ZeniMax: “The Elder Scrolls Online is More RPG than MMO”

Published on June 20th, 2013

Producer Matt Firor spills the beans on the design focus for .

Ambition is a word that sums up ZeniMax Online Studios rather well. Not content with producing an experience which will inevitably appeal to the MMORPG-loving crowd, it seems The Elder Scrolls Online is in fact being designed to satisfy all types of gamers, especially those who prefer the likes of Oblivion’s and Skyrim’s more single-player orientated approach.

ZeniMax: The Elder Scrolls Online is More RPG than MMO

ZeniMax are promising a true Elder Scrolls experience.

During an exclusive interview for the free-to-read magazine FirstLook, we chatted with The Elder Scrolls Online’s producer Matt Firor about where he would place the first game from his studio in the game genre spectrum and his answer was rather surprising.

“I would characterise this game as an Elder Scrolls multiplayer game [rather] than an MMO,” he told us.

“We want both [single-player and multiplayer] groups to feel very happy in the game, but when you sit down and play it you’ll think it’s an Elder Scrolls game first. If you played the PC versions of Oblivion and Skyrim this is the same control system. Same mouse-driven combat, you have a reticule in the middle of the screen, you aim you don’t tab lock. Obviously the more you play it, the more multiplayer stuff kind of comes in, but when there’s choices to be made regarding player impact on world, we go the Elder Scrolls route not the MMO route.”

ZeniMax: The Elder Scrolls Online is More RPG than MMO

Skyrim, Morrowind and Cyrodiil provinces all feature.

With recent high-profile MMORPG releases like BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic and Funcom’s The Secret World not proving as popular expected, it’s understandable that Matt would want to distance his game from a genre which for all intents and purposes is stagnating. However further questioning suggested that it isn’t the genre Firore has a problem with, it’s the MMO label itself.

“[The term] MMO is getting kind of tired because it’s ‘Massively Multiplayer Online’, but you know World of Tanks is massively multiplayer online but it is not what you would think of, like Everquest. It’s just an unwieldy term now and it means so many things and it means different things to different people.”

ZeniMax: The Elder Scrolls Online is More RPG than MMO

Enemies, skill trees and character classes will prove familiar to fans of other Elder Scrolls games.

A developer arguing about which genre their game belongs may seem needlessly fussy, but it speaks volumes about ZeniMax Online’s and Bethesda’s intentions to position The Elders Scrolls Online as more than just a multiplayer offshoot in the legendary single-player RPG series. They want this release to be as relevant and popular as Skyrim, and they’re ensuring that by adopting a familiar dialogue system, long and inventive faction questlines, and combat which boasts all of the Elder Scrolls tropes.

The recent announcement that The Elder Scrolls Online is coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 also adds more credence to the opinion that ZeniMax are aiming their game at more than just traditional MMORPG players, and they’re making sure they have the gameplay to back up their ‘all things to all people‘ rhetoric.

To hear the full unedited audio of the interview with Matt and to read an extensive five page preview of The Elder Scrolls Online, check out the latest issue of FirstLook magazine which is embedded below:


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