Interview: Chatting about The Elder Scrolls Online with Director Matt Firor
Bethesda and Zenimax Online Studios revealed that they were working on an MMO project based on The Elder Scrolls just over a year ago. The project, aptly titled The Elder Scrolls Online, is due out later this year, and since its announcement it has received a large amount of coverage. I spoke with Director Matt Firor at a recent Bethesda press event, and we discussed Elder Scrolls Online, what folks can expect from the game, and more.
GameZone: First off, The Elder Scrolls Online has been on the receiving end of some mixed reactions. How do you address folks who haven't been exactly supportive of the idea of an MMO based on Elder Scrolls?
Matt Firor: Well, you have to concentrate on the people who have actually played it. We've been at PAX East where it was hands-on, and we've gotten lots of feedback from people who’ve gotten hands-on. The reaction from them has generally been super positive, and these are the people we care about. We care about what the fans and the people who are actually looking forward to the game have to say, because they're the audience we're making this game for.
GZ: How do you take a franchise as revered and expansive as Elder Scrolls and take it into the MMO spectrum without just saying, “Here's an Elder Scrolls game you can play online”?
MF: Well, that's it right there: It's an Elder Scrolls game you can play online! (laughs) We wanted to make it's very comfortable for Elder Scrolls players that have never played an MMO. It doesn't have a giant UI, and the mechanics are very Elder Scrolls-like. You can solo vast portions of the game, but if you do see someone who needs help, you can team up in that portion of the game.
GZ: How big is the scope of Elder Scrolls Online right from the get-go when compared to Skyrim? Is it already a much bigger game than Bethesda's previous open world RPG endeavor?
MF: Yeah, by definition it is because we cover the whole continent. It's a big game. As a multiplayer game, we want to make sure it keeps players interested for months and months and months. There's post-launch content planned but we need tons of content, tons of systems to keep players engaged.
GZ: Will Elder Scrolls fans feel right at home if they're not actually MMO fans? Can you recommend this game to individuals who may not exactly be fond of the genre but love Elder Scrolls?
MF: Absolutely. The term "MMO" is becoming unwieldy these days because there are tons of games that have MMO elements but aren't MMOs.
GZ: What if someone would rather play without anyone else? Is Elder Scrolls Online a competent, engaging single-player experience? Are there advantages to playing it strictly as a traditional MMO?
MF: No, you can play vast portions of the game solo and never interact with another player and have a great experience. In fact, we expect guys who are experienced with the single-player to play solo, and if they run into another player, they can join them, too.
GZ: How do you plan on supporting Elder Scrolls Online post-launch? Are you keeping both the single-player and multiplayer demographics in mind?
MF: Yeah, absolutely. There’s always going to be that exploration level in-game that everyone knows and loves where you find secrets across the country, but there are also the MMO tropes, such as grinding, for example. We don't tell the player what the end game is. If you want to go out and get your player to level 50 and craft, and that's the end game for you, that's fine.
GZ: How many players will be able to enter the world of Elder Scrolls Online at once?
MF: Theoretically, unlimited, because we will support large groups of players. We will support a lot of players. You can have a large group of people playing together at any given time, but we will continue to improve the servers and increase the number of people playing at the same time together.
Thanks to Matt Firor for taking the time to sit down with me and answer my questions regarding The Elder Scrolls Online. The game is due out for the PC later this year, so if you're a fan of the Elder Scrolls games, keep a lookout for this one.
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