TESO Should Focus on PvE

The big news of the day is The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) cinematic trailer.  Let’s take a quick look, and then I want to offer up my thoughts.

We all know about trailers. You can buy into them a bit, but you have to really watch yourself; if you loose control you might actually believe the gameplay will be anything like that Legolas ninja shadowstalker sniper.  It’s never going to happen in our lifetime.  Nevertheless, it was quite exhilerating to watch and imagine myself in such a position.  This trailer shows me that TESO will have some money behind it, and they’re not goign to spare any expense with the hype and marketing.

Clearly this trailer showcases the three-way alliance PvP.  (AvA?)  What I want to know is just how central this PvP conflict will be to the rest of the game.  Is this going to be a huge focus?  Is the PvP what they want to drive everyone toward?  I think that would be a mistake.

In my opinion, they should focus on creating an amazing and innovative PvE experience in TESO.  PvP has ruined more games in the last ten years than it has helped, and we haven’t received any innovations or PvE.  I have a feeling that the game is currently on a trajectory to try and capture some form of RvR 3-way conflict market.  If they do that, and fail to pull it off perfectly, it will be a superficial/shallow themepark mess.

Here’s hoping that TESO doesn’t focus on PvP.  Yep, I said it.

  • I watched that and all I could think about was how awesome the Warhammer Online trailer was, and then the game we got.

    Also, I agree, you can’t skimp on the PvE. Not in today’s market. Maybe in 2001 when they made DAoC, and you were just trying to be different than EQ, you could release half a game and get away with it, but Warhammer has shown what that gets you now.

  • The only thing I remember about SWTOR is it’s trailer. Let’s hope this trailer, which is awesome, is not the only thing I remember about TESO 2 years from now.

    One the separate mode, I dont know why these companies feel it’s necessary to waste money on these things. I can not imagine anyone taking this stuff seriously anyways. Ok, it’s an eye candy, but 5 minutes vid of the actual gameplay is what going to be my first decision point on playing or not playing, definitely not this.

    I would much prefer they would spend this money on the actual game.

  • I have to disagree. I think there has been tons of innovation in PvE just not in the direction, you, or me for that matter, would of liked.

  • Well, if you are saying that they should focus on PvE because they arent capable of making a decent RVR/PVP game then that makes sense and I actually agree and you are probably right but that can almost be said about most MMOs that have been coming out over the last 5+ years. My first recommendation would be to focus on RVR and to do it right…but the chances of that happening are slim (especially for a big budget game like this)…it is a high risk area – fail and be “doomed” but a game with new PvE advances and a focus on PvE alone would probably do much better. It probably will end up a quality product – and it will be fun…for about 1-3 months…

  • With this game I think the name is more harmful them helping them.
    When people hear elder scrolls online they immediately think of skyrim with many people to play with online.

    Will they get this? no. Is it possible? well yes. Look at what the modding community did with just cause 2 an open world game.

    Game comes out and we have shallow generic fantasy mmo number 235, instead of what the people want.

    And no trailer is gonna hype me again. “sniff” warhammer online.
    It could have been good you know, but noooooo.

  • “amazing and innovative PvE experience”

    This is just a hollow phrase. What should this amazing PvE be like? I doubt you have a good idea. I doubt anyone has a good idea. Is it story driven like in Skyrim? No one plays that for as long as you want a MMO to be played. Story runs out, and when it does you get Tortanic. Is it gear driven like WoW? That’s what the world needs: another WoW clone, where you get gear to get gear to get gear, addicted to itemlevel.

    So what is the drive to repeat a set of relatively simple actions over and over? Good combat? Even single player games praised for their great combat do not get played as long as MMOs.

    There might be a way to make a PvE MMO that doesn’t suck. I just don’t see it. It would probably include player created content or the best algorithm for randomly created content this world has seen yet, tho.

    I hope they make another DAoC, instead of the 3 monther you seem to want.

  • I have no interest in watching a cinematic trailer that really does not represent the actual game. Once I am involved in a game then sure I will watch cinematics, especially since they can be used as a storytelling device, but as a marketing tool I find them very unappealing.

    I have always found actual gameplay footage and short dev videos to be a much more effective way to get me involved in a title before it releases.

    As for the the actual PvE conversation, I too would prefer an emphasis over a more developed and deep world to explore with a friends and other players over constant PvP to control rally points. The argument is often made that without substantial and meaningful PvP an MMO will slow down and die off but I think a more involved world that players can feel invested in will keep people around longer then anything else.

