Yesterday we covered the news of Wolfenstein: The New Order’s impending console release later this month. Today we’re back with more Bethesda news, albeit of a sadder nature. The Elder Scrolls Online, which was originally scheduled to launch on Xbox One this June, has had its release date pushed back to later in the year.
Luckily, Bethesda does have some plans to appease disappointed console gamers. Buy and play the PC version of The Elder Scrolls Online (which launched in April) before the end of June and you’ll be able to transfer your character to the console version when it debuts in late 2014. More details on the delay and transfer program after the break!
Delay of game
Launching a Massively Multiplayer Online game (MMO) is just as massive an undertaking as the genre descriptor implies. Zenimax Online Studios (part of the same studio family as Bethesda) has worked on the project for more than five years already. Last year at E3 we played a near-final version of the PC game and came away impressed. All we could hope is that the Xbox One and Playstation 4 versions would reach the same level of quality while maintaining the feel we loved in offline predecessors Oblivion and Skyrim.
The April 2014 launch of the lead PC version of Elder Scrolls Online came and went largely free of the issues that have derailed many MMO launches. All the while, the developers have been hard at work getting the game up and running smoothly on new-gen consoles. As it turns out, that process has simply taken more time than Bethesda originally realized:
“We continue to work on the console versions of ESO, and game development has been progressing steadily, but we are still working to solve a series of unique problems specific to those platforms. Integrating our systems with each console manufacturer’s networks -- which are both different from the PC/Mac system as well as different from each other—has been a challenging process.
It has become clear that our planned June release of the console versions isn’t going to be possible. Though we have made great progress, we have concluded that we’ll need about six months to ensure we deliver the experience our fans expect and deserve.”
The decision to delay the Xbox One and Playstation 4 games until they're done is probably a better call than releasing the game in an overly buggy and unfinished state, as EA did with Battlefield 4 last year. Nobody wants to pay The Elder Scrolls Online’s $15 monthly fee if the game doesn’t even work right!
People who prefer consoles but really want to play Elder Scrolls Online right away are in luck. If you buy the PC or Mac game before the end of June (when the console game would originally have been released), your character will transfer over to the Xbox One or Playstation 4 when those versions eventually come out.
Even better, people who buy the game in time won’t have to pay full price when the console versions come along. Eligible PC and Mac gamers will have the option to buy the full digital version of Elder Scrolls Online for either console for $20, transferring their characters and receiving another 30 days of game time.
You don’t even need a full-powered gaming PC to play The Elder Scrolls Online. The Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 can each handle the game on “Low” and “Medium” settings at a playable frame rate of ~30 frames per second. Just make sure to use a mouse and keyboard since Elder Scrolls Online is not a native Windows 8 game.
Why transferring is cool
Why would someone who owns a PC want to play Elder Scrolls Online on console, anyway? After all, many PCs are much beefier than the Xbox One and will run the game at a higher resolution and with more graphical bells and whistles. Two simple answers: comfort, and friends!
Although it’s completely possible to connect a PC to an HDTV and play wirelessly from a couch or comfy chair, many people prefer not to do so. PC games are usually optimized for close viewing anyway, with fonts that would be downright unreadable from 8 or 10 feet away. Besides, many of us want to play with our Xbox Live friends. The PC and Xbox One versions don’t share the same servers, so PC gamers won’t be questing with Xbox One gamers unless they choose to transfer their characters and leave PC behind. Just try not to make too many new friends on PC...
The Xbox One and Playstation 4 versions of Elder Scrolls Online have a “late 2014” release date, presumably meaning December of this year. We’ll let you know when the release plans solidify further. Are any of you guys planning to grab the PC game and then switch over to Xbox One?