Elder Scrolls Online Getting NPC Theft, Dark Brotherhood

By Nathan Grayson on May 5th, 2014 at 8:00 am.

Hello yes I was just wondering if you had a few moments to discuss our kind and benevolent dark lord Xarlanthrulax

So, how about that Elder Scrolls Online? It sure is… um. It sure has… er. What I mean to say is, well… at least it looks nice. I really, honestly think it could’ve been great too, and maybe it still can be with time and work. Lots of time and work. Is Zenimax Online on the right track? It looks like we’ll find out sooner rather than later, as the the developer has laid out its immediate plans for TESO’s future. Highlights include Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild quests, a Justice System that lets you steal the pants off NPCs, better guild functionality, and horse racing (!!!).

Zenimax began its “Road Ahead” post by apologizing for gold farmer bots, spam, and launch bugs. Those things are all apparently in various phases of getting beaten up and dumped into a river. The developer then rolled right into a list of new features planned for “2014 and beyond.” Here’s what’s in the pipeline:

  • A system that allows grouped players to see each other even when they’re in different phases
  • A justice system—steal from and kill NPCs and deal with the consequences if you are caught
  • Migration of European Megaserver to our European datacenter.
  • Field of View (FOV) adjustment
  • Armor dyeing and tinting
  • Two new Veteran Dungeons: Crypt of Hearts and City of Ash
  • New region of Craglorn with a new Trial (the Serpent)
  • Increased ability to pick up items in the world
  • Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood storyline and quests.
  • Spellcrafting
  • Horse Racing
  • Dragonstar Arena—similar  to Trials, but built for a group of four
  • Improvements to fishing
  • Crafting system improvements
  • Improved Looking for Group system
  • Better NPC facial animations
  • Guild functionality updates: guild store interface updates, customizable guild insignias, tabards, and guild ranks, and Guild Kiosks—guild stores open to everyone that are available to the highest-bidding guild.
  • Auto-leveling dungeons that level to your group leader
  • Awards when you repeat dungeons
  • Imperial City PvP dungeon

That’s a lot of stuff, though none of it strikes me as immediately game-changing. But really, you don’t change an MMO overnight. Or well, sometimes you do, but we call that Star Wars Galaxies’ New Game Experience, aka “NGE” or “Don’t.” Also, it seems like Zenimax is bound and determined to stay its current course for now, and why not? It made the game it wanted to make, and it seems to be doing well-ish. For now. Rarely does one realize it was a bad idea to bring the elephant that subsists exclusively on bowling balls aboard until the ship starts sinking. So the old saying goes.

TESO players, what do you think of these changes and additions? See anything you particularly like? What do you think Elder Scrolls Online needs most right now?

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74 Comments »

  1. rustybroomhandle says:

    it has fishing? I take back every mean thing I ever said about it – best Elder Scrolls game ever!

  2. herschel says:

    What do you think Elder Scrolls Online needs most right now?

    Well… what does an open world RPG need to be a good MMORPG?

    An open world sandbox? maybe?

    Ah no… that would require some actual brains to think about it.

    Just sayin`.

    • witzkawumme (wkw) says:

      basically, ZeniMax is trying to milk IPs, why else they would have gotten id?

      well, I guess that wasn’t so easy as someone had thought. Although I don’t know how eso is doing, some people said it is great, if this the majority, well, they will make a buck.

  3. Derpa says:

    They killed the one good thing about the game…..which was the PvP. Not addressing what it needs and instead nerfing AoE to promote zerg balls is just terrible design (more so with the poll on the forum)

  4. tmargul says:

    I haven’t really paid much attention to ESO, but how did it not already have Thieves’ Guild and Dark Brotherhood content? Aren’t those some of the most popular content from past games?

    • Convolvulus says:

      I don’t think the game currently has a mechanism for theft, and you can’t have a society of thieves in a world where no one can steal anything.

      • sinister agent says:

        I dunno, I mean Morrowind had about 30 societies in a world where nobody did anything ever.

        • Stellar Duck says:

          Yea.

          This isn’t EVE though. I reckon the average Joe MMOPlayer would be rather dismayed if he logged in to find all his raid gear missing.

