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Bouncing Off ESO's Awful RPG Mechanics

Argh, I am wasting my time!  I just finished trying to get into Elder Scrolls Online, primarily because I felt like playing an MMORPG for the same old reasons and my top choices were basically this:
  • World of Warcraft - The game you should all be bored of by now.  Sure, it's still #1 in the West, but all it ever did was turn the theme park approach of MMORPGs into a science, and the fact it's so popular is why online virtual worlds have done little better than that.
  • Final Fantasy XIV - A legitimate pretender to World of Warcraft's throne.  If you (somehow) still like theme park MMORPGs but you want a change, you might as well ditch your cowman and sign up for your chocobo license.
  • Guild Wars 2 - This game's unconventional methods make it a nice respite from the traditional theme park approach.  Unfortunately, it still fails to not be a theme park.  Oh well, if you can't change your routine, you can at least try to look at it in a new way.
Well, when I last bounced off Elder Scrolls Online, it was before the Tamriel Unlimited release did a serious overhaul to zone flow, reducing that theme park stank a bit by letting players go wherever they want: now the content scales to them.  Sounds great.  I'll just pretend I'm playing the game that comes after Skyrim.  What could possibly go wrong?

A corpse wagon in Elder Scrolls Online should make a classy thumbnail

What went wrong is that the RPG mechanic balance is dead unsatisfying.  I spent nearly an entire weekend experimenting with two existing characters, researching on the web, and asking active players for advice.  All I got out of it was a headache as big as Tamriel and a place on Sheogorath's cheese-themed rolodex!  I still have no idea how to make a character that's halfway interesting to play.

It's not like the character generation is too complicated.  No, if anything, my problem is that it's too simple.  It has to do with the way damage works in Elder Scrolls Online.  This means there are essentially only three characters:
  1. Cloth dude - Pumps the magicka cap to do maximum magical damage, wears light (cloth) armor.
  2. Leather dude - Pumps the stamina cap to do the best physical damage, needs medium (leather) armor.
  3. Metal dude - Since everybody else is a glass cannon, somebody has to tank.  Tanks are essentially specialized in neither magical or physical damage but, since they want to hit harder than a fly, they're going to dump all their points on magicka or stamina anyway.
So we are down to just three builds, with the magicka build also being the best for healing.   Elder Scrolls Online is an example of how not to design an open-ended nearly-classless system. 


My problem is that I don't want to play anything so boring as the three big choices Elder Scrolls Online gives me.  I want to play a sneaky Breton who attacks from the shadows using a bow but uses magic to improvise in situations where force of arm and guile won't do the trick.  He's as close as Tamriel gets to a James Bond, and the first character I want to play in every Elder Scrolls game.

Feeling both stirred and shaken.

How does trying to stick to my concept build go?
  • Race - Choosing Breton locks me into being magicka-focused.
  • Class - Nightblade makes the most sense for my theme.  I can be a magicka-focused Nightblade, no loss of potency there.
  • Armor - Sneaking only gets benefits with medium armor perks.  But being magicka-based means I'm primarily leaning cloth.  Unsolvable build conflict #1, I can't be extra good at sneak when magicka focused.
  • Weapon - Bow skills need stamina, but my choice of race locked me into magicka-focus form the start.  Unsolvable build conflict #2, no bows allowed for Bretons, my Bond apparently is half-Gandalf, running around with a staff.
At this point, I can either ditch my race choice, give up on my build idea entirely, or go hybrid.  The stamina-focused choices for race are Khajiit, Redguard, or Wolf Elf and none of them are my casting choice for Tamriel's Bond, I would say either Breton or Imperial.  Going hybrid means accepting the game will not allow my character to operate at their full potential.   Given that the remaining choice is to ditch my build entirely, I should first ask myself, "Is a viable but not-particularly-competitive character really so bad?"

Forever LFG: The ESO Hybrid's most likely state in endgame.Somewhat, yes.  It means I might get snubbed later on, as when a raid fails players tend to look for fault in the people with sub-optimal builds.  It is garbage-tier logic, numbers alone won't tell you what's going on, but that's all the evidence they need to throw you under the bus.  Besides, this an MMORPG, an online power fantasy simulator, so what is the point of playing a persona I know is sub-standard?

There is no satisfactory solution, and it breaks my heart.  The content and lore in The Elder Scrolls Online is great, I would love to just to see what there is to see, but it seems I am not allowed to do it on my own terms.

I have played all the other big MMORPGs out there, but there is one other alternative I had not tried yet, and that was Black Desert Online.  About 3 hours in, I am not certain that's any better.  Either game is pretty much my last chance at playing MMORPGs, at least with the current batch of games out there.


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