There was something that bugged me about yesterday's press release and, having slept on it, I now think I know what it is. Reading through Zenimax Online's announcement that The Elder Scrolls Online would be dropping the subscription and going buy-to-play, it hit me that aside from the vague allusion in the first to TESO being an "award-winning multiplayer roleplaying game" at no point to the letters MMO pop up in sequence. The whole thing reads like Bethesda are desperately trying to frame the experience as the thing many of us wanted in the first place -- a game that's basically a bigger version of Skyrim with friends.
"For the first time in history, players will explore the legendary world of Tamriel with their friends on console," reads the official blurb. "In the latest and biggest Elder Scrolls game ever made, players will be able to adventure alone, quest with friends, or join an army of hundreds in epic player vs. player battles as they explore and discover the secrets of a persistent Tamriel."
Along with the constant reiteration of phrases like "one-time purchase" (even when describing the Premium subscription, which is still an option, the language used tells of a "single monthly charge" in an attempt to soften the blow) there's a clear drive to play down the MMO-ness of TESO for its console release.
The abdication of the cancerous subscription model has been a long time coming. We were already taking bets on how long it would take Zenimax to drop the creaking infrastructure after seeing monthly payments swiftly abandoned by pretty much every new MMO in the last few years, and now we have a date of March 17th.Click here to read more...
Well, there you have it folks. less than a year after launch, and it's been announced that The Elder Scrolls Online is dropping the subscription and going buy-to-play. A press release revealed that The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, will release worldwide on 9th June, 2015 for PS4 and Xbox One. Players "will no longer be required to pay a monthly game subscription for extended play. Players will make a one-time purchase of the game and can then enjoy hundreds of hours of content without the requirement of a monthly game subscription fee when The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited becomes available on console in June and beginning 17th March for PC/Mac players."
New players will "make a one-time purchase of the game and play, without restrictions, for as long as they like – without game subscription fees". However, it seems that Tamriel Unlimited will be supported with "special, optional downloadable content" and an "in-game Crown Store for convenience and customization items. Regular updates and new gameplay will be offered to all players to enjoy free of additional charges."
There'll also be a Premium subscription option called ESO Plus, "providing exclusive in-game bonuses, a monthly allotment of crowns to use in the store and access to all DLC game packs while a member."
Is this a good move? Does it make the console versions more attractive prospects? What the hell will ESO Plus mean for in-game balance? We stuck our heads together to chat about our impressions of this fairly monumental shift for TESO.Click here to read more...
NCsoft are still running their 50% sale on WildStar and Guild Wars 2 through Cyber Monday, but GAME actually have the former for under a tenner if you're interested in jumping into Nexus.
Do be aware, however, that the GAME listing comes with a little warning regarding timely deliveries due to "high demand".
Guild Wars 2 is FREE this week, and so, after a year of constant nagging, Jon and Carl finally managed to persuade me to set aside my MMO reservations once again and leap into the fray.
Everything was going swimmingly, public events were popping up all over the place, much to my delight, and after almost falling to my death, we had a nice little dance party.
And then someone suggested we go fight a massive fire elemental.
It's been almost three months since WildStar launched, and the team at Carbine Studios have already dropped two sizable content patches into the game. They're not done yet though, and so to learn a bit more about what is in store for the MMORPG I sat down with Lead System Designer Nick Roth at this year's Gamescom. We get the lowdown on the new zone of the Defile, the first in-game holiday event Shades Eve, and the all-new 5-man dungeon The Ultimate ProtoGames.
The Elder Scrolls seems like an opportunity missed to me. It's a game that needs to be weighed and measured on its own merits, but that's tricky when it's trying so hard to please two separate groups of people in MMO lovers and traditional Elder Scrolls fans.
Yes, there's a subscription, but you get the first month free, and if you've been curious thus far, Base are selling the game (complete with the Explorer's Pack pre-order DLC) for under a tenner. You might have to wait a couple of days for delivery, Base are not the most dependable in that regard, but it's a much better price than the absurdly inflated RRP.
Nice spot, oUkTuRkEyIII.
Last episode, we found ourselves desperately searching for a nobleman's daughter -- Lydia Horacos. Now, with Tideborn on our tails, and dangerous foes on all sides, Mechdusa and Bob clear out the Research Centre, and infiltrate the Eldan Tower where Lydia is being held. Will Corrigan Doon make himself useful? Can our heroes defeat Cortex Prime? What's the meaning of life?
All this and more in today's episode of WildStar: The Evil Noob.
After chasing down some illicit fraternising in the last episode, today's jaunt down to Nexus is all about a search and rescue. And killing giant birds.
Some rich noble's daughter has gone missing, and the adventurer sent to find her has gone missing too, presumed drunk. And the henchmen sent to give the drunkard a kick up the backside have also gone missing too. So it's up to us to venture into the local pub, siober up the sozzled mercenary, and try and find the daughter ourselves.