  • The central focus of ESOL has to be…must be……REALM VS REALM CONFLICT. Period. Yes, there can be great pve(some producers can actually walk and chew gum at the same time.Believe it or not). If any know(and yes Mark Jacobs was clueless with his production disaster called WAR)…Matt Firior does.Lets hope he makes the game he is capable of, and would like to make.

    The last thing game consumers need is another pretty,warmed over pve game.

  • Elder scrolls is known about it’s immersive and huge virtual world. It is not the kind of pvp player. Majority of pvp players spend less than 1 min in character creation and less than 5% of their time wandering in the virtual world. It cannot be focused on pvp or it will not be an elder scrolls

  • The reason this game will succeed in the PvP section is because there are more than 2 factions. This will offer the devs more leeway in coming up with interesting scenarios and will offer the players the opportunity to help or backstab another alliance when conquering the third. This does not even take into account the 4th faction, which I’m not even sure is playable. You have the Ebonheart Pact, the Aldmeri Dominion and the Daggerfall Covenant. Versus each other and the Imperials. Way more room for dynamic gameplay than just the Horde and Alliance or the Chaos and Order. Way more storytelling potential than just the “Good” and “Bad” guys. Or the “Pretty” and “Ugly” races.

  • “The reason this game will succeed in the PvP section is because there are more than 2 factions.”

    @Tudor: Well, that certainly isn’t a reason why it will succeed but it is merely the minimum requirement for an RVR game that isn’t doomed from the start and might not outright suck. I think we already had this discussion as GW2 announced a 3 realm RVR system and as we have learned (and predicted) there are about a million and one ways to even screw up a 3 way RVR implementation. It definitely is too early to tell if they have what it takes to pull it off. While I am cheering for them – my guess is that they will screw it up unless they convince us otherwise. I choose not to assume they can do it and then be “surprised” for the umpteenth time if they dont.

  • It should focus on PvE, but it won’t. It will focus on a ‘board audience’, and end up delivering nothing worthwhile in any one area, ala GW2.

    That Black Desert trailer is hilarious too. First two mins shows great graphics and settings, at 2:30 the silly combat starts and you realize this is yet another flashy grinder.

  • There is a difference between aspects you don’t like about a game and it being a total failure or nothing worth while. I very much enjoyed my time in GW2 and would not call it nothing worth while. While it did not hold me the servers are still full, sales are on a steady increase and RvR still has queues.
    While the new development direction gives a lot of credit towards criticisms express on this blog portraying the debate as one side a 100% right and the other 100% and presenting nothing worthwhile is just wrong.

    As far as this game goes we all know it will not present us with what we want. What we want requires making the community deeply dependent on each other. No large company will do this for fear of alienating other aspects of the community.

    To be honest they are actually right it probably would alienate large section of the community. I am sure there is a way to execute it that wont but in this current environment getting that formula right is close to impossible. Its not something I would bet 100 million dollars on for sure.

  • At this rate they have more going for them if they make a TESO movie rather than an MMO. Fancy cinematic trailers showing they have gobs of money to throw at a project does nothing for me after having been burned by EA/Bioware. Shame on me if I go for that ploy again.

  • As a side note I live in Baltimore which is the home of ZeniMax and saw a person recently with an Elder Scrolls Online shirt and merely said in passing “Please don’t screw this up”. Of course this was a few weeks BEFORE yesterday’s beta sign up started, if I saw them now it would be more along the lines of “Buy you a beer for a beta invite!”

  • Have any of you seen the developer videos for the game? Like this one? http://youtu.be/KxJTsq2XeKY The cinematic video was just a teaser to go along with the beta signup launch. Go watch the developer videos and the interviews that IGN did for all the fine details of the game.

    The impression I got was that they will be focusing on both PvE and PvP equally. Given the emphasis on lore, exploration, voice-overs and their changes to questing, I’d say that the PvE experience won’t be the failure that Warhammer’s PvE was. It sounds like their goal is that you can ignore PvP entirely if you want and still have a great time playing. I’m also really excited that a MMO is getting away from the typical WoW style hotbar/cooldown combat.

  • I was kind of disappointed with the trailer. Cinematic trailers aren’t much use to begin with, but you couldn’t even tell this was Elder Scrolls. None of the environments or characters looked like Elder Scrolls. Human, Elf, Bearded Guy With Axe… it could have been from any old fantasy setting. I just wish they’d leveraged their differences a bit more.

    As for the game itself, I cynically don’t have much hope. It’s a very weird IP choice for the game they have chosen to make. Three faction RvR is fine I guess, but it doesn’t go nicely with Elder Scrolls. Fixed classes and a linear zone progression based on levels doesn’t either. There’s also this single player “You’re the special hero!” traditional RPG story in there, which I think we all know is silly at this point.

