Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online’s mid-term report card

At the beginning of every year, I give the games that I am embedded in a letter grade centered around the four different player types featured in Dr. Richard Bartle‘s taxonomy. And at in the middle of the year, I like to see where things are so far.

Of course, I know that the paper that the taxonomy is based on is over 20 years old now, and the theories don’t apply 100% to MMORPGs. But I believe that there is enough of a connection between what people want from an MMORPG and the player types from Bartle’s paper that we can draw a connection.

The four different player types are Socializer, Achiever, Explorer, and Killer. For grades, I take a look at Elder Scrolls Online and ask, for instance, “What would an Achiever think of what ESO has done this year?” And then just as important, I ask, “What could be done to improve the game for the Achiever?” Of course, it really just boils down to my opinion, but I’d like to think I’ve been pretty good about putting myself in other people’s shoes in the past and looking at games from their perspectives.

And if you really want to know about the taxonomy, the Wikipedia page is actually really good, or you can jump into the deep end and read Dr. Bartle’s paper Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs. Or you can read about when Massively OP took the test and take one of a couple of tests that weigh your preferences to tell you which kind of player you are.

Socializer: A

Socializers like other people, simply put. Socializers can, but don’t necessarily, focus on doing things with a lot of people, be those guilds, raids, roleplay, or exploring. For Socializers, it’s always better to play with friends. So systems that help organize people, allow people to do game activities together, or general communication is important to a Socializer.

If you like to do things with other people — no matter what it is — you can do it ESO. If there isn’t a game mechanic tied directly to that activity, there is still a way to get it done in ESO. The only limitation really is your imagination. Homestead hitting at the beginning of the year and the recent addition of Morrowind have built on the things that make this game great for Socializers. Group finder, guilds, and just the general UI of the game make it fairly simple for people to get together.

The improvements for Socializers are small because many of the missing elements for Socializers have an add-on that helps offset the things that the developers didn’t create. However, I would really like see a true implementation of a guild calendar. Right now, guilds use the message of the day to communicate, but it’s just text. This makes it a bit difficult to do certain things. But really, there isn’t much to complain about when you get an alert every time there is an update to the MOTD and the message itself can be extremely long.

Achiever: B

I believe that I have over simplified the desires of Achievers in the past. I don’t think that Achievers just want to fill up bars or make numbers higher, but that’s essentially what happens when they fulfill their goals. Achievers like to get things done, and many times, they like to get those things done in the most efficient manner. So if there is a bar that needs filling, they will find the best way to fill that bar.

I don’t know that I’ve made mention of this before, and to be honest, I’m not sure why I haven’t: The dye system in ESO is directly tied to achievements. The more that you’ve done in the game, the more colorful your outfits can be. So on top of the cool motifs that you can get by doing a lot of things in the game, you can also make yourself more colorful. It’s a small thing, but sometimes the small things can be the most important.

My biggest pet peeve with achievements in ESO is that it’s difficult to advertise what you have or haven’t accomplished. I mentioned the dyes and the armors, but the achievement system itself seems to have taken a bit of a backseat to other parts of the game, and I believe there are some small things that are missing from the achievement system, or maybe they are just hard to find, like bosses killed or POIs found. But really, I think the Achiever will really like ESO for all the things that there is to do in the first place and the rewards earned for doing them.

Explorer: B-

I think with a name like “Explorer,” this player type wears his goals on his sleeve. They like places to see and things to visit. They like to know where things are and how to get there… or maybe how not to get there, depending on your perspective. I rank pretty high as an Explorer.

There are a lot of things to do as an Explorer in ESO. I would even include resource gathering as part of exploring in ESO because there is a lot of things to find just by wandering around. POIs that are marked on the map —  and those that aren’t — make for a good time for explorers. Because of the One Tamriel level-balancing and the design of Morrowind and the previous content additions since Orsinium, a player can literally pick a direction and just… go.

The Explorer type is the only player type that I believe will notice a significant drop in things to do since the last time I’ve done a report card. However, there is still plenty of things to do, making the game above average for Explorers, but the circular design of Morrowind and the number of closed off areas make certain small aspects more frustrating than fun.

Killer: C+

I like to think that Killers are competitors. They like the challenge of showing themselves to be better than other players. It’s not specifically limited to out-right killing or griefing other players, but more like knowing where they stand skill-to-skill with other players.

The addition of dueling and the instanced, small group PvP has gone a long way to making the game more interesting and fun for the Killer. These additions really round out the suite of PvP activities. However, it’s almost as if ZeniMax was checking off a list of things that need to be done rather than putting heart into the new PvP systems. I don’t think that any part of ESO PvP is bad; it’s just that it’s not tremendously great either.

Per usual, there as been a bit of controversy around PvP, specifically class balancing. And I really don’t know if there will ever be a good fix for it in ESO because of the sheer number of class variables.

