Zenimax bills The Elder Scrolls Online as a seamless merger of a sandbox singleplayer RPG and the best aspects of an MMOG. The game’s detractors have written it off as World Of Warcraft with a Tamrielic paint job. As you’d expect, the reality is more complicated than either take.
Structurally, The Elder Scrolls Online is an MMOG. Content is divvied up along well-understood lines: a main storyline for solo players, group content, dungeons, crafting, and large-scale player vs player combat. Despite top-level conservatism, however, a knife has been taken to the genre – not simply to better fit the Elder Scrolls mould, but to rethink long-standing orthodoxies
MMOGs are necessarily the product of compromise between the needs of the individual and the needs of the many.
In making a multiplayer Elder Scrolls game, Zenimax Online has chosen to compromise on dynamic town life, crime and physics, among other features. If that’s the sum of what the series means to you, then this is not the game you’re looking for. If you are willing to focus on other aspects of the Elder Scrolls formula, however – combat, questing and crafting in particular – then this is an MMOG with real promise, one that not only inherits mechanics from its source material, but also seeks to improve upon them.