Plotting the Future of ESO’s Endgame

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What should the future hold for endgame players? Let’s jump into the hot debate.

The Elder Scrolls Online community has been incensed with conversation focusing on the game’s current endgame, its shortcomings, and what the future will hold. Sparking new life into debates over the two pillars of the current endgame design – the Champion System, which is widely criticized for its rampant power creep, and Veteran Ranks, the unpopular post-level cap levels which were already promised to be in the process of being removed from the game – was the news that before it gets better, things are going to get worse, as the VR cap will be raising once again to VR16 in Update 7.

The news has prompted visceral responses from several prominent members of the Elder Scrolls Online community, ranging from Elder Scrolls Off the Record’s online petition that no further Veteran Ranks be added to the game to Deltia’s Gaming’s far more sweeping endgame commentary touching on both the addition of more Veteran Ranks and Champion System power creep via a blog post and accompanying forum thread which has gathered quite a bit of activity in support of the popular streamer’s position.

ZOS Community Manager Jessica Folsom has responded to the thread noting that the team at ZeniMax is currently working on ways to improve on the Champion System’s current iteration.

We’re currently looking into ways we can help those new to the Champion System catch up a bit, and also decrease the gap between those who are just starting out and those who have accumulated a ton of points. Once we have a plan scoped out a bit more, we will be sharing it and looking to get everyone’s thoughts.

Many people from all corners of the game’s community have chimed in with their opinions on how exactly the game’s current endgame could be adjusted to a healthier state, and with the endgame revamp that began with the Champion System’s original introduction still only partially complete, those conversations have a real possibility of influencing the endgame we’ll eventually inhabit together. There’s no better time to make your voice heard, so here’s my personal opinion on how the Elder Scrolls Online‘s endgame evolution could continue to make this game the best it could possibly be.

 

The Champion System

As many predicted before its deployment to the live servers, given a few months to fester, the Champion System has introduced an astounding amount of power creep as players with high Champion Points unlock more and more powerful passives. While stacking points into the individual passives has provided huge gains to individual statistics and given rise to phenomena like the infinite dodge roll builds PvPers so love and cherish, the ability to unlock more and more capstone abilities by fully progressing through multiple constellations has proven to be a huge factor in the ever growing gap between the haves and have nots of the Elder Scrolls Online, and when combined, they present a powerful barrier to entry for any prospective player.

Though the team at ZeniMax has implemented some diminishing returns to limit rewards from point allocations within the Champion System, they frequently aren’t enough to curb the significant advantages gained from maxing out a perk. For example, take the extremely powerful Mighty (the Ritual) perk: at 50 points, this talent provides a 15.4% increase to physical damage, only slightly dropping in marginal point value by the time it maxes out at 100 points for a 25% increase.

Further, as players continue to farm Champion Points, they will periodically unlock powerful capstone abilities like Unchained and Tactician. At this point, their power will spike rapidly above players who haven’t yet reached the 120 Champion Point mark in as many constellations (remember that because point gains alternate between the three types of constellations, players will effectively be unlocking three capstone abilities at once between 358 and 360 total Champion Points).

Beyond the obvious balance concerns raised by the Champion System so far, a greater concern may be the deterrent it currently creates for incoming players. While a player who has just recently joined the game should absolutely be less powerful than a veteran player, it should not be impossible to catch up, which is precisely the situation that the Champion System’s distant theoretical 3,600 Champion Point cap presents. Although EVE Online has many barriers to new players joining its ranks, one of the greatest deterrents new players list to trying out or sticking with the game is the feeling that they could never catch up to a player who’s been training their character for years – and this is in a game where progression is largely horizontal. In The Elder Scrolls Online, the Champion System’s straight vertical progression will create a far larger barrier if left on its current trajectory.

Stay tuned for details from the summit!

As it stands, a Daedric Titan is far less frightening than a player with a few hundred CP more than you.

