ESO’s Future Updates Look Good (on paper)

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Zenimax Online Studios released their roadmap for upcoming future changes to The Elder Scrolls Online.  Graev and I are what you might consider ‘regular’ players.  We put in 3-4 hours a week, explore every corner of every zone, listen to 95% of the quest dialog, level our crafting, and do all of the dungeons.  We aren’t leveling quickly at all; We’re getting close to level 30.  We are guildless and just roaming the world together.  I say all of this to give you a bit of context so that you understand where I’m coming from as I comment on what is coming soon to ESO.

Update 1 containing lots of new “veteran” (end-game) content is coming soon.  I think that’s great, but I won’t see any of it for a long time.  What I care about are these future updates:

  • A system that allows grouped players to see each other even when they’re in different phases
  • A justice system—steal from and kill NPCs and deal with the consequences if you are caught
  • Migration of European Megaserver to our European datacenter.
  • Field of View (FOV) adjustment
  • Armor dyeing and tinting
  • Two new Veteran Dungeons: Crypt of Hearts and City of Ash
  • New region of Craglorn with a new Trial (the Serpent)
  • Increased ability to pick up items in the world
  • Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood storyline and quests.
  • Spellcrafting
  • Horse Racing
  • Dragonstar Arena—similar to Trials, but built for a group of four
  • Improvements to fishing
  • Crafting system improvements
  • Improved Looking for Group system
  • Better NPC facial animations

That’s an awesome list.  I’m mostly looking at the changes that make the game and the world feel more like a traditional ES game.  A justice system, more interaction with the world, and two great guilds coming to the game.  Graev and I are both desperately wanting the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves guild.

ESO hasn’t been entirely peachy.  Graev and I are starting to wonder if the subscription is going to be worth it.  We are both tired of just quest grinding, and the experience is starting to feel slightly flat.  The PvP, despite sounding great and all, hasn’t attracted us at all.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me — is it me?  Maybe it’s the game.  I just don’t feel like going out and zerging, and I feel like the PvP is still an arcade experience.  I can’t explain it.  I just see a lack of purpose and meaning.

Maybe, as I think about it here, DAoC was different because of server communities.  I was on Percival in the realm of Midgard.  We worked our butts off to earn Darkness Falls.  We held keeps and fought with unimaginable fervor to hold our keeps and relics.  It was … it really was epic.  I would stand in a keep with my weapon ready staring off into the snowy tree covered hills waiting to see a speck of movement.  The bloody cry of a scout, “THEY’RE COMING!!!!” would make my face tingle as the blood and adrenaline began to flow and we were ready to die where we stood to ensure there wasn’t even a chance in hell our lands would be taken.  I can’t find that in ESO, so I do not participate in PvP.

I’m okay with a PvE experience.  I’m a bit of carebear now.  I just want ESO’s PvE to reflect what matters to me in a game.  It’s getting there.  I just need it to come quicker.

  • I’ve been alt’ing it up a lot, but I did get a character up through Coldharbour and now into the veteran zones and ranks. It’s been a lot of fun for me, but the whole VR thing doesn’t appeal to me much, and while i’ve done a touch of pvp in Cyrodil, it doesn’t call to me either, whereas alts with different builds and thus different playstyles do, so… that’s about where I am now. i’m still happy to keep playing and seeing the other faction zones and trying out a melee sorcerer, nightblade healer, templar tank, etc. Melee sorc is definitely a lot more tactical than my pyromancer DK that just spams fire AE’s, but I like the change.

  • Have yet to go out and zerg, and I’m on a server that is outnumbered every second of every day by hundreds upon hundreds.

    You just have to go out and find the pvp you want. I like small man stuff, I’m never in a group of more than 3, and we attack people as they try to reinforce from their porting keeps. Sometimes too many come, sure, but its still the 3 of us vs all of them. And we usually win.

    Still not tired of it. There ARE a lot of bugs in the skill lines that I am tired of however, particularly in the vampire skill line. When those get fixed I’ll be a lot happier.

