tamriel infinium

Tamriel Infinium is an Elder Scrolls Online column by Larry Everett. [Follow this column’s RSS feed]

Elder Scrolls Online’s Matt Firor on One Tamriel, Cyrodiil PvP, and housing

For many of us at Massively OP, Elder Scrolls Online won E3, if that’s really a thing, but that’s partly because all ZeniMax Online Studios really had to do was show up when most other MMORPGs barely made a showing at all. Even so, ESO did much more than just show up; in fact, it made it to the main stage during the Bethesda conference presentation.

Just like many other conference presentations, ESO’s time on stage was limited and left fans with more questions than answers, only exacerbated by the arrival of 2.5.0 on the PTS this morning, patch notes for which already have players speculating about the precise nature of open-world vs. instanced housing in the game.

So we’ve chatted up Game Director Matt Firor about the next update, the changes to Cyrodiil PvP, One Tamriel, and of course, player housing. Read on!

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Tamriel Infinium: The pros and cons of Elder Scrolls Online’s ‘One Tamriel’ level-syncing

Despite being a two-year-old game, The Elder Scrolls Online has made a good showing at E3, which really shouldn’t have surprised me — but it did. According to ZeniMax marketing, the game has surpassed even its own expectations. I don’t think that we can say that ESO is the most successful Elder Scrolls game ever; looking at the raw numbers, we can see that Oblivion outsold ESO, and after five years players are still making new and more complex mods for Skyrim, which has also outsold ESO. But regardless of what you think of the game, seven million copies sold does mark ESO as one of the most successful MMORPGs to date.

Along with the statistical report, ZeniMax also announced a slightly controversial change coming to ESO called One Tamriel. The idea is that players should have the freedom to travel the whole in-game world without arbitrary restrictions. With the success of level-syncing in the recent DLCs, ZeniMax felt it should continue this trend to the rest of the game. Although I agree with this decision, I can understand some of the concerns of the player who are resistant to this change. That’s exactly what I’d like to talk about today.

Let’s jump into the pros and cons of One Tamriel.

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Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online’s Dark Brotherhood DLC is sublime, brother

Well, folks, this is it. This is the way that The Elder Scrolls Online should have launched. As MOP’s own Bree Royce says on today’s Massively OP podcast, MMOs do not launch finished. They usually launch horribly incomplete, and sometimes it takes them years to get to a launched state if they get there at all.

I am thrilled to say that ESO is finally there with the introduction of the Dark Brotherhood.

In today’s Tamriel Infinium column, I’m going to give you my personal impressions of the Dark Brotherhood DLC, but I want also offer an overview of what has changed with ESO over the last few updates that signifies why now is a great time to jump into the game and why the game really should have launched this way. Be warned: There are mild spoilers about the guild’s set-up ahead.

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Tamriel Infinium vs. Hyperspace Beacon: Elder Scrolls Online and SWTOR as storytelling giants

I think it’s all but obvious that Elder Scrolls Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic are enriched with lore. The Star Wars universe, despite being mostly “legends,” is full of interesting places and exciting character twists. And even if you’ve only played one Elder Scrolls game, you can tell that there is something deeper beyond the surface.

But when you compare the two prominent MMOs running on those intellectual properties, you will see a vast difference in the way that the stories are presented to you.

The ESO form of storytelling involves a lot of static scenes with talking heads, while SWTOR takes a more cinematic approach. Which is more immersive, and what can one learn from the other? What would a ESO/SWTOR lovechild look like? Let’s take a moment to explore them both.
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Tamriel Infinium: The Dark Brotherhood of Elder Scrolls Online

If any of you played the Dark Brotherhood quest in Skyrim, you likely thought very little of the Black Sacrament being performed by the kid at the beginning of the questline, but you did it anyway because assassinations, yo. It did ultimately turn into a creepy questline with the Night Mother eventually whispering to you. Compare that to the way the teaser trailer ended for Elder Scrolls Online: The woman at the end of the trailer whispering gave me chills. That was the way the Black Sacrament should sound.

