Finality, Friends, and Finesse

On Finality

First off, I would like to apologize to all of the listeners of The Rubicon which is no more. Both @Byronyk and I feel that we can deliver better content to more people with the written word. Thank you to everyone who listened to the podcast and I hope you will enjoy our written work. Secondly, I would also like to apologize for a lack of content and posting from after PAX East.

It's a living.

It’s a living.

I had planned a whole bunch of things for when @Atropos, @Byronyk and I returned from Boston; however it seems my place of employ will self-destruct without me there and demanded a huge amount of my time upon my return. With that being said, I hope to be able to start posting more regularly, as well as providing all of you with some interesting stuff.

On Friends

The Imperial Guard

While we were at PAX, or more specifically at the Tamriel Beer Garden event hosted by Zenimax, I ran in to some friends of Tamriel Foundry and I would like to give a shout out to @Jadedcore, @Niczo, and @Rantis of The Imperial Guard. I enjoyed speaking with you guys and wanted to let you know that members like you are the reason Tamriel Foundry has such a great user-base providing great content.

On Finesse

Alright, now that I have said my piece, the main topic I want to discuss is the finesse system as I experienced it at PAX. I am going to preface this discussion with a disclaimer that should be obvious, however sometimes we need to pound these things in to people’s heads. Nothing that I reference from PAX is set in stone; everything in the game is subject to change. Now that we all understand that, what is the finesse system?

In short, the finesse system is a skill-based reward system that rewards you for playing the game well. It rewards you by giving you extra gold, experience, loot, and potentially other yet-to-be-confirmed rewards. This is a relief to players that want ways to distinguish their ability to play well from others who may not be able to play as well as you now get something measurable for your better play; but what do I mean by better play?

As most people reading this will know, TESO’s combat system is a reactionary system. This means you have opportunities in combat to attack, use abilities, dodge, block, etc. This reactionary combat is what can garner you finesse rewards. Monsters in TESO give two quite blatant emotes when they are about to power attack(Yellow Glow) or use an ability that has a channel component and can be interrupted(Red Glow). The third option that monsters have is to where they are going to use an ability that places an AOE geometry on the ground. You can’t interrupt these with your right-to-left click bash attack, but can interrupt with one of your hotbar abilities or evade it with a double-tap WASD in a direction.

Make Patches O'Houlihan proud.

Make Patches O’Houlihan proud.

These three options present opportunities to the player to interact in combat in ways other than dealing damage, and is the foundation of the finesse reward system. If you dodge when you are supposed to dodge, if you block when you should block, and you interrupt when you should interrupt, you should have perfect finesse. Sadly, you cannot garner finesse rewards off of singular monsters; however pulls of two or more will allow you to get finesse rewards. You will know that you have finished combat with perfect finesse by having a bullet-time kill camera shot of you finishing off whatever you were fighting. This looks pretty cool, but I am sure some of you are wondering how that will work with multiple enemies? I know that I wouldn’t want a kill camera to activate after I kill 2 monsters and there are another 4 hitting me. I asked Gameplay Designer Maria Aliprando at PAX how killcams would work when you are fighting multiple enemies, and she informed me that they will only trigger at the end of combat. That is to say, your finesse will keep building while you are in combat fighting a large number of enemies, until you finish the last one off to exit the combat state.

My first day at PAX I had noticed when I killed a pair of wolves without perfect finesse I was rewarded with 5 gold, then when I killed another pair with perfect finesse I was rewarded 10 gold, a full 100% increase in the reward. The response from Maria got me thinking about how finesse could be used to level faster and if there were ways that a player could maximize leveling efficiency with the system. Now I understand that this is the smallest dataset that I can possibly have, but I still thought it was worth looking in to if you could get a linear gold/XP multiplier the more monsters you killed.

