It's Sunday again and that means it's time for the news again. Fairly big stories hit the web this week so we've got some pretty juicy stuff to discuss. Let's get right to it!
Bethesda Making an Elder Scrolls MMO?
When Skyrim came out earlier this year one of the most popular comments on various gaming websites and blogs was, "If only this were an MMO!" Well, if this report from Tom's Hardware is accurate, we might be getting just that very soon. Their report cites unnamed sources close to Bethesda as stating that an MMO based in the Elder Scrolls universe will be announced in May of this year and have "some presence" at E3 and QuakeCon. Honestly this really doesn't excite me for two reasons. The first is that I have never been a big fan of Elder Scrolls to begin with. They are great games, just not my style. They are a little too free form for my liking. I enjoy freedom as much as the next person, but I need a little more structure than what their games typically offer. The other reason I'm not so excited is I just saw a studio with a great single-player pedigree (Bioware) really disappoint me with their first MMO offering (Star Wars: The Old Republic.) So right now I'm a little hesitant to say, "Well it's Bethesda and Elder Scrolls, of course it will rock!"
The other thing I find curious here is the reference to QuakeCon. I know publicity is the name of the game these days and creating interest in your title is important to every studio. But QuakeCon seems like an odd venue to show off an MMO. QuakeCon is home to shooter fanatics, and while I enjoy a good frag fest as much as the next guy, it doesn't seem to fit as the place for a studio to show off its first MMO... unless of course that MMO happens to be more shooter than it is RPG. Considering all three of the most recent Elder Scrolls games were playable in a first-person perspective, it is not entirely a stretch to imagine that an MMO would follow suit and perhaps even borrow more heavily from shooter based elements. Who knows... we'll just have to wait and see what May brings.
Diablo 3 is Officially Released from Hell
Following on the heels of the news last week that its PvP components would be disabled in order to make its launch date, the official release date for Diablo 3 was announced this week by Blizzard. D3 will (not exactly) hit a shelf near you on May 15th. I somewhat joke about the "shelf space" because boxed editions of PC games are becoming about as rare as a politician without their foot in their mouth during campaign season. Digital distribution is all the rage and companies like Blizzard and EA are scrambling to get into the space that Valve and their Steam client have dominated for years. But I suppose we can see now why the PvP features were delayed. With a little less than two months to launch, it would be very difficult for Blizzard to get all those components working to everyone's satisfaction.
But at the same time this sort of alludes to a point I made earlier this week about Blizzard itself. Something is going on there. Before Blizzard lived by the mantra, "When it's ready." Release dates were malleable. If something needed more time, it got more time. Blizzard games were always known for one thing above all else, absurd amounts of polish. You could talk about balancing issues in Starcraft or broken classes in World of Warcraft, but the games always looked, felt, and played good. It was Blizzard's claim to fame. But is that going away? Are they starting to feel the pressure of being one of the most profitable divisions of a larger corporate entity? Is "When it's ready," giving way to, "When we need the money?" I don't know and I'm not ready to write Blizzard off as a corporate "stooge," but it does bear watching.
More info on The Secret World Revealed!
Again if you are a reader of this blog, it is no secret (no pun intended) that Funcom's upcoming MMO The Secret World is one of the games I am really looking forward to this summer. They showed off the game at the recent GDC event and this time rather than give you all the individual links to the various previews and reactions, I'm just going to give you the link to the page on the official site where Funcom has already done that work for me. You'll find almost all the major sites on that list, as well as a few foreign language links for those folks who are so inclined.
For me the biggest piece of new information here was the stuff about TSW's crafting system. It feels potentially a lot like the skill system in that it will be simple to create basic gear and equipment, but it will also reward players who want to really get into the system and learn how to create gear with very specific benefits. It also gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, Funcom will get away from the "raid or die" model that has dominated the endgame of almost every MMO release in the past five years. Maybe crafting will be a legitimate path of advancement and a way to continue to improve your character without having to resort to the mindless "treadmill" of raid instance farming. Too much to hope for? Probably. But a gamer can dream.
Check back tomorrow for my RIFT project that I'm hoping will carry me until TSW's release. It should be an entertaining way to pass the time.