While I find the Champion System indescribably more appealing than a more traditional MMORPG’s gear treadmill, there are lessons to be learned from the successful endgame models of the past.

One key component of the treadmill model of endgame in a traditional MMORPG is that, much like its namesake, players on it never really go anywhere; while in those games every gear upgrade feels like a step forward, the introduction of continually higher quality starter tier pieces in new content patches (colloquially known as ‘welfare epics’) has proven incredibly effective at making sure that while a fresh-to-endgame player won’t be the best, they’ll never feel that they’re far behind. Further, the delayed introduction of new tiers of progression has served to keep all players at a fairly equal playing field, where everyone is given plenty of time to reach their optimum setup before another tier (and new, better baseline starter gear) is introduced. Eventually, the board is wiped clean with a level cap raise – but this is only necessary to combat the growing disparity in a freshly level capped character’s questing gear and the easily accessible starter tier, as these have grown further and further apart as the starter tier has been improved with each patch.

The problem with the Champion System as The Elder Scrolls Online‘s endgame model is that it makes absolutely no effort whatsoever to provide accessibility to either new or returning players – those who fall behind stay behind, and that’s not a healthy place for the game to be in. Fortunately, there is a way to adapt the key components of the treadmill model to fit the Champion System, providing accessibility and an even playing field without ruining the awesome progression and customization that it introduces.

The solution comes in two parts:

  • Cap the maximum attainable Champion Points at any given time to a certain number shared by every player. This cap will be raised periodically (effectively creating seasons), either on a monthly schedule or as part of content patches.
  • Introduce dynamically scaling experience requirements on a logarithmic curve that will automatically adjust to fit new Champion Point cap increases.

The Champion Point cap will function similarly to tiers of gear in past MMORPGs, creating a clear, attainable level of maximum progression that will provide new players a target beyond a virtually endless race in which they start out miles behind, give every capped player the peace of mind that they are standing on an even playing field, and drastically increase ZeniMax’s ability to balance the power creep currently running amok by managing its flow as an input faucet.

 

Veteran Rank Removal and the Gear Economy

ESO's new "Monster Helms" are formidable, and effective!

Varying collectible sets are a form of horizontal gear progression already in game.

When you get down to it, whether or not ZeniMax increases the Veteran Rank cap to VR16 in the next patch does little to affect the ultimate evolution of The Elder Scrolls Online‘s endgame, so long as the decision does not prove the harbinger of Veteran Ranks being retained as a permanent endgame fixture. Given that we have no reason to believe that it will, I will continue under the assumption that Veteran Ranks are being removed – as they absolutely should be.

The Veteran Rank system exists essentially as ESO‘s equivalent to progression tiers, providing entry to higher item-level gear without requiring that you complete a specific raid or other progression event to gain access. Critically, the Veteran Rank system does not currently allow for gear resets via level cap raises, so the gap between a fresh endgame player and a veteran continues to grow further and further. Worse yet, the increases in gear attributes are scaling multiplicatively with the bonuses provided through the Champion System, making the gap even larger and compounding the problem of Champion System power creep.

An endgame based around vertical gear progression makes sense in a traditional MMORPG, but as The Elder Scrolls Online has moved so much verticality to its Champion System, retaining a vertical gear grind only serves to further push power creep into increasingly unmanageable levels. With that in mind, The Elder Scrolls Online should move to a flat gear system similar to Guild Wars 2‘s – only better.

With vertical progression already handled by the Champion System, all current endgame gear can effectively be scaled down to level 50, where the lower stat pool will help mitigate future power creep as the Champion Point cap is raised. So how do we keep gear interesting? With the continual introduction of new gear traits and set bonuses, as the team at ZeniMax has already been doing throughout the game’s life.

