Posted Fri, Aug 02, 2013 by Dalmarus
Up until recently, the Elder Scrolls Online has been the most anticipated MMORPG for pure fantasy fans. Previously expected to release later this year, the game launch has been pushed back after the recent announcement that it would be released on the Playstation 4 at the same time as PC. With that announcement, the hype train has slowed down. Today, Sony Online Entertainment officially announced their new baby, EverQuest Next. Now that the cat is out of the bag and the world is scrambling for all the information they can get on this new title, it’s time to see how these two heavyweights match up against one other.
To be sure, there are other titles releasing relatively soon, but EverQuest Next and Elder Scrolls Online are the two titles that will appeal to those looking for a new fantasy fix, since both are based in classic fantasy settings. EverQuest Next has a huge following of classic EverQuest players hoping to recapture the magic of the past with this new title and from everything I’ve seen so far, there’s a real possibility that can actually happen. At the same time, don’t be quick to dismiss the appeal of Elder Scrolls Online. This may be the first MMO coming from the company, but not only is it packed with a massive amount of industry veterans of the highest order, the franchise’s single player games have created an incredible following. Skyrim alone sold millions upon millions of copies just in the first two weeks of its release and virtually all of them asked for one thing – to make the game multiplayer and that’s essentially just what Elder Scrolls Online is. EverQuest Next will certainly have its work cut out for it.
One important aspect of every game’s survival is the timing of its launch window. As BioWare learned with Star Wars: The Old Republic, releasing during the week of Christmas was not the best thing the company could have done. By the time release day came around, parent’s had already long previously purchased their children’s presents. In a similar vein, Elder Scrolls Online was the media’s baby for most of the summer, but once the game’s launch delay was announced, its hype-train has lost a lot of momentum. Compared to two months ago, ESO is practically sitting on the back burner for many gamers now. At the same time, the EverQuest Next train is taking full advantage of this lull and is now barreling down the track at full speed and looks to have no plans of stopping any time before launch.
In some ways, both games are very similar and will appeal to the same audience. Elder Scrolls Online has taken the path of the traditional fantasy MMORPG but has added a very engaging combat system, will reintroduce the gaming masses to public dungeons, and have created a sprawling world with a seemingly never ending amount or quests to complete and dungeons to explore.
EverQuest Next will engage the same audience in a similar manner in terms of fantasy content, but have chosen to go a different route and is attempting to rewrite the book on the genre in general. The entire way quests, classes, and exploration work have all been retooled from what players are used to. It sounds like a tall order, but that’s exactly what they did with the release of the first EverQuest so if any company can pull it off, it’s SOE.
So the big question at the end of the day is this – will they actually be competitors or will they appeal to two different players? On the surface, I think the easy answer is that they are in direct competition. Both are high fantasy games, both games are being built by developers that have a deep love of the EverQuest franchise, and both companies are creating an incredibly massive, living world for their players to discover and explore.
I think the truth of the matter though is that both games are going to appeal most to two very different audiences and here’s why. Elder Scrolls Online has some different aspects from other fantasy MMORPGs we’ve seen in the past, but when everything is said and done, it is still a very traditional game. Players that have been involved with these type of games for quite some time already may give Elder Scrolls Online a chance, but will most likely not stick with (despite it being a very enjoyable game, in my opinion). The player base is extremely fickle and will most likely think of the game as more of the same.
That said though, I have no doubt Elder Scrolls Online will be a massive success because they’re going to do for the industry what World of Warcraft did when it released – they’re going to bring in a whole new group of console gamers that have never played an MMORPG on the PC. When I say the series has a massive following, it can’t be understated just how hugely successful the franchise has been. Allowing fans to essentially play Skyrim with a bunch of other players with all new quests and dungeons in an even bigger landscape will appeal to virtually all of their fans. And that numbers in the *millions*.
At the same time, I think EverQuest Next will appeal to not only the horde of EQ1 fans they have, but a lot of players currently disenfranchised with the way the game industry has pumped out games over the last 5 years or so. They’re looking for something different, for someone to rewrite the book as they know it and that’s exactly what EverQuest Next is going to do. It’s going to be the game parents who played EverQuest 14 years ago are going to sit down with their kids and play with them now. Those kids are going to convince their friends to play, and perhaps even get their own parents involved since the artwork is so distinctly “Pixar-like”.
To be sure, this will be a battle of the ages, but I for one can’t wait to see how things shake down. I’ve got great respect for both companies and the games they’ve created. I think I’ll be one of a relatively small group of gamers that plays and enjoys both, but you never know. Stay tuned to see what happens in the battle between these two behemoths!