Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online's Homestead player housing blew my mind

I usually like to bury my opinion behind a bit of measured fact-checking and the weight of opposing opinions, but Elder Scrolls Online hit all the right buttons for me with its new housing system. I have to sing its praises right now. Based on what I've seen on the public test server, Homestead will give us exactly what we are looking for in an MMO housing system.

Here comes the measured part: We won't really know exactly how the system will work in action until it hits live servers. Crafting and the horrid vendor system in ESO will likely make finding specific housing items unnecessarily difficult, but it's possible that it could be balanced by the crafting system and the Crown Store.

Despite some of the unknowns, I do really like what I've seen so far, and I'd like to give you my first impression of the Elder Scrolls Online housing system.

Creating a functional home

Housing systems in MMORPGs have been a mixed bag. Everyone in Lord of the Rings Online's neighborhoods pretty much hates them, whereas many veteran players of Star Wars Galaxies fondly remember just about everything to do with that housing system, save for the sea of houses surround all the major cities.

ZeniMax marries some of the best parts of some of the former housing systems but allows for enough shortcuts to please those who aren't interior designers. I'll explain the specifics of the mechanics in just a bit, but I will start by saying they are robust. Star Wars Galaxies fans will be jealous. However, if you're not much of a decorator, you're not going to be overwhelmed by the number of choices or the controls for decorating your home in ESO.

For the decorating novices, there are multiple controls and shortcuts that will allow you to create a decent looking home, literally in seconds in certain cases. ZeniMax took the time to create a default decorative layout for every one of its houses. Under the purchasing options, players will be able to buy a pre-decorated version of any house they would like. Unfortunately, the downside is that it is Crowns-only, which means that it will cost real-life money to buy a pre-decorated house. However, the basic decorating tools offset that slightly.

Purchasing a house is its own little process that I will talk about in a bit, but if you do end up getting a house with in-game gold and not Crowns, the decorating tools themselves are extremely intuitive and even beginners should be able to make an interesting and functional home.

Deep decorating

All the decorations are stored in an account-bound bank. You can pull items from this bank any time you like as you're decorating and regardless of which character you're on. When standing in your house, you can enter decorating mode. This will allow you to pull items from your bank and place them in your house, pre-decorated or not. When you place an item in your house, it defaults to the basic controls which will align the object to the ground where your cursor sits. And also by default, items will stick to existing surfaces, and you can easily align them to new surfaces by right-clicking at any point before placing it with a left click.

For those who are interested in deeper, more complicated decorating, you can turn off surface drag and free-form place an item were you like, even floating in the middle of the air. In surface drag mode or in cursor mode, you can change the pitch, yaw, and rotation of an object. While in surface drag mode, there are six buttons with corresponding colors to go along with the direction of the rotation. In cursor mode, you simply drag the object itself along one of the corresponding colored lines. A scroll back with your mouse wheel will bring the object toward you, and push forward will move it away. There is no way to change the actual size of the object, but that's not a bad thing from my perspective because that always seemed more gimmicky than practical in games like WildStar.

The housing items themselves ranged from bread and beets to beds and statues. Many objects that you think should have some sort of toggle actually do. Campfires, fireplaces, and candles can actually be lit or blown out and most of the chairs and benches have an indicator that pops up allowing you to sit on them. Imagine that: actual functioning items in personal player housing.

Lots of good options

The houses themselves also blow my mind, and it's not the biggest ones that I find to be the best. But there are big ones. You can own an island or a giant underground cave, both of which can be bought only with Crowns. However, I think the first one that people are going to go gaga over is the Ebonheart Chateau. It's a mansion at the base of the volcano near Ebonheart. It radiates with an energy of a haunted castle. The pointed spikes on the roof are supplemented by the constant wave of volcanic ash, giving the whole place a very gothic feel.

I'm also a fan of the Gardner House, which sits directly in the town of Waycrest. This is likely the one I will call home when this update launches. It blends in with a rest of Waycrest surrounded by neighbors who are only an arm's length away from any given window. But the location has to be the best part. It feels like a mansion in the middle of a city, and I like it.