It’s extremely important that gear retains value beyond being a stat sick, and that new gear is continually introduced that players are excited to pursue. Maybe a new crafting trait will be found in Orsinium, or maybe the next trial will introduce compelling new set bonuses you can’t obtain anywhere else. These types of additions will be more effective at keeping gear focused players happy than Guild Wars 2‘s aesthetics based “fashion meta” without introducing unnecessary power creep, as well as providing endgame players with a tangible progression objective that extends beyond hitting the Champion Point cap every time it is raised.

 

Going Forward

The Elder Scrolls Online has seen tremendous improvement since its launch in April of 2014, but the team at ZeniMax still have a few more kinks to iron out before the endgame is in a truly healthy state. The good news is we’re close – closer than we’ve ever been before -, and with the right set of decisions to reign in runaway power creep and preserve accessibility for new players, the game may yet hit the sweet spot of MMORPG endgame perfection.

 

Do you agree with my endgame concept for ESO, or do you have a different idea altogether? Let us know in the comments below!

 

33 responses to “Plotting the Future of ESO’s Endgame”

  1. Profile Photo
    Elhanan

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    Total Posts: 38

    Breton Dragonknight

    “The solution comes in two parts:

    Cap the maximum attainable Champion Points at any given time to a certain number shared by every player. This cap will be raised periodically (effectively creating seasons), either on a monthly schedule or as part of content patches.
    Introduce dynamically scaling experience requirements on a logarithmic curve that will automatically adjust to fit new Champion Point cap increases.”

     

    First off, welcome back.  It’s good to see somebody so involved in the beta and early release stages of ESO return to give their insight (respectfully even) regarding the good and bad of how things have developed.  I am still enjoying the game and believe that things will continue to improve.  However, as you point out, there are some current challenges we face.

    Capping the max attainable champion points is not an effective solution because ultimately it will still prevent new players (let’s arbitrarily say in 1-2 years) from feeling capable of ever catching up.  You mention that this is similar to the gear treadmill, but it is also quite different. In prior games, lower tiers of gear are quite easily obtained and that is what makes high level content entry less daunting.

    The problem is that the champion system is based on passive bonuses that are always applied.  My opinion (if they keep a similar design) is that  they need to substitute new active abilities (different but not exceedly more powerful than current actives) that are unlocked via the champion system (and remove all passive bonuses).  This would provide higher champion-point players with new builds and play styles that lower new players would not have, while at the same time not giving them an exceedingly discrepant numerical advantage.

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    Isarii

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    Elhanan said on July 13, 2015 :

    Capping the max attainable champion points is not an effective solution because ultimately it will still prevent new players (say in 1-2 years) from feeling capable of ever catching up.  You mention that this is similar to the gear treadmill, but it is also quite different. In prior games, lower tiers of gear are quite easily obtained and that is what makes high level content entry less daunting.

    This is actually one of the major points in the article – thus the dynamically scaling logarithmic experience curve to help speed up entry into ESO‘s endgame. This is just a more refined version of ZOS’s current plan to make the first 300 or so faster to obtain, as it will be automatically tied to the maximum number of points available.

    Elhanan said on July 13, 2015 :

    The problem is that the champion system is based on passive bonuses that are always applied. My opinion (if they keep a similar design) is that they need to substitute new active abilities (different but not exceedly more powerful than current actives) that are unlocked via the champion system (and remove all passive bonuses). This would provide higher champion-point players with new builds and play styles that lower new players would not have, while at the same time not giving them an exceedingly discrepant numerical advantage.

    While completely removing the system’s verticality would certainly help with balance, that would be a complete re-imagining of the system to fulfill an entirely different role in the game’s ecosystem. Although I’m not entirely opposed to a flat endgame, I don’t think that’s what they’re going for right now. Moreover, it would be disappointing to see the Champion System relegated to being just a bunch of new skill lines.

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    The-Shadow

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    Imperial Nightblade

    Apathy

    Im on console and am very concerned about hitting vr and not being able to pvp due to the pc players being able to transfer their toons.  How does  one ever catch up?

