“Recently the long awaited Elder Scrolls Online game became available for preorder.
And I for one, will not be ordering it. In fact, I probably won’t be getting the game.”
This is a bit of a shock to those who know me. I’m a huge fan of the Elder Scrolls series. I’ve been a huge fan since Morrowind first arrived for console, and Oblivion made me rethink gaming. So why would I be so against what sounds like something I’ve always wanted? A game encompassing all of Tamriel? A multiplayer version of the game? An open and constantly changing world? It sounds like everything I could have ever dreamed for the series, and it very well could have been a dream come true.
If it didn’t break down everything that made the series great.
There are a few things that have fans steaming, the first thing was the lore issues that were made apparent as more information was released about the game.
Before we get to that, let’s remind ourselves what has set the Elder Scroll series apart from other games.
The first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of the Elder Scrolls is freedom. Freedom to be whoever and do whatever you want. Do you want to play as a noble warrior destined to save the world? You can do that. Do you want to be a mage and fight with your brains over your brawn? Go ahead. Do you want to skip the path of justice and join the best assortment of sneak thieves in the Empire? Have fun with that. Want to become an assassin given contracts straight from the government? You can do that too.
Hell, in the Elder Scrolls you spend more time on side quests and world exploring than you do playing the main quest, which is saying something to the world building in the series.
These games have made me cry, laugh, and provided so much more for me than just entertainment. The Elder Scrolls series is a way of life. When you put in the disc you’re not just playing a game, you’re visiting another world.
The series is known for its attention to detail and realism (Well, maybe its own version of reality). To the player, Tamriel is an actual world, filled with people to meet, enemies to fight, hell, even books to read. Tamriel has a rich history; various societies, cultures, and religions that all interact with each other on very different levels. While this lore has never been conveniently stored in one place, it is known to the hearts of devout players. (These players are known as loremasters.) All of the lore is readily available in games, whether it be from word of mouth, from books, or from the things you have to do in the game.
But to many players, once this lore is broken, so is the immersion into the game world.
This lore breaking is the major reasons why I am debating on not buying Elder Scrolls Online.
These are the reasons I will be discussing as to why:
- Breaking established and commonly known lore.
- Factions are unrealistic.
- Price tag.
- Wait, there are IMPERIALS NOW? WTFASDFGHJKL
Let’s get started.
First, about Elder Scrolls Online. Elder Scrolls online will be taking place one thousand years before the events in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, (Which takes place in 4E 201 for you fans of the series.) during the Second Era, to be more exact. According to lore it will be occuring close to the end of the Second Era, somewhere near 2E 531.
This time stamp is the earliest in the series.
The main story is that a group of factions are at war for the throne of Cyrodiil, while the Daedric Prince Molag Bal invades from Coldharbour and threatens to suck all of Tamriel into his plane of Oblivion; with the help of the necromancer Mannimarco. (Don’t even get me started on the issues with Mannimarco being there).
First up issue, this never happened. Ever. In no existing records of lore or in game information has this ever been mentioned. And so far, invasions by Daedric Princes have been pretty well documented, hell the last one was the last game… you know, they called it Oblivion? I wonder why?! It was only a major event after all! You would think that some record of this major invasion. But there is none to be found. Have you seen the new eight minute trailer? How could any historian in Tamriel forget that chains fell from giant black and purple lightning clouds and ripped the ground apart? Really?
This is the most obvious break in lore.
Speaking of break, there are those that manage to bring a solution to this issue, and it’s called a Dragon Break.
A Dragon Break is an event that causes the time line to split, basically turning a linear timeline into a non-linear one. This leaves open the option of many different timelines. Think of it as splinted reality theory, but as a major plot device. Believe it or not, the company has used it to explain things before. The major one being the Warp In The West, a major event that also happens to be the end to Daggerfall. They use it to explain the multiple endings the game had, saying that they all happened and are all canon endings. The Dragon Break was even used as recently as Skyrim. Remember that big black dragon, Alduin? Yeah, he really, really shouldn’t have been there. Though, you learn this as (spoiler alert!) something called a ‘Time Break’.
A Dragon Break is fine and all, perfectly established cannon, aka, something I can live with. I can really see it being an alternate timeline.
But if it’s not…
Moving on, the factions…
There are three main factions in Elder Scrolls Online; the Ebonheart Pact, the Aldmeri Dominion, and the Daggerfal Convenant. All three of them make no sense.
