Elder Scrolls to me means total freedom. Means walking for a whole hour in a straight line and be sure that the only limit to what I can explore is my skill. It means having levels as a way to measure the state of your character development, not where in the world you’re allowed to go. It means creating a blank slate character, and leveling by “doing it”, not by choosing a class at the beginning and the choosing skills on a window.
Recreating the freedom Elder Scrolls players expect within the World of Warcraft-style mechanics Zenimax Online is using for this MMO would be impossible without changing the way that players interact with the world. (…) The Elder Scrolls Online aims to allow players to enjoy whatever piques their interest, so long as you are appropriately leveled. (…) Zenimax declined to share details on individual classes, though the studio confirmed that the game is class-based instead of using the free-form character progression of Skyrim.
That, I believe, is not what Elders Scrolls means.
I am of the opinion that events are the future for MMOs; quests are the past. Warhammer Online, then Rift, then Guild Wars 2, all these games have paved the way to how the next generation of the MMORPG space will look like, and this generation doesn’t have exclamation marks on its head. Previous sandbox-style games usually faced the problem of being so open that the only way for anything interesting to happen is for players to make it happen. This is because on the old game design dichotomy of choosing between quests or freedom. Events are the bridge between those two.
Zenimax is missing on the chance to create a true Elder Scrolls-like experience on MMOs, simply by trying to appeal to MMO players, instead of Elder Scrolls fans.
An Elder Scrolls MMO would be the perfect environment to create a game where Guild Wars 2-style events become the center of all gameplay, but where ArenaNet kept the conservative route of having a single faction where all players are the heroes, the three-faction system of Elder Scrolls Online (henceforth known as ESO) could allow designers to create game-wide events where players would be competing between themselves. The war between these factions is one major event, fed by large faction-wide events, and opening smaller events for players.
A skill system that ties the classic “level skills by playing” system present on previous Elder Scrolls games like Skyrim and Oblivion could be made to work with a skill unlocking system like on The Secret World, without the need for formal levels that limit player freedom but still allow developers to design challenging content that requires a certain level of experience, letting players to overcome this limit through skillful gameplay, not limiting it by arbitrary levels, which is the absolute opposite of how Elder Scrolls games work.
This system would also allow players to design the character they want to play as they play it, instead of forcing players to choose classes at character creating, which is an MMO standard but not an Elder Scrolls one.
Zenimax is missing on the chance to create a true Elder Scrolls-like experience on MMOs, simply by trying to appeal to MMO players, instead of Elder Scrolls fans. I’m hoping they can convince me that I’m wrong along the development cycle, but right now, I’m kinda disappointed.