As a leader for an End Game progression guild one of the hardest things to manage is guild activity once you’ve completed everything. New content is released roughly every 3-6months on average in an MMO, but this new content is normally cleared and finished by the top end guilds within a mere week or two. Keeping the guild members active and logging in daily is not always easy. Once gear has been obtained what other reason do the members have to login? If you’re a person who wants to Min/Max their character the best you can, you will eventually get bored once you have obtained the best gear you can. Even if you’re not a Min/Max player and just want the best item you can get, what do you do once you’ve obtained it?
Let’s look at World of Warcraft. The gear in WoW is very static. For example, Soulblade of the Breaking Storm is dropped by Jin’rokh the Breaker and no matter how many times you kill him, the stats on it will never change. So once the item has been obtained, what other reason do you have to keep killing him?
Elder Scrolls Online gear system is going to change how we look at MMORPG Gear progression. The idea that Zenimax has for ESO is not one that is commonly approached by developers. They are building the gear progression system around a similar system that we would see in games like the Diablo franchise, Torchlight or virtually any ARPG (Action Role-Playing Game). By this I mean all the items are dynamically generated when it comes to DPS and Stats.
During my game play at PAX East, I got to experience this feature for myself. During my session I had the same weapon drop for me three times and each time the weapon had a different DPS stat on it. My first weapon had 12.5 DPS, the second had 11.8 DPS and the final one had 12.8 DPS. As you can see the range is not very large but enough to keep my eyes on the loot as I got it. A lot of times in other MMOs I have played, I tend to ignore loot that I pick up unless it is a quest reward or a chest. Normally items from random creatures tend to be what we call “vendor trash.” I’m glad Elder Scrolls Online went with this type of gear system. It kept me engaged and looking at every piece of gear I acquired. It was like Christmas every time the loot window popped up. I am glad that an MMORPG has finally adopted this type of system.
Even with the stats being dynamic we’ll still need to kill higher level content in order to get the next best item. If you have the current “best in slot” weapon and let’s say it says 150.5 DPS, and then new content gets released, the new “best in slot” weapon could have a range of DPS from 155.0 to 175.5 (these numbers are for explanation purposes only and are in no way accurate to numbers we’ll find in game). Even with the stats being in a range, there will still be tiers and we’ll have to do new content in order to get that next “best in slot.”
This type of system being implemented into an MMORPG offers a lot more replay ability on repeat content and keeps those rare items rare. It could get frustrating when you don’t get that better item you’re looking for, but that isn’t any different than in any other MMORPG gear/loot system. The bonus in Elder Scrolls Online is you don’t have to compete against anyone else when it comes to who receives the loot. Everything Elder Scrolls Online is doing is finding ways to keep players engaged and playing and this system I think is the perfect way to do that. It not only keeps us engaged when leveling and actually looking at the loot window, but most importantly it gives us all another reason to do repeat content multiple times and still have it be very enjoyable.