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See: The Elder Scrolls Online

Elder Scrolls Online’s Halloween event this year includes an achievement-based house

When The Elder Scrolls Online launched its very first Halloween event last autumn, it was huge news for a game that largely eschewed real-world holidays in favor of more sedate in-lore events. Fortunately, the event became a trend, and now the Witches Festival is returning to Tamriel.

The event kicks off on Friday, October 20th, and runs until November 1st, complete with a 100% experience buff. Once you grab the associated event item from the cash shop (it’s a freebie, at the cost of only your dignity), you can kick off the Witchmother’s Bargain quest, or if you did it last year, you can just access your old quest item for the buff instead.

Bosses will drop themey loot as well, but probably the best addition is something that simply wasn’t available last year because the system wasn’t in the game yet: a house! Tick off four specific achievements and you’ll be cozying up in a thatch-roof Exorcised Coven Cottage in exchange for some in-game gold. ZeniMax does note that players can also buy the home in the cash shop instead, but it’ll be leaving the cash shop in just a few weeks: “You will not be able to purchase this home for crowns or gold once the event ends, so don’t miss your chance to own this ‘haunt away from home’!”

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One Shots: Sea horsing around

When it comes to unusual ways for Massively OP readers to get around in MMORPGs, there seems to be no shortage of bizarre methods for getting from Point A to Point B. So why not an ocean creature that is known more for hanging about than keeping a dedicated commuter schedule?

“I really loved the free seahorse mount World of Warcraft gave my character when I started adventuring through the Vashj’ir undersea zone,” Mysecretid said. “You can’t use the seahorse mount anywhere but Vashj’ir, but it sure looks nice. Even the ornate bit and bridle design impressed me.”

I have to wonder if, when mounted, your character is thinking, “You know, this is just too ridiculous, even for this game. I really should say something to management.”

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Massively Overthinking: Three-way RvR and ‘fair’ PvP in modern MMOs

MOP reader Sally Bowls is on a roll with the good questions lately! She lobbed us one this past weekend that seems a good follow-up to a comment thread discussion about the problems inherent in unregulated three-way factional PvP/RvR (and how a game like Camelot Unchained will regulate it). By way of example, she noted that a certain MMO griefer famously argued in favor of strategy that basically made the opponent not want to log in, using tactics like creating timesinks and hassles in a sandbox. “Should the dominant faction on a RvRvR server ‘camp’ the smallest to try to drive them off?” she wondered.

“If it’s about fair PvP, then that is anathema. But if you see the game as being about your faction being at war with other factions, then not doing your utmost to win that war is incompetence. Neither is bad design per se, just a conflict in understanding of the goals. And will Camelot Unchained really be RvR, doing everything legal for your realm to win? Or will it be about PvP battles, with the RvR rhetoric being more marketing fluff than von Clausewitz and Machiavelli? If camping a mine hurts your kill/death ratio but makes the opponent weaker due to hassles or crafting, is that winning or losing? Is an RvR game really about realms vs. realms or is it just another BG?”

I’ve pitched Sally’s comments to the team for consideration in this week’s Massively Overthinking. Is RvR just a more carebear-friendly way to market FFA PvP? Do you play RvR or factional PvP to win or to have fun, and how does that differ from a more open FFA sandbox? How would you design three-way factional PvP to keep people from quitting and stop griefing before it starts?

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Elder Scrolls Online previews its ‘choose-your-adventure’ Asylum Sanctorium raid

When the Clockwork City DLC launches in Elder Scrolls Online on October 23rd, at least for the PC master race, one of the more interesting bits will arrive in the form of a new trial known as the Asylum Sanctorium. If you’ve got the numbers and gear for the raid, you’ll get to see first hand the de facto prisons of three of the most revered Tribunal Temple saints, now mechanical constructs powered by the soul gems containing the saints’ immortal souls and twisted into madness.

ZeniMax is calling the raid a “choose-your-own-adventure style of Trial” because you can take it on in the order you choose and in combination with mode selection thereby set your own level of difficulty.

“The Asylum Sanctorium is a new type of Trial for both veteran and rookie groups,” the studio says. “Like previous Trials in The Elder Scrolls Online, this new challenge requires 12-players and a high level of coordination and communication in order to complete. However, this new challenge also has two big differences: It only has three bosses total and allows you to pick how you want to take them on.”

