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Columns: What Shape Will Housing Take in ESO?

By Ryan Getchell on November 30, 2016

What Shape Will Housing Take in ESO?

The Elder Scrolls Online is arguably the most in-depth story driven MMORPG on the market. I think you would be hard pressed to find a game that has as much lore about non-essential NPCs and locations that ESO can provide an adventurer. Everything ESO has released thus far has all had a unique story tied to it, new NPCs for us to admire or hate. Coming next year to ESO is an update that, will introduce content to Tamriel that I have no idea how they’re going to include an ongoing story for and that’s, Player Housing.

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If you look at previous MMOs that have released a form of player housing they were typically included in a major expansion. World of Warcraft for example introduced Garrisons with Warlords of Draenor, and it worked great as an expansion. There was loads of content all at once and new flashy things for players to enjoy. But a month or two in and the content became stale. Zenimax doesn’t release content the way Blizzard or any other MMO company does. They try to have new content or content additions every 3 months. So, releasing a major expansion with a load of story for housing isn’t an option, not to mention it doesn’t always work for keeping an active story. Look at World of Warcraft, Garrisons have fallen wayside in Legion, an entire expansion dedicated to a specific type of content vanished. That’s most certainly not the way ZOS does it. They completely revamped Craglorn just so it would be a relevant area for players to enjoy and that content came out over a year ago.

So how will Zenimax do it? We have no definitive answer as to how Zenimax will be releasing content, or if they will. But that doesn’t stop us from speculating.

What we know so far is, when it launches we’ll be given a quest to complete that will result in us getting an apartment. These apartments will be race oriented. It’s unclear if we’ll get to pick which race style of apartment we want or if it’ll default to the race you use to finish the quest. The houses are account bound so any of your characters will be able to utilize the house. The apartments are the smaller of the 3 houses we can acquire.

In order to get a medium or large house you will need to locate one within Tamriel that is available for purchase. You’ll be able to find these buildings by their large gates surrounding the lots. From what we know these houses are instanced on the inside, however, you are able to grant access to your house to specific players or guilds. This is where it can get interesting. With the inside being instanced, does that mean the outside is phased? So, multiple players could essentially own the same lot just on a different level of the megaserver, similar to the way they do quest deviations. In which case, what would happen if my friend owns the same lot but we grant access to each other, how does the game know which house to go into? Or can players only access my house if I’m in it by utilizing the “Teleport to player” option in game?

They’re introducing furniture crafting as well when they release player housing. There is also little to no information about this but I suspect that they’ll utilize the existing tradeskills. This is something that I spoke about in December of 2015, in my column, Player Housing, Its more than story.

We’re talking player housing but it could add so much more to the already existing game. For example, crafting skills could get amended. Woodworkers could build tables, chairs, desks, closets, armor stands, virtually anything made out of wood. The different types of wood available would allow for a different visual appearance for similar items. Tailors could sew tapestries, drapes, and carpets. Again any decoration made of cloth is an option. My personal favorite, add in a new craft, Taxidermy.

Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we’ll begin to see information being released about this update and we can get some questions answered.

Anyways, now back to the primary reason for this column, the story. We know there is going to be a quest that will introduce us to the housing environment. I wonder if this quest will have utilize some of our experience with the Dark Brotherhood. We get a contract to assassinate someone, as we investigate this target, learning about their habits and what they’re in to, we learn they have an apartment somewhere. After the assassination, we wouldn’t want some vagrant to move into this newly unoccupied apartment when we have plenty of stuff we could store there.

I doubt that’s exactly how we’re going to see the quest done. I would like to hear your thoughts on what you’d like to see happen for an introduction story for housing. While intro stories are good, I’m really interested in how the story will progress in order to keep housing current and relative.

One of the major issues every MMORPG has is keeping older content fresh and have a reason for players to visit it again. Orsinium, is a great example, one of my most favorite zones. It has an outstanding storyline, fantastic NPCs that you can easily get attached to and enjoy adventuring along with them. Once you complete the zone, you’re done. There is no more story, no more progression. Everyone’s life basically halts at the end of quest, except yours. You continue to adventure learning about new threats on Tamriel, yet the people of Orsinium (or any zone for that matter) don’t progress at all.

Is housing going to be a novelty soon, something that will lose its luster once a few DLCs are released? Is it possible for Zenimax to keep a story that relates to player house progressing, without making it a requirement for future DLCs?

ESO has done a great job at trying to stay ahead of what other companies are doing in terms of game progression. They release content faster than any other MMO developers, they’ve revamped the entire game when they released Tamriel One when a lot of companies could have taken the easy route and only made the scaling work for future content. It would be great to see a company continue to progress storylines for more than a single zone or DLC.

Perhaps I’m wrong, I know I get a bit excited about things sometimes. That’s why I have you, the readers and commenters and the few who read the title and feel they know exactly what’s being said and will comment their thoughts, to keep me inline. So tell me your thoughts, how do you think Zenimax is going to do story progression with housing. Are we going to see unique stories with each type of house we purchase? Are we going to see advancement in story after the content is released? 

Ryan Getchell / Ryan is our resident Elder Scrolls nerd, and columnist for Zenimax's MMO. When he's not out killing things in Tamriel, he's working in IT professionally.