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    Elhanan

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    Breton Dragonknight

    I’ll try to write a more thorough response when I get home, but let’s suffice it to say I am not convinced that a logarithmic modification to the current champion system will adequately address the concerns regarding the significant power imbalances the champion system has and will continue to create. I understand my idea would take substantial effort and revisioning to get to work.  However, if utilized, it would address the primary criticisms of the current system.

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    Koen233

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    Khajiit Nightblade

    The-Shadow said on July 13, 2015 :

    Im on console and am very concerned about hitting vr and not being able to pvp due to the pc players being able to transfer their toons. How does one ever catch up?

    I believe (not 100% sure) you get a bonus to some stats in Cyrodiil when a lower level

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    Isarii

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    Khajiit Templar

    Elhanan said on July 13, 2015 :

    I’ll try to write a more thorough response when I get home, but let’s suffice it to say I am not convinced that a logarithmic modification to the current champion system will adequately address the concerns regarding the significant power imbalances the champion system has and will continue to create. I understand my idea would take substantial effort and revisioning to get to work. However, if utilized, it would address the primary criticisms of the current system.

    The logarithmic curve suggested has nothing to do with the power of the perks, only the time it takes to unlock them.

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    Brightblinder

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    This isn’t a comment on anything said in this article. I just want to mention how funny it is that most people I have heard complain about the increase in vet levels are under the mistaken impression the update 7 won’t be adding new content?

     

    Anyway, I like the way you think. Though I do feel the power creep from champion points is not as serious a problem as people believe.

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    Brady4444

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    Dunmer Dragonknight

    I agree with you, @Isarii, in principle.  I worry that they have earned a lot of distrust.  It is going to take more than a bandaid to cure this, and you have adressed this quite well.

    As far as Cyrodil campaigns go, there could be “Brackets” to keep people within any given power level from colliding with others of a significantly higher or lower power level.  For example:

    1. Non-veteran.  No CP work in this campaign.  This would be Blackwater.
    2. 150 or less.
    3. Expand by 150 or so every bracket until capped.

    There can be reasons beyond challenge to go to the next bracket.  Things such as new Motifs, Craft and Dropped Sets, and special achievements and titles can all be particular to certain brackets or better.

    • For example, a crafted set might be available in the third bracket that would not be available in earlier brackets, but would be available in later ones.

    “It is better to aim at perfection and miss it than to aim at imperfection and hit it.”-Thomas J. Watson Sr., the first president of IBM

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    Isarii

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    Brady4444 said on July 13, 2015 :

    As far as Cyrodil campaigns go, there could be “Brackets” to keep people within any given power level from colliding with others of a significantly higher or lower power level.  For example:

    Non-veteran.  No CP work in this campaign.  This would be Blackwater.
    150 or less.
    Expand by 150 or so every bracket until capped.

    Two things worry me about these types of brackets (other than CP being disabled in non-vet; that doesn’t seem unreasonable):

    • Are there actually enough active PvPers in each bracket to make fragmenting the base that way even a realistic option?
    • This would definitely have negative effects on the community, as you may see PvP guilds broken apart by a change like this.
  10. Member Avatar
    Irwen

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    nice theorycrafting Isarii, but you can start your theories based on wheeler pvp june post (aliance war oficial forum). if you read it, you can figure out zenimax lacks of vision or big enough focus. instead they announce another skills overhaul, which change almost everything again. i dont see balance anytime soon, dont see gameplay improvement anytime soon. Probably we get two new areas to “explore” – Impcity and Wrothgar and thats all for a long time

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    Stalwart385

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    Breton Dragonknight

    Put the CP cap today at 300. Every three month raise the cap by 50. End game players would have no problem getting the cap in a month or so. You can still accumulate points for the next cap raise. This would give new players an extra month or two each cap raise to catch up.

    I think the Champion system is fine but would be okay with this compromise. Would also eliminate some of the grinding, which would be nice. Maybe it would even give us something to look forward to every three months since updates are sorely lacking.

