls, “talking to the guys at SirTech who were doing Wizardry: Crusaders of the Dark Savant at the time, and them literally laughing at us for thinking we could do it.” Funny looking back on it now because of how The Elder Scrolls has become a household name, whereas when was the last time you remember someone freakishly waiting for next Wizardry to come out?
The Elder Scrolls: Online is similar to the first installment of this franchise, Arena, by how people are able to play online together, while still facing different quests. For Arena, the side quests became the main area of interest for players, which leads to strong speculation as to why Bethesda removed online capabilities from the registry until recently. Arena created a strong cult around it, and to see ESO resort back to similar mechanics should give old fanboys something to be ecstatic over. The progress Bethesda has made in the past 20 years will help be a breathe of fresh air for classic techniques that are constantly mimicked by others, but only tried and true for The Elder Scrolls. Though, with franchise in the hands of Zenimax instead of Bethesda it may seem foreign at first, but a new team to develop this game helps this series have a fresh start. The Elder Scrolls fantasy embodies more than just what one development team can create from it, needless to say, this next installment should be no different.
Of course, there is the scapegoat, or blacksheep, to ESO that no one wants to mention, but can’t seem to forget- the dreaded monthly subscription fee. This is the first time Bethesda has introduced this system to the Elder Scrolls, let alone any other games they develop. But with ESO being a MMORPG and considering the amount of traction this franchise is known for, a $15 fee may prevent you from freaking out if the servers were to give out. Had this been released around the mid 90s like Arena was, instead of having to cope with a monthly fee, players would have to reckon with a hourly fee. Luckily, ESO is incorporating certain elements found from Arena and that time period that actually help improve the game, rather than an hourly fee. Pick your poison.
Stepping past the legacy Arena left for ESO to continue, it will also have to prove itself among the past three Elder Scroll titles: Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim. These three have received multiple awards for Game of the Year, and if history plans to repeat itself for the fourth time, ESO will walk with similar honors. This may be easier said than done this year though, having to hold its own against titles like Watch Dogs, Destiny, and Titanfall, but make no mistake, Bethesda isn’t blinking.
As we approach the April 4th release date of ESO, taking a look back at what influenced and shape what we love today is not something to overlook. Whether or not ESO stands the test of time is yet to be seen, but the noteworthy buzz it’s created is in sync with demanding popularity that prior Elder Scrolls games attracted. The gaming industry has seen some miracles and horrors throughout the past 20 years, though Elder Scrolls inspired relentless attention, allowing it to flourish, since 1994.