50++ Experience Everything!

Garbrac April 28, 2013 16 Comments » Share

ayrenn-tesoIn every MMO we eventually hit the level cap and cannot advance our character any further.  This phase of MMOs has been coined “End Game.” Many MMOs try to take their own approach at End Game, some succeed and some don’t.  Like everything in an MMO there needs to be a balance. It has to be something that will provide the player with continuous playability but also be enjoyable for the days and months to come. End Game needs an investment and a risk versus reward type system–the harder it becomes the better the rewards.  ESO will be offering many different avenues  of End Game and one of them is called 50++ zones.

When I first heard about the 50++ zones I was extremely excited. The concept of allowing us to explore the architecture of the opposing factions was fascinating. My initial thoughts of this idea were zones that have been captured by your faction, old towns that used to belong to the opposing faction but are now part of your faction–allowing us to explore the dungeons, the architecture, the treasure even the armour and weapon styles of the enemy. It seemed that ESO wanted to have replay ability with the other factions, and most importantly keep the lore of the game intact. Sadly I was mistaken–my ideas of these zones were wildly inaccurate.

While the 50++ zones will still be fun to explore and play, I think the way ESO is going at it might be the wrong direction. There is very little I can say about ESO that would be negative but their 50++ zone concept is a big one in my mind.

What are the 50++ zones? These are zones that you can access once you have reached level cap and you’ll be able to adventure through new dungeons and new storylines. These zones will only be accessible to you and your faction, you will not encounter anyone from the opposing factions. You are able to do one zone at a time, and once completed, you’ll be able to proceed to the next zone. In an email Paul Sage explained to me how that will work: “If you play in Ebonheart Pact you would subsequently go to Daggerfall Covenant. After finishing the Daggerfall Covenant, you would then go to the Aldmeri Dominion. If, however, you started in the Daggerfall Covenant, you would go to Aldmeri Dominion and then to Ebonheart Pact. From the Aldmeri Domion, you would go to the Ebonheart Pact, and then the Daggerfall Covenant. “

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This all sounds outstanding but what about replay ability? If we can explore the opposing faction zones, why would we make a character on any of the other factions? As MMO players we like to play other characters or other factions to have that “breath of fresh air,” see something new, something we haven’t explored before. When I used to play World of Warcraft I played Alliance, but every once and a while I would play Horde just to get me out of that daily rut I would eventually get into. In ESO we can switch factions and play on the other side, but you could have already explored everything. There is nothing new to see no “breath of fresh air.” The only difference is you’ll be able to see the other faction’s races and NPCs.

Now you’re probably thinking we can still go to the other faction and do the quests that they would have received. I also thought this was the case and before I started to write this article I sent questions to ESO asking them to clarify some things for me and the reply I got was like a dagger in my heart. According to Paul Sage: “The quests and content in the zones will be the same as they were for the original alliance, but the monsters and rewards will be upped in difficulty and value respectively.”

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Not only will these zones allow us to explore the other factions in complete detail, but it also has us going through all their storylines as well. This brings us back to the question, why would we ever want to play another faction besides playing a different race? I don’t think entirely new content needs to be created, I just think the replay ability of ESO is almost nonexistent with these 50++ zones. Creating content for an MMO is not an easy task, you have to make sure it flows within the game, connects to the existing story in some way. Allowing us to explore the other factions’ territories and do their quests does not stick to the lore or concept of the game. I wouldn’t consider myself a lore buff, but I do enjoy it when my games have fluidity.  The game’s concept is alliances at war, fighting for ownership of Cyrodiil and trying to prevent Molag Bal from ripping Tamriel apart and bring it to Cold Harbor. So knowing this concept, how exactly can we traverse into the opposing faction territory without encountering any conflicts? Where are all the other faction NPCs? How can I enter Whiterun whilst at war with the faction that owns it?

As I stated earlier, I envisioned zones that were once owned by the opposing faction, but have been retaken by your faction. This would explains why there are no other factions within the zone but all the architecture is intact, the treasures and dungeons are still there.  Sadly, not the case.

What are your thoughts on these 50++ zones? Do you think it flows with the story?

16 Comments

  1. Electrava March 4, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    I can understand where you're coming from, but remember that this is still an Elder Scrolls game, Bethesda made or not. In every previous ES game, when you created your character, you created a world just for that character. I think the reason you have the capability to maximize every skill line and acquire all the passives is so that you don't need to create an alt to experience every part of the game. I, and many other ES fans, like the idea of having my one-and-only character that becomes the catalyst through which I experience the world of Tamriel.

