Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online’s new outfit system is close to perfect
When ESO introduced wardrobes and costumes years ago, I believed that we weren’t going to get anything more. However, Update 17 last week added a new layer of character customization. With the addition of the Outfit System, there isn’t really anything else players need to make their character look the way that they want.
ESO‘s designer takes elements from other outfit systems that work and create its own unique way of allowing players to piece together items. In fact, I would say that ESO‘s outfit design is close to perfect.
The perfect system
I have an internal struggle regarding character customization: I believe that the way a character looks (build, armor, etc.) should play a role way the character plays. I have a hard time believing that a gigantic character has a good way of being stealthy. I also have trouble believing that a tiny character could take down a giant with raw strength. That’s not to say that I believe there should be some game-breaking advantage or disadvantage based on a character’s physical build, but there should probably be a different baseline.
In the same vein, I believe that the outfit a character wears should also affect the way a character performs. I wouldn’t expect someone in heavy, clunky armor to be able to sneak up on someone, but at the same time, silk cloth isn’t going to deflect many arrows or sword swings.
Unfortunately, what ends up happening in most MMOs because of the limitation of design time, there ends up being only a handful of armor sets that seems to work the best for a specific role. And everyone ends up looking exactly the same all the time. And even as role players, we end up having people look very similar because of the in-game advantages of specific sets of armor. Part of the appeal of MMOs for me is the ability to make my character look unique, and most armor-progression systems undermine that idea.
Despite my objection to outfit design systems, I absolutely understand why game designers build them and why players demand them.
ESO’s take on an outfit system
If you own Elder Scrolls Online, you have access to the Outfit System. Despite its being released with the Dragon Bones DLC, it is not a part of that DLC; it’s part of the base game. It even draws on elements in the base game, like the dye system. In fact, the Dye Stations have now been converted to Outfit Stations. Wherever you used to change the dye sets for your armor, you can now change your whole outfit.
When you find an Outfit Station, you can change the look of your outfit just like changing armor. The left side of the UI shows the different pieces of armor and weapons your character has on. And to the right are the different pieces that you can choose from. To preview simply double click the item on the right and you will see it on your character in the middle, and it will appear on the left as well. But it will not permanently become a part of the outfit until you hit “Apply Changes.”
The designs you have to choose from are based on the motifs that you’ve learned. The ones you know are shown in full on the right, and the ones you don’t know are grayed out. Although you can overlay heavy armor on light armor or vice vera or anything in between, you cannot replace one slot’s item with one that would fit in another slot. So no boots on your shoulders! Likewise, you cannot replace one weapon type with another weapon type. That means no lightning staffs that look like broadswords, despite how cool that would be.
The dye system remains unchanged, except now you can apply dyes to the different outfits you’ve created.
The outfit costs themselves vary based on which items you choose. Basic armors will cost less than rarer motifs, and shoulder pieces will cost less to change than breastplates. It will also cost more if you dye the pieces – but that’s in-game gold, despite its being a cosmetic change. You can buy an Outfit Change Token from Crown Store, allowing you to change the look of an outfit without costing gold, but that will cost you 400 Crowns — a bit high, if you ask me.
All players get one free outfit slot. (It still costs to actually change the outfit.) The name of the outfit by default is “Outfit 1” but you can rename the outfit to whatever you’d like. And if one outfit slot isn’t enough for you, then you can buy more slots from the Crown Store for 1500 Crowns — also a little expensive (as player outcry last week confirmed).
There are a couple of things that I would change with this designer. I would like to see a “Hide Shoulders” option like there is a “Hide Helmet” option. I would also like to see a way to purchase motifs directly from the Outfit Station. That being said, I do like that it will tell you how to earn a particular motif if you don’t have it. I also like the ability to change the weapon style. It even goes so far as to give you the ability to swap out an axe for a dagger as long as it doesn’t change how the weapon is wielded.
Although it compromises my general sensibilities about armor types and uses, I do believe that ESO knocked it out of the park with this system. But what do you think? Have you had a chance to try out this outfit designer? If not, hop into ESO now and let me know what you think in the comments below.