    Bah… I don’t know. Much like SWTOR, it seems to be a game at odds with itself.

  • I’m with a lot of others. Cinematic trailers don’t excite me at all. I would even dare to say hurts the game more because of all the previous games negative experiences. Makes me feel like they are staying on the exact same path as everyone else.

  • Cinematic trailer = snore. I skipped most of it. Leave that garbage in the last decade please ZeniMax.

    I think/hope that they’ll be mindful that they’ll have a lot of converts from the single player games – as a result decent PvE content will be vital. Heck, it needs to be as close to the single player experience as they can make it, which makes their job very difficult. I don’t know about anyone else, but it’s partly my history with Morrowind that’s getting me into this title, with Vvardenfel and everything being accessible with the Dominion (or whatever it’s called!).

    RvR is clearly going to feature though. They’d be crazy to over-emphasise it, but I feel that it will encroach on gameplay quite a lot. There always seems to be this e-Sports/PvPer emphasis in modern MMORPGs. WvW in GW2 feels like that – it makes me feel like a second class citizen for not wanting to participate. PvE please!

  • That trailer isn’t aimed at you. If you come to a popular gamer’s blog and discuss MMO design theory then one fancy trailer isn’t going to affect your decision whether or not to play said MMO in the slightest.

    I’ve never considered myself to be hardcore, casual, a PvEer, or a PvPer. MMOs can and should have more scope then that. I’ve always claimed to be a “full service gamer” when it comes to MMOs. I expect ESO to provide great PvE AND engaging PvP. I hope they don’t focus on just 1 or emphasize 1 over the other or 1 at the expense of the other. I want to login and choose either and be entertained by either. To hope that they get at least 1/2 right is to lower your expectations for the game as a whole. This is what you’re really saying Keen. You are giving up on getting the PvP you want and hoping that they’ll make the PvE so good that it will compensate. You are saying, “look, I can’t handle being disappointed in your arena,badges,no goal,twitchy,CC infested,self contained classes,no thought, crap PvP so please just don’t even try”.

    I’m not willing to give up so easy. Here’s the proof I offer in an attempt to keep hope alive that I’ll get something better. Go sign up for the beta and ‘select your preferred online gaming activities’. Here’s some actual choices:

    PvP(Open World)
    PvP(Raid or Battlegrounds)

    Now you may not agree or like all of those choices (I didn’t check the arena box) but questing pvp doesn’t intrigue you? Aren’t you maybe a little encouraged by the fact that they split their pvp up into discernible categories like that? In the recent past, developers of MMOs like SWtOR would consider PvP(Questing) to be an oxymoron, not a ‘preferred online gaming activity’. If we as gamers give up on what we want then we sure as heck aren’t going to get it. When SWtOR was hyping up I said I expected it to suck but hoped I’d be wrong. . .I wasn’t, but hoping for a good game isn’t a bad thing.

  • I’m pretty sure SWTOR focused on PvE storytelling with PvP taking a backburner….

    Yeah, I’m having a blast with UO Forever and Eve Online right now. I’ll give TESO a try, but really I’m just waiting for Archeage to come to the states.

  • @Zachdidit Keen is saying they should focus on PvE gameplay, not necessarily storytelling. You don’t need story for a compelling PvE experience. Not at all. Look at these MMORPG veterans picking up UO all over again. You think they care an ounce about the story? I’ve been reading their posts for a while now and not once do they mention the story. They talk about making gold or solo’ing/duo’ing dungeons/instances. They talk abobut unexpected outcomes and combat simplicity. SWTOR was so focused on voice acting and “story” that they lost sight of the way the game played and how it felt.

  • UO’s gameplay is far from the PvE experience you’d expect nowdays. You have no quests. You grind mobs for loot that has an importance in the economy. It’s fun, because you’re not being lead down a rail and spoon-fed. You have tons of choices to choose what you want to do each play session. PvE like Keen is talking about and what TESO is going to be like is themepark oriented. You’re going to be farming monsters, grinding quests, etc. SWTOR was definitely like that.

    If Keen meant he wanted emergent gameplay with deep economies, interesting crafting, and interesting systems then that’s one thing. But that’s not what it means when you say PvE. Strictly Player Vs. Environment. Get your camping gear and go grind those mobs until you can fight bigger mobs. Then go do dungeons until you can do bigger dungeons. Then go do raids until the next expansion. Then rinse and repeat.