  • My experience with these rvr games is that you have to commit yourselves to the realm/server in order to feel a meaninful purpose. For example the server pride in tier 1 servers in gw2 is ridiculously high, however if you are someone who doesn’t participate in the server community (e.g. Join the server ts and forum) you may miss a lot of them and feel detached. But once you commit yourselves you will find the fights suddenly have a lot more meanings than you thought and begin to appreciate the intense rivalry between servers in tier 1. I imagine similar things will develop in ESO.

  • Even though i am not playing ESO and the likelihood is below zero at this point since i resubbed to wow to get ready for the next expantion i have one remark.

    Surely i would not expect a post like this from you. Please take a closer look in the mirror because you are definetely doing it wrong.

    WHAT KIND OF PURPOSE do you want to see when you are devoting 3-4 hours PER WEEK!?! JEEEEEZ!!!
    I would dare say that you should not even allow yourself to pass judgement besides from the above fact alone. If the game does not make you want to devote more than 15 hours per week then there is a HUGE issue.

    I will go out on a limb and guess you devoted at least more hours weekly to DaoC!!! 🙂

  • Hey Keen,

    I appreciate you trying to balance criticism for the most love/hate mmorpg since AoC, you totally earn points for that.

    But I’m wondering if mmorpg’s are your thing at all anymore? You’re lucky to play with your bro…K & G co-op makes more sense to me…

    I’m going to keep coming around of course but maybe it’s time to stop pretending there’s a mmorpg that you’ll ever call home again. Which is fine, I’m just sayin.

  • As qyte said, 3-4 hours per week is almost zero for an MMO. Sorry Keen, but with 3-4 hours per week you are not a regular player.

    Also all this story for future updates it so much remind me swtor…they also had huge plans for the future with tons of features/content to be added and we all know how it ended.

  • “I don’t know what’s wrong with me — is it me? Maybe it’s the game.”

    I chuckled at this 🙂 I had the same thought myself, then I realised that no, it was just that once you get past the veneer of pretty graphics, voiced dialogue and quests by the fistful the game itself (i.e. the systems, mechanics) is quite shallow for a long term prospect.

    @qyte (and I’m not speaking for you Keen but the comment applies to me in much the same way) Doesn’t the fact that even if after spending 3-4 hours a week (which for any recreational pursuit but gaming is a reasonable amount) one hasn’t been really sucked in by it suggest there’s something wrong with the game, not the player? Play it if you enjoy it, don’t if you don’t. Simples.

  • I thought “3-4 hours a week” was a typo for “3-4 hours a day”. I can’t see that as any kind of an endorsement of an MMO that’s barely been out a month yet. Even allowing for work-life balance and so forth, I’d have thought a committed MMO gamer playing a brand-new MMO that he or she was excited by would find some way to grab at least an hour or two every weekday and one good weekend session, adding up to more like 12-16 hours a week. If a game really grabs you that would go up to “every available hour”. Even a year and a half after launch I generally manage 20-25 hours of GW2 most weeks – more if anything new is going on.

    I’d read that as a pretty clear indication ESO hasn’t grabbed you and I doubt any of that list of features and fixes will change that. And it may not be the game’s fault. It’s always possible that you are beginning to outgrow or lose interest in the form altogether. As you describe it, discovering and playing MMOs was intrinsically linked with what is for many people the most vital and formative time in their lives. If all future MMOs have to compete with that emotional history it’s hardly surprising if most, perhaps all, of them fail.

    I think main reason my enjoyment of MMOs remains almost unchanged after fifteen years is that I was 40 years old when I began. If I’d been 14, who knows if I’d still be playing now, or if I’d be enjoying it as much if I was?

  • I want to clarify that since my post “feels” a bit assaulting that i wrote it just as i would speak to a well known friend, meaning that i had no intention of sounding assaulting but rather sarcastic or humorous. It just came out somewhat different 🙁

    I am an avid reader of this blog for some years now and just feel more within a circle of friends when writing a comment rather than among strangers. I hope keen at least gets my point.

  • I feel the same. It is probably not the game though, it’s me.

    We were a lot younger when we played DAOC, the game felt more unique because it was. PvP was a fairly new concept.

