Do you remember the first time you watched the shocking conclusion to the Sixth Sense? Or how you recoiled in consternate terror when the bloated, decapitated head of a trawler drifted out of the aperture of the submerged vessel, much to the lovable biologists chagrin in Jaws? Or when Bambi’s mother is dispatched off-screen, heralded by the provident bellow of a rifle and likely shot in the face? All these emblematic moments conjure grief, antagonized curiosity, hunger and surprise. Well perhaps not hunger, but certainly a residual observance of emotive intensity. Now imagine applying these shock values to myself when Bethesda announced that The Elder Scrolls Online (now reclassified as “Tamriel unlimited”) had finally abolished the rather divisive mandatory subscriptions. Now I used the word “imagine” because I’m not surprised. Nor in fact is anyone. I don’t believe even my Nan would be at all aggrieved by this decision and she still refers to my PlayStation as a “GameStation”. It’s renouncement is derived from a rather tumultuous gestation of lingering issues, notably the mediocrity of its execution. It hasn’t regaled the throng of fanatics you’d expect from a publisher that enamoured these same fans with the likes of Oblivion and Skyrim. This once courted maiden has been repellently ravished, her mutilated body deprived of both dignity and coin, tossed into the moat that reticulated around the Imperial City without hindrance or remorse for the loathsome act of moral degradation committed. But the biggest problem that formulates from this inevitable disclosure, other than my bespoke placidity, is composed apathy. I just couldn’t care less now.
It’s surreptitious activity on console has become a flagrant omission for such an extended period of time now, that many have simply vacated to more promising endeavours, like the Witcher 3 for instance. My ambivalence to this game comes courtesy of the errant susceptibility of gamers like myself expecting a grandiose depiction of the continent of Tamriel, but receiving standardised interpretation of other MMO’s, with subsidised Elder Scrolls lineage to evoke a mild recognition to its title. The convergence of rebukes that now saturates its release has tainted any salient opinion I could have had and its perpetuating enmity won’t be amended by languid contractions that never should have been included on a console format in the first place, where we already subscribe for the privilege of internet gaming! I love this series and I commend its ambition to expand on its single player design, but as intrigued as I “was” I’ve also remained prevalently reticent. Single player always induced an immediate emphasis to you and your character specifically. Whether you were a partisan dedicated to the preservation of democracy, aiding a lowly scribe to attain his sovereignty as king or an escaped convict that inherits draconian rasp capable of vanquishing Dragons and knocking impertinent buckets off mountains, events always transpired around you. So to include millions of potential “chosen ones” is a contradiction, one that diminishes your role as an adventurer when it’s so easily procured by others.
Your prominence as an ethereal champion of justice, or abhorrent torturer of civilisation becomes a ubiquitous similarity, mirrored by everyone who possesses a copy of the game. Irrespective of your preferred customizations Tamriel will be populated by warriors and mages exerting cultural specificities unique to their class and species, that won’t be unique?! Crafting similar items, similar vocations, purchasing the exact same weapons, conducting experimental alchemy that has already yielded results for someone else. I want to be the special one! The saviour, the powerful hero, the Nord that saves a village from a dragon siege and then kicks a goat through a fence for no reason! Sharing this dominion with far superior inhabitants abates my role in a game that should make me feel like a god! But, and this is a glimmer of hope for Tamriel Unlimited, my preferred method of transportation in Skyrim was wandering aimlessly through verdant pastures or astride rippling bodies of water, and the opportunity to explore the autumnal environments of Morrowind or the impoverished chill of Skyrims brisk climate is an allure. Well, as long no one attempts to chastised or indeed teabag me on one of my leisurely strolls.
Securing the fealty of abject fans was never going to be amended with one simple gesture, and many of my revised scepticism’s are derived from speculative conjecture that will likely be advocated on its release. I’m hesitant to commit or refuse its advances, cloistered by the preservation of abstinence, despite prior conviction that I didn’t care. Whether I’ll buy it or not is really only mitigated by one validated truth; that this is the first time I wasn’t sure if I wanted to buy an Elder Scrolls game. What in the world happened?
Are you as benign and unconvinced as I am about the Tamriel Unlimited? Let me know your thoughts. Cheers.