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THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE Character Progression Video - Translating Classless to an MMO is Tricky Business

Another trove of information on the highly anticipated The Elder Scrolls Online has cleared the NDA wall, this time as a YouTube video released by Zenimax detailing the character progression within the game.

Character progression has been a major topic of interest for TES Online. In the standard Elder Scrolls games, character progression has been completely freeform. There are no classes, no archetypes, nothing preventing your character for learning every skill in the game. Want to be a character that uses summoning magic and two handed axes? No problem. The concern is that systems like these rarely translate well into the MMO format.

The video features Lead Gameplay Designer Nick Konkle taking us through the basics of character progression, and it seems like they did a good job of preserving the feel from the original games. As usual you have your race, which decides some of your skills trees, but a new addition to the franchise is the concept of character classes. Classes will give you three unique skills trees to provide for some variability between classes, but all other skills are shared unrestricted. So Mages can still learn one handed swords and archery without a hitch. There are also hidden skills trees you can unlock by doing side quests or finding rare events, like becoming a werewolf or vampire.

Skills progression looks like it is still based “by use” which is a good thing. One of my favorite parts of The Elder Scrolls games is the fact that the more you use a skill, the better it gets. It seems like a simple concept, but few games implement skill progression this way. Most MMOs provide stringent skill progression that gives you moves and abilities when you level up regardless of what moves you actually use.

Overall, I am satisfied by this first look at character progression. Sure, they added classes, but it doesn't look like it will change the dynamic of the game too badly. I can’t wait to get my hands on the game, so I can take this freeform character system for a spin.

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