    I’ve never really had an issue with Vet ranks. I don’t see how its a gear barrier either. You get to VR14 (or 16) and you’re end game, pretty straight forward. Then you can wear the same gear as anyone else. I don’t think level 50 should be considered end game, it is way to easy to achieve. At that point you are just starting to understand and unlock some of your skills. I think of level 50 as the start of your progression, 1- 50 is new player training.

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    Brady4444

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    Dunmer Dragonknight

    Isarii said on July 13, 2015 :

    Brady4444 said on July 13, 2015 :

    As far as Cyrodil campaigns go, there could be “Brackets” to keep people within any given power level from colliding with others of a significantly higher or lower power level. For example:

    Non-veteran. No CP work in this campaign. This would be Blackwater.
    150 or less.
    Expand by 150 or so every bracket until capped.

    Two things worry me about these types of brackets (other than CP being disabled in non-vet; that doesn’t seem unreasonable):

    • Are there actually enough active PvPers in each bracket to make fragmenting the base that way even a realistic option?
    • This would definitely have negative effects on the community, as you may see PvP guilds broken apart by a change like this.

    Good point, @Isarii,

    A way to bracket CP without separation of guild mates/friends is to simply have excess points ‘not work’.  Higher CP players would have to respec most likely, but other than this it should work.  But that might lead to other competitive issues if one guild manages to dominate a given bracket.

    Of course they could scrap the Champion system and go back to the old Vertical Loot Treadmill System (VLTS), but I wouldn’t like it.

    “It is better to aim at perfection and miss it than to aim at imperfection and hit it.”-Thomas J. Watson Sr., the first president of IBM

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    Elhanan

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    Breton Dragonknight

    Isarii said on July 13, 2015 :

    Elhanan said on July 13, 2015 :

    I’ll try to write a more thorough response when I get home, but let’s suffice it to say I am not convinced that a logarithmic modification to the current champion system will adequately address the concerns regarding the significant power imbalances the champion system has and will continue to create. I understand my idea would take substantial effort and revisioning to get to work. However, if utilized, it would address the primary criticisms of the current system.

    The logarithmic curve suggested has nothing to do with the power of the perks, only the time it takes to unlock them.

    That was my understanding.  While changing the pace of unlocking champion perks would narrow the power gap between low-CP and high-CP players, the power differential remains.  It seems that you and I would disagree whether this is going far enough.  I’m thinking long-term here.  In 2 years (under your proposed changes), do you believe new players would agree that they are on “an even playing field?”  You already have pointed out the tremendous advantage that 100 points (vs 50) in Mighty offers players.  Will having a somewhat faster gain of the first few hundred CP really make a difference when long-time players have thousands?

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    Soneca798

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    Imperial Nightblade

    I’m a console player, recently got my character to vr 1 and honestly the champion point system scares me…. It scares me because I feel like I’ll be thrown into a similar situation that I was living with for so long in Dark Souls 2. In that game, the soul memory system was in general consensus broken as hell, and basically led to pvp matchups of lvl 150 players (the ones following the pvp lvl cap) with lvl 700 players (the ones who didn’t follow the pvp lvl cap and just continued to grind until all their individual stats were at 99). This ruined a lot of the pvp for me, and often times I just found myself growing bored with one of my favorite game series because I had to fight one broken fight after another.

    I’ve felt the same click with eso, I love the game, I love everything about it and I hope the game continues to be successful so I can still keep playing some 5 or so years from now. But like with Dark Souls 2`s soul memory, the champion system makes me cringe…..