The ESO Booth at PAX

The ESO Booth at PAX

I knew I wouldn’t be able to find base packs that had 4+ wolves in them, however if finesse is rewarded at the end of combat, what would happen if you keep chain pulling monsters before you get out of combat? With this in mind I tried pulling a single wolf, and then another to qualify as having 2 monsters in combat with me at the same time, but I received no reward. I tried multiple times with a single pull in to other wolves but received no reward. This led me to try initiating combat with a pack of two wolves that I knew by themselves could give me a finesse reward and then pull an extra mob, like links in a chain. I was rewarded with a kill camera and 15 gold for my troubles. I continued to experiment with this and managed to chain about 5-6 pirates; they didn’t drop any gold, but I did notice a very large increase in my XP gained.
So what does all of this mean? Well, a few things come to mind.

  • There may be parts of the game where you can effectively farm chains of monsters to get XP multipliers to level faster than simply questing.

The pirate encampment I was testing in is one such example of a good place, as well as one involving goblins in the Daggerfall Covenant starting zone alone.

  • You will probably want to chain monsters between quest locations if they are on the way.

There are plenty of locations in the starting zone alone that provide a sufficient mob density to allow chain pulling and are between quest destinations.

  • Talents can help you chain mobs easier.

Playing a Dragon Knight, I found Fiery Chains(Pulls an enemy to you) to be awesome for chaining monsters that were spread out.

  • Your character has leveling XP and ability XP, both of which are gained by killing monsters.

Ultimately by actively chaining monster together for extra finesse XP means you are killing more monsters that you would have normally. I don’t know if bonus finesse XP accumulates for your talents as well, however by nature of killing more monsters than you would have, you are going to be ahead of the game when it comes time to spend skill points on morph abilities.

  • Non-max level dungeons that can be pulled quickly seem like they would be great XP boosters, doubly so if they are repeatable.

Running level appropriate dungeons that can reward extra XP based on finesse performance plus the chance of getting level appropriate loot to help you level? What’s not to like?

  • Getting finesse kills feels great.

Having the kill camera engage was one of the most satisfying things ever. Knowing that you completed a perfect finesse combat and that you were going to be rewarded for it is great.

You might want to block this...

You might want to block this…

Ultimately everything I experienced can change from one build to the next. I could see them removing the ability to chain finesse from one pack of monsters to the next. I am honestly inclined to think that linear gold/XP gains would not be in the game at launch as they seem too powerful, however I could easily see some sort of reward structure that has a cap at how much of a bonus you can get. Regardless, finesse is in the game and will be in the game to some degree at launch(unless something really drastic happens) and utilizing it to the best of your ability will be a boon for your leveling career.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. As I said above I have to split my time between work and Tamriel Foundry carefully, but feel free to send me a PM or write up a post with @Fizzle in it and I will be sure to try and respond.

85 responses to “Finality, Friends, and Finesse”

  1. Profile Photo
    Atropos

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    Imperial Sorcerer

    Entropy Rising

    Thanks for the overview of the finesse system, and your thoughts about how players can take advantage of it. I’ll be really interested to see how this mechanic evolves between now and launch, as I’m certain it will go through several phases of revision.

    If it is possible in the end to exploit finesse by chain pulling, you will definitely see organized leveling (or even paid powerleveling) groups who figure out the best way to maximize finesse bonuses for prolonged periods of time.

    Founder, creator, and developer of Tamriel Foundry.

    Guildmaster of Entropy Rising.

    Occasional Twitch Streamer.

  2. Member Avatar
    Hwrath

    Master

    Total Posts: 780

    Thanks Fiz! Interesting insight into the Finesse system and possibility of maximizing xp gain.

    Could there be certain classes that have an advantage in chain-pulling, or do you see where all classes could take advantage of this technique?

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    Cormaiyn

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    Bosmer Nightblade

    Tarenveign

    The chain-pulling concept sounds great, for certain classes.  Some days I just want to level, not quest, and having a way to farm efficiently is great.  However, my first thought is that now people will be inclined to just camp around certain mob spawns and farm there for hours on end.