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Elder Scrolls Online’s Clockwork City DLC arrives October 23

Elder Scrolls Online has just put a date on the launch of the much-anticipated Clockwork City DLC bundle, which is taking players deep into the heart of Sotha Sil’s mechanical labyrinth.

“We’re excited to announce that the Clockwork City DLC game pack will be released on October 23 for PC/Mac and November 7 for PlayStation®4 and Xbox One. This DLC game pack will be free to ESO Plus members and available for purchase for 2000 crowns in the in-game Crown Store. In addition to the base version, the Clockwork City Collector’s Bundle will be also available for 4000 crowns in the in-game Crown Store and will include the DLC game pack, the Clockwork Skeevaton pet, the Kagouti Fabricant mount, and Five Crown Experience Scrolls.”

The downside is that’s gonna clash hard with the Destiny 2 PC release date. The upside is that the prologue quest is already live in the game, so you can get started right now and pick up a new collection memento.

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PSA: Get tons of Elder Scrolls Online (and Legends!) stuff for $12

If you’ve held off your entrance into Elder Scrolls Online, here’s an opportunity to jump in, cannonball-style. The Humble Monthly Bundle is all about Elder Scrolls this month, giving subscribers an opportunity to grab plenty of ESO and Elder Scrolls Legends goods for a rather reasonable price of $12.

This month’s subscription covers the cost of the base Elder Scrolls Online, 15 days of premium game time, 750 crowns for the game store, and a vanity pig pet. It also includes two packs of Skyrim cards, currency, and an event ticket for Legends. And if that’s not all, the October deal throws in some nice Quake Legends goodies to sweeten the deal.

It should be noted that all of these offerings are for keeps whether or not you keep your subscription to the Humble Store, so you don’t have to worry that there is a horrible catch to it all. Just thought you would like to know.

Source: Humble Bundle. Thanks, Sally!

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Elder Scrolls Online kicks off ‘#10MillionStories’ campaign in honor of 10M players

Back at E3, the ZeniMax Elder Scrolls Online team announced that it had accumulated 10 million unique players since its original launch in 2014 – not a shabby number at all in this day and age, even if you’d probably rather see concurrency figures. In celebration of the big 10-M, the studio is running a “#10MillionStories” campaign designed to get you to put your tall-tales to work for the game on social media.

“If you have a tale of adventure and excitement you’d like to share with us and the ESO community, send them to us via email at community@elderscrollsonline.com or on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter with the hashtag “#10MillionStories.” We’ll be sharing our favorites via our official social channels, and we will even feature some on ElderScrollsOnline.com as part of a larger celebration and event which we’ll be sharing the details of in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!”

If it sounds familiar, that’s because Bethsoft ran a #MillionReasonsToPlay marketing campaign on Twitter exactly two years ago, though this version begins with a minute-long reminiscing from ZeniMax’s own Rich Lambert.

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Perfect Ten: The 10 live MMORPGs everybody should try

If you have ever visited the MMORPG subreddit, you probably know that one of the most frequent posts that pop up are ones asking the community for recommendations. These are players who have left a full-time game and are now fishing around for a substitute, or those who have “played them all” and are hoping that some undiscovered gem exists, or are having a difficult time finding a good game match for their preferred playstyle.

I am often leery about tossing out blanket recommendations because it’s far better to get to know a player, his or her game history, and the type of game sought before giving my opinion. But if you were to put a fish cannon to my head and threatened me with rapid-codding, I think I would be generally OK promoting the following 10 MMORPGs to most players, sight unseen.

These are MMOs that have earned my personal recommendation and are the titles that I tend to promote the most. Here we go!

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Elder Scrolls Online’s Clockwork City DLC is aimed at explorers and mystery buffs

ZeniMax has a new dev blog up on The Elder Scrolls Online’s Clockwork City DLC today, teasing the update and explaining just why it was chosen as the narrative followup to this summer’s Morrowind expansion. The DLC, as we’ve preciously covered, takes players into the realm of Sotha Sil, one of the three living gods of Morrowind and a machine-obsessed genius whose motivations and sanity are constantly in question. What struck me is how the designers interviewed stress that the DLC is aimed at mystery fans and explorers; indeed, variants of the word “explore” are used seven times in the brief doc.

“The Clockwork City is the most mysterious zone we’ve ever done. […] This is partly because there wasn’t a tremendous amount of pre-existing lore to begin with, but it’s also by virtue of the fact that it’s Sotha Sil’s realm, and no one truly knows the intentions of his strange experiments, or what their results will be.”

