TESO Ditches Alliance Restrictions In One Tamriel

The Elder Scrolls Online [official site] has a “One Tamriel” update. I tried to make that fit into the song “One Love” by Blue but it really doesn’t scan. Anyway, their update sort of aims to remove or reduce a bunch of restrictions as you pootle round the MMO’s world.

“One Tamriel removes Alliance restrictions and will automatically level your characters to match the difficulty of the content wherever you are in the world. Travel where you like, whenever you like, with whomever you like regardless of their Alliance or level. Accept any quest, fight any monster, and experience a world of adventure without limits!”

I feel entirely unequipped to make any pronouncements on the current state of TESO given I wasn’t a fan super early on and stopped playing. There have been a number of changes since but nothing that has made me think, “Gosh, I really need to start playing that properly!”

From reading the update details it sounds like Alliance restrictions will still apply when in PvP but otherwise the emphasis is on being able to buddy up with anyone who takes your fancy and be able to explore anywhere in whatever order you want. Khajiit Sans Frontières.

Thinking about why this may be so, there are a few possibilities. One is that the MMO is at the point in its life where its developers want to encourage new blood into the game so they’re making it easy for an evangelical old guard to bring in some new friends. Another is that perhaps it will tempt back people who got frustrated at a certain point or felt that the effort required to play the bits they wanted was disproportionate. Another is that, if the player base is reducing over time, taking away some restrictions makes it easier for people to find groups to play with instead of running into a numbers problem within a specific Alliance or level requirement.

Additional info on what the update brings is as follows:

· Dueling: Players can now battle each other anywhere outside Cyrodiil to test their skills and builds and claim bragging rights as the toughest adventurer
· Zone Overhaul: All zones have been redesigned for a mix of solo and group play with improved bosses and standardized difficulty
· Dungeons: All dungeons can be played in normal and veteran mode, where story is separated from difficulty and players are battle-leveled to allow players of different levels to play together, and receive level-appropriate loot
· Craglorn: The massive Craglorn zone has been redesigned to make it solo-friendly but still the go-to location for group content
· Loot: Loot in zones has now been standardized like dungeon loot, making it possible to acquire specific sets in specific zones at whatever level you are when completing quests

If you’ve stuck with TESO or if this update has tempted you in/back I’d be interested to know why, so just drop a comment in the box with your thoughts.

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32 Comments

  1. Hunchback says:

    Haven’t play TESO, but judging by the general opinion i believe it’s not a big miss.

    However, i feel sad that so many great opportunities for a good MMO based on great worlds go so “generic” and end up just… meh.

    I mean, imagine a GOOD Elder Scrolls MMO!? Or Starwars… man, the possibilities… :/

    • Rizlar says:

      Absolutely.

      Occasionally been tempted to check out TESO since it went sub-free, but then I look at a screenshot or something and it just seems like adventures in generic land. :(

      Changes in the patch sound good though, separating the players never made that much sense in the Elder Scrolls universe and level scaling should be in every MMORPG post-GW2. Will probably play it some day and it will probably be ok.

    • napoleonic says:

      Why bother rushing to post criticism when you’ve never even played it? I do play it and it is great fun. Sign up, join an active guild, and you’ll have fun too.

      • Hunchback says:

        I didn’t say TESO was bad, i said i HEARD it was bad. Then again, i suppose that if it was good (enough) i would have heard it’s good.

        And because i’ve had my fill with generic mmos that everyone tried (still tries) to make. “Hey, let’s copy WoW but only change the setting and 1-2 mechanics, it will be GREAT!”… (I know WoW copied a ton from MUDs and older MMOs, that’s not the point) I’ve actually bought a few MMOs at full price only to be disappointed and see them discontinued by their studios.

        Here’s a list of shitty generic mmos, from the top of my mind:

        Age of Connan (bought)
        Vanguard (bought)
        SWOTOR (or whatever the SW mmo is called lol)
        Tabula Rasa
        Wildshard
        Every one of the over 9000 stuff that Trion worlds have released
        Warhammer Online (whyyyy oh why did this have to fail as well? :( )
        TESO ?

        As i said, there’s a lot of potential in these but people had to rush and hop the band-wagon, delivering unfinished, bland and generic games that go F2P a few months after release because no one cares. This IS sad, if only they’d have taken the time to actually work on things rather than copy/pasta and change the theme…

        • SaintAn says:

          ArcheAge which was published (and ruined) by Trion isn’t a generic MMO. It is very different from the norm.

        • Koozer says:

          Wildstar*

          The games you list have clear lineage from WoW, but most try their own thing and aren’t just generic clones. I notice you haven’t even played most of them. I think the real problem is not that these games are bad, it’s just that there isn’t enough of a playerbase to go around, and WoW got first dibs.