          A thieves guild in a theme park MMO is hard to pull off. And if you do, you still can’t allow the players to steal from anyone but NPCs.

  5. nrvsNRG says:

    I lasted a week after release before I gave in to my initial decision not to buy, and I actually had some enjoyment somewhere along the way, but after a week of playing and getting to Vet 3, I just started hating it big time. After 50 you just end up doing another factions quests but twice as hard with a teeny tiny miniscule amount of XP so it takes forever to level. That, along with the INSANE amount of bugs, broken features and lag, it took its toll and i un-subbed yesterday. I’m telling myself I wont pre-order Wildstar, but who am I kidding.
    edit: If your asking what does it need? Then I would say to go back to the drawing board like FF ARR did.

    • Serious8 says:

      People rush through the game only to complain about how “little content there is”.

      The Elder Scrolls Series has alwasys been about story. If people bought the game without any interest in the story, then they simply bought the wrong kind of game. The story is super complex and immersive. You can get to know so many places that you never got to see in any game before.

      Buy the game – hate them game, but for god’s sakes, before you go online and complain, reflect for just one second!

      • Great Cthulhu says:

        Nah. Elder Scrolls have always been about having a huge sandbox. Story has always been present, but never the main draw or focus.

        Originally they were also about pushing the envelope of what was possible to do in a computer RPG, but that hasn’t been true since they cut Radiant AI (as envisioned, not the severely toned down version that eventually shipped) from Oblivion.

        • JamesTheNumberless says:

          There are interesting backstory elements in TES that make you want to go and explore, and of course each new game (thus far) has had a new part of the world to explore for the first time. There’s just enough detail, and just enough mystery, to fuel the imagination and several of the quest arcs really pay off in terms of the places you visit, the creatures you meet and the rewards you get. However, actual plot and quality of writing have never been the series’ strongest points.

          • dudleyisasillyname says:

            I have always found the writing in the Elder Scrolls series to be really weird, in that a lot of the side quests and guild quest lines are written a lot better then the main storyline. It almost seems like they write the main story line with the expectation that the player will go out and explore the world a ton between each quest of the main story, but they don’t exactly tell you all the time when to go out and explore. Skyrim begins with you running away from a dragon when it attacks a village, you then go to a small village, clean out a nearby dungeon, and then travel to the nearest big city. Once you reach the city one of the first main story quests you get is to go out and kill a dragon. So after one dungeon and some quick fetch/travel quests you are now ready to kill dragons. It doesn’t really make much sense if you just do the main story, I mean if reaching level 10 makes me ready to kill dragons, how powerful will I be at level 50? I think the key to getting the most out of the writing in the Elder Scrolls games is knowing when to leave the main story line and when to hop back in.

          • Reapy says:

            I wonder if that is due to probably having more ‘higher up’ attention than other quests. It might be that a designer can kind of go nuts and try some ‘risky’ elements making side stories, while the main story is probably refined and combed over by many people, essentially stealing the ‘soul’ of it… perhaps.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            Dudley, I agree, I’ve often wondered how deliberate this is. Perhaps they know that the best bits of the game are in the side quests, faction quests, etc and want to push players towards it. The main quest line is always there like a chore that, sooner or later, needs to be got out of the way.

      • derbefrier says:

        there does seem to be a subset of MMO players who rush through all the content in a week or two then complain there is nothing to do. Like this guy they move from MMO to MMO never stopping to smell the roses(sounds like wildstar is his next target). They rush through to get to end game then realize, hey this game just launched its not gonna have a thousand hours worth of stuff to do at end game. lets go on the internet and complain how developers cant make content fast enough for us no lifers!

        • nrvsNRG says:

          Excuse me, but you are making a hell of a lot of false assumptions here. I never said I had ran out of content. There is plenty of content left for me to do, that was never the problem. Like I said –
          “That, along with the INSANE amount of bugs, broken features and lag, it took its toll and i un-subbed yesterday”
          Thats why I quit, is that a good enough reason for you? (read the forums if you want to see how bad things are). I play a lot of MMO’s, yes, but Ive never been the type of person who complained about lack of content.

          edit: if these issues are fixed in a few months, I fully intend on returning.

