Ever since the days of its pre-release beta period, The Elder Scrolls Online has been fighting an uphill battle against negative consumer impression. Many heralded its March 2015 transition from a purely subscription-based MMO into a free-to-play experience as the beginning of the end for developer Zenimax’s attempt to transfer the otherwise single-player-focused Elder Scrolls experience into a massive online setting. However, not only has The Elder Scrolls Online quietly thrived ever since its transition into F2P, it is now ushering in yet another major change that could mark the beginning of a new era for all MMO games.
The Elder Scrolls Online’s “One Tamriel” update, which has actually been available for the PC version of the game since October 5th, will arrive for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game in just a few days on October 18th. The update makes two radical changes to the game, the first being the complete removal of the three-pronged faction system that divided the playerbase and led to many frustrating situations wherein friends couldn’t play together because their characters were in different factions. Once the update is live, all players will be free to group up and adventure together regardless of what race or faction their character belongs to.
Second, the One Tamriel update removes all level restrictions from the game’s world and incorporates a new system where all of the game’s content dynamically scales to a player’s level. This means that a player can log into the game, go literally anywhere, and find content appropriate to their character’s level. Not only does this pair up nicely with Zenimax’s goal of making The Elder Scrolls Online feel more like the single-player Elder Scrolls games (games which allowed the player to venture wherever they liked at any time), it also makes the MMO more accessible since players can freely group up with any other player, regardless of their individual character levels.
Personally, I hope this becomes a standard system in more, if not all, MMO games moving forward. The idea of a linear system in which players have to slowly progress from a specific zone to another specific zone based on their character level feels so antiquated now, and it’s about time MMO games evolved. Other MMO’s like World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2 have experimented with similar content-scaling systems, but the quicker they come more in line with what The Elder Scrolls Online is doing, the better.