I appreciate often the ability to just dive into a game for a time-limited period, yet to feel like I’ve done something. Such an approach to gaming doesn’t always gel well with the MMORPG genre, some games are better at accommodating the time-poor than others.
One repetitive yet enjoyable activity I often take part in when playing Elder Scrolls Online are the public Dolmen (or Dark Anchor) events. The formula for each event is the same, only the mobs within each wave are randomised, and of course so is the number and variety of other player heroes helping to close it. Like all public event systems the fun you can have with Dolmens depends quite a lot on other players being motivated to join in.
ESO seems to do pretty well at keeping players engaged with this activity type. From my perspective, and personal play style preferences, there are two draws to doing them with some regularity. Firstly I can go see the Fighter’s Guild to get a daily quest to close three Dolmens in a random zone. That often guides me to go to an older zone, always a good idea development-wise, as it keeps a steady flow of higher level characters jumping in to help out in what could otherwise be relatively empty zones. The guild rewards for the daily quest include a random selection of high-value equipment – good to sell for gold or to deconstruct for some crafting experience.
Those guild reward items are really the icing on the cake though, as the dark anchor events themselves also reward a steady stream of random armour and weapon drops. This can give your character the odd on-level upgrade, but in my view is even more valuable as a source for crafters since a steady stream of items (not self-made ones) to deconstruct seems a good way to level such skills. It also gives the same character new items to unlearned research traits.
It’s easy for me to just login for 30 minutes or so to grab the quest and do three dolmens in a row to complete the quest and grab a random selection of items to deconstruct or sell. Easy money and experience and very possible to complete in a short-ish time span. The one issue with this idea is the zone selected for the guild quest. Some zones have dolmens sited in more remote locations, others less so – the riding time between the nearest wayshrine and the target dolmen can really drag out the overall time to do three. Dolmens have a hidden reset timer – so camping the same location for three is possible but going to be a lot of waiting. I much prefer Deshaan’s sites to Stonefalls’ for instance.
I find wandering around between wayshrines and Dolmens pretty relaxing, with a lot of herb-picking and ore-gathering along the way. Generally the events are pretty easy, my tanky Dragonknight character is only likely to die if there’s only one or two other characters with him. The real danger perhaps is that it’s easy to be so in the flow of such low-stress, meandering gameplay that I actually forget which zone I’m supposed to be doing the Dark Anchor events in, at least twice I’ve done my three, only to then realise I wasn’t in the right zone for the quest!