    TLDR;
    I believe they chose to give you the option to experience everything on a single character because that's how all the previous Elder Scrolls games were and it further serves to distinguish TESO from the cliché MMORPG.

  2. wh1tewolf February 23, 2014 at 11:00 pm
    Neario

    But is the 50++ experience essential for your character or not?
    Does it give you extra skillpoints, or any way of improving your character or not?

    If its not essential then I see no problem:
    You want to only play with 1 toon(like myself) -> you do the 50++ experience
    You are an altoholic, or want to experience all 3 Factions with a new toon: you dont do the 50++ experience.

    If however the 50++ experience does indeed offer progression for your toon, then thats a huge flaw imo

    you will still get sky shards, and the skill point form quests

  3. J D January 18, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Let's give the developers the benefit of the doubt and assume there's a good reason for things the way they are.

  4. Gwaurin September 23, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    Zenimax decided to open up the other faction-locked areas as a compromise with the fan base. The fans originally wanted a fully rendered Tamriel with minimal loading screens between provinces. Players wanted to be able to traverse all of Tamriel exploring all the content with one character. Previously, this was not possible because 1) ZOS never intended to render all of Tamriel 2) Faction-locks were to foster faction loyalties among the locked races. Since players wanted more exploration without re-rolling and re-rolling was counterproductive to faction loyalty objectives, ZOS decided to allow exploration over level 50. This way players are encouraged to commit to one faction and strive to reach level cap to explore all of Tamriel.

    I think that players should be able to explore anywhere they want at any level and it should include the NPCs and other factions' players. But then I think Tamriel shouldn't be faction-locked at all and players should be free to fraternize face-to-face (at least avatar to avatar) with their cross-faction guildmates (another compromise). If there is a Criminal System (which I don't know any TES game complete without jail), PKs and griefing in an open world PvP doesn't have to be common or even rare. Asian mmos with PK systems have virtually no ganking problems despite being open PvP worlds.

    The bigger problem with Endgame and cap content is the use of leveling zones at all. Leveled zones become obselete content and ghost towns once the player base matures. Skyrim doesn't have "dead zones" because all of the content is relevant at any level. Monsters provide a sort of difficulty level scaling as some are tougher than others or require special weapons or magic to defeat. I believe letting players "run away" or investigate what gear or strategies work against certain monsters is classic TES and should be the main difficulty not strict leveled mobs matched to players' levels. Players should have HP capped like they will in Cyrodiil and then lateral skill expansion and gear upgrading for the mechanical difference in PvP encounters not huge HP or stat pools. A man at level 50 is still a man, but he should have better gear and more skills over a level 1. He's not technically "tougher" or necessarily able to "one-shot" a level 1 since they essentially have the same HP. New players could immediately play with their veteran friends while they acquired more skills and became more capable adventurers themselves but they would never feel "useless" or in need of power leveling just to play with their friends. Zones would never be "boring" if they became easier, they still would be lethal if players were not careful at any level. Level 1's would have to run away from certain monsters more often than more skilled higher levels with better gear but if several level 1's teamed up and used strategy, they might be able to take a much more difficult monster down. Grouping to defeat challenges at any level could be encouraged among all levels.

    Any game that employs leveled zones will have Endgame issues. Instead of adding content that expands the game for everyone, content is simply aimed at capped veterans who are leaving instead of engaging new players and veterans alike. Dividing content into new or veteran players is a mistake for a game aiming at longevity in the mmo market. You need both groups to keep the game alive and preferably playing together. Cap the HP and make the world cohesive among all player levels.

    New players don't stay in a game with no veterans to give tips and veterans don't stay in a game without replayable content. Leveled zones are not replayable for veterans. (This would also mean the 50+ cross-faction content wouldn't need to be scaled up just remove the NPCs.) As long as the world stays dangerous to all levels, it will stay engaging. The content reduction for higher levels as they level up and zones become obselete will not be there. All content will be relevant and dangerous if not "new." New content would be the new only for everyone not just returning players.

    Note on Rerolling and Factions–Unless they intend to make Accounts one faction only, players shouldn't have a reroll problem if they want to explore the other factions as a member of those factions.

  5. blondagava September 21, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    i agree "Akundrian" i did love to have a nuetral zone where we can meet up with different people and faces, play together or just have some fun in PVE , or atleast be a guide or share some words with strangers!.