Massively OP ESO columnist Larry Everett dived into the PTS last week to produce impressions on the in-testing DLC, declaring that while it wasn’t as personally compelling to him as as the Thieves Guild DLC or as complex as the Dark Brotherhood DLC, it tops the game’s core storyline all by itself.

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The MMO Book Club votes between Guild Wars 2, Secret World Legends, DCUO, EverQuest, RuneScape, ArcheAge, and WoW

Hey, remember the MMO Book Club? That’s the Reddit-and-Discord group that allows members to vote on a game to play, then organizes a guild and events inside that game over the allotted time period, ensuring that folks who want to try out an MMORPG have a ready-made community of likeminded casual people who aren’t going to immediately scamper off to greener pastures. You scamperers, you.

To date, the Club has dipped into Lord of the Rings Online (which we streamed!), WildStar, The Elder Scrolls Online, and TERA, the reigning champ. As the group enters its second half-year, it’s opened the voting once again; that takes place in Discord to avoid brigading.

“The shortlist of games you can vote on to play with the Bookclub now are: Guild Wars 2, Secret World Legends, DC Universe Online, EverQuest, RuneScape, ArcheAge, World of Warcraft and TERA.” (Voting for TERA extends the current cycle another month instead of moving the crew to a new game.)

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The Daily Grind: Should MMOs get rid of levels?

I would like to say that when I was a kid playing my first MMORPGs, I was impervious to the grind, that I embraced taking many months to level a skill or hit a level cap. But that would be a lie. I stuck a rock on my keyboard to AFK macro overnight in Ultima Online, and a friend of mine would log into my EverQuest account sometimes while I slept to catch me up in levels. I hated it. I have always hated it. Oh, I’d spend hours per day in those early games, but I wanted to chill with friends, make stuff, run dungeons with people without worrying about level discrepancies and gear and all the obnoxious mechanics designed so transparently to slow me down and make me pay to grind. And I’ve felt this way for 20 years.

This is why a recent tweet of Raph Koster’s, quoting Elder Scrolls Online’s Matt Firor, resonated with me:

“Removing levels as a gameplay factor was the best decision for retention ever made in Elder Scrolls Online.” -Matt Firor

It’s affirmation that I’m not alone: A huge portion of the MMORPG playerbase will pay for content that pushes us together by invalidating level grinds rather than keeps us apart. Is it not time? Can we just be done with the old canard that people “need” leveling make-work to feel achievement or investment in a game, when metrics prove otherwise? Should MMOs get rid of levels?

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Elder Scrolls Legends nerfs its Twitch ‘drops’

Earlier this year, popular streaming platform Twitch – with whom we are a partner – introduced what probably ought to have been a controversial feature called Drops. Essentially, a game’s devs can set up the game to grant in-game items and bonuses (i.e., drops) to those who watch and stream the game through the platform, presumably hoping that’ll drive community engagement or some other buzzword.

One of the MMOs we cover that got in on the ground floor of the Drops system was MMOTCG Elder Scrolls Legends, and apparently, Bethsoft has decided to make some changes to its integration – and not all players are pleased.

For starters, the studio is tweaking the rate of Drops to better consider “their effect on the overall in-game economy” and whether the experience is “meaningful and rewarding,” which apparently includes reducing the number of Drops streamers themselves receive.

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Tamriel Infinium: First impressions of Elder Scrolls Online’s Clockwork City DLC

It’s hard to know where to start with these impressions because the upcoming DLC for Elder Scrolls Online is significantly more complex, more extensive, and more fun than I originally anticipated. Clockwork City has surprised me on multiple levels. Those who were fans of the Tribunal expansion for Elder Scrolls III will find nostalgia everywhere, and those who are new to this part of the lore will find a world that is similar yet very different from the rest of ESO.

Over the last couple of days, I have been spending my time on the public test server for Elder Scrolls Online where ZeniMax Online Studios has dropped its latest DLC: Clockwork City. This isn’t the first time we’ve been to the Clockwork City, but this DLC will be the first time that we are allowed to freely explore this creation of the god Sotha Sil.

There is no way that I am going to be able to sum up the hours of gameplay that Clockwork City has to offer in just a few hundred words, but let me hit on a few things that were the most important to me: aesthetics, storytelling, exploration, and gameplay.

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