          Ps. I loved Tabula Rasa, despite the fact that if you couldn’t complete a mission it was safer to assume it had bugged out, rather than something you’d missed. It was nothing worse than in, say, STALKER though.

          • malkav11 says:

            In my experience, their big sin tends to be failing to copy the many design improvements WoW has made to itself over the years, particularly in the context of quest design. Sometimes this gets better after launch (SWTOR has made some meaningful changes to even the original 1-50 levelling experience, and from the sound of it the post-60 stuff is a whole new game), sometimes not.

            You can’t achieve WoW-level success…well, probably at all…but certainly not by building only part of the foundation it has.

        • napoleonic says:

          Well, now you’ve heard from someone that it is more than good enough. There are others down-thread saying the same thing.

    • SaintAn says:

      The original version of Darkfall is pretty much what a real Elder Scrolls MMO would be. A handful of indie developers in a basement with little funding managed to do what a big dev studio with the backing of a big corporation and a lot of experienced developers couldn’t do. Really shames Zeni.

    • vexis58 says:

      I first played in beta as a big fan of TES games, felt it was really unfinished and needed another year before it would be ready for release. That’s when they announced the release date a month later.

      I came back a year later, and it was indeed quite a bit better! Ended up not sticking with it since my gaming partner gets nauseous when he tries to play games that use the mouse for camera control (he’s used to more standard MMOs like WoW and FFXIV) and it just got boring to play by myself after 15 levels or so. But it’s not a terrible game. Removing restrictions can only be a good thing at this point.

  2. Jekhar says:

    One Love? And you went with something other than this? link to youtube.com

    For shame!

  3. Dinges says:

    Sounds more like a reaction to the dropping player numbers.

  4. heystreethawk says:

    I’ve been a subscriber since launch because of the PvP.

    That’s not to say the PvE stuff is bad; and even if I thought it was, I kind of have to do it anyway, because that is where the gear lives. Crawling through dungeons and slaying mild computer foes is fun, and it has been made significantly more fun with this patch, which added endgame gear and crafting materials to every single zone in the game. But I’ve never played an MMO that had a truly worthwhile PvE endgame, something that maintained a sense of progression past the ostensible level and ability cap, and ESO is no exception.

    What I think is interesting is that I’d never actually enjoyed PvP in an MMO either.

    Aside from the newly implemented dueling system, PvP in ESO is relegated to Cyrodiil (the area you explored in Oblivion), but it’s open-world PvP. Not battlegrounds, not instanced spaces. It’s a big old map with war happening on it 24/7, and that is half of what makes it so beautiful: it’s a dynamic, unpredictable space. Changes happen whether you are there or not; often, if you are there, change happens anyway. It feels like a world, rather than an area. People call out important fights in zone chat, and you band together the best that you can. For a lot of us, there’s a sense of duty involved.

    As you alluded to in the article, there are three alliances at war with one another. Each alliance has 5 castles (or forts, or keeps — the different alliances call them by different names), and each castle has 3 resources. These are the things that you battle over, basically, although there’s a ton of space in between that can make for some really interesting fights. You set up siege at a castle to take the walls down, and you get inside to flip the flags and take the thing in the name of the queen. Again, the wording distinctions: players in other factions would take it in the name of their king. But my guild, my people, we fight for Queen Ayrenn. We are loyal servants of the Aldmeri Dominion, blah blah blah, yarp yarp.

    These are just the logistics. I’m sparing you the nuances, because I don’t think they matter yet.

    The reason that I’ve played since day one, why I’ve stuck with the game despite its fair share of awe-inducing mismanagement and balancing blunders: the combat at the heart of the game is absolutely blissful. It is better than any RPG I’ve ever played, MMO or otherwise. I am not sure what else even comes close.

    I’ve been in four PvP guilds since launch, sequentially, moving to a new one when the prior dissolved. When the fourth called it quits, I started my own, which was grueling and thankless until it became joyful and effortless. In EverQuest and Asheron’s Call, in Star Wars Galaxies and Anarchy Online and whatever else I played which I can’t even remember playing, I just fucked around until I got bored. But I will play Elder Scrolls Online and lead groups of 12-24 people through a chaotic warzone therein until Zenimax renders it completely unplayable, because the act of fighting people in Elder Scrolls Online is magnificent in a way that nothing else has ever been.

    You feel like you’re on the ground, fighting. Other MMOs, and most RPGs, feel like you’re instructing your character to fight. Giving instructions, and waiting for the result. In ESO, you fight. There is no real cooldown between your last ability and the next one you can use — other than the length of the ability animation, it’s just your management of resources that determines what you can do. You are not watching timers on an endless sprawl of ability icons; you can put five abilities on your bar at a time, plus an ultimate. You are watching your enemy, and your resource pools, and your team.