    I fully understand that no game, no matter how good, will capture my imagination like DAOC did.

    You however still seem hopeful. I think you will be disappointed over and over

  • I’ve enjoyed my time so far, only level 23. I appreciate the slow pace of leveling, however to be honest it’s already feeling kind of samey. The landscape in the first three Ebonheart zones are extremely similar, the quests are all similar, the stories are all similar, the voices are all the same, etc.

    There’s lots of content here but I get the feeling that I’ll lose interest before I finish it.

  • After going through the comments I’m surprised so many people are getting after Keen for only only 3 -4 hours a week. I think that schedule is quite reasonable and should definitely be considered “regular” play. I probably play a similar amount and would guess many people are the same.

    From my perspective, I have full-time work, a regular exercise schedule, a couple evening groups, other hobbies besides gaming, and various social activities. Then there’s time for gaming, and that time has to be further divided between all the different games I play. If a single game get’s 3-4 hours a week I think that’s plenty. Maybe gamers who are burning through content too fast should stop playing so much.

  • Yeah guys my play-time is because I’ve been working a lot and have had some RL stuff. When I say 3-4 we’ve probably managed 5-6 lately. I also only play with Graev, so that means we have to find a time that works for both of us. Giving 3-6 hours to ESO means I’m at least willing to keep playing it in a prime slot (mostly Saturdays).

    I also play many other games. I’m playing Age of Wonders 3, Landmark Beta, ESO, ArcheAge Alpha. I’ve also had a social life lately.

    I remember when I used to put in 10 + hours a day into games and people would criticize me for playing too much. Now I play too little. 😛 I’m taking my time. I think that’s the best way to game right now for me. There aren’t any games that I feel the need to blow 4-5 hour a day into.

    As for whether or not you can successfully play an MMO for 3-4 hours per week, I think it’s sad if you can’t. What do you do — play 5+ hours of non-fun time to get to that 6th hour of fun? Come on now guys, it’s not like I’m expecting to be amazing or anything with my time investment. I’m having fun for 3-4 hours. That’s a good thing.

  • Keen, my intention was not to criticize how many hours you put in games. Is your life and you do whatever you please. The problem is that with so little hours on an MMO you should not pass judgment 🙂 I played ESO beta and I totally disliked it. The combat, the characters, … It was not something I could play regularly,

    Then I read your blog praising the game, saying you are having lot of fun, e.t.c. Suncaine the same thing. He was arguing with everyone about how good the game is. I was almost ready to put aside my judgment and put the blame on me for not liking it…then I read syncaine after a month is level 21 and he plays Darkfall again. You on the other hand play 3-4 or 5-6 hours per week..

    I also work a full time job and have social time, but I always find 1-3 hours per day to play and some days I may even play 5-6 hours, usually weekends. And I consider myself casual.

  • I haven’t spend too much time in RVR even though I am a big DAOC fan. At this point I figure I might as well concentrate on leveling first and since participating in RVR hasn’t been quite as rewarding on the leveling side of things I feel like it just slows me down. However, putting together a DAOC like RVR experience hinges on many small details and some of these are just not present (yet) in ESO. Some of them weren’t even present in DAOC at release so there is still some sort of hope. I do believe that even one of the minor details can make or break the experience.

    – Individualized rewards for RVR are still weak or missing in ESO. You participate in RVR and you get random loot for free (so what…), you get alliance points (that you can waste on whatever but as of now it isn’t something that makes me want to go back over and over), you get ranks which have a cosmetic component (well, cool but not anything exciting), you get extra skill points (there are so many that this isn’t that important), you get access to RVR type abilities (nothing that really helps develop your character – maybe nice to have but I dont feel like I must have these to be competitive – it isnt like that I can only put skills points received from ranking up can be used to get these etc.)

    – There is no long term character development associated with ESO. Based on the lack of individualized rewards, I dont feel like I am building up my character as I did in DAOC as I went through the realm ranks. In DAOC, giving up leveling to go RVR made perfect sense as I am developing the RR side of my character which is a long term goal and probably much harder to level up than character levels. In ESO I dont feel like I would be working towards something in RVR for the long term.

    i think these are the two things that are minimum requirements and are underdeveloped in ESO or missing. You need these as a foundation to build upon. ESO has build a lot of good things on the foundation it has but with them missing, that is a problem IMO.