Additional notes

Morrowind alone has surely created enough momentum to give ESO good scores for the rest of the year. But I am concerned with things that don’t exactly fit a category but effects every player: The Crown Store. It’s only getting bigger, and with the addition of the Crown Crates, it’s starting to overshadow some of the positives of the game. But for that, we will have to wait and see what happens.

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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29 Comments on "Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online’s mid-term report card"

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Reader

I’m behind every score here excluding the “socializer” one. The game offers all the basic features that every other MMO offers. I don’t consider it any better or anymore complex in this regard that say WOW or SWTOR. This game and the other mentioned games actually lack many of the social features of yesteryear.

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Alex Willis

I’m not sure I’d rate things the same way on a couple of the scores.

SOCIALIZER: B+
While I agree that the possibility for grouping and social interaction is there (and acknowledging the improvements to tools related to these), I don’t necessarily think the *incentive* is there to supplement it. ESO remains a very solo-friendly game, sometimes to the exclusion of group content. Probably the most “social” things I see in game are Dolmen groups, and they hardly qualify as “social”. So I only rank this a B+ because of its potential, not because of its on-the-ground reality.

ACHIEVER: B
I agree with your score here. I’m not particularly bothered by the relatively abbreviated ways to demonstrate achievements, but that is likely because I am less driven by the achievement mentality as most people. Maybe my biggest annoyance on this front is the lack of daily achievement/reward, which limits the degree to which people who *are* achievement-monkeys from latching onto daily logins.

EXPLORER: A
Frankly, I find your score here a little unsettling. Maybe it’s because I do not rush to completion, but I find the volume of content — stuff to see and do and just wander around and get lost in — to be almost overwhelming at times. And in a generally very good way. Now, I know these “report cards” are progressive, in that they measure the game over time, so I’m conscious of the fact that if you have already “done” most of the game, this score will decrease relatively over time. But for the non-hardcore gamer out there, who is still poking his way around the One Tamriel expansion of the map to all factions, I find this to be a hugely appealing activity. Only reason it doesn’t get an A+ from me is because some of the areas are group-gated in terms of difficulty, which is understandable, but restrictive to the Bartelian pure-explorer-type.

KILLER: B-
Generally agree with your points here, but I’d give Zeni a little more credit for expanding the PvP options than simply a “checklist”. A lot of work needs to be done yet, but I feel they are slowly dragging their way in the right direction.

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socontrariwise

ESO is the only MMO I have played in a long time where player treat each other like living entities to interact with – not just background decoration that maybe is competing with you for something you want.

I had just started before Christmas when someone walked up to me and asked if I was interested in some food recipes. I was suspicious about some trick or such (that is what MMO’s make to people, especially if you have been in MMO with PvP and lots of griefing), but it turned out to be completely valid, I was left with lots of stuff I as a newbie was very happy about, for free.
A few month later I was in Eldenwood and someone asked in Say if someone wants a few style plans for mercenary. I said I would love to – and got 5 handed, tried to give something back but barely had anything of value, my benefector said not to worry, he has extra. Just plain nice and generous people.

I’ve seen people roleplay, im promptu party anywhere with the countless emotes and costumes, today morning I was at a Summoner NPC out in the nowhere who obviously wanted to call a Daedra through a portal. A hiccup made him invoke and invoke (different chants) and nothing came forward. I stood there, ready to pounce, rather anti-climactic. Was about to leave when someone else showed up, weapon drawn, waiting too. Within moments we were three. I started loosing patience and was dancing and jumping and cheering around the poor wannabe-summoner. We were all on the same team (kind off)! The others started to join, we had this little funny “Pull the shy Daedra out of its portal” ritual attempt – never happened – and it just felt good to actually interact with people.

I’m in 5 guilds, 2 are the “pay money and work to get access to the guild bank and we have tons of rules and will kick you if you don’t show up for three weeks” style I’m not so fond off and wonder if I should leave – but the other three are wonderful nice, international and diverse bunch of people who just enjoy playing together and have a totally open bank and everyone is just generous with their stuff. No point in getting rich in a game (!) by tit for tat and hoarding and mememe – but a lot of point to just share the virtual goods freely and give anything you don’t absolutely need. And of that I see a lot in ESO. Very nice community mostly (I had to put 40 or 50 people in chat on ignore though, man there are truly bad and vocal apples sometimes too).

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Loyal Patron
Sashaa

I’m in one trader guild, Le Comptoir des Artisans [PC EU] with a kiosk in Wayrest almost each week. The fee is 5k/week (the only time we did not have a kiosk, of course no fees).

In a day of playing, doing my pledges and whatever, no grinding, and selling to a vendor what I loot, I make these 5k. So playing one day per week covers the fees, sounds fair to me.