        • Distec says:

          Or… OR…

          Maybe MMOs should stop relying relying on a business model that requires a constant feed of developer-made content in order to remain viable.

          But I guess it’s easier to rag on another player than admit you have a crush on an underwhelming game.

      • Deadly Sinner says:

        If it’s all about the story, why did they make it an MMO? Why did they make the game in one of the least conducive genres to tell a good story?

        Sorry, no one is buying Elder Scrolls games for the super generic fantasy stories.

        • Grygus says:

          I am! There are plenty of things in Oblivion (which I didn’t much like) and Skyrim (which I love) that I’ve never done or seen in any other series. That includes some story elements. I also generally like the parts which are explicitly literature, the in-game books. They’re not Gemmell, but they’re not trying to be. Generally speaking, originality is a pretty lie; I think that calling something “generic” is the most impotent criticism imaginable.

          • toxic avenger says:

            And then others will say settling for the mundane is a waste of a brain.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        The story is super complex?

        Are we playing the same games?

        I don’t know anyone who bought Skyrim for the story. Several have 50+ hours in the game and not touched the main story.

        I’ve played 140 hours and done about a third of the main story before I stopped caring to go back to it once in a while. It was dross.

        • welverin says:

          Yeah, I think I may have been around one hundred ones in before I killed my first dragon, though it may have been more than that…

      • Keyrock says:

        The Elder Scrolls Series has alwasys been about story

        The ****? The Elder Scrolls series is widely recognized for some of the most shallow and bland storytelling in all of RPGland. It’s Bethesda’s world building that has made them popular, their narrative and character development skills are abysmal.

      • Shodex says:

        “The story is super complex and immersive.”
        Putting aside the blatant misuse of the word immersive (since the Elder Scrolls community forgot what that means, judging by mod titles) I fail to see how ESO’s story can be considered ‘complex.’

      • lautalocos says:

        are you…are you serious? really? are we speaking of the same game? the plot of skyrim could have actually been improved with “no, dovakhin, YOU are the dragons!”

  6. Text_Fish says:

    Wait … it’s out?

    Or is this one of those protracted betas that limps along shedding bored testers and then the dev’s decide it’s not even worth making a song and dance about the actual release?

    • Namey says:

      I think someone in marketing realized that the beta feedback was largely negative, and that they had a stinker on their hands. Probably smart to downsize the press at that stage, to avoid having a launch that is considered catastrophic by consumers at large (Stuff like D3, FF14 pre-Real Reborn, etc) . This way they might have a chance to salvage the thing with patches, and -then- get loud and visible.

  7. bills6693 says:

    Not played it myself, but from what I have heard, one of the biggest issues is only partially solved by this release.

    Whats the point in an elder scrolls MMO if its not a social experience? They fixed being in a group with someone but not being able to see them, but apparently every quest, puzzle etc needs to be done individually be EVERY group member – e.g. everyone each needs to kill the boss, each needs to press the buttons for a puzzle, each member needs to collect 30 pig hides (for tamriel!)

    That just seems absurd to me, and is one of the reasons this seems like an ‘avoid’ game to me.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      I’ve played a few weeks and am done. It’s a bad Elder Scrolls title and a bad MMO, it’s single-player and massively multiplayer aspects often contradict each other while the game fails to provide the necessary tools to support either.

    • Lakshmi says:

      Not sure what game your friends are playing, but I’ve leveled from 1 to V5 with a friend and only had one quest where we bug reported it as not working properly in a team.

      • Drake Sigar says:

        He’s talking about the fact that there was virtually no difference between fighting an opponent as a group or a collection of individuals. If you don’t hit the boss at least once no matter your role, the quest to defeat that boss remains. Same for pulling levers, solving puzzles, just about any mild interaction.

        • Lakshmi says:

          Well I don’t hit the boss, I heal the people hitting the boss and that works. There is no /follow afk XPing, no, which is a good thing.

  8. drinniol says:

    So… It’s on the same trajectory as every post-WOW MMO that’s not EVE, then?

    • AngoraFish says:

      Well, to be fair, it’s on the same trajectory as every post-EVE Online (2003) MMO that’s not World of Warcraft (2004).

