One Tamriel! How’bout that?

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.

Why i am excited for Dark Brotherhood

Yesterday the first news regarding the Dark Brotherhood DLC for Elder Scrolls Online were published, and i’m pretty excited for the changes as well as the content that come with it. I’m nowhere near to needing new content, however, after seeing what the previous PvE-centric DLC looked like, i’m pretty sure this one’s going to be a blast, too. But it’s not only the content i’m looking forward to.

Crafting Bags

Inventory management is a big part of Elder Scrolls Online, and it is by design, at least to some extent. As the developers told us, we don’t have to hoard everything- we can and should sell our stuff, to NPCs or players alike. The trading system of Elder Scrolls Online is unique in a way that seems almost old-school, as there are no auction halls, global or regional, so if you want to profit from trade, you’ll have to be part of a trading guild. There are two points of view i have on this: first, i like it, because on the surface, this system fosters socializing- you need to join other players actively to be able to trade. The downside, however, is that you have to join other players actively if you want to trade with them. That’s like having mandatory dungeon runs without a group finder tool- it’s just a hassle. However, the trading system of ESO is not today’s topic- and there’ll come a solution with the DLC.

Now, where did i put this?
Now, where did i put this?

The crafting bags for subscribers. They’ll be endless and hold crafting materials- great! I can see inventory problems simply going away with that addition alone- although it is entirely possible that one simply keeps other trash in the inventory. We’ll see, but as it stands, they’re already the reason for me to be and remain subbed to Elder Scrolls Online, because the moment i heard they’ll be coming, i subscribed, as i knew i would do that whenever they’ll drop. Until then, there’s no need for me to buy DLC and i accumulate some crowns for the ingame shop to spend on fluff. As for the crafting bags- if they’re account-wide, i’m game.

The downside, however, is two-fold. It will allow us to keep all the mats. If you think about it, normally, the need to prioritize would be a good thing- if there was a good trading system. Interdependancy is a good system to have in your MMO, and making players prioritize on which mats to keep and which to sell could improve the ingame player market.

The other one is that maybe, guild banks are in for a rough time then. Right now, our small guild bank holds 180 different stacks of items already, and it has only been open for a week. Clearly, we aren’t talking about generosity alone- putting stuff in the guild bank is one way of easing your own inventory stress. When the crafting bags come, it might take a more deliberate will of sharing stuff with others to fill the guild bank. Thinking about it, that’s not a bad thing at all.

Removal of Veteran Ranks

I’m actually kind of sad. I’ve bought the game at release and played it for a month or two. I returned for a short time when it went buy-to-play. I haven’t played much and didn’t fall in love with the game until i discovered Laeloria. But that one took me in- of course this isn’t the only reason for me liking the game so much, but it is the reason for why i feel a strange “connection” with the Daedra Azura and might make her symbol part of our guild’s heraldry. However, my main character is level 34 right now and i don’t expect her to reach her 50s before Dark Brotherhood hits, so i’ll probably never see Veteran Ranks in action.

Here's Nuria in 2014.
Here’s Nuria in 2014.

It will be interesting to see how progression works, then, and how it’ll be different. As far as i know, champion points are the new veteran ranks, so it might just be that there’ll not be much of a difference- although i believe the CPs to be better suited as they come quicker.

Character slots

I don’t need them- i’ve deleted some of my characters and stand at 3 characters now, possibly 5 in the close future. But Elder Scrolls Online has so many different ways to build your character- at the most basic view, you can create all classes with a magicka or stamina focus. Doing that would put you to occupy all currently available character slots. You could also play every class in every role- then, you’d need 12 slots. There are lots of ways to build your characters and, in my opinion, despite being a linear affair (though with all the DLC it isn’t so bad anymore), there’s lots of replay value in the game.

So i really like the addition of character slots to the crown store.

The actual DLC

Oh yes, there’s a DLC involved, too. After seeing how great being a thief works in the game and how much fun it is, this might be the first time i’m excited about being able to sneak around and eliminate targets in the game. While i haven’t seen much of the Thieves Guild yet, i can already see that playing the DLC is a change of pace and very interesting gameplay. Also, Isarii likes it- and when it comes to MMO design, i have a high regard of his opinion since he wrote that great post about shooting ourselves in the foot by joining multigaming guilds. While forming an opinion on his alone wouldn’t make sense, i think reading about his enjoyment adds in nicely with my own impressions.

Azura statue in Laeloria
Azura statue in Laeloria

So here i am, looking forward to sneaky content. Who would have thought? But by now, nothing’s surprising me anymore- i wouldn’t have thought to find MMO homes in Elder Scrolls Online (2 years old) and EVE online (ancient), and yet, here i am.

Information about the next DLC

This might sound strange regarding the paragraph above, but i actually look forward to when we can file both Thieves Guild and The Dark Brotherhood into the “released” folder, because i am highly curious about what’s to come. I do hope for non-combat content and/or improvements to trade (no global auction house, though) or maybe even a new class, i don’t know and i have no idea. But i’m sure i’ll play it.

Travel log: Orsinium sights

Tonight, our guild group has been to Wrothgar, again. I have to say, i love how we can simply set off out of the city and go exploring. We tried to follow quests, but were soon distracted by stuff we saw in the landscape- and also, because Edu is one difficult boss to kill.

On our travels we saw a museum, fought and were killed by Edu, maybe a Goblin boss, i don’t know, because we didn’t see him for all the ogres he sent our way, an arena where Orc clans settled their war, a giant statue of Malacath and Coldperch Cavern, a delve in Wrothgar. And also, a lot of beautiful sights.

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