As you probably know, my primary focus has always been the story being told in ESO. And looking at the teaser trailer, we learn very little about the DB or how it’s going to play out in the game.

Then I got to thinking that it’s been almost five years since the release of Skyrim and ten years since the release of Oblivion; there might actually be people out there who don’t know anything about the Dark Brotherhood, what it’s about, and why that whisper at the end of the teaser trailer would give someone the chills in the first place. Maybe I should take a moment to explain what the Dark Brotherhood is, where it started, and how it might play out in ESO.

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Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online’s Thieves Guild DLC is that ex you keep coming back to

Dang it, Elder Scrolls Online, just when I’m about to give up on you again, you pull me back in.

I really didn’t mind your previous DLC, Orsinium, but for the most part it didn’t have anything outstanding for me. The Maelstrom arena was fun, and the quests were good. But let’s be honest, it was Orcs. I’m not really the superfan of Orsimer culture. I would never say this to an Orc’s face, but as much as they like to claim that they aren’t savages, they really are. Regardless, that’s not what I want to talk about today.

Whoever made the Thieves Guild DLC must have been listening to my inner thoughts because I believe that I’ve fallen in love with you again, ESO. You’re starting to remind me of that girlfriend I really should have dumped, but something about her makes me keep coming back. In fact, that’s an excellent metaphor for my relationship with you, ESO. Not that we’re dating, of course! You just have this one really good thing that I like about you that continually makes me want come crawling back because no other MMO does it as you do.

It’s thievery.

It’s not thievery in the sense that you’re stealing something from me, although it could be argued that you are. I’m talking about the game mechanic of thievery, aka pickpocketing, lockpicking, and stealing.

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Tamriel Infinium: Six features Elder Scrolls Online’s level-scaling system needs

I have a terrible confession to make: I was about to write off Elder Scrolls Online. I was going to consider it dead to me. The game has made major steps in the right direction, but as my report card indicated at the end of last year, it’s really just an average game from an MMORPG player perspective. In the latest update, however, Creative Director Matt Firor described a few things that gave me pause, and I think you should be considering the implications, too.

It would be silly for me not to mention player housing and what’s currently being called the barbershop. I’ve said for a long time that housing gives players a sense of ownership in the game, and every MMO should have some sort of player-ownership. And the barbershop’s features of name change, race change, and even gender change certainly makes me sit up and pay attention. But the biggest upcoming change for me is level-scaling across the whole game.

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Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online predictions for 2016

Speculation can be dangerous because I tend to be too hopeful for the MMOs that I play. I’ve been critical of The Elder Scrolls Online in the past, but I do like the game, and I’m hopeful for its future too. I truly only want good things to happen to it. Maybe that’s why I’m a bit harsh about it sometimes.

This being the end of the year, I thought it only fitting that I do some speculation about my favorite fantasy game. I did vote this game the most improved in 2015 (although it didn’t win); maybe 2016 will bring some equally important improvements to the game. Let’s take a few moments and talk about the things that we know are coming to the game in 2016 and also what we think might be coming down the pike next year.

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Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online’s 2015 report card

I’ve never had a chance to do an annual “report card” like this for Elder Scrolls Online because I left the game by the time that the year-end report card came around last year. I’m glad to be an ESO player again for this 2015 edition, in which I will focus mostly on the additions to the game made this year. When appropriate, I might call on features from the game that have been in since the beginning, particularly when it comes to general concepts like exploration and PvP.

I like to grade MMORPGs based on the Bartle taxonomy designed by Dr. Richard Bartle to show the motivations of online gamers. Basically, the idea is that if designers keep the principles of the taxonomy in mind as they create a game, it will be well-rounded and attract and keep the maximum number of players. Using the taxonomy also divides the MMO playerbase into four simple but appropriate categories without giving any one group or subgroup undue levels of influence in a game.

