When people talk about MMO comebacks, they’ll mostly give Final Fantasy XIV as an example. Of course this is true, FFXIV in its current state is immensely better than what they released as V1.0. But this one was essentially rebuilt- it wasn’t evolution that brought FFXIV from 1.0 to 2.0, it was recreation.

Elder Scrolls Online wasn’t too well-received when it released, although i believe this was born more out of disappointment of players who didn’t feel like their interests took the front seat in the game design- as we’ve often read, MMO players felt the game was not MMO enough and Skyrim players felt ESO wasn’t Skyrim enough. Both groups of players felt neglected to some extent. These days, i feel like we are seeing Elder Scrolls Online stepping up to satisfy both player types and the birth of the next great MMORPG- i mean, it has been in the making for quite some time now, but Elder Scrolls Online will be shaping itself up to a set of features and scope that will see it propelled to be one of the best if not the best MMORPG to be released in this decade at least. In my opinion, of course.

Elder Scrolls Online is a great MMORPG with a few things that hinder it at becoming the top MMO for me. To mention a few things:

  • at release and until recently, the prospect of having to quest through all three campaigns with each and every character scared me. That’s at least 300 hours of content if you rush and that would mean about a year or two of me playing only one character and only Elder Scrolls Online. After that, i’d be ready for DLC and Cyrodiil.
  • group options – for people like me and guilds like ours, level scaling is not optional, it’s very important to enable us to do stuff together. It’s great that the DLC are scaled, but going there and doing stuff would mean to almost skip over entire zones in the base game (i saw about a quarter of Greenshade, if it was that much)
  • non-combat content like housing is missing
  • trading with other players still requires us to join trading guilds

I might be a bit too optimistic here, but it seems that at the end of 2016, only the issue of trading with other players will remain, as housing is probably coming this year and yesterday, Matt Firor announced “One Tamriel”.

In other words, we’re bringing the same auto-leveling system (called “battle leveling”) that has been so successful in our DLCs to the entire game.

Here are the basics:

  • Characters will have their level scaled the same way that we currently scale players to the level of DLC zones (Imperial City, Orsinium, Thieves Guild, and Dark Brotherhood).
  • You will be able to explore the entire world in any sequence you wish – just walk across the world and you will always find appropriately leveled content.
  • You will be able to play and group with anyone in the game at any time (outside of PvP). No longer will you have to create a lower level character to play with a friend who has just joined the game. You will be able to group and adventure together from the moment your friend emerges from the tutorial.
  • We are dropping all PvE Alliance restrictions. You will be free to explore of all Tamriel, including other Alliances. It is up to you how you want to role-play your character while doing this. “Silver” and “gold” versions of zones will be replaced by Cadwell quest storylines that you can do in any order you wish.
  • Alliance restrictions will still be enforced in all PvP areas, of course. One Tamriel will not affect the PvP systems in Cyrodiil.
  • In general, higher level players will be the same “level” as lower level players, but they will have far more tools in their arsenal: better gear, more abilities, and of course more Champion points.
  • We will adjust gear rewards to scale appropriately to make sure that there is always a way to get more powerful via crafting, questing, PvP, and dungeon/trial boss loot drops.
  • All Trials and Dungeons will continue with standard and Veteran difficulty modes, and you will have to be Veteran level to play veteran dungeon modes.
  • The Coldharbour zone will be “roped off” from players who have not yet completed the quests that lead there. However, if you are invited to a group that is already there, or travel to a friend who is there, you can immediately access the zone.

Sooo, level scaling in the whole game. Removal of alliance restrictions in PvE. Imagine what this means for a small guild like ours: finally, we can tackle all the content together. At any one time, we’ll be able to meaningfully form groups to help each other, be in each other’s company, run dungeons. We’ll also be able to recruit players from the other alliances, as we’re PvE-focussed anyway. I don’t know yet what that might mean for our leveling group of DC characters, but i guess it might have an influence, because we don’t need to watch each others’ character levels as closely as before and we’ll also be able to simply join up with whatever character we like.

Now give me a place to call my own, please!

Now give me a place to call my own, please!

For the solo player- and in my personal opinion questing is still better when doing it alone- this means that outleveling content will not be a problem anymore. This opens up so many possibilities like playing through whole DLCs before getting to 50, changing zones and so on. With this change, the leveling experience from 1 to 50 will be very alt-friendly indeed, because while you still can do everything with every character, the order in which to do that will be up to us, the players. This move alone will make the game feel even larger than it is right now.

I am very excited to see where ESO is going this year and i’m very happy with the current state as well as the prospect of what’s coming.