In the next few days, I plan on livestreaming a bit of the Homestead system to who you how it works and some of the best and worst parts of the system, but you can try it for yourself if you are subscribed to ESO Plus. The entire Homestead update is currently on the PTS. This is really something you should try for yourself.

Traverse the troubled land of Tamriel in the Elder Scrolls Online. Larry Everett will be your guide here in Tamriel Infinium every other week as you explore together the land created by ZeniMax and Bethesda. If you have any burning questions, send them his way via email or via Twitter.
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97 comments
quixadhal
quixadhal

Personally, my favorite housing system was EQ2's, before the "dumbening".  In the original design, everyone got housing right after they got off the boat from the starter island, and chose which faction to join.  It was a miserable little one room thing, but it was a house that you could place things in and call your own.


In those days, to visit someone's house, you had to know their street address.  Every city zone (including the suburbs) had one or more addresses where you could move your home.  Housing was instanced, but because there was a wide variety of locations and styles, you still felt immersed as you had to walk to their address to visit.


This also solved the problem that SWG had... no abandoned houses cluttering up the landscape.  No houses put in weird places just to look strange and try to screw up the area for others.


And, there used to be a reason to go to someone's house.  In the original design, the global market had a hefty tax on it, which you could avoid by walking to the player's house and buying it directly from them, automated by their marketplace board.  So, you could still use the market to find items, but if they were pricey, walking a bit to avoid the tax was worth it... and fun. :)


Of course, EQ2 today is a pale shadow of this, because you can access anyone's house from any housing door at all... no need to waste those precious minutes enjoying the city when you can just poof in, presumably because you're too busy texting and whatever else millenials seem to think they're so busy doing. *eyeroll*


blueimpact
blueimpact

@quixadhal


...See, I thought it was just me misremembering how it was before. I was pretty sure that I forgot where my house in Freeport was partially, but I have screenshots to help me figure it out.

But out of curiosity, I tapped a random address just to see the prices. And...home selection? What? This isn't my house. WHERE AM I?


WHAT IS THIS?


Wait, you.


I remember you.


In the mountains...

Humble48
Humble48

I do miss the days of non-instanced housing. SWG did this like 15 years ago. Why is this such a huge pain in the ass now to do? I don't even care if it's not as pretty as the rest of the world because the ground needs to mold or morph for a house or something. I hate that housing is always the after thought now. 


And seriously, create an auction house already. Trade guilds are so dumb. Personal player stores, cool. Trade guilds, not cool. Or, if you're going to do trade guilds, you have to make a way for people to universally search them. Running around looking for your preferred store every week has got to be the dumbest thing ever. Furthermore, it makes it so that casual players can't leverage the trade market because the guilds are so ridiculous with their requirements to be in them. 


Mortam
Mortam

We quit ESO with "One Tamriel" - We dislike any kind of auto scaling in an MMO. Also the broker/auction house system is just horrible, and goes unused by many players. You have to have a universal and searchable broker so that people can buy goods, including housing items.

So we went back to EQ2 - no forced scaling/phasing of content, and a great crafting community, (with a world wide broker system), so we can furnish our new guild hall nicely :)

Robert80
Robert80

Hmmm... I wouldn't say everything.  It sounds acceptable, certainly.  I'll probably play around with it some.  However, there is a lot more I want from housing.  Some of that requires things which aren't involved in standard MMO design at this point, so I can't really fault a design for not accommodating things the game itself does not.  Some of them are not such a problem, and I have my doubts this will satisfy certain points like building full customized sections or entire homes.


What can I say, I want the options to, even if not everyone does.

alexjwillis
alexjwillis

Does anyone know the logic behind not having storage in player housing? Is it that they're looking to have people buy Banking NPCs to live in their houses? (I haven't read up on this because the ESO forums scare me.)

Alphasevx
Alphasevx

Instanced housing sucks.   There, I said it.

alexjwillis
alexjwillis

@Alphasevx But ESO is already highly instanced, or phased at least. Short of inventing new landmasses for housing subdivisions, what were they going to do? If you want to buy an apartment in Stormhaven, well, there are only so many to go around.