    Minor quibbles are:

    – The equivalent of relics appear to be much easier to obtain from other sides. They switch hands way too often – that certainly takes away from their epicness

    – There are some other design decisions that interfere with “realm pride” but while unfortunate, I dont think they are critical…like megaservers, phasing, large populations, disconnect between the Frontier and your world, and the three factions feeling pretty much the same.

    Anyway, just some observations and I could definitely be wrong since I havent spend all that much time in RVR but due to whatever I believe is the situation , that is the reason why I havent done too much RVR. I guess the short answer would be: I haven’t done much RVR because I am better able to develop my character by leveling now and I am not missing out or falling behind by not participating in RVR.

  • @John: I’m level 30 in ESO now and have multiple characters. I think whether I play 3 hours a day or 10 I can still talk about the game and even critique what I have seen. As I said in my original post, ESO for me has been mostly a PvE experience, and one very closely matching a single-player one.

    I think the problems with ESO are patchable to a degree (on the PvE side) and something that will need to take time to settle on the PvP side of things.

    We’re making good progress on the PvE side and will hopefully be able to make it into more dungeons soon. I like the rate at which we are progressing.

    @Argorius: Great overview. I think you nailed the character development and reward side.

  • I am a bit disappointed in ESO as well. I’m not sure what it is…I enjoy my playtime, but something about it just isn’t grabbing me.

    The world, crafting trees, skill trees, etc. are incredibly rich.

    The problem is combat is unbelievably repetitive. I understand the purpose of limiting hot bars, but it really turns gameplay into 1-1-1-2-1-1-1…

    The pvp doesn’t compete with DAOC. It can’t possibly come close without changing major game mechanics.

  • I am baffled by people’s seeming need to be “rewarded” in particular ways for doing pvp.

    I do it to kill people.

    Simple as that, I don’t need someone holding my hand telling me good job the entire time, nor do I need them waving a carrot on a string in front of my face. I go out to have fun engaging other thinking beings in virtual combat.

    The mail rewards and whatnot are good because they are a source of income (since you get no gold for killing players).

    But again, if ESO’s pvp does not grab you that is fine. But at least let it be because the feel of it or whatnot is wrong, not simply because you don’t feel “rewarded” properly for playing.

  • @Rawblin: Don’t be baffled 🙂 This argument isn’t anything new. There are some people that are just tickled by jumping into RVR and having a good time and that is awesome. The old argument of “I PVP for the sake of PVPing.” Maybe it will make someone a better PVPer, a better gamer, a better person – I don’t know.

    However, from what I have seen over the years, different people are motivated by different things and I do not believe that RVR is sustainable if only the purists PVPers participate that do it for the love of PVP. Why not also motivate the people that need more – some sort of carrot or reward? The PVP “purists” will still show up and any reward is just icing on the cake…and you also get another group of people that participate.

    Personally, I enjoy participating in RVR but if there is no long term goal or consequence…I get bored after a while. When I am looking for an RVR game, I am looking for something that could keep me entertained for years even…if I know that I will just stick around for 3 months then yes…who cares about rewards…it is just for the fun of it. If there are no long term rewards and goals then I feel like I am just playing a few games of Team Fortress (or whatever)…it is fun…but after a while it is enough already…and I would get bored (which is why I am not a dedicated FPS player).

    I would compare this also to the PVE situation…would people run raids and dungeons over and over if there was no reward? No loot…just do the raids for the fun of it? I think yes – once…or twice…but that is about it. PVP is more engaging and exciting…so maybe it will take most people 5 or 10 – or 20 times before they get bored?

