The Elder Scrolls

The Elder Scrolls: The Battle for Tamriel – My Ultimate Dream RTS

TheElderScrolls15 - The Elder Scrolls: The Battle for Tamriel - My Ultimate Dream RTS

TL;DR, Microsoft should put together an Elder Scrolls RTS, and should shamelessly take inspiration from the style, design, and gameplay of The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth.

Disclaimer: I am not a lore beard.

Where to begin… ah yes. Well, I'm an RTS guy. From childhood, I've held Age of Empires and WarCraft III in highest esteem, and only finally got into RPGs when a friend let me borrow Oblivion in high school. In my opinion, The Elder Scrolls holds more potential than most IPs to produce a fully articulated RTS (especially considering Halo put one out… which I actually enjoyed quite a bit!).

When the world was young, and EA still held a crippling monopoly over Peter Jackson's LOTR videogame rights, they happened to produce one of the most visually stunning and nostalgia-inducing Real Time Strategy games of all time: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth.

As it was rushed through production (this is EA we're talking about), there were quite a lot of rough edges, particularly when it came to team balance (of the playable factions, Rohan featured the majority of the cast of the film series as god-heroes, Mordor literally got free units and is still the unqualified worst faction to play, while Gondor and Isengard felt like they had actually gone through some basic play-testing, which given the other two factions, made them feel totally broken too). But don't let that hang you up: the game is fantastic.

The visual design was, for the time, stunningly faithful: the glistening Gondor armor, the brutality of Uruk Berserkers, all rendered like the movies portrayed. Audio files were taken directly from the movies, including Howard Shore's award-winning musical compositions, dialogue from the films, and even all-new voice-over from the same actors that portrayed their characters in the movies. Heroes had skills and powers, and certain larger, more consequential abilities were unlockable by the player as each standard game progressed. To cap it off, there was an enormous story mode, allowing players to either follow the progression of the main story of the films through Moria, Helm's Deep, Minas Tirith, and the Black Gate, or a dystopian alterverse, where players would lead Isengard and Mordor to victory in all the same battles.

Many of the issues the 1st installment suffered from were then tweaked (to varying levels of success) in the sequel, The Battle for Middle Earth II, which also enjoyed a console release. New factions were added (Elves, Dwarves, and Goblins all became playable with Rohan and Gondor regrettably being lumped into a nerfed "Men" faction). A new campaign was added, pulled straight from the lore of Tolkien's Appendices, with the same option to play as "good" or "evil" factions. Team balance was addressed, with each faction enjoying a fairly uniform quantity and quality of heroes, abilities, and unit types. Furthermore, a "Create a Hero" option was thrown in, allowing players to create custom heroes, which were restrictively balanced enough to be playable in Online Matches. The next year, an expansion added a 7th faction, Angmar, to the battlefield, along with another full campaign centering the Witch King's rise to power in the North.

I'm trying to strike a balance here between "this is just a post about The Battle for Middle Earth," and giving folx who haven't played the games a decent idea of it's virtues.

Look: BFME is fucking awesome.

Now, seeing as how we're in r/ElderScrolls, let's talk about Elder Scrolls.


Imagine a similar set up.

Factions could be designed around each playable race (an Argonian faction, a Breton faction, etc), or potentially fewer, larger, race-spanning alliances, depending on the time-period depicted (Aldmeri Dominion, Alessian Empire, etc). Factions like the Nords would be able to send the Dovahkiin into battle beside standard lines of troops, and summon werewolf Companions as greater powers, while the Dunmer asymmetrically base their entire playstyle around utilizing the powers of the Tribunal. Khajit might be a fully nomadic build, not unlike what has recently been revealed for the Mongols in Age of Empires IV, while the Imperials would be a fairly traditional, straightforward "walls, castles, and farms" design (featuring Tiber Septim, of course). Expansions could see the introduction of the Dwemer, a powerful society based around their automechanicals and Falmer slaves, who can summon the Numidium in place of BFME's Balrog as a game-ending Ultimate Ability. I'd love to hear what y'all think for factions, there are literally limitless possibilities here (would the Orcs be better off as the Stronghold variety we see in Skyrim, or city-builders from Orsinium? I can't decide! How would the Argonians' Hist Worship be manifested in gameplay?).

Gameplay would involve leveraging your heroes' abilities to your advantage. The Dragonborn would have an Unrelenting Force shout to send units flying (like Ganfalf's Wizard's Blast), while Gaiden Shinji's blademaster abilities would make him invulnerable for short windows of time. To get some of that classic Elder Scrolls feel, BFME's Custom Hero Creation could be leveraged with full RPG/MMO elements, allowing players to create custom heroes to recruit while playing online, and even unlock new abilities and gear for those custom heroes. In other words, YOUR Dovahkiin, YOUR Nerevarine, YOUR Hero of Kvatch would be a recruitable hero in online battles and gameplay.

Story mode could center any number of campaigns, while importantly making up for one of the most universal community critiques of the games generally: the lost scope of the scale of the conflicts described in Elder Scrolls Lore. There could be single-mission stories (like AoE's "Historical Battles"), such as an Oblivion Crisis with thousands of daedra pouring out of gates for your Cyrodilic County Alliance to fend off, led by Martin and the Hero, putting down the Sixth House on Vvardenfell with the Nerevarine, or defending Orsinium from seige. Ideally, there'd be at least one full fledged, fully voiced, multi-mission campaign, covering the War of the Red Diamond, the Skyrim Civil War, an in-depth exploration of an Akaviri Invasion, or (and I can't even pretend not to get giddy thinking about it) the initial conquest and formation of the Septim Empire. For Elder Scrolls campaigns, the only question is "which ones!?"

Jeremy Soule's music would underpin the entire experience and voice-over would give the Dragonborn, Vivek, and the Underking their own distinct in-game personalities.

There's a lot of potential here I'm not going to mention, let alone the potential I'm sure I'm missing, but that's what I hope this discussion becomes.

So… How about it? How do we convince Microsoft to begin producing this game as soon as Age of Empires IV is released?

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