I think you just need to find the right guild for you, whatever your platform/server is. It took me some time to do so. Got kicked from a previous one because I didn’t sell enough.

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Wanda Clamshuckr

I’m in 5 guilds, 2 are the “pay money and work to get access to the guild bank and we have tons of rules and will kick you if you don’t show up for three weeks” style I’m not so fond off and wonder if I should leave

I’m in two trader guilds atm, one of which is more active in trying to garner weekly funds to afford a kiosk, has a fee, and a weekly culling to remove non-contributors. It is about middle of the road for requirements, but they usually get a decent spot with high traffic which is what I require at this point.

Realistically, unless you are wanting to sell well over 10K+ per week, you shouldn’t need a trader guild like that. Stick with the friendlier social ones, that sometimes get an OK kiosk where you can offload some goodies now and again. Unless you are actively farming and wanting to make a lot of gold, there isn’t a need to pay 10K weekly fees AND donate to raffles, etc. Keep it simple, and fun.

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Teala Te'Jir

ESO still needs much work in regard to adding more sandbox type stuff in game. We still don’t have a transmog system. We still cannot display weapons, armor and trophies in our houses. No gardening. Still no spell crafting system in game like they promised back in 2014. Plus there are too few housing options in major cities and some zones have no houses at all. Plus a wider variety of housing. Plus I’d love to see monthly editions of new quest added to thieves, mages and fighters guilds. And were is the bards college? Why don’t we not have a true bards class yet?

Plus the whole market system needs revamped from the ground up. Allow players to open their own shops to sell their wares. I’d love to open an Alchemy and Enchanting shop.

And speaking of Alchemy and other crafting in game…it needs overhauled as well. Too much of what you make as you level becomes irrelevant at higher levels and is not even used. All crafting should be relevant all the way to end game and beyond. I can make all kinds of potions half of which have 0 use in game. This needs to be changed.

ESO is one of the best MMORPG’s to come along in years, but the game needs more to make it a great game and keep people playing between DLC’s and chapters.

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Lord Zorvan

Miss Teala, I agree with everything except player shops. The whole search 50 guild trader crap is bad enough, having to search 10,000+ player shops just ain’t gonna pass muster. Unless, of course, they add an AH and then give you a discount if you look up via AH but go to the persons vendor, like EQ2. Otherwise, AH or bust.

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Teala Te'Jir

Maybe I should have been a little more descriptive and mentioned that all shops would be tied to one large AH and that if you go directly to a players shop you’d get a discount for the item directly from the shop. :)

Reader
Lord Zorvan

We can now agree 100%. Balance has been restored to the universe. lol

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Michael18

For some reason I had my difficulties with the world building in ESO. When exploring the outside world I always felt as if I am indoors. And while the zones are actually quite big, it does never feel to me like there are any long distances or truly remote areas. Maybe the problem is that the POIs are very evenly distributed across the landscape. Or it’s something with the lighting and colors.

Anyways. I have great respect for the work the devs put into the game since launch (from what I hear; haven’t played much myself since about 3-4 months after launch) and I hope the game will continue to be a success for devs and player community alike.

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agemyth 😩

When exploring the outside world I always felt as if I am indoors. And while the zones are actually quite big, it does never feel to me like there are any long distances or truly remote areas. Maybe the problem is that the POIs are very evenly distributed across the landscape. Or it’s something with the lighting and colors.

I feel it has a lot to do with the world design where there are always things blocking your sight lines to the point where you can’t see very far at all, especially compared to Oblivion, Skyrim, and the modern Fallout games. Different studios, developers, and game engines, but it changes the feel a bit.
Even when there aren’t mountains surrounding the zone lines like EverQuest had to do the limited view distance is enforced by an ever present atmospheric fog.

xpsync
Reader
xpsync

ESO feeling the Legend hit? Free subs and free lock boxes for daily login? I still love ESO but damn SWL totally hooked me good, got no time for ESO atm, well except to log in for free lock boxes.
ESO no worries I’m still subbed, not going anywhere it’s just Legends turned out to be the chit! But worry not there is still so much more ESO does which SWL doesn’t.
It’s an incredible mmo combo.

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Lord Zorvan

No game or developer out there is worried about SWL in even the slightest way.

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Yoshi Senpai

I’d be worried if it is the first MMO someone has played.

They might not ever play another.

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Greaterdivinity

Oh shit, thanks for the reminder about the free sub time! Need to log in and make sure that I get all my materials dumped into the craft bag.

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Yoshi Senpai

LOL.

I am sure they’d be more concerned about Stormblood if other MMO releases were on their mind, but it’s probably just a campaign to hook returnees so they buy Morrowwind.

But that joke about Secret World was fire. Still grinning over it.