    On the other hand, there are some “game design theories” out there that talk about how giving rewards for certain activities actually reduce people’s motivation to participate in the activity. While they would have enjoyed an activity if there never was a reward, as soon as one is introduced, there is an expectation for continuous rewards and if they are less exciting in the future, the activity itself seems less exciting. I could see this hold true in this situation as well…and if that were to be true…I think I have been “ruined” by years and years of having received rewards for PVP (starting with UO where you killed people and could take all their stuff). Unfortunately, these experiences carry over from one game to the next 🙂

  • 2 things-
    You really should think of joining “Trading guilds” or “Crafting guild” designed specifically to provide a richer Auction House experience.Makes your life so much easier. In time I see MEGA-Guilds popping up, and will be a conglomerate of smaller trading guilds all in one with the highest amount of people in it, to provide the biggest auction houses.

    Secondly – can you really satiate your competitive spirit in pvp without reaching lvl 50 first ? I have tried pvp before lvl 50 and although I can see the potential, a few times I got my ass spanked in 1 on 1’s with lvl 50’s and so I am persevering to lvl 50.I have so many plans for PVP, I have already joined a good pvp guild that run nightly. We plan to choke off points between keeps for some small group pvp action, push scrolls.Ambush zergs with guerilla tactics. I’m really excited.

  • I don’t know why people are whailing about the 3-6 hours a week thing. How many hour is really applicable though? 6 hours for most people implies 1 hour per day after work, that’s quite alot if you consider spending 1 hour, 6 days a week on your bicycle or gym is consider quite alot of exercise…

    Anyhow, i’d say i spent about 10 hours a week on ESO the last month, about 40-50 hours since launch and i got my main to Veteran Lvl 1 and at least 3 alts to lvl 10 or so. Does it make me more “dedicated” ? Nope. Why? Because now i’m done with the game….there’s nothing left for me to see, i’m not going to grind to VR10 , there’s absolutely ZERO reward in the Veteran levels. You not only play content which you could play with low level alts with more meaningful character progression happening, but it’s also the equivalent of Diablo “nightmare mode”. So imagine hitting Aldmeri Dominion starter island at lvl 50, and struggling to take down 2 skeevers….knowing full well they the opportunity to get stronger is ZERO! So you are going to struggle with those skeevers for pretty much the rest of your veteran experience? You might get better gear here and there, maybe modify your build, but sadly most of the serious abilities will be maxed out long before you have hit lvl 50 anyway, so it’s not like you are going to need to spend alot of time “respeccing” imho.

    Anyway, i enjoyed my time leveling to 50 and finishing the main quest line. It felt to me like a relatively standard/average single player RPG with a few multiplayer/coop features. The whole phasing + faction thing has seriously impeded the “massively multiplayer” part of this game. It simply was not viable to group up with friends. PUGs and random strangers helping out with a public quest is as good as multiplayer gets.

    Dungeons are good the first time, but again, flawed both in terms of loot and repeatability. Why would you do it again? It’s amusing to see how few dungeon group requests i see on public channels (despite the group finders , other MMOs tend to have alot of group chatter)

    I feel they could’ve made an Elder Scrolls VI using all this tech found in ESO , minus all the phasing and PvP stuff and made a game on par with Skyrim….. and most likely made more money. People are still buying Morrowind and Oblivion, i don’t see people buying ESO beyond this year…

  • @Joy-Energiser: Good point. I do think I need to be 50 first to enjoy PvP the most.

    @Silvertemplar: Very well said. I agree with everything and think it closely mirrors my experiences with the game thus far.

  • 1-50 fairly fun.
    You hit VR1 – BRICK WALL.

    That’s the future of ESO – unless they fix Veteran Ranks, the game is doomed.

  • What is this brick wall you are talking about?

    I’m half way through VR3 at present, and haven’t ever set foot in a PvE zone since hitting 50/VR1.

    I have a friend that does PvE a bunch, and is VR9.

    I see many, many people over VR1 in Cyrodiil.

    Just because you hit 50 and the game is not literally just as easy as before, does not mean you hit a brick wall. It means the Veteran content is designed with more difficult mobs. Why would anyone ever think of that as a bad thing? PvE has got to be the most mind-numbing duty in the universe. Mobs don’t think, they are predictable, hell they even have red glowy BAD AREAS these days for you to stay out of.

    If you are having trouble with PvE, perhaps you should look at replacing the equipment between the keyboard and chair.