A First Look at Group Dungeons In ESO

Hey Foundry community, as part of our continuing coverage of the press beta for The Elder Scrolls Online I have a very exciting video to share with you all. ZeniMax afforded Tamriel Foundry the privilege of sharing 15 minutes of ESO gameplay footage for level 1-15 content. We wanted to take advantage of that possibility by making the biggest impression with that allowed footage. I think one of the most neglected aspects of ESO is the excellent instanced dungeons which are available to groups of players. There have been a lot of requests for PvE coverage, and we wanted to deliver on that. Myself, and some guild members from Entropy Rising formed up to tackle the three instanced dungeons designed for level 13-15, and we produced a video that I hope is an excellent introduction to the group PvE experience that ESO has to offer. Before continuing further, let me start with a disclaimer:

The following article and video contains minor spoilers regarding the plotlines and encounters of the first tier of group dungeons in ESO. If you want to preserve the element of surprise, you may wish to turn back.

Still with me? Alright, let’s do this. I am playing a Breton Sorcerer, using a Restoration Staff to heal the party. I’m joined by @Phazius as a Dragonknight tank, @Erlex as Templar ranged DPS, and @Benefactor playing a dual-wielding Nightblade. We tackle the first three dungeons of Spindleclutch in the Daggerfall zone of Glenumbra, Banished Cells in the Aldmeri island of Auridon, and Fungal Grotto in the Ebonheart zone of Stonefalls. Enjoy the video!

Alright, who’s excited after watching that? I think the dungeons of ESO have been spectacularly designed by the artists and designers at ZeniMax. I can say out of personal experience (some of which you have now witnessed) that they are very enjoyable! These way the dungeons are set up and the variety of mechanics that we’ve seen even in this first tier of dungeons is hugely reassuring of the capacity for ESO to have challenging and entertaining endgame PvE content for groups and raids. The Elder Scrolls Online is launching with 16 group dungeons, and 6 veteran mods for Veteran Level players. The veteran modes of these dungeons extend the story that is started in the normal mode of the instance, and each of Spindleclutch, Banished Cells, and Fungal Grotto have a Veteran mode that will have you re-visiting these locations after you reach level 50.

There are a lot of things I like about group dungeons in ESO. I don’t want to turn this article into a full review of the dungeon experience. I think every MMO player is aware that “newbie dungeons” are indicative, but not necessarily representative of later challenges. I will say some things that I like, however, as well as some things that I don’t like in these starter dungeons:

What I Liked Best

  • Environments and Plotlines – The design of these dungeons is very story driven, each one contains a full plot arc. The environments are unique and beautiful, and are very fun to explore. I love that the normal mode of each instance contains foreshadowing for later events that you will be able to revisit once your character has grown in strength. For example, in the Banished Cells after you re-imprison High Kinlord Rilis, there is strong foreshadowing that his bonds will not hold in the long run and that darker forces are at play than first realized.
  • MMO Boss Mechanics – I am tremendously re-assured that the bosses in ESOs instances feature interesting, but effective, MMO style mechanics. Most bosses have several unique abilities that require you to adjust your tactics a bit in order to intelligently approach the fight. Some bosses are certainly “tank and spank”, but there’s clearly been some thought into giving dungeon bosses spells and abilities that are unique and different to anything found elsewhere in the game.
  • Rewards – The dungeons are definitely worth your time to do them. They provide great experience, gear upgrades, and even skill points! The first time you complete each instanced dungeon, the main questline for the dungeon rewards your character with a bonus skill point which you can use to upgrade your character’s abilities. This is an awesome incentive to make sure that it’s in everyone’s interest to experience these dungeons at least once.

Room for Improvement

  • Dungeon Length – At least this first tier of instanced dungeons was relatively short in length. Without any party wipes, these first tier dungeons only took around 15-20 minutes to complete. I think the number of boss fights was satisfying, but the trash pulls between bosses were fairly sparse. Perhaps this is a good thing for the game, but I would rather that a group dungeon take in the 30 minute range. It remains to be seen if later level group dungeons are a bit more expansive. To be fair, our group was (slightly) overleveled for these encounters. Our party was levels were 11, 11, 15, and 15. Most enemies in these first tier dungeons are levels 13-15.
  • Boss Health - My only other real gripe, and it seems a bit petty, but I frequently felt that bosses’ Health pool was too small. Our group was comprised of good MMO players, so I suspect our average damage was reasonably good. Even so, fights were often over before they really got fun. We often only were able to see one or two repetitions of each boss’ mechanic before the boss was already dead. I would like to emphasize that I think the difficulty of the bosses was fine, I think their damage output was also fine, but I would really like to see boss health totals boosted to add a bit more drama to the process of defeating these encounters.

Questions?

