Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online’s 2015 report card

    
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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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Socializer: C

I play MMOs with a socializer focus, which means that it’s more important to me to play with other people and participate in group activities than to score points or defeat other people. The activity isn’t important; it’s whether or not I’m doing it with friends. Nearly every RPer is a socializer first and foremost, but you’ll find raiders and PvPers in the Socializer group quite often, too. Anyone who prefers human-to-human interaction over human-to-computer will score well as a Socializer.

I don’t want to discount the group finder and guild system that ESO has. It’s generally functional. There have been issues, true, but as game systems, they work well enough for finding a basic group for dungeon content. Also, the multiple-guild system has been a boon for some socializers and a hindrance to others. It can be beneficial for those who like multiple styles of gameplay and their ensuing contact groups, but for those who organize guilds, it can be hellish because members’ loyalty is split over multiple teams.

Unlike some other MMOs, Elder Scrolls Online continues to make the leveling process a single-player experience. I guess by now given some of the trends in the industry, I had thought that ESO would jump on the bandwagon and create systems that encourage players of different levels to easily group together to do content. Until something really comes along that is specifically designed to help the socializer enjoy the game more, I believe that the game will continue to earn only an average grade for socializers as it has since the game’s launch.

Explorer: B

TI-2015-reportcard-02Explorers love to find things that no one else can find. An explorer likes to be the person others turn to when they need to find things. I enjoy exploring, and I like to possess knowledge that few people have. A common thread among explorers is that they like to discover things for themselves. Here at MassivelyOP, many of us consider the ill-fated Star Wars Galaxies to be an explorer’s dream. I’ve seen few games since that are the perfect culmination of points of interest and gorgeous scenery. That game, for its time, would have garnered a top rating from me.

ESO’s scenery is gorgeous, and each addition to the game keeps with the beautiful landscapes. There are plenty of places to explore and exemplary venues to gaze at. However, what keeps these places from getting full points for the Explorer archetype is the game mechanics surrounding their discovery. Anything that is interesting, anything that grants you XP or achievement points, is clearly marked on the map. Although we get some amazing screenshots, part of the discovery process is lost because we clearly see where the cave or other POI is right on the map.

That’s not to say that there aren’t nice-looking venues that aren’t on the map, but those are more happy accidents than intentionally placed there by the developers. But the environmental artists have gone above-and-beyond, and that is why I give exploration a solid B.

Killer: B+

I have always taken issue with Bartle calling this group of players Killers. I’ve always seen it more as a competitor and less a killer. Of course, the group is based a lot on a group in older MMOs and MUDs called player-killers, so maybe at the time it fit better. When considering the Killer type, we have to keep in mind two things that they want: pitting themselves against other players and measuring where they stand compared to others in the game.

Elder Scrolls Online has a great PvP system. When I’m comparing ESO’s RvR version to some other games with a similar system, ESO wins as far as I’m concerned. There are certainly flaws, but I believe the balance between attacking and defending outshines the mechanic in other games like it. It’s always interesting and rarely boring.

The Emperor system and others like it show where your group is compared to others. And the Imperial City DLC added a lot to the solo and small-group PvP. Even the Maelstrom Arena in the Orsinium DLC gave Killers something to look forward to despite its being pure PvE.

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Achiever: C+

In the MMO space, Achievers are probably the easiest to please. Pretty much all you have to do is give them a bar, and they will do the thing that fills up that bar. There are a few things that make achievements more interesting, like rewards and hidden achievements. But really it’s all about making a number bigger or making sure all the pegs are in the right slots.

ESO hasn’t done a bad job with achievements. Players seem to enjoy the titles and other rewards earned by the achievements and the like, but there is seems to be nothing extraordinarily special about the system. So I would call it average, but maybe on the good side of average.

As always, my articles are just the beginning of the discussions. I’d like to read about your thoughts in the comments. Where would you grade ESO when it comes to these categories? Why would you grade it differently then I did; why would you grade it the same? I look forward to seeing what you have to say.

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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jmadfour
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jmadfour

decompiler PaulFortunato Pepperzine Personally, I am in 2 Guilds. my Main Guild, and my Main Guild’s 2nd Trading Guild. 

I hop in and out of Guilds for AvA sessions in Cyrodiil though. I’ll port into Cyrodiil, find whatever PVP group is running that evening, join their guild so that I can chat with them while PVPing, and then leave the guild when I leave Cyrodiil.

Sorenthaz
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Sorenthaz

Karl_Hungus Sorenthaz Yeah.  Probably because it’s not well advertised and at least for leveling dungeons once you run it once there isn’t a whole lot of reasons to do it again.