    I agree with you, I like your ideas and I especially like the gear paragraph at the end, I think you make great points and while I personally would probably be happier if the champion system was just gone (again, makes me cringe) if they balance it properly then it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Now, while I agree that unique traits and other stats should be important in new gear lets not forget just a little bit of fashion meta :D legitimately one of the things that I really liked about guild wars 2 was that it had those trophy weapons that looked legendary and unique. While in elder scrolls the over the top nonsense in weapons and armor is usually toned down to a certain extent, something like an akaviri nodachi or an ansei ward is something that I would literally spend 100+ hours in game just to get…

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    Altmer77

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    Altmer Sorcerer

    Tamriel Foundry Community

    As someone who has supported and played this game since pre-launch pts, I have seen it grow and develop. I have watched the community evolve. But for a long time most it didnt concern me because I wasn’t at endgame: I wasnt doing trials, DSA, or endgame pvp, but now I am, and I can see and feel the effect the champion system has. I am not someone who has grinded champion points, I just do content as I please and have gotten them “naturally”, but thats not enough anymore. To be competitive, I must grind CP, my gear has minimal effect when facing a player in Cyrodiil with 300 champion points when I only have about 85. To me, that is not okay, and something must be done, so I wholeheartedly agree with the idea for seasons for CP.

    I cannot speak to how various gear systems work from previous MMOs because this is my first, but I do feel like gear is getting a bit stagnant. Sure things will change when nirnhoned gets “nerfed” but thats not a drastic change in comparison to a tenth trait or completely unique sets, or sets with say 7 pc bonuses. My hope is that ZOS feels as strongly about this game as its players do and that more importantly they listen AND respond with actions.

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    Darkius

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    Very good insights!

    I think you’ve nailed the problem; I condensed some solutions here, and added some credible suggestions:

    – Accelerated XP gain just as described in your post seems better than the current “Enlightenment”. They are increasing vet content XP in next update, it will interesting to see if that works.

    – The seasonal cap works in other games, it’s a good system imo. Only up to a certain amount of CP every 2 months (40 for example), will both level the playing field AND still give room for a feeling of long-term progression. However, I think the problem still resides in the huge gap in power between early and late vets, or low and high CP numbers, which is then aggravated by the impossible catch-up chase it promotes.
    Which brings me to the long-term solution, something to introduce when they take out VR or revamp it, or work on CPs.  This was a suggestion that appeared on the official forums, all credits go to him (can’t find the post anymore):

    – limit the number of CP passives you get to a number that you could slot (say 12 CP passives), like abilities in your bar. This allows for horizontal AND vertical progression, because you could use your newly earned CPs to increase the magnitude of the passive (vertical), or get new ones to be more flexible or try different play styles (horizontal). But you still have only 12 slots at a time, you’re not some guy who is resistant to everything and hurts with everything, etc….

    – I would add another feature, and minimise wasted programming resources by using the current bonus passives, such as “Mighty”, available with a minimum of passives slotted. Just like armour passives that work with 5 pieces or skills, thus continuing the philosophy of an “ESO build”. For example, you would gain “Mighty” with a minimum of say, 8 slots in “The Ritual”. Did you say lore-friendly? :o

    The bottom line:
    The game could greatly improve by sorting XP gain, introducing a CP cap and/or limit the number of CP passives you can slot at a given time. In conjunction with the announced changes, these suggestions could remedy multiple problems at once:
    – The difference between a v5 character with low CP and a V14 with 360 CPs doesn’t look like an infinite brick wall anymore. Hell, maybe it will be fun to level an alt to max level. Your CPs will still matter, but not make you some sort of god that just massively increases in power if he grinds more.
    – You balance skill/vs time, while retaining very long-term progression (horizontal,vertical), even if you eliminate VR levels.
    – Content starvation: (that people complain so often about). Again, especially if you take out VR or replace it, you will have a whole lot of content to do, and it will be actually fun to do it! (feeling forced to do Cadwell’s? Gnnn…)

    I really hope you read these posts, ZOS! And good luck for the future updates.

     

     

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    Lord-Xanhorn

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    Sorry but I disagree. The fact that you say the Champion system is far above and beyond the alternative gear grind treadmill is a bit myopic. Limiting the amount of champion points you can get in a ‘season’ as you put it is really no different that a tier gear system where as your power is artificially limited by the acquisition of best in slot gear. So the most dedicated players can only progress so far and there is always a catch up mechanic involved.

