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Zenimax Online Studios | Official Site
MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Final  (rel 04/04/14)  | Pub:Bethesda Softworks
PVP:Yes | Distribution:Download,Retail | Retail Price:$59.99 | Pay Type:Buy to Play | Monthly Fee:Free
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How to Make ESO's Progression Even Better

By Ryan Getchell on March 09, 2016 | Columns | Comments

How to Make ESO's Progression Even Better

Leveling up through an MMORPG is probably one of the best experiences. It’s all about improving your character, learning new skills, trying different styles to see which one you like best or which is the most effective. Yet once you hit level cap that journey is finished, you’re no longer advancing your character with the exception of gear. ESO was supposed to change this mentality with the ability to morph skills as you got better. Except it never changed the status quo, it’s the same uneventful stalemate of character progression at end game. Champion Points make a difference, but there could be more...

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Zenimax has been pushing out insanely high quality DLC packs every three months for the last nine months. There is most certainly no lack of content or story to explore, but games shouldn’t always be about the story. Our characters are heroes in these stories, we have saved a countless amount of people, but our skills never get better. ESO was hyped up about the ability to morph your skills as you use them. These morph options gave the game a small sense of “realism”, the more you do something the better and more efficient you get at it. Take a look at anyone who’s a master sword fighter. They got there through practice and training. They are stronger, they hit harder, and they have better moves than someone who is inexperienced. This is what I envisioned to some extent when I heard about morphs, becoming better at that skill through time, and in a way I got it.

So why am I so upset if I got what I wanted? Because when I pictured these morphs I expected them to take time to earn. In ESO you can fully max your skills and earn the morphs well before you come close to level cap. So what’s left to progress to when you’ve hit the “end game”? Nothing, when it comes to skills.

I realize we live in a gaming world where if players don’t receive rewards for their time in the game they find the game boring and will move onto something where their instant gratification needs are satisfied. No longer do players (as a majority) look far enough ahead to see long term goals. This is why the morphs are provided to players early on to keep them interested and playing. But I think it’s time to change this mentality and Zenimax has the opportunity to do so.

Adding additional morphs to the game isn’t an easy ask, especially if they do what they’ve done previously, adding extra assets to the skill. But morphs don’t need to add another skill to the ability.  It could just enhance what’s already there which would reduce the need to spend the insane amount of time required to test and balance new skills.

For example, let’s say the next morph to Brawler IV (which would be Brawler V) could be either - Reduce stamina cost by 10 or Increase Radius by 1. As I said earlier, it’s not about buffing the character, at least not right away. It’s about progressing the character, making the player feel like they are making their character stronger, passively. Just by playing you will make your character better. Remember, it’s not about instant gratification, it’s about character progression. The more you play that character, the more you use those abilities, the better you get at them.

Yes. You’re right. In the long run, someone who’s been playing for a very long time could potentially have a slight advantage over someone who’s new. That would be fair, wouldn’t it? If you invested your time into something shouldn’t you be better than someone who’s brand new? Imagine you were a Grand Master in chess. You’ve spent your life honing your skills, but anyone is able to compete against you with ease. You’re investment seems almost worthless.  Zenimax could implement training areas like Maelstrom Arena where players can hone their skills and earn faster skill experience but only up to a certain point. This would help alleviate the progression curve. For those of us who play dedicate healers, in those training areas we’d be placed in a group with NPCs who will fight while we heal them, that way healers don’t get shafted, again.

Just because I hit level cap doesn’t mean my character should stop learning and progressing. Gathering gear and weapons is great but why do you need to have a cap on actual progression? It’s time that Zenimax changes the status quo and brings back the importance of character progression in MMORPGs. They’ve proven without a shadow of a doubt that they can produce top quality story, and couple that with a endless character progression and this game would have everything.

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.
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