Happy Monday folks! Some bizarre activity from Virgin over the weekend meant that there wasn't as much time for WildStar as I would have liked, but I did manage to squeeze in enough for another episode of The Evil Noob.
In today's dip into the narrative waters of Nexus, things get a little bit messed up as we're tasked with conducting some internal investigations. After breaking into Commander Toric's office and hunting for salacious evidence of depraved misdeeds, we're ordered into the woods to see if we can catch him in the act.
To be honest, I probably should have called this episode Mechdusa and Bob: Sex Police!
Those dastardly Exiles play us for fools in today's instalment of WildStar: The Evil Noob. The Elder Cube is gone, the Dominion forces have been slightly overrun, and we're forced to make an incredibly tactical, not at all cowardly retreat.
Not until we've smashed some Exile skulls and beaten up their Warbot, though.
Man, the Dominion really has a thing against house elves. On today's episode, we're once again massacring the big-eared creatures on the hunt for a special key to unlock the power of the Elder Cube. But really trhis episode is all about new powers, and the introduction of Mechdusa's shiny new artillery bot -- Bob.
On today's episode of WildStar: The Evil Noob, we finally give our scanbot a name, retrieve intelligence from the corpse of an enemy, fight a bunch of robots, hack some Exile weaponry, and massacre a bunch of Dobby the house elf's cousins.
Because that's what bad guys do.
Part of being the evil empire means prioritising objectives to maximise your evilness. First impressions are important and all that. So it is that the first mission we find ourselves undertaking as soon as we set foot on Nexus involves slaying some indigenous creatures with our ludicrous shotgun.
Mechdusa now has the ability to stun creatures, which comes in very handy indeed as we romp about the beach, killing grizzly fidos, and combing the sands for ancient relics.
WildStar is out and looking resplendent, E3 is over for another year, and that means that I finally have a chance to leap back into the game to start a totally new playthrough with the "finished" (or at least retail) version of the game.
I've had a few people over the past couple of months message me asking if there'd be a second season of The Noob, and here it is. So thank you to everyone for the kind words and the advice. We're shaking things up this time, however. For starters, I'm rolling Dominion this time around, a decision that has arisen mainly because everybody that I know (and therefore will look to play with) has decided to be an Imperial rather than a plucky rebel. That's fine, though -- variety is the spice of life and all that. Plus, it's good to be bad sometimes, and I like the Dominion's colour scheme.
I fully intended to stick with Spellslinging, but at the last minute decided to become an Engineer. Basically, I spent an evening watching Firefly and the Terminator and settled on trying to make a cross between Kaylee and the T-1000.
Behold... Mechdusa! My Mechari Dominion Engineer Scientist. She's going to be enormously badass... so long as I don't get her killed too often. Still, no deaths in the first five minutes this time around -- I call that progress!Click here to read more...
Well, it's almost here - after years incessantly throwing coverage in your faces (whether you wanted it or not) Carbine Studios and NCSOFT are days away from flicking the switch and launching WildStar. I think it goes without saying that I have been rather optimistic for the sci-fi MMO thanks to the pedigree of the developers creating it, the charming art direction of its visuals & story, and the focus on providing a end-game experience that hasn't really been seen since the early years of World of Warcraft. It also helps a fair bit that the combat mechanics allow for fast-paced gameplay, something that has been attempted many times in previous efforts but has never really hit the mark.
There are other things too - PvP, Warplots, player housing and the like - but it would be ignorant to ignore the fact that all of these features have been done before. What Carbine have done is refine the wheel we know and love, not redesign it, bringing about a culmination of what the genre has experimented with over the last decade or so, and with the promise of a raiding experience that will challenge even the most skilled of players (hardcore) it's not hard to see why a huge community of excited players have been clamouring to get started as much as I have.
So, at the end of last week I was given the chance to speak to the recently-crowned Creative Director Chad "Pappy" Moore - a man who drops the most glorious of lore-bombs at every opportunity. I sat down with him to discuss WildStar's lore (obviously), balancing the World Story for players, the blurred moral lines of both factions, developing an deep narrative moving forward, and the importance of community interaction.Click here to read more...
Sprawling, ambitious, and ultimately divisive, The Elder Scrolls Online is an odd one. Though I found its attempt to try and please both hardcore TES players and the MMO crowd to be wanting in several aspects, many have fallen in love with Zenimax Online's attempt at bringing Tamriel to multiplayer life.
Though not as cheap as the now-expired deal a few weeks back from Game Keys Now, this flash deal from The Game Collection is still a cracking price for TESO, and includes the pre-order Explorer's Pack bonus that let's you ally yourself with any faction regardless of race, and gives you a few extra treasure maps as well as a Scuttler to keep as a pet.