NobleNerd
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NobleNerd

I have been playing ESO since beta and also am a guild leader. When it comes to Socializer, considering the current state of the game and also ZOS’s inability to improve or add proper and needed guild tools and social tools to the game I would give this more a D or D-.

The Killer would be more a D- or even an F. The though and design is there but ZOS has not been able to create a pleasant and function experience in PvP. Cyrodiil has been plagued with issues since beta. They slaughtered innocent deer because they thought this would fix the lag and glitching…. RIP bambie! Hopefully 2016 will prove to be a huge improvement in PvP with the 64 bit client and supposed actual fixes for the lag.

The rest of the scores is spot on. Bottom line ZOS needs to put a HUGE foot forward in 2016!

Shadanwolf
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Shadanwolf

AvA was supposed to be half of the game experience(when the game was launched). For over a year that part of the game was almost completely ignored and constantly struggled with basic technical problems.It was still experiencing them when I left. The complay tries to sell the game emphasizing the AvA….but has ignored the feature in actuality  until recently when the brought out an expansion to the AvA play field…..if you pay extra.
I feel taken advantage of and won’t buy any of the companies products.

josefreaksalem
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josefreaksalem

chriskovo They game design has some serious flaws. Maybe that’s part of the problem?

Gibbins
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Gibbins

Karl_Hungus Thalendor As someone who achieved Emperor in a 30 day campaign during last summer I have to say that it is a massive grind in many ways and can’t be done without considerable help from other players.  I pvp’ed pretty much 6am to 11pm every day for 10 days from the start of the campaign to make sure I had enough AP to put me in the top spot, then I needed to work with about 50 people to claim all the keeps.

You have to be very active and also sociable enough to secure the support of enough people to do it, the biggest achievement in any game I played, and it very nearly killed me.  In fact I haven’t played an awful lot since as the grind was so hard, but I like ESO and will play again.

Pepperzine
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Pepperzine

PaulFortunato Pepperzine I understand your point of view and you are definitely correct in saying you don’t have to be in five guilds if you do not want to.  However, just because you choose to be in one guild doesn’t mean that the majority of people in your one guild are choosing the same thing.  Thus, you are fully invested in a guild whereas your guild mates are not because they are in multiple guilds at one time. It makes it more difficult to form bonds with other players because of
the habit of switching ships as you 4 others you can switch to on a dime, as well as organizing guild related events as you are competing for the time of your members with the other guilds they are in.   For me, that is vastly different than the one guild system where you pledge yourself to that guild and group of people, and if you wanna be in a new one, you have to sacrifice being in the other. Having no auction house and relying on trading guilds appears to amplify the guild swapping.

This is not to say the multi-guild system is bad, I just didn’t feel it panned out in a positive way when it came to ESO.  Perhaps I am stuck in my old ways, but it comes off to me like a person who has multiple spouses.  It’s alright to allow people who all want to be in five relationships to be in five, but someone only wants to be in one and is paired with someone who wants to be in five, they are going to get the short end of the stick.  It cheapens your relationship and spreads you thin.  You cannot possibly have the time to devote between all five that you would if you were with just one.  Again yes, you can try to locate a guild that is for people who only want to be in one guild but that is much easier said than done.  Again, this is just my opinion and how I felt when it came to my experience with guilds in ESO.

crackfox
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crackfox

Karl_Hungus I agree. ESO is a fabulous game for explorers and I can forgive all its other failings because of its strength in this area. IMO explorers are a pretty undemanding, easy-to-please demographic, rather like roleplayers in that regard. I am delighted whenever I jump to some seemingly inaccessible ledge to find that the devs have left something (anything) there for me to discover. The game only really loses points for not enabling me to explore the entire game world as I please.  Of course, if they’d done that I’d have been done with the game within days.

josefreaksalem
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josefreaksalem

I’d give Socializer a D-. I played when the game was released and it was the loneliest mmo I’ve ever played. Even when the server was highly active. I didn’t give the game a second chance. Talk about taking the MM out of MMORPG. Who would design a game that’s supposed to be massively-multiplayer and make it like a single-player with no co-op game? That’s how it felt. I played with a friend for a while and some of the more challenging dungeons were single-player only! Doh! Game design FAIL

decompiler
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decompiler

chriskovo woolydub Corvus Monedula “those are basic feature that I just expect to be a mmo at this point.,
If they are lacking then their is problem with the developers.” —
ZOS made the game they wanted to make.  They also provided a framework to access the game’s data so that addon developers could provide the infinite number of convenience features that the community would demand, thus freeing ZOS up to continue making that game they wanted to make.
That being said, I’m sorry if you’re on console – that beast has it’s own nature that you’ll have to deal with.  :/