This week has seen some brand new information come out of the secret places hidden deep within Zenimax Online Studios. This new bit of info I refer to, of course, is the character progression video and the skill lines article found on ESO’s website. Up until now this was something that only beta testers and the lucky few who managed to play a few minutes worth at conventions were able to experience. I thought I would talk about my impressions of this info.
First, I want to mention that I very much appreciate the idea that this aspect of ESO seems to be Nick Konkle’s love-child. Everywhere you look for more information on the topic, you find “the Konk” all over it, beaming with pride. From hosting the character progression video where the new info was initially introduced, to appearing on the ESO Alliance podcast where he expounded on that information to some detail. He definitely seems excited about the way skills play a direct role in the development of a character and the way in which players might invent surprisingly different, unique builds that break away from the original intentions of the classes.
But First…The Negative Bits…
I have to admit that before digging into additional details in preparation for this article, I was against the whole idea of a class based system for ESO. Yes, that’s right. I did not want classes to be determinations for a character’s abilities and role within the game. For ESO to capture that cornerstone feeling in which a player can “be who they want to be” and “play how they want to play”, I believed that ESO should be classless. Granted classes have been introduced in earlier installments of the Elder Scrolls franchise, like in Oblivion, and abandoned for a strictly skill based advancement system like in Skyrim, but even Oblivion gave players the option to create a custom class by picking from the skills available and giving it a name. Despite there being a virtual ton of classes in Oblivion, players could garner that play who and how they wanted feeling right from the get-go.
I would have been very happy with choosing just my character’s race and customizing my appearance at character creation in ESO. No class choices, no alliance choices, just the race, gender and appearance of my character. Then through some kind of story mechanic presented during the very early beginning stages of the game I would be introduced to some choices about my first sets of beginning skills and abilities as well as which alliance I would like to join…or not join, depending on my stance on PvP. I would be introduced to the Fighters and Mages guilds and allowed the opportunity to pick up physical combat skills or spell casting abilities from each respectively. Then, as I explored the world of Tamriel and completed the various side quests along with the main story arc I would pick up more and more skills and abilities that fit my play style perfectly. Basically in this ideal situation, ESO would be more skill based and not class based.
The Turn Around…
Then while digging into the additional information and details presented by “the Konk” on the ESO Alliance podcast, I began to realize that the classes were designed to be jumping off points really and this changed my tune. I realized that my class choice would not necessarily trap me into a particular set of abilities with no way to break from that mold and define my character as a true individual compared to others.
In life, everyone is born into a “mold” of sorts. It’s what a person chooses to do as they grow and develop that actually defines them. Everyone has the power to change and become someone vastly different than the expectation imposed by the mold they were born into. ESO is no different, and I see that now. The class choices presented in ESO are just starting points. You can choose the class that you feel represents your play style the closest even though it is only marginally so. But it is while you play the character and choose where to spend the skill points that you begin to see your character truly taking shape, becoming the very essence of the perfect character as you imagined it.
After hearing mister “the Konk” rave about the possibilities, I am now even more excited and ready for ESO than ever! I now know there will be more than enough ways to make my character truly my own. At the end of the day, it’s our story and we actually do get to write it!