    • Shodex says:

      I prefer to think that it’s on the same trajectory as every post-Ultima Online MMO that’s not Ultima Online.
      Which is to say it’s not nearly as good as Ultima Online was.

  9. Danny says:

    Still enjoying myself tremendously. Started out with the Ebonheart Pact and I’m now busy with the Daggerfall quests, which are still enjoyable because of the fully voice acted content and lack of collect x bear asses non-sense.

    The skill system is one of the big reasons I’m enjoying myself, because it allows you to mix it up constantly, depending on the situation. Also, because of the many skyshards throughout the world, it should be doable to max most of my combat skills, which allows me to be even more versatile. It also ensures that the combat still feels fresh to me, even after 120 hours played. It probably helps that I’m playing the most challenging class – Nightblade- so I really do need to change my skills in order to survive ;)

    I’m not going to defend the game by saying that it’s a great MMO for everyone out here, but I personally enjoy it way more than recent MMO’s like GW2, ToR and Rift. It probably helps that I enjoy the PvP and that ZOS is being runned by the old DaoC lead developer. If you’re not looking for end-game raiding (wait for Wildstar) and you enjoy a setting that’s a bit more mature than WoW I’d say: give it a go. The amount of content is enormous, the quests are decent enough (especially for MMO standards) and the PvP has the potential to become the next best thing since DaoC’s RvR implementation.

    • Lakshmi says:

      Pretty much this. Started in the Dominion and currently doing Ebonheart. I love the depth of the story, all the notes and lorebooks, and how they all tie in together, from zone to zone. I love the veteran idea because I always level alts I never play, just to see other class/zone/faction stories. I also like that veteran dungeons are new stories with new bosses/mechanics – not just the old ones made harder.

      I’m a healer – mostly – with a DPS bar and it’s so nice to switch roles with one keypress. I’m looking forward to the justice system and hope it ties in with Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild stories. I see the exclamation mark spam over horse racing, but after plenty of other MMOs lacking anything to do outside of PvP or endgame raids, I’m glad that they are looking at options and minigames.

    • Biaxident says:

      “…and the PvP has the potential to become the next best thing since DaoC’s RvR implementation.”

      PvP was the only reason I bought this game but I really couldn’t get into it. Maybe it needs an organised guild but from what I saw it was just a bunch of people running around firing bows at each other.

    • smokiespliff says:

      I also agree, as do most of our guild. The game does seem to polarise people with some not liking it at all and others being super-enthused. It’s just a shame that the people who are content and like the game tend to remain relatively quiet while people who dislike the game take great relish in making sure everyone knows that.

      • Danny says:

        There are two things that ESO does with it’s PvP that makes it way more enjoyable than GW2 imo:

        - Make stealth available to everyone. Sounds trivial, but this completely changes the dynamic of PvP as it enables small gank groups to disrupt bigger zergs with hit and run attacks. But more importantly, it brings back DaoC’s small group PvP, instead of forcing everyone to roll with the zerg.

        - Dying actually means something because of the time it takes to travel back. This is caused by the fact that the map is way bigger than GW2′s WvWvW campaign.

        Zenimax also wants to have a Darkness Falls-esque dungeon in the end, where the 3 factions have to battle each other in a large PvE centric area. This was one of my favorite activities in DaoC, so it would be great to have something similar in ESO.

        • toxic avenger says:

          Well, you sold me on it. I don’t play these games for the stories, nor for the quests. There are far too many great stories I have yet to read that have been written down in books, which do a much better job at telling a story. Meaningful PVP is what does it for me, and having time in between spawns is the best thing they could have done. That’s what made RvR in DAoC awesome.

  10. Darth Gangrel says:

    What’s the deal with this Xarlanthrulax? Googling it leads me to believe that it’s just something that Nathan has invented, because it only leads me to this article: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/03/11/costume-quest-2-costume-quest-2-costume-que/ where it says at the bottom “attempt a blood sacrifice to resurrect Xarlanthrulax, my One True Lord”.

  11. Shadowcat says:

    Anyone else keep reading TESCO ?

