Elder Scrolls Online wants to make players stand out
Penny Arcade’s Sophie Prell recently got the chance to talk turkey with The Elder Scrolls Online Game Director Matt Firor about individuality in the MMO and how it’ll allow players — who are used to being solitary heroes — stand out among a cast of thousands.
According to Firor, NPCs will recognize players for their heroic deeds with responses that only that player can see. So if you’ve saved the village, NPCs might thank you but they won’t say the same to your non-heroic friend.
Then there’s the possibility of becoming emperor by excelling in the PvP aspects of the game, which will be determined by an as-yet-unfinished formula. Whether any actual power will be attached to that title remains to be seen.
Then there’s the question of guilds. In Elder Scrolls games, guilds are basically quest hubs, not the player-run organizations of MMORPGs. Both will be present in TESO, and as your reputation with an NPC guild increases, you’ll receive further options to customize your character’s appearance.
Overall, it sounds like ZeniMax Online Studios is doing everything it can to make sure TESO players still feel, to some extent, like they’re playing a single-player game. There’s a clear focus on trying to make players feel like they’re not just another anonymous face in the crowd.
But is that something an MMORPG can even do? Even with all the little touches Firor talks about, will you still know, deep down in your heart, that you’re not the only “hero of Kvatch”? Or that you’re not the only person that an NPC entrusts with his or her super-important mission?
The bigger question is maybe, should you even care? Should you approach an MMO with the notion that you’re going to be an individual hero or should you save those expectations for single-player games? Should MMO devs even waste the energy on trying to “fool” you into thinking you’re the hero?