    Terrain matters. You want to move to an advantageous position, while your enemy is trying to do the same. You are watching what they are doing, taking size of their strength, looking for weaknesses.

    You do not miss the micromanagement of WoW or whatever, because what you are doing is very fucking exciting.

    From time to time, you take down 30 enemy humans with only 10 of your own, although it is hairy, and it could have gone either way. This is not an easy win, it is not a win that you have earned by wearing certain equipment; it is a win that you earned because all of your people fought beautifully.

    That’s the thing that has kept me in ESO for two and a half years. The fights are thrilling, kinetic, and they come down to the wire. I wind up yelling a lot. I don’t believe that a YouTube video is exciting enough to sway doubts or intrigue someone who is otherwise unfamiliar with the game (and if that feat is possible, it’s certainly not my video that will do it), but here’s a compilation of some fights we’ve had in ESO, since I’ve spent so much time slightly describing them. The game is a weird sell and is often infuriating, but I love it in a way that I haven’t loved anything since Quake. I can’t be bothered to stay on top of my email, but I make sure I know what ultimates people in my guild are running before we get into a fight. I don’t know what that says about me, but I think it’s a point in favor of ESO.

    • napoleonic says:

      It’s telling that the negative comments are all from people who’ve never played or not played since immediately post-launch, while everyone who’s played recently is very positive. Personally I have had some great times in ESO and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys TES.

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      particlese says:

      I’m mostly in it for the single-player and coop pve, but I largely agree with you about the combat feeling really good. The only real exception is that I also really like and feel in direct control with good turn-based and semi-realtime (e.g. Mass Effect) combat and, so I can’t make a categorical statement.

      But ESO is a game where I’m doing decently well with my usual lazy approach to games, and which actually motivates me to become a bit better at it because the group pvp and other “group content” is so much fun with people who even somewhat know what they’re doing. One additional aspect of pvp which is technically and open-worldily part of Cyrodiil but also kinda of separate is the Imperial City stuff. I had an great time the other night reclaiming a district from a half dozen enemy players with a friend and a couple of randoms, and we were struggling until a couple of us started playing smarter. We got the upper hand and retook the district, and it was glorious! I had a similar experience that night stealing the arena boss fight from another group of players, and of course the shenanigans outside the City are really good fun when there are well-matched groups hitting heads, or when you’re part of a wave of destruction. Not everyone’s bag, I know, but I really like it.

      And the duels! I was really worried about these ruining the feel of Tamriel, but so far, they’ve only livened up towns and other places a bit (basically all wayshrines), and I’ve had a lot of fun with them despite myself. Even had a couple of half-naked fistfights just for chuckles. That of course makes me wish they had put some real effort into hand-to-hand/unarmed combat, but it was still amusing, at least.

      Overall, I’m still quite pleased with ESO after a year of mostly-lazy but several-times-a-week playing, and it’s a rare game — recently, along with Devil Daggers — which shows me the fun in being at least a little diligent at getting better at it.

      • heystreethawk says:

        That’s awesome to hear! I agree that another serious joy of ESO is the feeling of improvement, whether as a group or a solo player. There’s the… I suppose you could call it statistical improvement, the stuff that’s exterior to you as a person, gear and skill selection and such — but then there’s the gigantic endeavor of learning to fight better, which is entirely player-based and feels absolutely incredible. This isn’t Dark Souls or anything, but it is definitely a game that forces you to learn from your mistakes, and provides an intrinsic reward to figuring out what you can do better.

        Agreed about the duels, too :] they add a really nice flavor to the world, and they offer up a neat possibility of random and unexpected excitement to the most mundane little commutes back to town… whether you’re actually dueling, or you just notice some other people going at it and stop to play spectator.

        (For those unaware, you do have to hit the button that says you accept the duel, and there’s a setting you can trigger to automatically decline every duel if you don’t want to be bothered.)

        If you or anyone else are on the NA server (and I know a lot of UK people are), feel free to drop me a line in-game to chat about PvP, even if we’re pledged to warring fealties. Username is the same as on here.

        • Premium User Badge

          particlese says:

          Cool, thanks! I just might do that once I’m done vacationing. :) I go by my RPS handle on the NA server, too.

          And well put regarding non-“statistical” improvement. I would guess that Guild Wars (sticking to MMOs) also had some element of this, but I never noticed that game becoming more fun when I learned a good skill chain or whathaveyou. Maybe I just got too burnt out on GW to remember it unbiased, but yeah…ESO combat has felt considerably more engaging and rewarding to learn, up to and including my current level/styles of play.