    Great article by the way and I look forward to more.

    We will endure. We are Legion.
    Triumviri of Tarvenveign

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    Fizzle

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    Altmer

    Cormaiyn said on April 9, 2013 :

    The chain-pulling concept sounds great, for certain classes. Some days I just want to level, not quest, and having a way to farm efficiently is great. However, my first thought is that now people will be inclined to just camp around certain mob spawns and farm there for hours on end.

    Great article by the way and I look forward to more.

    I wont lie, the Dragon Knights Fiery Chains was amazing. Ultimately though, abilities that help pull mobs to you might be able to be replaced by quick-swapping to a ranged weapon.

     

    Hwrath-Gro-Khash said on April 9, 2013 :

    Thanks Fiz! Interesting insight into the Finesse system and possibility of maximizing xp gain.

    Could there be certain classes that have an advantage in chain-pulling, or do you see where all classes could take advantage of this technique?

    I can’t speak for classes outside of the Dragon Knight, but it was clear that Fiery Chains was awesome. It effectively allows mobs to be spread further apart while you can still maintain your chain; but like I said above anything with a ranged attack should probably do the trick.

    It’s good to learn from your failures, but I prefer to learn from the failures of others.

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    izayoi

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    Nord

    So the game plays itself for you?

    What a joke. It sounds even worse than DBM. I sincerely hope they change this before launch.

    If the game tells you to block, and you block… where’s the skill in that.

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

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    Atropos

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    Imperial Sorcerer

    Entropy Rising

    @izayoi, I suppose you could interpret it that way. Alternatively you could consider the system as simply alerting the player that an enemy power attack is on it’s way, or a spell is being channeled. I do agree that it’s a bit hand-holdy though, and I would like to see them either tone down both the time the game affords you to properly perform the required defensive maneuver or reduce the obviousness of the monster tell.

    To take things with a grain of salt, we have only seen the newbie area, so it’s entirely possible that things become more difficult to manage at higher level (as with most MMOs).

    Founder, creator, and developer of Tamriel Foundry.

    Guildmaster of Entropy Rising.

    Occasional Twitch Streamer.

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    matt4569

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    Breton Sorcerer

    Cool info though I hope they take out some farming spaces because it would feel pretty cheap by leveling by just farming instead of actualy doing quests and things like that.

    I am a Knight of the Broken Blades, I will serve my brothers with honor and integrity and will always uphold the code of the Broken Blade

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    Fizzle

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    Altmer

    matt4569 said on April 9, 2013 :

    Cool info though Ihope they take out some farming spaces because it would feel pretty cheap by leveling by just farming instead of actualy doing quests and things like that.

    I think questing is still going to be the best main XP generator, but augmenting it with finesse-chaining while travelling between objectives seems like it could be really good.

    It’s good to learn from your failures, but I prefer to learn from the failures of others.

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    Nybling

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    Altmer Sorcerer

    Entropy Rising

    Excellent article, @Fizzle!

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    mrrambles

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    Breton

    izayoi said on April 9, 2013 :

    So the game plays itself for you?

    What a joke. It sounds even worse than DBM. I sincerely hope they change this before launch.

    If the game tells you to block, and you block… where’s the skill in that.

    Part of it is also resource management.  If you can’t block, stun, interrupt, or dodge w/o using stamina, and if there are more mobs with more power attacks stamina drain might become an issue.

    That said, the (paid) power-leveling potential is a bit depressing.  But that’s just me completely unable to comprehend paying someone to play a game I paid to play for me, especially if the game is as much or more about exploring the content as gaining levels…

    I suspect 50 will come too soon for my taste without power-leveling.

    By Sun, Moon, and Stars

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    matt4569

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    Breton Sorcerer

    mrrambles said on April 9, 2013 :

    izayoi said on April 9, 2013:

    So the game plays itself for you?