     

    The champion system is just an alternative to a gear grind that simply removes the skill that it takes to achieve the highest level. So The CS sets off to reward a simple time sink rather than actually playing the game and being good at conquering challenges it gives you. And somehow this is a better system? Removing challenge in favor of a simple time sink strips out all the fun and the only people left at the top are simply the people with the most time not the most skill.

     

    I just don’t get why this is hailed as the future of MMOs and the revolution of MMO endgame. Why? Just cause its different than WoW? That’s a pretty bad excuse in my opinion cause even as bad as WoW is, I think its end game is way better than ESO and not even close. The problem is ESO combat and mechanics are the best I’ve ever played and tab targeting is just boring in comparison.

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    Latin

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    Imperial

    This article by @Isarii is about the future of ESO’s endgame, much of the points addressed put together a valid argument. But I think the problem confronting many players right now stems from flaws in ESO’s early and middle game. I shall briefly highlight some of my views below.

    For a start, the champion system is a flawed implement to extend the life of the game. This becomes necessary when the levelling process is a combination of being too fast and lacklustre. The warning sign should be lit up when seeing many new players actively seeking to fast-track levelling on forums and media sites. When players are not feeling powerful enough to stay focused on the game, they will either seek to bypass and reach the powerful late game, or to leave. The underlying problem here isn’t about the story writing, but is the way these stories are presented to the players and how they are progressed via the players’ actions. It is rather dull and repetitive. If ZOS is serious about improving the perception of its endgame, making changes from the opening and middle game would be a good start. This encourages players to spend more time ‘playing’ early on, and hopefully appreciate the significance of the stories and characters involved. This is an Elder Scrolls themed MMORPG, Elder Scrolls stories should be one of the higher regarded things in-game.

    I should move on to directly addressing the champion system. Some of the keystone passives are immensely powerful. While they do further incentivise players to play more and acquire them, they increase the already alarmingly wide disparity between high champion levelled players (say 300 or 360+) and the rest. There is nothing wrong with the premise that you get what you put in, time in this case, and for any MMO, that is a given. But for the nature of the system, which is supposedly endless, it presents a different case also addressed by the OP. Players who start off behind, will forever stay behind those who persisted from the start. The bar for the endgame scores and ‘achievements’ will continue to rise, and so too will the power disparity. Given the current predicament, I think the removal of these keystone passives, but retaining the rest of the champion system will sufficiently address the disparity while not completely wiping the efforts put in by the dedicated players thus far.

    One point raised by the OP is on the diminished value of lower levelled gear every time the level cap is raised; by extension, this also goes for the tiers of ‘supposedly endgame gear’ rendered obsolete by newer ‘endgame gear’ coming with new updates. These processes are not bad per se, they incentivise players to keep playing, try out new updates and be satisfied(!). But as mentioned, it reduces the interest of newer players in the earlier games because they cannot acquire these (presumably) awesome and powerful gears that virtually every streamer is using. For players genuinely interested in the game, the addition of new and better gear shouldn’t be a reason for whether they should continue playing or not. While this may lead to player loss, it is just a natural cycle of modern games; there will always be a newer and (possibly) better game coming along and snare some players away. The dedicated players will stay regardless.

    Contrary to what the OP implicitly suggested about the need to keep gears interesting should the VR system be removed, I personally think the allure of endgame content is sufficient for players. If there are actually interesting contents (read: DLCs) that players really want to try, they will play, simple as that. The removal of the mandatory subscription is actually better utilised in this manner. This negates the need to artificially extend the shelf life of the game, and risk actually losing (current and potential) players due to credibility loss because of poor updates that highlight the inadequacy in various aspects of the game.

