I have been mean to The Elder Scrolls Online, I have tried my best to not directly attack it, and now I am finally going to show it some love. A gentle, reserved kind of love, of course. The kind you might show a friend who you haven’t talked to for a while now because they betrayed you in a not altogether insignificant way. After all, I had something going with the Elder Scrolls series, and now what could be the penultimate title, at least as far as world exploration goes, wants to dress like World of Warcraft and eat at the rich kid table?
That’s messed up, but I digress.
Today, I read on PC Gamer some more information about an artifact from the ancient world of great MMOs that I thought was lost forever, but is instead coming back through ESO: public dungeons. Though there are some potential miscues (I think) on how they intend to handle it, I think Bethesda’s MMO team is still doing us all a favor by bringing them back to modern gaming.
Let me explain why public dungeons are awesome:
Imagine yourself, for a moment, knee deep in orc corpses, but half-dead and battle-fatigued. You have carved (literally, you are great with a sword and those orc corpses reflect it) out your own little corner of the Orcish Hell you decided to adventure through. Your legs ache in gratitude as you finally sit down. You think you have a moment to rest. Your breathing calms.
Slower… Slower still…
Your breathing becomes rhythmic, your health bar begins to refill: though not as fast as you had hoped. It all takes on a certain music … a rhythmic drum beat teetering between worry and calm.
And then the sound stops. The world stops. Everything stops, except for one motion: the marching of an orcish scout party.
And it is too late. And your health hasn’t fully returned. Your greatest skills are on cooldown still. This realization hits you hard in the gut as the first scout spots you still sitting in the corner.
You can’t silence him. His party rushes you, while he himself, that ugly bastard of an orc, sends out the call. You are surrounded, deep in enemy territory. Hours spent getting this far, ready to go down in flame because you weren’t good enough to not take so much damage in the first place or not quick enough to get rested before being spotted. The rotten breathe of the orcs descends upon you as the dice begin rolling and your fate is left up to chance …
But suddenly, a sword flashes behind the furthest orc. You can just make him out. A stranger. You recognize him, kind of … sort of … He may have been someone you sold something to. He might have pugged with you once. Or perhaps he was just some bloke AFKing outside the bank. Either way, he is here and he is saving you.
The fight rages until it doesn’t. The swords swing until they don’t. You live until its over and hold on somehow. Your delving of the dungeon continues, but as you descend deeper and deeper still, you do it with someone else. Someone you met either by random or by fate.
You are thankful all the same to this stranger. And after the adventure ends, the dungeon has been plundered and its horrors endured, you add someone else to your Friend’s List.
If you would like to know more about the specifics of ESO’s dungeons, please read the article on PC Gamer. Oh and if you do have some interesting experiences with non-instanced dungeons, feel free to sound off. They really are a great source of emergent gameplay, and, at least for me, functioned quite often as sources for fun stories to tell and to meet new and interesting adventurers.