Bartles’ categories are Socializer, Explorer, Killer, and Achiever. If you’d like to know where you stand, the original test on GamerDNA no longer exists, but you can find another version at 4You2Learn (our writers took it earlier this year!). I’ll explain each of the divisions as I award the grade.

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Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online’s Veteran Ranks take center stage again

This week, I really wanted to talk about Orsinium. There are some really great things happening in Elder Scrolls Online in the DLC that I’d like to talk about. Unlike some other developers who like to think they understand the Killer type, ZeniMax Online Studios has a decent perspective on what makes that group of players tick.

However, another post — the Veteran Ranks announcement — hit the forums last week, and I believe it takes precedence.

As always, this column is an editorial, an opinion, which I encourage you to disagree with and discuss in the comments.

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Tamriel Infinium: Orsinium makes me forget the things I don’t like about ESO leveling

Anyone reading this column regularly understands that I have a bit of a tiff with ZeniMax because of the way it’s handled the leveling process in Elder Scrolls Online. And I honestly don’t think the devs are going to really change anything. However, I would like to give credit where credit is due. With the Orsinium DLC, ZeniMax might have captured the essence of my ESO playstyle.

I will log on, do a few quests, mostly by myself, then log out. I’m not hunting for group content. I’m definitely not looking for PvP. Sometimes, I’ll log in with a friend, and we will knock around a public dungeon or two. But mostly, I play ESO because I like the quests and I like being a werewolf. It’s not a hardcore game for me. In fact, it’s barely an MMO based on how I play the game. But I don’t have a problem with that. Everyone else can run around doing all the great group content and RvR PvP. I am content doing what I do. And with the latest DLC, it’s almost like ZeniMax read my mind.

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Tamriel Infinium: Six great things to do in Elder Scrolls Online that aren’t endgame

Two weeks ago, ZeniMax launched the Imperial City DLC for Elder Scrolls Online, and yet I have little desire to check the new content out. It’s not that it’s completely off my radar; I understand that this addition to the game has been highly anticipated by a certain segment of the game’s population, and in fact, if you had asked me about the Imperial City when the game launched, I would have said that I really looked forward to seeing it.

The Imperial City has a lot to offer. The Tel Var Stones is a wonderful open-world PvP mechanic, for example, at least for those who love open-world PvP. But it’s just not enough for me. I’m also not that interested in seeing the Imperial City itself. There are so many beautiful landscapes in ESO already that the drab, all-grey-and-zero-color zone of the Imperial City seems depressing and lifeless by comparison. You might be thinking, “But that’s what it’s supposed to be. It’s a bleak, war-torn zone. It’s not supposed to be pretty.” I understand and respect that, but it doesn’t make it more desirable for me to see. (Also I’m afraid that Oblivion did the Imperial City better. And with mods it can look nearly as up-to-date as ESO.)

So at this point, you might wondering why I still play ESO if I believe things like “Oblivion did Imperial City better.” I’ve not kept a secret my dislike for the game’s PR and its endgame systems. But I still play because the game is still a lot of fun — maybe even more fun — without endgame. Here’s why.

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Tamriel Infinium: Imperial City revitalizes Elder Scrolls Online’s PvP

I’ve always found it odd that one of Bethesda’s biggest showings at a convention every year is QuakeCon. Elder Scrolls Online, especially, has always treated QuakeCon as the best place to make the biggest reveals for the game. Of course, the total audience for QuakeCon is bigger than those who actually show up because it’s broadcast on Twitch at the same time, but for the last two years QuakeCon brought in between 9,000 and 10,000 actually-in-the-convention-hall people. This, admittedly, is more than would show up at the Larry Everett convention, but at the same time, it’s significantly fewer than the number who attend E3 (50,000 this year) or Gamescom (335,000 last year). Yet ESO’s presence at most other cons is minimal.

And just as the past couple of years, ESO released some significant, though not completely brand-new, information at its presentation at QuakeCon 2015 this past weekend.

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