          • malkav11 says:

            Not that it’s hard, but in my opinion ESO has better combat than the Elder Scrolls games proper. Better levelling/skill system, too.

  5. ButteringSundays says:

    Blue – how culturally relevant xD Next you’ll be making jokes about the telegram!

    I’m in my thirties too, I feel the pain of being out of touch

    (Editing because I can: Just so you guys at RPS know, the maths captcha on your login form still doesn’t actually do anything – I leave it blank and it doesn’t seem to care – I think it might look for a wrong answer, but not a null answer?)

  6. aircool says:

    Picked up the Gold version when it was released. It was an impulse buy, but I like it. The Thieves Guild (which comes free with the Gold Edition) is a lot of fun and different from the main part of the game. However, I wasn’t keen to get too far into the game because of the level disparity when it came to getting loot. With One Tamriel, it doesn’t really matter as such as I can go anywhere and do whatever I like, so pursuing the Thieves Guild and Brotherhood quest lines doesn’t feel as disconnected to the main game as it did.

    The whole game is more Elder Scrolls than generic MMO. It borrows the Guild Wars skill system where you gain more skills than you can use at any one time, but can swap them in and out for different builds. It’s something I’ve always liked about the original Guild Wars; the initial levelling was just an extended tutorial. Once you’d reached max level, it was all about synergy with the skills. I guess ESO is similar.

  7. Someoldguy says:

    I know it’ll irritate some fans but for me ESO is just an unforgivable dead weight lumbering about and delaying any serious effort in making a follow up to Skyrim. Just another game where arbitrary factions blundering about in an eternal, unwinnable game of capture the flag.

    • yoggesothothe says:

      This idea gets thrown around a lot for some reason. ESO is not developed by Bethesda Game Studios. It is developed by ZeniMax Online Studios. Different teams, different development schedules. The only game that can credibly be said to be holding up TES6 is FO4.

  8. yoggesothothe says:

    Yeah, these changes are actually in line with their overhaul / removal of veteran ranks, which used to be the end game leveling system after the player reached level 50 (think Paragon levels in Diablo 3). These have now been superseded by Champion Points, which are much more straight-forwardly like Paragon levels in D3.

    The point there was to keep the reward schedule interesting (that is, remain rewarding and progressive) over a far lengthier period of time, as well as to even out the process of increasing power levels, and that design philosophy informs the changes mentioned here.

    Essentially what this update does is make farming late game gear / crafting materials possible anywhere in the game, as opposed to being restricted to specific locations. They’ve also introduced a bunch of new powerful sets that can be solo farmed, which is always a plus. I suppose there’s some marketing value to the idea that TESO is more open world now, but that’s not really what the changes here are about. Its really more about gear accessibility.

    The removal of level and alliance restrictions also means that you no longer have to worry about earlier quest content becoming obsolete/out leveled. This was a genuine problem if you found you enjoyed the combat or dungeons too much and kept outpacing the quest content.

    They’re good changes, overall, making the experience much smoother. Keeps all content worthwhile at any stage in the player character’s progression.

    • yoggesothothe says:

      Err, to clarify, its actually apparent if you’re a long time player of ESO that these changes are mostly meant for the player base that already enjoys the game, as opposed to being some effort to bring in new players. The fact that the appeal of this patch to those that don’t play the game is unclear also indicates as much.

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      particlese says:

      The new loot distribution system seems quite reasonable, and I’m definitely liking the massively reduced farming barrier for crafting max level armor, once the time comes for me to make it. I can now collect the necessary mats as I work through the fun stuff, which is great.

      Now, as someone who doesn’t give a hoot about Endgame stuff (except for making my shiny new armor), I’m still unexpectedly pleased with the leveling changes. I had assumed they were going to make everything in the game a uniform slog, and while they’ve definitely made it difficult to run around gleefully instagibbing trash mobs, it’s not too bad, and the bosses and dark anchors (war tubas!!) are proper group-required fun again, which is awesome. It’s also been really nice getting back to playing some of my alts with my friend’s, whose levels have long since diverged from each others’. The alliance mixing helps there, too, in certain cases. (Depends how much you care about keeping a character alliance-loyal.)

  9. Doubler says:

    When I played it near release I thought this game looked and played like any generic MMO, just with an extraordinarily weak TES sauce over everything. Tried it again a couple of weeks ago and my opinion hasn’t changed.

  10. zerosociety says:

    PVP is a solid, the role-playing community is top notch, it’s super-solo friendly and the writing is actually entertaining at times. Also, there’s solid LGBT representation in plots and NPCs which is nice.

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