I know the ESO community is eager to learn more about PvE dungeons and the group PvE experience. Feel free to ask me what questions you have about these dungeons. I suspect that Erlex, Phazius, and Benefactor will also be around to respond to any questions, so let us know what you’d like to know in the comment section. Which dungeon did you like the best? Was there one boss in particular that looked really fun to you? Was there anything else that stuck with you because of this video?

145 responses to “A First Look at Group Dungeons In ESO”

  1. Profile Photo
    Morkulth

    Expert

    Total Posts: 425

    Altmer Sorcerer

    Entropy Rising

    Literally can not contain my excitement with this article. TF is really doing some great things.

  2. Profile Photo
    Eric-Prydz

    Expert

    Total Posts: 328

    Breton Sorcerer

    Article well done good sir. I have been wanting to see some legit dungeon footage for a long time and and this helps me keep sane til the game launches!

  3. Profile Photo
    VileIntent

    Expert

    Total Posts: 296

    Dunmer Nightblade

    Entropy Rising

    HELL yeah!! great job guys!

    http://atropos.objects.dreamhost.com/vileintent-signature.jpg

    ” If you wish to make a fight boring, make it fair.”

  4. Profile Photo
    Vylaer

    Moderator

    Total Posts: 346

    Altmer Sorcerer

    Entropy Rising

    Boss strategy discussion time… go go go!

     

    Guild Officer.  

  5. Profile Photo
    Aphrodite

    Journeyman

    Total Posts: 58

    Altmer Nightblade

    The Aldmeri Trinity

    Great footage and enlightening commentary!

  6. Member Avatar
    Mr.Pancake

    Apprentice

    Total Posts: 29

    Redguard Sorcerer

    i would like to hear what people think about non “meta” builds, since its kinda what zeenimax is going for that you can be/do anything your heart desires, do you think the PVE content will be doable by a group that doesnt necesarry fit the parameters of the classic tank/healer/dps combo?

  7. Profile Photo
    Devourous

    Apprentice

    Total Posts: 31

    Altmer Templar

    ESOTR

    Firstly, fantastic job Atropos and team.  Everything that needed to be said and shown was, clean and crisp as always.  Keep up the awesome ESO coverage and Tamriel Foundry is just fantastic, a must for any discerning ESO fan!
    Now it appears I may have to come at the topic of toughness from a rather different point of view, that of the random player group.  Possibly on my part as a result of a much more limited exposure to knowledge of ESO dungeons, specifically I thinking Banished Cells.  It is my understanding that if the party was made up of a random group of players, but also included an experienced player perhaps myself.  We might very likely struggle to complete some of the big boss fights!  Also attempting the dungeon alone, or perhaps as a smaller two/three player group might leave us all with rather a lot of armour repairing to do afterwards!
    I can’t help but observe that your team appeared all very experienced in their skills and play.  Was this footage taken from the first run on each?
    If it was, well hats of to you all!  If not, well at least I can sleep at night..
  8. Profile Photo
    PeterRJG

    Expert

    Total Posts: 279

    Breton Sorcerer

    Great article, and a great insight into how ESO dungeons (and grouping strategies) work.

  9. Profile Photo
    The Dude

    Adept

    Total Posts: 175

    Sorcerer

    Nocturnal

    Awesome video.  I love it.  It’s so active and dynamic.  Positioning seems to be very important and no one just stands in one spot in DPS mode.  I have never gotten into healing in all of the other MMO’s I’ve played yet I am very excited to do some healing as a Sorcerer in this game.  There are so many ways to effectively contribute whether it be CC, interrupts, heals, buffs, synergies, or execute abilities and the best part is everyone can do any of them.  Even the buffs are more active since they are generally more powerful with short durations so you have to choose when to use them.  It’s not just “ok everyone add your class buff to everyone else at the start of the dungeon and be ready for people to angrily ask for it again after they have been resurrected.”

  10. Profile Photo
    Griffith

    Adept

    Total Posts: 175

    Redguard Nightblade

    Entropy Rising

    Great article Atropos. I hope this gets everyone else as excited for group PvE content as I am.

  11. Profile Photo
    Griffith

    Adept

    Total Posts: 175

    Redguard Nightblade

    Entropy Rising

    Devourous said on February 13, 2014 :

    Firstly, fantastic job Atropos and team. Everything that needed to be said and shown was, clean and crisp as always. Keep up the awesome ESO coverage and Tamriel Foundry is just fantastic, a must for any discerning ESO fan!
    Now it appears I may have to come at the topic of toughness from a rather different point of view, that of the random player group. Possibly on my part as a result of a much more limited exposure to knowledge of ESO dungeons, specifically I thinking Banished Cells. It is my understanding that if the party was made up of a random group of players, but also included an experienced player perhaps myself. We might very likely struggle to complete some of the big boss fights! Also attempting the dungeon alone, or perhaps as a smaller two/three player group might leave us all with rather a lot of armour repairing to do afterwards!
    I can’t help but observe that your team appeared all very experienced in their skills and play. Was this footage taken from the first run on each?
    If it was, well hats of to you all! If not, well at least I can sleep at night..