Robert80
Robert80

@alexjwillis @Alphasevx Yeah, the game just isn't designed for non instanced housing.  There's no room for it, which means that it would be terrible to try to implement.  I still prefer non-instanced, but instanced well done is better than mobs spawning in your living room.  It just isn't the right game design for open world housing.

NobleNerd
NobleNerd

@Robert80 @alexjwillis @Alphasevx If it was designed as a community instance it would have a better feel to the housing. Honestly though I am not a huge housing person in MMOs unless it offers benefits to my gaming experience. In FFXI the housing offered many benefits to my playstyle. I could place items in my Mog House to give me bonuses to crafting, fishing, xp lose reduction on death, etc. I could grow items for profit or crafting. So far I don't see much benefit to the housing.

Karl_Hungus
Karl_Hungus

I want to play this game but Cyrodiil is unplayable between the lag and animation canceling bullshit. And now there's lockboxes, which they haven't gone full ham with yet, but there's absolutely no guarantee they won't so it's all so bittersweet right now.

NobleNerd
NobleNerd

@Karl_Hungus Right there with you.


I stopped reading after I saw Crown Store. Once a focus is placed on the store it becomes mute to me. ESO is the most overpriced store system I have seen in an MMO! 


I do like ESO. I want to play it. I love ES lore, but here are 3 things that keep me away:

1) Crown Store

2) Lockboxes 

3) Horrible game performance (especially in Cyrodiil)!!!!!!!!! 

   *It's been over 2 years & performance is still horribly bad in this game.


Also, the lack of addressing the Cheat Engine exploits also...... big turn off.

alexjwillis
alexjwillis

@Karl_Hungus Animation Canceling is so f*cking busted and annoying. It infuriates me that the community is OK with it and have rationalized it as a good thing. Talk about drinking the Kool-Aid. 


But I'm also really enjoying the game, at PvE levels at least.

tylerdah77
tylerdah77

You know they need money right? You don't get an advantage from buying pretty cosmetics in the crown store. If you want the super fancy house or furniture, buy them, otherwise enjoy what they give you in game. The store is not pay to win at all and without it, you wouldn't have the game cuz that's how they get money.

NobleNerd
NobleNerd

@tylerdah77 Nothing was said about the store being P2W. Not sure why that was brought up. I said the over pricing of the items is a huge turn off. There are many ways to make a profit in MMOs without becoming focused on in game stores.


windshadow48
windshadow48

If you play on Macintosh Client Don't bother for now as the PTS mac client is seriously borked and effectively unusable ... there is a chance that it might be functional by next weeks patch but no assurances have been provided on the PTS forum... I did fire up Windows 10 Bootcamp on this 5K 27" iMac and I agree with everything Larry has said here and the Waycrest house is also my favorite.

TroyLamperski
TroyLamperski

Was reading somewhere you can mimick/copy an set anvil and place in home? So could craft something like armor master from house , and not have to venture to IC to do. C

nameistake12
nameistake12

Pay Attention ZOS: I want to be able to rent a trading guilds trader and place that person into my house. I get quick access to my favorite trading guilds wares from the comfort of my own home and the trading guild gets my rental fee.

d0ub1ep1u5g00d
d0ub1ep1u5g00d

I was excited till I learnt how difficult it will be to furnish your home without using the cash shop. 

Characters will not be given any furniture blueprints. Just like provisioning recipes, blueprints will be random world drops. So you wont even be able to craft a chair until you get lucky. Vendors only sell rough stools and tables. Then the materials required to craft have low drop rates and will take time to farm just one furniture item. Buying from players will probably be expensive at first and searching all the guild stores will be time consuming. 

It looks like they are making furnishing as difficult and annoying as possible to boost cash shop sales :(

Ganymede
Ganymede

@d0ub1ep1u5g00d It is a brand new system.  Just like all the events with the recipes and drops, it will start out expensive, and people will farm farm farm to try to get what they need.  In a very short period of time, crafters will have what they need, and the excess will be dirt cheap.


You don't need all the recipes on day 1.


