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News video games 09 April 2024, 02:17

author: Martin Bukowski

Skyrim Posed Greater Threat to ESO Than WoW and Other MMORPGs. Devs had to Embrace „Elder Scrolls Way”

The Elder Scrolls Online initially looked very different, and the release of Skyrim forced the developers to make many changes.

Source: Zenimax Online Studios

The Elder Scrolls Online recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the devs arranged a stream during which they shared their memories and emotions related to the game. One of the more intriguing sections was when the developers discussed the significant influence that the release of Skyrim had on ESO's development. It turned out to be bigger than any MMORPG on the market, with World of Warcraft at the forefront.

Skyrim changed everything

Rich Lambert, the creative director at Zenimax Online Studios, has been involved with the popular MMORPG from the very beginning. Already then, the main idea was to make The Elder Scrolls, not a regular online game. The problem arose when Skyrim was released in 2011, proving to be so different from the original plan that a decision to remake the production was almost immediately taken.

Skyrim Posed Greater Threat to ESO Than WoW and Other MMORPGs. Devs had to Embrace „Elder Scrolls Way” - picture #1
Screenshot displayed during the stream of The Elder Scrolls Online prototype. Source: Zenimax Online Studios.

The camera was the first thing to be addressed, originally intended to mimic other available MMOs on the market. Originally, it was further away and provided a wider viewing angle. After seeing the first-person and third-person views in Skyrim, however, the team felt that it was necessary to implement the same thing in ESO.

Conversations with independent characters have also been revised, which were originally just "large blocks of text."

We didn't originally design ESO to be fully voiced. We didn't have the immersive interactions with the NPCs, we didn't have them talking to you. We didn't have all the emotion on the faces and things like that, so we had to solve those problems.

The controls have also changed. Skyrim was a huge success on consoles, which meant ESO had to adapt to them. The issue was that MMORPG games were inherently designed for keyboard and mouse gameplay, given their significant complexity that necessitated the use of multiple keys. The desire to implement controller support forced the devs to change everything, from combat to interface.

We started thinking more about what does the controller actually mean? It was mouse and keyboard originally, so controllers meant we probably had to do less buttons, and figure out how that worked.

As a result, we obtained the system known today with five active skills and one "ultimate" ability. According to Lambert, this made ESO a game about "choosing your build before going into battle," rather than one created with the principle of "I have hundreds of skills and can use all of them at once."

In the end, it can probably be said that the changes implemented by Skyrim have been good for The Elder Scrolls Online. The developers are currently working on the eighth "major expansion - Gold Road (launching on June 3rd on PC and June 18th on consoles) - and have recently announced that the total player count has surpassed 24 million.

Martin Bukowski

Martin Bukowski

Graduate of Electronics and Telecommunications at the Gdańsk University of Technology, who decided to dedicate his life to video games. In his childhood, he would get lost in the Gothic's Valley of Mines and "grind for gold" in League of Legends. Twenty years later, games still entertain him just as much. Today, he considers the Persona series and soulslike titles from From Software as his favorite games. He avoids consoles, and a special place in his heart is reserved for PC. In his spare time, he works as a translator, is creating his first game, or spends time watching movies and series (mainly animated ones).