ZeniMax Media and Bethesda released the gargantuan MMORPG The Elder Scrolls Online back in the spring of 2014. The game was greeted with some critical acclaim and some disdain, but for a game like this, what it is has never been about a one off judgment pass on launch day.
The Elder Scrolls Online and other MMORPGs are the definitions of a living, changing game that evolve over time. Developer ZeniMax has certainly learned what fans have enjoyed in The Elder Scrolls Online and what they would prefer to deal without.
No matter what you want to say about it, the subscriptions Elder Scrolls Online launched with in 2014 did not do the game any favors, and fan feedback reflected that. For the team at ZeniMax and those at Bethesda, the decision to drop subscriptions heading into the game’s PS4 and Xbox One launch was clear.
“The decision came about by us listening to our fan’s feedback – they really liked the fact that they had so much freedom in the game and they wanted that same freedom with their payment methods.
“So, we changed our subscription-required payment model to subscription-optional, and we created a virtual currency/in-game store system that allows players to purchase customization and convenience items. Player reaction has been outstandingly positive since we announced the change, and especially since the changes went live on March 17,” Elder Scrolls Online Game Director Matt Firor told zoomdune.com.
The decision to drop subscriptions seemed obvious from a fan’s perspectives for a while, but changes such as that can take longer than expected. It was earlier this year that Bethesda and ZeniMax revealed the game’s subscription model would be dropped on March 17.
How a game plays on PC and MAC versus the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are two different things. Computer games share a lot of the same characteristics as console titles, but things like a game’s user interface (UI) must be realigned to fit each one. ZeniMax didn’t try to even bother with restructuring PC and MAC’s UI for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, so they decided to build a new one from scratch.
“As gameplay on a controller is inherently different from gameplay on a keyboard/mouse, we made the decision to completely re-create ESO’s UI from the ground-up for console. As such, it was a major development effort, but it will be worth it, as you will see when you pick up a controller to play the game,” Firor said.
Restructuring a game’s UI means rethinking how players experience a game with a controller in their hands. Surely the decision to build a new UI from the ground up saved valuable time and resources, even if it came with its own challenges.
Some other issues the development team encountered when bringing The Elder Scrolls Online to the PS4 and Xbox One were things such as game performance and “replacing the game’s text/keyboard chat system with voice chat.” Outside of the already mentioned changes though, Elder Scrolls Online for PS4 and Xbox One is the same game as its PC and MAC’s siblings.
Some people may be hesitant to pick up the game on console because it was originally made for PC and MAC, but ZeniMax assures that the game is the same regardless of platform. Firor talked about the latter and provided additional thoughts about the game coming to console.
“Different types of game development have their own challenges. Just making a major MMO is one of the most difficult tech tasks there is – so taking it to console had its nuances and work that had to be done. As for communities, I think anyone that enjoys playing online RPGs of this type will enjoy the game equally, no matter which platform on which they are playing it,” Firor said.
Resolution and frame rate (fps) are always topics that come up prior to and after a game has launched. For The Elder Scrolls Online, Firor said the studio is targeting 30fps, in addition to 1080p resolution on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. He added that he didn’t see anything “that would change that” even though they are still doing optimization work.
ZeniMax has been working on The Elder Scrolls Online for years and with its second full launching nearly here, there are a lot of memories for Firor to think about. Through the good times and bad, there were plenty for him to choose from, but his most memorable moment was when The Elder Scrolls Online first debuted last year.
“Probably the most memorable moment was when the game launched last year and I finally was able to see real players running around in the world, having fun and exploring Tamriel. There’s no feeling like that in the world,” Firor said.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited will be releasing this coming June 9 and it will be available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.