The Elder Scrolls seems like an opportunity missed to me. It's a game that needs to be weighed and measured on its own merits, but that's tricky when it's trying so hard to please two separate groups of people in MMO lovers and traditional Elder Scrolls fans. Still, this deal at least solves one problem with the game -- its absurd pricing structure, which starts with its inflated asking price.
You'd normally have to fork out £30-40 for TESO, but Game Keys Now have a flash deal running over the next few hours that more than halves the game's RRP. Obviously, GKN are a digital distributor, so you'll be sent a code rather than a tangible copy of the game, but they're MCV finalists and I've ordered from them with no issue in the past before.
Dealspwn's resident MMO guru, the honey-voiced Mr. Carl Phillips, and I sit down for a little natter about The Elder Scrolls Online now that our review is live. Here's a TL:DR version for you to get the gist of things:
The Elder Scrolls Online is a brave attempt at combining two seemingly polar opposites, but it ultimately fails to build a continuously compelling world, compromising too much on either side. It's an MMO that can't hold a candle to likes of Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World, and an Elder Scrolls game that can't hope to be as deep and rich in content and solo experience as Morrowind and Skyrim. The allure of an online Tamriel is strong, and when the game's disparate parts align, it really is a bit special, but those moments are too few and far between to recommend for a game with this much of an inflated price point.
If you haven't read the whole thing yet, save the remorseful flagellation for later, pour yourself a nice cuppa and have a read whilst listening to the dulcet tones of our voices discussing the nature of ZeniMax Online's ambitious MMO... and where it all went wrong.
The middle of the road has never been a good place to be -- you just end up getting run over by traffic from either side. And trust me -- as someone who once went sailing through the air and landed squarely either side of a sturdy, roadside, wooden perimeter -- there's little solace to be found in sitting on the fence. I wrote an article a little while back about identity and the importance of knowing, as a developer, what your game is, what you want to achieve, and who your target audience is. Unfortunately, The Elder Scrolls Online finds itself in a bit of a dither.
Is it just Skyrim with multiplayer? Is it a WOW-ish MMO with pretensions towards being an Elder Scrolls game? The Elder Scrolls Online demands to be judged by two completely conflicting groups of fans. On the one hand, the Elder Scrolls series has long served up several of the most expansive, enriched, singleplayer experiences to be had in this industry -- games that place you as an empowered individual, the only one who can save Tamriel from whatever mischief has befallen it this time around. On the other, you have this massive world, filled with warring factions and steeped in millennia of lore, just ripe with possibilities for a Massively Multiplayer Online experience.
So how do you consolidate the two into one game successfully? That is the question that lies at the heart of The Elder Scrolls Online.
And the answer is... you don't.
Tamriel itself is a bit of an empty husk. It's a showroom more than a showstopper, a simulacrum of the worlds we've previously explored in detail. But whereas before, we could be anyone we wanted and do anything we liked, here there are invisible forces at work compelling us to follow certain paths. There's no crime in this version of Tamriel, little opportunity for the fleet-footed and light-fingered, and NPCs are fairly few and far between. TESO is set a couple of millennia before the events of Skyrim, so having a more empty world might be just about justified, but the lack of interaction is troubling. If you saw a sword on the ground in previous games you could pick it up. Now, however, it's most likely just painted decoration.
For a series that has always been synonymous with immersion, that's not a good thing.Click here to read more...
Endgame content is key for any MMO -- it is, after all, what keeps players coming back long after their initial purchase, and good content beyond the game's level cap is essential for maintaining an MMO audience for a decent amount of time. It's perhaps even more important for a game such as WildStar, which is stubbornly flouting the recent trend of free-to-play and buy-to-play MMOs in favour of the all-too familiar, and increasingly unpopular subscription model. After all, if you're going to charge a subscription fee, the content reward package for those who blitz the main game stuff had better be damn good.
That sentiment is not lost on WildStar's design producer Stephan Frost.
"The thing that we've noticed with other MMOs is that if you don't have endgame content, people leave immediately," Frost said, talking to me at a Warplots and Raids event last week. "If you have raids that people can complete in a very short space of time they go, 'Cool, that's it? I'm out.' So endgame for us meant coming up with content for each individual type of gamer, and what I mean by that is we have dungeons and raids, housing, PvE, and all these different sub-groups of players in WildStar, and all of those groups need to have something to do once they reach the level cap."
But last week's event centred around a very specific group of gamers -- those who'll speed through the game's main content in a matter of days once WildStar releases on June 3rd. Straight out of the gates, there's going to be a need for endgame content, and Carbine's Frost delivered a brief presentation regarding two of the main things in store for those hardcore players who'll be scrambling to reach level 50 as soon as possible.Click here to read more...