  12. DThor says:

    In my weekly stupor to shift from weekend to I Don’t Like Mondays it occurred to the bleeding obvious part of my brain stem that it must be incredibly hard to come up with an MMO in today’s market. I mean, these monsters are required to be epic in size right out of the gate, with complicated interweaving threads of simulation tech, fleshed out storylines, a deep and rich combat system, elaborate social networking frameworks, and fishing. What’s worse, it has to be “fresh”, since there’s already plenty of competition out there that by definition is constantly releasing new content. It’s like asking someone to build a “different cruise ship” with early access testers bitching about the beef stroganoff and the sound system in the karaoke bar while trying not to run aground. It’s no wonder indie games are taking off. Gods, what a monster! Heeey, Dune MMO, anyone?

  13. bleeters says:

    “A system that allows grouped players to see each other even when they’re in different phases”

    Why the game went live without this, I have no idea.

    • Danny says:

      You can see the marker of a player when you’re in the same group but a different phase. So you actually do know where the other player is, but you have to relog until you’re in the same instance. Annoying, but most of the times it took me 5 minutes to solve.

  14. Lagwolf says:

    I have a hard time getting myself to play this game because it is so dull… Why weren’t these things included first time round?

  15. CookPassBabtridge says:

    I thought you meant that the NPC’s could steal from YOU. That would be interesting. Annoying, but interesting, especially if you could have them caught and then have to choose a punishment. Hmm. Elder Scrolls courthouse drama anyone?

  16. Shodex says:

    “What do you think Elder Scrolls Online needs most right now?”

    The development team needs to build a time machine, go back in time, and stop themselves from making it. Honestly there isn’t much that can be done to make it a good game, all it can do is patch itself slowly and maybe become a decent MMO before going free2play.

    They had their hands on some real gold, but they ruined it. ESO is rotten to the core and no amount of patches will make me want to buy it. That said, an Elder Scrolls MMO had real potential. If it was a fully open world (not restricted by factions), and allowed for all sorts of Elder Scrolls-y stuff like stealing and killing a la Ultima Online. As well as had a story fit for an Elder Scrolls game with side quests and shit. Then yeah, maybe it would be pretty good.

  17. Joe says:

    Great MMO, seems to be built for me, sorry for the rest of the you, but in the end it is all about me.

  18. natedynamic says:

    It’s a deservedly panned title. I am sorry to have wasted my money on the purchase. The only thing even vaguely reminiscent of any other TES game is the terminology. The rest is so cut-and-paste theme park mmo blandness that it’s hard to must any excitement for even the most ‘epic’ points of the game. Large scale PVP is a chaotic disaster, the storyline is stomach-turningly bad, and for all the graphical flourishes on display, the game is about as ugly as I’ve ever seen.
    I guess it’s back to Skyrim until they decide to make something that isn’t a terribly obvious cash-grab on a franchise.

  19. geldonyetich says:

    It’s tough to be excited about an Elder Scrolls Online patch message when there’s patch messages for far-more-deserving MMORPGs out there to read.

    I might give this game a spin when they go F2P. In the meanwhile, it feels like they’ve been taxing the naive by charging a box price plus subscription.

  20. racccoon says:

    Hello!! why wasn’t it in there in the first place?

  21. racccoon says:

    “Hello!! why wasn’t it in there in the first place?”
    Oh I know, they didn’t want this to be like Skyrim = Bullshit they didn’t!

  22. Dux Ducis Hodiernus says:

    This game should never have been online to begin with. Stupid idea, and poor execution.

  23. litlfrog says:

    I’ve been playing Elder Scrolls games since Daggerfall. I’ve one of the suckers who bought because I genuinely enjoyed myself in beta, but the longer I was into the game the less fun I was having. The climactic fights in quest chains all have to be done solo–no grouping allowed–and I just don’t have the reflexes and speed for it. (In the forums these opinions are universally greeted with “learn2play n00b”.) The crafting is a good idea in theory but it’s really poorly balanced; all it takes is a critical shortage of one ingredient to make creating good gear or improving existing stuff impossible. And the buying system is a joke. Zenimax didn’t want an auction house so they expect players to join trading guilds with a kind of built-in guild store. In practice this just means that you’ve got to spend time reading WTB and WTS trade chat messages. I unsubscribed last night.

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