    ESO is being placed on a delicate situation here. ZOS must decide on whether to appeal more towards the hardcore players and risk scaring away much of the rest, and focus on improving the game for them; or appeal more towards the non-hardcore players by reeling back its endless endgame system, the power creep and all that, and start making changes to improve its appeal to potential players, at the cost of the hardcore MMORPG player base. Some other hardcore/non-hardcore games (with some generalisation about its players and game mechanics from my experience with all 4 examples) we can look at and think about are the difference between Path of Exile and Diablo 3 in ARPG, and that between Dota 2 and the Heroes of the Storm in MOBA. For ZOS, I do not think a hybrid will work in the long run, because of the divisive player base which kind of stems from the years-old conundrum of combining TES and MMO.

    The Elder Scrolls series is something that will be continued under the same parent media company, hopefully for years to come; there will also be many more MMORPG coming in the future, with bigger promises, more glittering attractions, improved graphics and mechanics and et cetera, adding to ZOS’ dilemma. As such, it makes more sense for ZOS to steer ESO towards the non-hardcore player base and capitalise on interested, conventional TES players trying to play out their fantasies in a MMO environment, which is ESO.

    e pluribus unum

  19. Member Avatar
    DecimusNB

    Journeyman

    Total Posts: 58

    Imperial Nightblade

    I will have to disagree with your post.

     

    Personally, I find gear grind the most important part of any MMO’s end game.

    Proper itemization is what provides you reasons to tackle those challenging objectives and is one of the reasons why ESO’s end game PvE is in abysmal state.

     

     

    Vicious Ophidian? Why wear it when Hunding’s & Ravager are simply better.

    Infallible Aether? Outperformed by most crafted gear.

    Eternal Yokeda? A joke.

     

    This leaves people little reason to run end game.

    In 1.5 when soft caps were still there, Vicious Ophidian actually used to be the best set for stamina builds (as it should be given the challenge associated), and what do you know… people lined up to do that trial and were happy (how many complaint posts did you see about OP trials/PvP top 2% gear?).

     

    Gear progression works, because people like gear progression. What people don’t like is having to do something they don’t enjoy in order to get powerful gear.

    This is why games like WoW have gated gear behind PvP Arena leaderboards etc as well, so both PvPers & PvErs have access to strong gear, and I see no reason why it couldn’t work for ESO as well.

     

    You mention power creep as a reason why this would be a bad thing, especially in association with Champion System.

    But keep in mind that every hour spent doing Trials & every minute spent doing PvP is time not spent grinding goblins and gaining 4CP/hour, meaning you actually gain less CP in order to have a chance at gaining better gear, so it does kind of balance itself out.

     

    Also, my Guild Wars 2 thoughts…

    That system works for a game that is designed not to have any high end PvE end game, or anything remotely challenging. A system for a game, which’s end game is doing a fancy new quest every few weeks & PvP, not something the developers of this game have had in mind for ESO (as proven by Trials & talk of incoming seasonal gear).

    Also worth noting is that GW2 is one of the worst games when it comes to player retention, and WoW has unarguably the best player retention in the whole industry.

     

    The reason I stopped playing Guild Wars 2 long ago was lack of gear progression, and the main reason I’m still playing ESO is the seasonal gear they promised almost a year ago.

     

    Here’s hoping we’ll get to see some of that gear in Imperial City, or atleast in Wrothgar/Murkmire (along with new Trials).

  20. Profile Photo
    Demonhunter

    Expert

    Total Posts: 312

    Redguard Templar

    For me it’s not the VR16, why does it matter how you gain XP and get more powerfull as long as there is a cap (in this case vr16). It’s how the champion points lets you get stronger without limits (no cap). I mean if I stop playing for 3 months and log in and play PVP again, I’m going to get wiped. I’m a casual player and there are lots of casual players like me that will never be competitive because there’s always that sense of falling behind, now I’m not saying to remove the CP system completely, leave it there but have a way to level the playing field. And this is more true for PVP’ers since I believe it’s a very competitive and popular way to play ESO.

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