    You can rest assured that even these lower level dungeons require a fair amount of skill and coordination as was exemplified by the fantastic players in the video.  A less prepared/skilled group might find things considerably harder then they appeared in the video.

  12. Profile Photo
    skeeter

    Adept

    Total Posts: 108

    Argonian Dragonknight

    Mr.Pancake said on February 13, 2014 :

    i would like to hear what people think about non “meta” builds, since its kinda what zeenimax is going for that you can be/do anything your heart desires, do you think the PVE content will be doable by a group that doesnt necesarry fit the parameters of the classic tank/healer/dps combo?

    I think the trinity is well in place. The group in the video used the trinity(well thought out pre- made) and they had over leveled the content. These low level dungeons to me indicate zos is taking the pve very serious and it will be challenging.

  13. Member Avatar
    Botak

    Apprentice

    Total Posts: 36

    Altmer Sorcerer

    The Gaiscioch Family

    Great video and explanation.

    Sorcerer can heal with restoration staff only?

     

  14. Profile Photo
    Phazius

    Master

    Total Posts: 834

    Dunmer Dragonknight

    Entropy Rising

    Game looks so good in third person ;P, also I notice so many small things I could do better XD Can’t wait till we can so the higher level dungeons as well!

  15. Profile Photo
    Ruebs

    Adept

    Total Posts: 173

    Dunmer Templar

    F#cking awesome Vid! Best ESO combat vid I’ve seen… And I’ve seen them ALL!.. Literally, everyone on YouTube…
    I LOVE how you individually acknowledged the skills being used, and the reasons behind using them.
    I LOVED seeing the Templar doing real damage, contrary to their usual rule of solely healing.

    And i LOVED seeing real time team work and strategies, instead of just charging in and attempting to butt fuck everything in sight!
    All in all, this vid gave me an enormous fan-boy stiffy!
    Good Job!  =)

     

  16. Member Avatar
    Scribe-of-Salmacis

    Apprentice

    Total Posts: 37

    The dungeons look actually pretty entertaining. I didn’t try any during the beta myself, as an old dungeon aversion that I admit to. Always been more into PvP and open world exploration. Nice vid as well. :)

    One thing I’ve wondered and felt uncomfortable about in a lot of MMO PvE: If it’s supposed to feel heroic, then why is it always multiple ppl beating up one guy? Small bosses or big, it tends to be anything between a party and a zerg taking them on. Couldn’t feel more despicable – in a sense aesthetically. I find myself siding with the bosses. No idea if anyone gets what I’m trying say.

  17. Profile Photo
    VileIntent

    Expert

    Total Posts: 296

    Dunmer Nightblade

    Entropy Rising

    Ruebs said on February 13, 2014 :

    F#cking awesome Vid! Best ESO combat vid I’ve seen… And I’ve seen them ALL!.. Literally, everyone on YouTube…
    I LOVE how you individually acknowledged the skills being used, and the reasons behind using them.
    I LOVED seeing the Templar doing real damage, contrary to their usual rule of solely healing.

    And i LOVED seeing real time team work and strategies, instead of just charging in and attempting to butt fuck everything in sight!
    All in all, this vid gave me an enormous fan-boy stiffy!
    Good Job! =)

    I love this guy, if this makes me gay then hells yea i’m gay!!

    http://atropos.objects.dreamhost.com/vileintent-signature.jpg

    ” If you wish to make a fight boring, make it fair.”

  18. Member Avatar
    Ascaweth

    Novice

    Total Posts: 16

    Altmer Sorcerer

    Nice video. I’m glad you mentioned cc breaker, because even though it was mentioned in tutorial, not a lot of players know about it.
    And yeah, even though it seemed easy with your pre-made, with pugging it will be harder.
    One more thing, didn’t notice you using Encase in any boss fights (unless you were leveling it up :D), this could be replaced for Mage’s Fury, although it would make it even faster kill ;) So it seems for good groups bosses HP really will have to go higher.

  19. Profile Photo
    Fatalyis

    Grandmaster

    Total Posts: 1153

    Redguard Nightblade

    Very nice!! Great work, guys! :)

  20. Member Avatar
    Lumartist

    Scamp

    Total Posts: 9

    Great job on this one! One of the best, if not he best videos out there so far. You really chose wisely what to do with the opportunity given by Zenimax. Most people did just show us stuff which we’ve seen ten or more times before. Also this video shows what lies hidden behind the curtain, and the vast possibilities of ESO. I really enjoyed the video and am more excited than before! Thank you!

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