    What a joke. It sounds even worse than DBM. I sincerely hope they change this before launch.

    If the game tells you to block, and you block… where’s the skill in that.

    Part of it is also resource management. If you can’t block, stun, interrupt, or dodge w/o using stamina, and if there are more mobs with more power attacks stamina drain might become an issue.

    That said, the (paid) power-leveling potential is a bit depressing. But that’s just me completely unable to comprehend paying someone to play a game I paid to play for me, especially if the game is as much or more about exploring the content as gaining levels…

    I suspect 50 will come too soon for my taste without power-leveling.

    Didn’t they say somewhere it would take 15 hours to get from level 1-10?

    I am a Knight of the Broken Blades, I will serve my brothers with honor and integrity and will always uphold the code of the Broken Blade

  12. Member Avatar
    INKS

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    Altmer Sorcerer

    Well I guess I now know the first thing I’ll be trying to maximize soon as I am able to get my hands on the game. loll
    Good write up Fiz

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    Boromir WolfsBane

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    Nord Nightblade

    Ravenguard

    Great article! i’ll be sure to read it again that is how good it is:)

    http://i.imgur.com/VSsnFY0.png

     

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    Sparhawk

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    Altmer Dragonknight

    Mostly Harmless

    Great read!

    ”Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” -Vince Lombardi

    [img]http://s14.photobucket.com/user/PedroMB/media/SparhawkSig_zps364c2624.png.html[/img][/url]

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    Pugmilamber

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    Altmer

    Thanks awesome read and only makes me more excited for release or fingers crossed beta

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    Alys

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    Point of order: “Reactionary” refers to a particular strain of conservative political thought that favors a return to an idealized past. “Reactionary gameplay” would either have political overtones, or perhaps look something like Pong. Pong was the Platonic form of the Game, after all. That was the Golden Age. Not like this Bronze Age crap that you whippersnappers play, with your specular lighting and your loose morals.

    Perhaps “reactive” or “reaction-based” instead?

    The red glow for abilities that can be interrupted is interesting; I hadn’t caught that before. I take it that AoEs aren’t signaled by a glow, but there’s always a lengthy windup gesture signaling?

    Is the idea that yellow glow equals block 100% of the time, red glow equals interrupt 100% of the time, and fancy gestures equal dodge 100% of the time?

    Did you get any insight into how finesse will be used to power ultimates? In your description, it sounds as though the only check for finesse is when you kill a mob—did you make any mistakes during the fight? If no mistakes, candy. If mistakes, no candy. It would be strange if the only point at which your ultimate is powered up is after clearing a group of mobs, so I assume it’s going to follow some other kind of calculation.

    Finding gold on wolves disturbs me.

    Chaining will be interesting. That’s what I prefer to do anyway, but it’s strangely artificial from the way you’re describing it (keeping a mob alive and beating on you while you find a new friend, for example). It sounds unfinished to me, but I appreciate the insight into this build!

    Atropos said on April 9, 2013 :

    @izayoi, I suppose you could interpret it that way. Alternatively you could consider the system as simply alerting the player that an enemy power attack is on it’s way, or a spell is being channeled. I do agree that it’s a bit hand-holdy though, and I would like to see them either tone down both the time the game affords you to properly perform the required defensive maneuver or reduce the obviousness of the monster tell.

    To take things with a grain of salt, we have only seen the newbie area, so it’s entirely possible that things become more difficult to manage at higher level (as with most MMOs).

    To build on this, one thing that the devs have hinted at is that the signals become less obtrusive as you level, so some of the signaling may be part of an extended tutorial/training wheels feature. There may not be any flashing colors at all at level 50.

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    Rymguard

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    Aldmeri Templar

    Thank you for all of the wonderful information. It was a page turner ( but Rym, it was one page. ) I would like to know how finesse will work out . the colour auras explains a lot .

