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New Systems Over New Content

Ryan Getchell Posted:
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Zenimax Online Studios seems to have adopted a unique way to release content, a way that has some of the community upset and calling the content “unfinished”. Is it really unfinished content or is Zenimax releasing their content in a way that will keep players interested and engaged?

This philosophy that Zenimax has is something I like to call NSONC, New Systems Over New Content. Of the six updates we’ve seen to Elder Scrolls Online four of them have had new systems implemented into the game instead of content. While some people might see the content as “unfinished” I see it as an upcoming game changer.

Update 6 was recently released which brought the justice system to Tamriel, or should I say, half of the justice system. Zenimax only released the thievery aspect of the justice theft system. Months prior to the release of Update 6, ZOS provided us with snippets of juicy information about this justice system. Showing us how we’ll be able to steal from NPCs, lock pick houses, kill NPCs or if the idea of mass murder doesn’t suit you, you could become an Enforcer and stop those who have the insatiable need to kill and steal everything. Except a few weeks before the update we find out that only the theft system will be implemented.

Of course this had players upset, at least when they first heard the news. Ask them their opinions of the system now, you’ll get an overwhelming, “I love the justice system”. This is understandable.  Being able to steal and kill NPCs brings a whole new gameplay to the game.  

The theft system has drastically changed the way we play Elder Scrolls Online. This system has more players engaged in the game than ever before. You can’t go to any city in Tamriel without seeing someone running from a guard or trying to gain entry into a house.

It offers an optional side aspect to the game. Get tired of doing your crafting writs or doing the dailies in Cyrodiil, go kill an NPC and steal their precious items from a lockbox hidden within their house. Optional content is the best content. Everyone loves immersing themselves in the game, doing the storylines, rushing to level cap.  But whatever it is in the game that you find enjoyable, eventually becomes mundane and boring. That’s where optional side content comes in.  It allows you step out of the mundane and boring and do something else, something that won’t completely take you off track but allows you endless hours of fun.

Imagine if the Enforcer system was in the game when Update 6 went live. Everyone would have chosen their sides (enforcer or thief) and been happy, but for how long? Not everyone who sided with the law would break that trust and become a fugitive. Those players will never understand the pure thrill of pick pocketing some poor unsuspecting NPC and receiving his undergarments as a reward. That’s a large part of content that some players will never experience. While some people see the lack of Enforcer content as an “unfinished” update to ESO I see it as an upcoming game changer, just as the theft system has been.

Just as the theft system introduced a “breath of fresh air” to the players, so will the Enforcer system. Players will eventually become “immune” to the theft system, no longer seeing it as a new shiny feature but instead just another part of the game. When the Enforcer system is implemented we’re going to see another drastic change to the game.

Stealing items and hiding from an NPC guard isn’t extremely difficult, but when you have to contend with NPC guards and actual players it becomes a completely different type of game play. Hiding behind that shrubbery might not be enough concealment when you have players running around you at all times.

Those who wanted to be Enforcers will have the option of staying a thief or turning over a new leaf and becoming a law abiding citizen.  Enforcers will have the ability to chase down and catch player criminals, making the life of a criminal much harder to do. The Enforce system doesn’t just affect you as a player, but instead the entire ESO player base that has taken up the role of criminal.

What do you think? Do you think that the Justice system is unfinished or do you side with me and are you enjoying the partial releases as they offer the player a lot of chances to break out of the norm and get that “breath of fresh air” more frequently?


Ryan Getchell