Class abilities as gameplay

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.

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2 Responses to Class abilities as gameplay

  1. Sylow says:

    Yea. I also appreciate the “everybody can do anything” of ESO. So at least in theory i can also convert my Nightblade Tank to a Nightblade Healer, if i’d ever see a need for it. Not everything might be optimal, but it can be done, Just like any race can do anything. While the preachers of the meta will tell you that you have to use certain combinations of class, race and setup, else you’llburn in hell for heresy, most people found out that the difference is minimal, player skill matters more and people generally perform better when they feel well with their character, even if the race is not the “optimal” choice.

    I mean, i even more enjoyed old TSWs “one character can do everything”. While getting all skills and gear in TSW took a long time, it was always one character, which just felt so much better. It especially helped the social side, but alas… it seems like people love classes, and the Elder Scrolls series always had classes, so dropping them would probably not have ended well.

    On gathering, i also appreciate most of how ESO did it. It’s nice that you always get “appropriate” materials. About half the nodes show and give materials based on your character level, the others give materials based on your crafting skill for this kind of material. So my crafter gets rubedite ore from any metal node while my max-level non-cracters about half of the time get rubedite ore while the rest is iron. It makes sure that no matter what crazy things you do, you’ll always get materials suitable for your current crafting skills.

    There’s only one small detail ESO could pick up from GW2: individual nodes.

    In a way we already have them. Heavy sacks and chests in dungeons and trials can be looted individually by everybody in the group, nobody is taking anything away from the others. Something similar is in place for crafting surveys in the open world: you have a survey for a place, you get there and a pile of harvesting nodes are there, available only for you. (Other players don’t even see them, and when you harvest them, they also don’t see you harvest empty air, for them you only stand there for a few seconds. ) But for normal nodes, the first one to use it gets it, anybody else looses. When playing with my wife that’s still fine, most of the ressources i have plenty, so i just let her gather.

    But whenever we play GW2, it just feels better there. Intead of a “it’s yours, i just wait”, it’s let’s both mine this, we both get materials”. It just is a small but important tick better, and i would appreciate if ESO would also implement that.

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