Although we’ve known for some time that The Elder Scrolls Online player housing will not feature at launch, it hasn’t stopped some of us discussing the importance of this iconic feature from throughout The Elder Scrolls franchise.
It’s clear from the currently announced features that Bethesda and Zenimax Online are aiming mainly towards the multiplayer experience, which is to be expected of an MMO game. Afterall, the entire foundations of the MMO game have been constructed based on the experience of multiple players.
Sadly however, the core appealing aspects of The Elder Scrolls Online player housing system is quite the opposite, being mainly a feature to compliment the experience of the solo player. Although many MMO games of today implement group, guild and alliance housing, the most popular player housing systems offer extensive variety and customization for the single player. Some of my most memorable experiences in The Elder Scrolls franchise have involved stamping my own mark of history on the world of Tamriel. The freedom of choice, the depth of customization and the touch of personality are all elements that make the housing in Elder Scrolls one of its most defining features.
One of my first activities in every Elder Scrolls game is to find a location that I want to make my own. Occasionally I find a nice abandoned property in a town but more often than not I search the wilds for my own little shack. Sadly it’s usually already inhabited but that’s quickly solved following a swift blow from my weapon of choice. Okay, so it’s not the most honorable way of obtaining a property, but it works. I then take to decorating my new home with a selection of helmets, enchanted armor, Daedric Artifacts, and other rare treasures that I’ve discovered on my journey’s through Tamriel.
When I analyze each step of my journey to obtaining my own property, I’m disheartened at how many of these features would not work in an MMO game. Even the largest of sandbox MMO games struggle to offer complete freedom when constructing your own home and The Elder Scrolls Online is far from a sandbox.
You’ve then got to deal with the potential problems of NPC’s. As far as I know there isn’t a single MMO game that allows for players to permanently kill off actual characters in the game. I’m not just talking about monsters and such, I’m talking about living characters that have a purpose and interact with the game world.
Then there’s the problem of items and placing them within the home. The Elder Scrolls games struggle with large amounts of items and that’s just from a single player. If 10,000 players filled a shard with hundreds of physics based items filling their houses, I’d imagine the core servers would explode.
We all love the ideas of The Elder Scrolls Online player housing feature, but will the restrictions of today’s MMO games leave enough room for Zenimax Online to deliver the experience so many Elder Scrolls fans crave? Only time will tell but this is one player that’s not expecting all that much.