In 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. “
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.”
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?