Playing some Elder Scrolls Online I was pondering where skills or abilities that in some games are specific class abilities are made gameplay features across all characters. Specifically in ESO all characters can sneak around even if the Rogue-like Nightblade do it best.
I’ve never been that huge a fan of Rogue characters in MMORPGs, so stealth gameplay isn’t something I’m that used to (although I have dabbled in it more recently). In ESO any character can do this so it’d be kind of silly not to at least be aware that I can sneak around the odd group of creatures to speed up a quest. Other standard Rogue actions like picking the lock on a locked chest are also standard gameplay features in ESO.
Another example I could think of is the tendency in action MMORPGs to have an in-built dodge mechanic – movement abilities like this are normal gameplay in games like ESO, Wildstar or Neverwinter. In older MMORPGs though, movement abilities tend to be specialised to certain classes – the Mage’s blink or Hunter’s disengage in World of Warcraft comes to mind.
Gathering abilities can be designed as chosen abilities versus a standard gameplay feature as well. In Guild Wars 2 any character can gather any node so long as you have the right tool equipped. In World of Warcraft you have to choose which gathering profession (if any) to progress and are limited in the total number of crafting and gathering professions a given character can develop.
I think it’s good that characters have to specialise to some extent. ESOs very open character customisation still imposes some restrictions as you can only develop so many skill lines at a given time. and the class choice also impacts a character’s choices to some extent. Having some features like stealth be open to all does give more gameplay variety for any character. I’m a big fan of having a dodge mechanic even if combat isn’t strictly of the action-MMORPG style – big boss fights in WoW are so avoidance focused these days I’d argue a dodge mechanic should be introduced for all classes. As for non-combat features like gathering I haven’t that strong an opinion; being able to gather all materials on any character can be nice – for example if you spot something rare that an alt could use there’s no need to quickly swap to that alt to grab it.