  6. Neario July 31, 2013 at 11:03 am

    But is the 50++ experience essential for your character or not?
    Does it give you extra skillpoints, or any way of improving your character or not?

    If its not essential then I see no problem:
    You want to only play with 1 toon(like myself) -> you do the 50++ experience
    You are an altoholic, or want to experience all 3 Factions with a new toon: you dont do the 50++ experience.

    If however the 50++ experience does indeed offer progression for your toon, then thats a huge flaw imo

  7. We know June 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    This is normal desire of developers to slack a bit when making end-game. As for me I consider such end-game content only as a way to get more gold from quests.

  8. Zaroki April 30, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    In other words. The writer is saying that if I wanted to experience ALL of the content, then I would need to create 3 characters in order to do so? Sorry, but I would prefer the route ZOS is taking where I am not forced to make 2 alternate characters that aren't in the faction I want to be in, for me to do those quests. Keep in mind however, this game should have plenty of replayability, although I may be wrong on this. The world which they created is huge, and odds are you won't be able to complete all of the quests in an area before you need to move on to a higher level zone. Thus content would be skipped over, and when you make an Alt, that content is ripe for the picking. If this isn't true at all, then consider that questing will take a long time as ZOS mentioned. By the time you've completed all three faction quests and decide to make a new character, then you've probably forgotten what happens in many of the quests that were done with your first character quite a while ago. This is especially true if you spent extra time doing some pvp at lvl 50, and endgame content as well. Another thing to consider… If the quests are generally fun to do which is what ZOS wants to make sure of. Then what's so terrible about doing them all again, and also taking a very different approach this time to your character? Adding to this, that your choices impact the enviroment around you majorly. Meaning you could decide to make a different choice than what your previous character made to see what happens. By the way, this freedom to experience every inch of every zone with one character is what we should expect from a TES game. Not to mention, they said that with the main story there would be a twist towards the end which I'd assume would explain why you enter one of the other faction's territory.

  9. Akundrian April 30, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    There will still be time to flush out 50+ content even after launch. Game updates and expansions I'm sure will be for end game content. I'm sure they will listen to the players and develop worthy content.
    I am disappointed in being totally cut off from other factions, other than in pvp. There should be neutral pve zones where factions don't matter so much.

  10. Kash April 29, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    I agree with sandman in that it would be a resource hog to try and flesh out three full separate paths for one character, but Garbrac is spot on that it will feel very repetitive trying to level an alt if 50+'s are the same quests in the same fashion as the home team.

    I'd be fine with having open wild country that all three factions can adventure in with random generated or cycled events. Put up a camp fire and meet some new people like we used to in these games. Still, the devs might be holding back the explanation until launch to not spoil stuff for us.

  11. Yukonjack April 28, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Great article Garbrac. Sorry but don't enough about ES yet to really give an informed opinion, but you do sow some interesting seeds for thought (worth a few new threads at least to kick around)!

  12. Sandman April 28, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    In my (probably awful) opinion I disagree with the article.

    I think its perhaps a slightly overly ambitious idea to have three separate independent versions of each factions areas for 50+ content.

    The biggest fundamental problem is that you were to write a story to logically explain why each faction is there playing its own story will create and incredibly complex nad ultimately very confusing story which leads to cohesion issues with both long term lore, immediate story and just plain being a huge pain in the arse for the writers. Diluting the content like that makes it more and more likely for the story to feel contrived.

    Just letting you experience the content at your level gives you the chance to see the content but preserves the ability for the writers, and devs to implement the story they want to tell and thereby giving you a better story experience even if it is a little immersion breaking and "boring"

    At its core every game no matter how big or how ingenius will have replayability problems. Heck WoW was horrible with this but that never stopped me from maxing out over 10 toons.

    I think in this case this is just the OP having very grandiose ideas (and good ones to be sure) and being disappointed when the reality diverges from his ideal.

  13. tulfutz April 28, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    I don't have any problems with this, as long as I can bring my friends along for the ride. I know at least several people that will be bothered by this, but since I'm not a PVP guy, exploring and questing with my friends is really the only thing I look forward to, immersion wise

  14. jamie April 28, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    "you will not encounter anyone from the opposing factions" – this my friends, is a deal breaker to me. is this Elder Scrolls or Elder Scrolls Online?

  15. raynor April 28, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    And here I was thinking that fan sites only post up things in favor of the game :) Thanks for the info, it's a bit sad to be honest but hey :)

  16. Evilcat April 28, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    I can only hope that someone from the developer team @ Zenimax reads this .

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