..Unless you are the sort that needs it all right now, then yes, you have a Crown alternative to get your fix.

d0ub1ep1u5g00d
d0ub1ep1u5g00d

@Ganymede @d0ub1ep1u5g00d its not about needing it all right now, its that they dont give you a single recipe to craft. It would be nice if they could at least give you some basic recipes to start with. So I guess ill just wait however long  before I can furnish my home without the cash shop. 

d0ub1ep1u5g00d
d0ub1ep1u5g00d

@Dajhryne @d0ub1ep1u5g00d yeah people are having fun on the test server right now because they have unlimited crowns to buy furniture. It will be interesting to see the reactions when they log on the live game and realize that just like real life they have no choice except to pay real money to furnish their new home lol because they havnt been given any recipes to craft their own.  

Ganymede
Ganymede

Sign me up for the giant cave.  I have a pile of Crowns I'm not using, so this will be a worthwhile purchase for me.


Also, here is a list of housing prices so far, but only for cost in gold: 


http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Online:Player_Housing


Not too shabby, really, considering the first 2 tiers are easily accessible.  Anything beyond that represents a bit of investment, but those tend to be aimed at guilds or groups of friends. 

Loopstah
Loopstah

@Ganymede Thanks for the link. I was ranting below about houses being reportedly too expensive for even the smallest ones (aside from rooms and apartments) but now that i've seen the actual digits it seems that they are indeed reasonably priced.

Robert80
Robert80

@Loopstah @Ganymede Well, some of them.  Others are aimed at those players constantly saving up and playing the AH, which means those who detest that may as well consider themselves shafted again.  I'd love to see more games aim at mitigating the overflowing cash through other means.

karmamule
karmamule

I was already excited for housing in ESO, and reading this just bumped it up a couple more notches higher. I'm steering clear of PTS so I can dive in to the "final" version and know that all I work to do will be permanent. Plus, February is looking to be a really hectic month at work for me, so having a fresh housing experience to dive into then will be a much-needed treat by that point.

alexjwillis
alexjwillis

Just watched the Deltia videos. 


Can we talk about how incredible the Wood Elf Large House is? Holy moly. Amazing. I play primarily Argonians, but I'd buy that in a pinch. Closest thing in game to my beloved Telvanni Mushroom Houses from Morrowind.

Tandor Shadewalker
Tandor Shadewalker

I've had a look on the PTS, and I like the system on the whole, but the pricing in terms of in-game gold is aimed very clearly at the more successful traders and guilds, while we don't yet know what the alternative pricing levels will be set at in the Crown Store. 


Those who reckon anyone can fund an expensive purchase in a couple of days questing, farming or trading represent a very small sub-set of the playerbase. Those who may have been playing for 3 years but haven't focused on money-making activities will have barely enough gold to buy a small house especially if they run alts whose self-sufficiency requirements preclude any significant form of trading because they simply never have surplus items to sell. Case in point - I've played pretty solidly since PC launch and have about 75,000 gold available. That would be fine, and purely down to choice of play-style, but even at that price it should be possible to get something with more than a single room in it - which isn't the case here.


That leads me to my other main concern which is that the housing generally is a lot smaller than I expected. Whether it's the physically miniscule free room at the inn or the ultimate manor house that is physically large but with only a handful of slots for collections, mounts and pets etc, everything comes across to me as being in one way or another half the size and twice the price that it should be!


I think the crafting system will be beyond a good many, even among the regular crafters, but fortunately the Crown Store purchases will come with a "fully furnished" option that may assist those who aren't prepared or able to commit a lot of time to doing their own furnishing. However, there are obvious grounds to suspect that the Crown Store prices will be set at a level that is beyond absurd in real-money terms. I wish we could get some detailed prices while at a stage where feedback can be given.


My impression is that the housing system is very much based on the SOE systems seen in SWG and EQ2 and that's a good thing, I love those systems. However, as with all such things its appeal and success will depend ultimately on how much it costs and what you get for your money be it gold or real cash. Those are the real concerns at the moment, in my view. There are some technical issues but then it is on the Test Server so that is to be expected. It looks good, but size and price are paramount concerns.

Mylicia
Mylicia

Very excited! I wish the housing was a tad more affordable, but the community (for the most part) seems to think the housing is priced fairly. I do hope they reconsider how hard it is to craft items yourself. From what I understand on the forums some (most?) of the items require gold tier materials which are expensive and hard to come by.