  • @ Zach

    In my mind when I hear PvE, it encompasses both of those “types” of PvE you mentioned as well as possibly even other “types” of PvE that I may not be aware of.

    Isn’t just easier to say PvE, and mean any type of “player versus environment” gameplay experience, rather than have to qualify it each time?

    “Oh, not THAT kind of PvE, I meant ’emergent gameplay with deep economies, interesting crafting, and interesting systems’.”

    I think you are reading into what Keen means, but maybe he can clarify. He even specifically refers to the opportunity that ESO has to create a PvE that is something different than what we’ve seen recently.

  • Is this your version of linkbait? hehe

    Whatever features they will have have long been set in stone. Trust me there is no innovative pve experience anywhere there

    Why is that..? because making fun engaging PVE experience that lasts more then couple month is is really HARD and really EXPENSIVE.

    So this will be a themepark that you can grind through in a month(2 tops). With some RvR components, but what if that RvR component does not suck? It could happen.

    Big thing is their “megaserver” as a software engineer I am really curious to see what exactly they came up with, but as a gamer I have a really bad feeling about this

  • “look, I can’t handle being disappointed in your arena,badges,no goal,twitchy,CC infested,self contained classes,no thought, crap PvP so please just don’t even try”.

    Yep, that about sums it up. I don’t trust them, and there’s no reason anyone should. It’s way harder to screw up PvE, and if they try they might actually make some headway and provide something new.

  • It is really hard to screw PVE if you define success keeping people for 1 month or 2. More then that and you need WoW level investment, team and tools to crank out content if you don’t people got nothing to do and you are screwed. I guess you could make a classic Korean “grind till your eyes bleed and decay” experience but even Koreans do not seem to be keen on those anymore.

  • “But but but there are billions of potential players in the Far East who wont play my game if it does not have PvP”

    That was sarcasm, but I feel many (most?) of the MMOs released in the last X years have been designed with that thought in someone’s mind. Can anyone here name one where they liked the PvP? I like GW2’s, any others?

    That aside, lack of decent PvE will tank an MMO much faster than lack of decent PvP, and PvE is easy to make, but hard to make good.

    (for what its worth i really enjoyed swtors pve – story and all – while it lasted)

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLp0ykvotEI

    I missed this “preview” of the game – the gentleman is quite excited but there were so many things when he got all hyped up – I was like…meh…this sounds like it is going to be bad. What I got out of it was that it has a themepark, reminded me how highly instanced it is going to be, will consists likely of over-developed PvP minigames within an open area, oh and I am suspicious about the “you pick 5 skills to fight with” – I think the über instancing by itself will kill it for me…according to him they claim it will be designed so that there can be 200 players on screen at one time…so how are you going to ensure that in an open RVR area…let 1000 people in and hope they dont get together and crash the server/zone? Well, in a game that is fond of instancing one solution is to limit players getting into the zone to 200 max…75 a piece maybe…100 maybe…another big battleground. The rest goes where – in queues? in phases or another instance? No thank you!

  • I keep hope alive because 3 years of DAoC was too fun not to have some developer come along and do the same stuff.

  • @Cthreepo: Thanks for that Alpha preview. Very informative.

    @Argorius: The only uber instancing I picked up from the Alpha preview was the instancing on a world level. It sounds similar to WoW’s zone instancing where if you’re a higher level, it puts you in a different instance layer for that zone, but rather than your level being the separator, it’s your play style preferences (i.e. don’t want to play with preteens). Once you decide on your preferences, your world instance or world view shouldn’t feel fractured in any way because everyone with those same preference filters plays in the same world space as you(except obviously in dungeons). As for crowd limits, it seems like they indicated that the large PVP playing space and multiple objectives per target would allow for many separated battles but still create a feeling of larger coordinated combat. Isn’t this how Planetside 2 works to a degree?

  • Hmm, I think its too early to tell. How long did you play wow? 5 years on/off? When you have played UO as long, maybe you wont find choping wood as funny.

    Other than that I think it has a lot to do with freedom and choice. You choose to chop wood, no one is forcing you to do it. When traveling from quest hub to quest hub it feels forced at times

  • Well, that’s an interesting statement:

    “PvP has ruined more games in the last 10 years…”

    While I don’t think it’s the prime or sole cause of failure, I think it’s definitely the prime cause of poor story. It’s the reason why you can’t really have a smash hit powerful storyline in a FFA fighting game. PvP is for the sport (which is fine), but it doesn’t make a rich world or a story.

    Just depends on what you’re looking for in a game. There’s a medium-sized chunk out there who just want the twitch-tactical RPG equivalent of Halo Multiplayer,