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    Tribe

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    @Fizzle

    At one point ZOS had mentioned that gaining finesse through playing well would cause a treasure chest to appear.  Did you ever experience this or have you heard any further information about loot generation being tied to building finesse?

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    Fizzle

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    Altmer

    Tribe said on April 9, 2013 :

    @Fizzle

    At one point ZOS had mentioned that gaining finesse through playing well would cause a treasure chest to appear. Did you ever experience this or have you heard any further information about loot generation being tied to building finesse?

    I never had a chest appear although I did receive a piece of gear with a golden check-mark next to it; indicating that it was a finesse reward.

    It’s good to learn from your failures, but I prefer to learn from the failures of others.

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    Fizzle

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    Altmer

    Alys said on April 9, 2013 :

    The red glow for abilities that can be interrupted is interesting; I hadn’t caught that before. I take it that AoEs aren’t signaled by a glow, but there’s always a lengthy windup gesture signaling?

    Is the idea that yellow glow equals block 100% of the time, red glow equals interrupt 100% of the time, and fancy gestures equal dodge 100% of the time?

    It seems to have been done with developer discretion. AOE’s usually were a fancy gesture with some sort of geometry and shading effect on the ground, although some of them were interruptable red glows. All three attack types had long windups.

    From what I have witnessed with my playtime, yellow was for blocking, red was for interrupting, and the remaining gestures were to be avoided. Of course, I used abilities like Fiery Chains to interrupt casting at points as well; instead of shield bash interrupting.

    Alys said on April 9, 2013 :

    Did you get any insight into how finesse will be used to power ultimates? In your description, it sounds as though the only check for finesse is when you kill a mob—did you make any mistakes during the fight? If no mistakes, candy. If mistakes, no candy. It would be strange if the only point at which your ultimate is powered up isafter clearing a group of mobs, so I assume it’s going to follow some other kind of calculation.

    I did not, ultimates were not available to us, and I am pretty sure will not be available until 15-20. My only checks really were for loot/XP distribution as I had limited playtime. I think it will definitely be interesting to see how finesse generation factors in to ultimate usage, but at this point we can only wait and see how finesse effects actual abilities.

    Alys said on April 9, 2013 :

    Chaining will be interesting. That’s what I prefer to do anyway, but it’s strangely artificial from the way you’re describing it (keeping a mob alive and beating on you while you find a new friend, for example). It sounds unfinished to me, but I appreciate the insight into this build!

    It was somewhat artificial in the steps that I chose. I was worried that chains would break prematurely if you were ever only fighting a single mob. I tried to always have two hitting me while I was killing the third. I was pretty much always blocking something, then power attacking the stunned mob.

    Alys said on April 9, 2013 :

    Atropos said on April 9, 2013:

    @izayoi, I suppose you could interpret it that way. Alternatively you could consider the system as simply alerting the player that an enemy power attack is on it’s way, or a spell is being channeled. I do agree that it’s a bit hand-holdy though, and I would like to see them either tone down both the time the game affords you to properly perform the required defensive maneuver or reduce the obviousness of the monster tell.

    To take things with a grain of salt, we have only seen the newbie area, so it’s entirely possible that things become more difficult to manage at higher level (as with most MMOs).

    To build on this, one thing that the devs have hinted at is that the signals become less obtrusive as you level, so some of the signaling may be part of an extended tutorial/training wheels feature. There may not be any flashing colors at all at level 50.

    This is true, one other thing I did not mention is that in addition to the glows that are provided, there is actual text that you can enable or disable in the options that tells you when to block/dodge at the bottom of your screen. I can see the glow system being part of a starting zone tutorial-esque system. We will see, I think there will have to be some sort of indicator as to what attacks mobs are going to perform; perhaps the third option gestures can fill the role of blatant glows that symbolize the other two attack types. We shall see.

    It’s good to learn from your failures, but I prefer to learn from the failures of others.

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