The only one that could even make a hint of sense is the Aldmeri, but just barely.
First off, the Aldmeri Dominion.
Previous players will really recognize the name from Skyrim. The Dominion is basically the Nazi party of Tamriel. It’s run by radical, elitist, nationalist, Altmer (High Elves). Fans of the game that supported the Empire will bear particular hatred for them, because it is the Dominion that is to blame for the falling of the Empire as everyone once knew it. After the events in Oblivion, the High Elves decided to make their move against the greatly weakened Empire, eventually leading to what now is known as the Great War; which they lost. The Empire was forced to sign the White-Gold Concordant (thirty years before the events in Skyrim) in order to end the slaughter, which made them, well, to put it in simple terms… it made them the Dominion’s bitch.
Thing is, in the timeline for Elder Scrolls Online, the Dominion didn’t exist yet. Remember that lore estimated year given to the game? 2E 531? The Second Aldmeri Dominion wasn’t created until 2E 830, and they were hardly the warriors that would be the Third Dominion. They were merely a governing body in the Altmer homeland.
Yet the creators retcon-ed this established lore by saying that the Dominion was formed in 2E 430 and 2E 580.
Not only do the dates not make sense, neither does the faction itself. The Aldmeri Dominion is supposedly formed by the races Altmer, Bosmer, and Khajiit. Those three races, according to polls by players, are the three least played races in the entire series.
This will come up later.
Next is the Daggerfall Covenant, which makes no sense either. They’re has been issues with the three races, a long history of issues. Primarily with the Redguard and Bretons, who’ve been at each other’s throats. The Orcs, well, they don’t care much for their alliance partners either.
But you remember that Molag Bal guy? The big bad? The Redguards and Bretons are not big fans of the Deadra… and the Orcs worship one; Lord Malacath.
And on to the Ebonheart Pact. This one is having the biggest issue out of all of the factions, lore wise. It’s comprised of the three least likely races to work together; Nords, Dunmer, and Argonians. These three would never work together in a lore happy world.
The Nords and Dunmer have been at each others throats for generations. There have been countless boarder squabbles between Morrowind and Skyrim. And the Argonians? They were slaves. To the Dunmer for thousands of years. Would you want to work with your slavers? Nords stand beside their enemies. The Dunmer stand beside their enemies and former slaves. The Argonians stand by their former slave masters. Can you say fragile alliance?
Zenimax’s response to this one was that invasions by the Akaviri, a race from a separate continent called Akavir, made them align to defeat the threat. Even if this was true, this pact would be shoddy at best since the Akavir barely ever touch foot on Tamriel to the point of them being myth.
Not only is it the races that are the issue with these factions, it’s the race restrictions. You cannot be an Orc and be in the Ebonheart pact, for example. Only the races that made the pact can be in the pact. Remember how I mentioned earlier that the Aldmeri Dominion consisted of the three least played races in the game? Well, the Ebonheart pact, contains the three most played races. Even in the beta it’s obvious that the Ebonheart Pact will easily outnumber the rest.
This limits role playing and cripples the freedom the series once knew.
Not only that freedom, but the subscription fee of fifteen dollars a month definitely crippled a lot of gamers ‘free-dom’.
That is, unless you’re willing to dish out more money. Yep, behind the issues with lore I would have been able to buy the game and just deal with the changes. That was, until this news came out.
The pre order sets of the game were released, and in them a special offer, not only to be able to play the Imperials, a previously stated ‘NPC-only’ race, but the ability to play any race in any faction.
If you could have any race in any faction, wait, why would you do the whole race alliance in the first place? I mean, we’ve seen it, there are a mix of races in every province in Tamriel! No single country is black and white! So if it isn’t a racial thing, which it is made to be… just… what?!
To put it simply… this isn’t the end of the ‘franchise’, it’s the beginning of one. And it’s an end to a series. The brand name will live on. There is no doubt that Elder Scrolls Online will have success, but at what cost? True, Zenimax is separate from Bethesda, but the Elder Scrolls name isn’t. Just like people are going into ESO expecting Skyrim, new players will go into Elder Scrolls VI expecting ESO. Could it mean that Elder Scrolls VI will fail? Or even exist at all?
It seems all Zenimax cares for is money. They don’t care for the lore, or the players. They want that bottom line.
I can see this turning into the RPG version of Call of Duty. Which, in game terms…
Elder Scrolls Online is selling out.
Talos preserve us.