Otherwise, I look forward to getting my hands on a house. I'm hoping one of the smaller, more affordable options will catch my eye because right now the one I want is 1 million and that's going to take a bit of time to save for.

alexjwillis
alexjwillis

@Mylicia Even for a lowbie, one of the apartments can be bought after a day or two of questing. But I agree, the crafting dimension will likely be very prohibitive for the casual player.

Denice J Cook
Denice J Cook

So you have to pay the sub fee to get onto the test server, or to access the housing on the test server?  I thought it was free for everyone....

Robert80
Robert80

@Tandor Shadewalker @Denice J Cook If it works, and if they don't B.S. your request for help to get your access back (Apparently the password merge goofed with me, and they refused to help based on something where 'my system won't even run the game.'  Meanwhile, no issues on very high settings says they are full of it there!)  *My biggest single issue with ZOS.*

209vaughn
209vaughn

It sounds very nice.  The only small thing I wish they did was create neighborhoods to give a sense of community like FF14 does.  Also I will be interested to hear how many people can enter a house at once for RP social events.

Tandor Shadewalker
Tandor Shadewalker

@209vaughn 24 plus the owner, in the case of a manor house. They're hoping to increase that.


However, the limited size of the housing, the inadequate number of slots for collections, mounts and pets etc, and the low player cap on the larger houses that some guilds intend to purchase are all of obvious concern to a good many players.

AtomicWalrus
AtomicWalrus

I honestly wanted to love this game. I did the beta, I did the pre-order (deluxe of course), I played through the vanilla content and tried to get back into it recently. But I just can't. It's not holding up to the test of time and even with the One Tamriel it still follows the rails of a 1-50 leveling system with a really bad Champion system. The combat is just not doing it either. Shame really.

Robert80
Robert80

@AtomicWalrus To me, it is the easy factor.  Trials and a very few of the dungeons are okay, but the rest of the game is just eye-bleedingly easy.  I miss combat being a challenge at higher levels, and bosses for quests that actually made you work for your rewards with mixed setups to heal and dps, mitigate, or otherwise make survival possible.

xsorus
xsorus

There is zero wrong with the Auction House system in ESO. In fact it controls prices and doesn't allow for things like Bots to completely destroy the entire market very quickly. You can also find everything you need by visiting a select few cities in ESO quite easily. If you want to branch out from those cities you can find some pretty good deals though. 


If you're looking for items simply check all 3 Factions Main Capitals, Rawl'kha, Craglorn. You hit those 5 cities and you'll find whatever you need in game. 

Robert80
Robert80

@xsorus Well, if one doesn't consider the AH system itself an issue, certainly.  I'd rather see less automation and higher taxes to minimize the damage to players who don't care to play that minigame... because inevitably the prices of things skyrocket over what those who avoid it can afford.

xsorus
xsorus

@Robert80 @xsorus Gold in ESO is extremely easy to obtain depending on what you're willing to do. Do the Daily Quests in Wrothgar/the DB zone and the Thieves Guild Zone for Motifs...Proceed to sell those motifs. If you have multiple level 50 characters run the Provisioning/Alchemy/Enchanting Crafting Writs every single day. Sell all Blue Provisioning recipes on a Guild Merchant. I have 8 50's right now... Doing those 3 writs every day is 16k Gold, just from the quest reward alone. I'm not counting Provisioning recipes or hell Alchemy (which I have well over a million gold just in alchemy ingrediants) 



Rozyn
Rozyn

Just curious, is there any other functionality for the housing outside of simply having a house? For instance, in EQ2 you can sell items for cheaper if people visit your home and pick transactions up there, in WS you can have harvesting plots, etc. 

MetSnau
MetSnau

@Rozyn Functionality is pretty limited. If you own any assistants (banker, merchant, fence) they can be placed like house items and will continue to work. Additionally, you can place crafting stations as well as attunable crafting stations that can be turned into set crating stations.

Rozyn
Rozyn

@MetSnau @Rozyn Neat, well that's a start! I don't have any assistants, but it shows they are thinking of housing functionality at least.

Gurnlei
Gurnlei

@Rozyn So far we can put crafting stations (including set-bonus ones) in our house. Nothing more beyond that from what I know.