Taking a Closer Look at the MMORPG Interview With Zenimax’s Paul Sage

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Yesterday, MMORPG.com held a great open forum with Zenimax Online Studios’ Creative Director Paul Sage regarding their upcoming MMO title The Elder Scrolls Online.

This forum was an hour long and detailed many things regarding how the game is structured, the mechanics and such. While all this information is great, a few things shine above the rest. Here are the top 3 questions and answers, as I see it, from the interview yesterday:

1. Is healing in TESO limited to two paths? You have stated that the 4 classes are just templates and starting point as there are loads of skill trees to follow and shape a character to fit our playing styles. However as a healer, as far as the information has been released, are there only 2 Healing skill paths at launch, The Templars’ healing path, and the Restoration Staff path. Is this not a very limited choice for healers? Either being forced to pick a Templar, or only having the option of one weapon, the Restoration Staff. Will there be any other healing paths that have not been unannounced? Will the Restoration Staff have different atunements, like the Destruction Staff having Fire, Lightning and Frost? As it currently stands, if I was to play either a Sorcerer, Nightblade or Dragon Knight, is the only option I have to be a viable group healer, the Restoration Staff path?

Well, there are two full ‘healing’ paths, that aren’t just healing, but that is their focus. Also, most “healing” classes usually have other skills or abilities. For us, you can determine what those are. I think the openness of the skill system really will allow you to play a very versatile healer.

The above question is a very important one, as it attacks the overall ideology that has been praised by Zenimax: the ability to play your way, no matter the class you choose. While the Templar, from my experience playing one at E3, has a healing tree, it also had damage dealing trees to supplement the healing. Though if you decide to play one of the other classes, but still want to be able to heal, you can go down the restoration staff tree. One of the great things said in a previous interview is the ability to pop between weapons and styles, so you can be a group healer at times, but still have the ability to do damage. Just because you don’t play a class with it’s own separate healing tree doesn’t mean there isn’t a tree available to learn. This is customization. While your Nightblade’s skills may not be able to inherently heal, your choice in playstyle can still give you a viable option to do so. Those who want to be a main “group” healer though are going to be innately drawn to the “healing” class. In the end, the choice is still yours.

2. What kind of collision system will be in the game? Do I move through my friends while playing, can they push me, or can members of my faction block my way?

There is no collision with other players. I know why people want there to be, I really do, but it also leads to opportunities for griefing. While I understand you can work around all of those I think this anecdote is important, “we can do anything, but we can’t do everything.” Having played our PvP, I think people will agree with this decision.

If you are scratching your head trying to figure out why this is a big deal, bear with me. Early on in development a lot of questions were being raised about whether this would be in the game and how it can be used in PVP. Will you be able to block whole ranks of enemies from reaching a point just by putting a body there? Will spawn camping be nothing more than surrounding a spawn point and not letting anyone through? Now we know the answer. Collision is not in the game, and I understand why. Griefing by players is a definite game killer, and this is one way to try and limit this. There are still ways to have gigantic battles in an MMO for a keep, hold strategic points, and so on without collision in a game. The very fact that a group of Nightblades, Templars, Dragonknights and Sorcerors are in your path is a deterrent enough. So what if you run through them, you have to get to them first to be able to, and that is where the strategy lies. I hope we see more PVP in the near future and see examples of how this decision benefits the game, but for right now we can only hope that it will be a boon, and not a deterrent to the game.

3.Here’s my question/topic I’d like you to address, if possible. To put it plainly, I’m extremely turned off by the faction lock and the lack of immersion that comes from the phasing being applied. As a long time Elder Scrolls fan, there is a great joy in experiencing open borders. As the game is designed, that’s not the case. Furthermore, the fact that I must complete the preceding faction’s zone before heading on also limits immersion. Forming guilds and groups becomes infinitely more difficult, especially for role-players like myself who typically one race or another. Please justify this.

Taking yours so people don’t think I am fielding all of the easy ones. First, this isn’t going to be an exact copy of other Elder Scrolls titles. Each Elder Scrolls game has been and will be unique. I can understand your concern. However, when we decided to put in a heavy PvP system where there would be a faction war, we wanted those factions to mean something. This is also the first Elder Scrolls game where you will be able to adventure with other people and fight other people. I don’t think we need to justify it, I just think we need to be up front and honest about it. I hope you join us as an Elder Scrolls fan. I think you’ll appreciate the differences as well as the similarities. But thanks for taking the time to ask.

This has been the age old question since the announcement in Game Informer that this game was indeed in development. How does one translate the openess of a single player Elder Scrolls game into an MMO that generally gives you the feeling of an open world, but still has noticeable boundries. (I can hear Shank in my head asking if he can traverse those mountains over in the distance.) To be completely fair to the team at ZOS, while the maps in Cyrodill, Skyrim and Morrowind were massive for their games, players tend to forget when comparing them to ESO that they too have boundaries. There are certain points where you stop moving forward, and while we don’t think of them because our relation ship with that game is pigeon-holed to that region, they are there. We can’t travel to Cyrodiil in Skyrim, we can’t go to the Summerset Isles in Morrowind. We can in the Elder Scrolls Online, if not initially depending on who we choose to play.

In addition, one of the pieces of the Elder Scrolls that has driven each game has been it’s story. While the main storyline in an Elder Scrolls game isn’t your only option for stuff to do in the game, it’s influence is seen everywhere you go. You may not work on that main story quest right away, yet you can’t escape it as well. This is no different in ESO. The main story, this faction war, is at the heart of the game, and because of this war going on you must adhere to the influence of it. Once you overcome that obstacle of levelling and taking part in one section of the story and faction, the developers are opening the world up for you to decide how you continue on. Are you a Dark Elf in the Ebonheart Pact eager to rejoin your Elven Kindred in the Aldemeri Dominion? You can do so when you hit level 50. In the end though, it’s as Paul says: each Elder Scrolls game is unique. ESO is unique in the fact you can interact socially with other fans and players and forge your own stories within the grand story. ZOS isn’t stopping you from travelling to the other faction’s areas. They are just making you put some work in before you can.

What are your thoughts? Any other piece of information stick out to you from the interview? Make sure you comment with your thoughts here, as well as tune into our LIVE recording of Elder Scrolls Off the Record on Friday Night at 7pm EST on our Twitch TV channel!

Avatar of Joseph Bradford
News Director/Editor-in-chief Quest Gaming Network

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