The guys talk about it on Elder Scrolls Off the Record all the time, and it’s absolutely true. If The Elder Scrolls Online gives players a solid foundation to work with, and then open up the world to the players to let them play how they want, ZeniMax Online Studios will accomplish their goal of making an Elder Scrolls game that also happens to be online. But I will admit, I nearly had a panic attack last week.
Granted, it’s a little early to be getting overly concerned just yet, but in the recent Inside ESO Dungeons, which appeared on ESO’s site last week, they talk about the roles of tanks, healers, and DPS. This worried me. I have been looking forward to this game, and have even been preaching how it is almost completely removed from what we currently know of MMOs and was truly an online version of Skyrim. But to hear it come back around to the “holy trinity” made me a little sad.
One of the reasons I have stayed away from MMOs in the past is because we’ve always been forced into certain roles, and if you didn’t play that role exactly, then you were “doing it wrong.” I play games to have fun, not for it to be a second job. I don’t want to get hamstrung into the role of a healer, for example, and then find out 50 levels later I really wish I’d played as a DPS. In previous MMOs, you were usually out of luck and forced to return to Altsville.
But that’s where the silver lining lies in regards to ESO. This “holy trinity” technically still is in the game, in that players have the option of filling one of these roles, but as the post on ESO’s site said, you can switch roles mid-fight to better suit whatever your party is facing in that dungeon. So I may start out playing as a bow-wielding assassin raining death from afar, but I may dabble in some of the healing arts as well. So as I play the game, when time permits or when I am waiting for certain skills to become available, I can train up my healing abilities so that when I’m in a dungeon, if our healer gets taken out, I can save the day by quickly switching over to my healer spec and keeping the rest of the party alive. I’m okay with that.
In that instance, I’m not forced to stick with a sinking ship with no way to do anything about it. I can actually look for an opening, take the initiative, and react to what’s happening in front of me. My previous MMO experience has always proven that once our healer goes down, it leaves the rest of us completely screwed. We’re then faced with the decision to attempt to run away (lame) or work on our button-mashing muscles until we all get killed (also lame). Now, even though things may not be going very well for us in a dungeon, we will have the ability to re-work our strategy on the fly, which could ultimately not only be a better fit for this dungeon, but might open up a play style we never really thought of playing before. The Elder Scrolls has always been about exploration, and this is just another way we will be encouraged to explore, try new things, and take chances.
ZeniMax is delivering on their promise of making an Elder Scrolls game that you can play with your friends, which inherently means a game you can play any way you want to. The initial shock I felt at hearing them actually acknowledge tanks, healers, and DPS (which I was hoping they would just pretend didn’t actually exist) was almost enough to make me give up hope, but hearing how they plan on implementing this system is putting me at ease. I can still play how I want. I can still level up on my own or with friends. I can still play the archer assassin I’m dreaming about, without worrying about whether or not my character will be viable at end game.
As more time goes by I realize this is really going to be the perfect mix of Elder Scrolls and online. And it’s all because ZOS is giving us options.