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Sray

I just picked up the game and expansion a couple days ago during the Steam sale. I’m really enjoying it as an open world RPG; though it’s really nice to be playing an MMORPG again, if only to see other people running around on the screen making the game world feel alive. The stories are all “magic drivel this” and “obscure medieval politics that” (really not a fan of this type of fantasy setting), but it’s an enjoyable experience for the time being. I’m done with the days where I think that a game should be able to fill every second of my life with stuff to do -nor do I even want one that tries anymore- so I figure that I’ll probably get about 70 or 80 hours of play time out of it, which is a good value in my opinion.

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Phubarrh

Pay attention when you’re hearing those stories though, as you’ll eventually notice NPCs popping up again in different locations through the course of the game. It’s one of my favorite aspects, seeing how their life stories develop.

xpsync
Reader
xpsync

It’s a great mmo if you can forget how it’s perceived to be played and simply play it in ways which fit your game-play styles.

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Sray

My plan is to not play it as an MMO: when it’s all said and done, ESO is just another grind to level cap so you can grind for *insert type max level advancement here* and I’m done with that. I’m going to have a leisurely play through of the game as a single player RPG (with other people running around) and once I’ve had my fill, I’m done.

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socontrariwise

ESO is the first time since EQ2 where I don’t feel any grind. I’ve never been even remotely as high in a MMO before (125 champion currently) since I abhor grind – and in ESO it just happens on the side for me while I explore the world, gather, do some quests and crafting and read the terrific lore. I read every scrap I can find and it is all remarkably well written, ambiguous enough to be satisfying and the rhetoric and eloquence of whoever writes those pieces is almost always high and a pleasure too. To call it “drivel” I find is a great injustice to the quality …

xpsync
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xpsync

Sounds like a plan, and a good one. I found you can’t hit ESO too hard or you burn out super fast. Then you have SWL and I’m dumping as much time as humanly possible into it; zero sign of burn out.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Enjoy your purchase! :)

Crow
Reader
Crow

I just can’t like ESO. It isn’t TES and it also isn’t a MMORPG that does more than provide a scripted world to work your way through.

Combat is atrocious, even compared to usual TES combat. Stories are clearly based on their value to the game and not on the idea that TES players like stories. ESO is a game TES fans hate and everyone and their brother thinks is “so cool” because they make MMORPGs into nothing more than reasons to be upset about things.

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Wanda Clamshuckr

I have to disagree. It very much is a TES game, and the only scripting you’ll come across is the main story line, which you don’t have to play at all. The rest of the quests, and the lore, build a varied and deep world. The story writing is the best I’ve seen in an MMO, and is about as varied as you can get. I’m not sure what you are basing your opinion on with that.

I happen to love the combat. It’s probably the best action combat I’ve seen in an MMO. It’s fluid, dynamic, and you need to pay attention to where you aim your abilities. Atrocious seems to be disingenuous at best, but this is an opinion on a forum and not canon law.

ESO is a game TES fans hate and everyone and their brother thinks is “so cool”

I wouldn’t use too broad a stroke of that brush when sharing your opinion. There are plenty of ES fans playing the game, judging by the various forums and in-game experiences. I know a lot of people were expecting Skyrim Online, but I figured that crowd just faded away 3 years ago and found better things to do.

As to the article itself, I would have given Explorer a higher rating. You can literally, from the moment you find a wayshrine, go anywhere to do whatever you want. I’m an explorer. I haven’t found an MMO out there that gives me the equality of freedom to roam, or delve, or do whatever, since One Tamriel came out. Morrowwind hasn’t changed that.

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Loyal Patron
Sashaa

Indeed, I am an Explorer too, and the closed-off areas of Morrowind have done nothing to shrink the amount of pleasure I take from my journeys. It’s all about the “journey” fellas.

Oh, and I’m a TES fan too since at least Redguards, lore-wise.

In fact, people who comment that TES fans hate ESO make me think of people who comment that they’re proud they’re not watching Game of Thrones, especially since they read the books. Just like if it made someone cool not to watch a popular show… Guess what, it doesn’t.

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Castagere Shaikura

This is how i feel too. The game is really not for TES fans more for mmo fans that want a online kind of TES game.

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Justin Bania

I’m not sure what you were trying to convey there.

I can tell you why ESO isn’t my thing though. Maybe we have similar views.

*Crafting feels like a huge time sink. Mostly because it takes a huge amount of time to learn the various bonuses you can apply to gear.

*Gearing feels awkward but only because there is a class system. Something I think doesn’t belong in this game. So you end up with unfocused nonsensical gear. Ex. Want to be a tank? Wear plate… And some leather… And some cloth… And put down that shield. Just odd.

*The auction house system is also awkward. It just is. Look it up, it’s cumbersome.

*Stealing everything in sight is pretty much mandatory if you want cash or crafting mats in a timely fashion.

There are a lot of neat ideas here but it feels like none of them worked for me. I want to get into this game but everytime I try I drop it within a week.

wpDiscuz