The Elder Scrolls Online MMORPG has evolved significantly since its 2014 launch. Not only has the world and lore continued to expand, but many quality-of-life updates have also been added. Now players can explore the vast majority of Tamriel. However, the feature that arguably makes this massive scope so bearable is the game’s level-sync. Known more specifically as the One Tamriel system, it has removed many of the game’s restrictions. Players can now enjoy the content in whatever order they want, and with whoever they want. It’s certainly a rare feature among MMORPGs, and it’s why the game feels refreshing by comparison. Here is why the ESO level sync simply works.
Make Your Own Adventure
Perhaps the best aspect of the current tutorial upon starting a new character is the freedom it leads to. Upon completing a brief run through some ruins, players will encounter portals to various parts of Tamriel. This is essentially the game’s way of confirming that the adventure ahead is yours to choose. Compared to most MMORPGs’ linear approach, ESO allows every player to embark on an individualized adventure. Fans of Skyrim and other games in the series will be aware that multiple playthroughs are part of its appeal. ESO facilitates the same playstyle, allowing players to avoid the tedium of repeating the opening.
Part of the main appeal of the series providing an MMO is the chance to explore the world’s lore. While various entries in the franchise have had different settings, this game allows a sizable amount of each. As such, the rest of Tamriel hinted at in whispers during the previous games are suddenly open for exploration. Some players might have an immediate intrigue about a very specific location. Thanks to the ESO level sync, they are free to make that their first port of call.
The lack of level requirements similarly prevents any unexpected progression barriers. Players won’t accidentally stumble onto an interesting side quest that they suddenly feel under-levelled for. This adds a more natural flow to the game in which players aren’t navigated by guiding numbers. Instead, the player is encouraged to explore at their leisure, accepting and ignoring intrigue at their own pace.
The removal of the grind is the next major improvement that the level sync introduces. While the freedom to travel in any direction is welcome, it’s all the better to have free time. Most MMORPGs require a significant amount of levelling time in order to progress. This applies to the main story as well as the side content, creating a barrier to seamless gameplay. To get to the content they want, players must usually endure long stretches of unrelated material. By contrast, ESO players can consistently feel like they are moving forward without the tedium of the exp grind.
This translates to more than story and quest accessibility. In similar games, the feeling of growing stronger is entirely tied to arbitrary numbers suddenly working in your favour. Those damage numbers suddenly result in you chipping away at the enemies’ health much faster. Your fighting style hasn’t evolved, it’s just that a number above your character now deems you worthy of victory. It’s not the most satisfying feeling of progression.
The reason the ESO level sync works is because it makes the player’s strength seem tied to skills. Rather than enemies suddenly dropping quicker due to maths, it instead feels like a result of your increased arsenal. The game constantly rewards players with new attacks and capabilities, allowing your playstyle to evolve. The speed of combat is determined by new combos that stylishly show your newfound power. The only downside is that you won’t encounter a unique quest-related item that isn’t limited by how early you find it.
It cannot be understated just how important thematic consistency is within a gaming franchise. This extends beyond settings and characters, as it requires the series to stay true to its core values. In the case of The Elder Scrolls series, a sense of adventure and self-expression is required. But more than that, the series is traditionally a solo experience. The jump to MMORPG could rub some old fans the wrong way by excluding their more comfortable playstyle. The level sync allows the experience to primarily be experienced without a party.
Shackling players to the typical group requirements of an MMO would sacrifice the individual sense of greatness. The franchise has always allowed the player to ascend to glory through their own skill. By contrast, MMOs tend to deny players the chance to stand alone, and sometimes make them worthless without help.
This is not to say the multiplayer aspect is unwelcome. On the contrary, it’s a welcome breath of fresh air for the series. What’s more, the ESO level sync is actually what makes this aspect of the game all the more compelling. The big worry about involving other players is having them make it too easy. Having players higher level than you helping you blaze through the content would cheapen the experience. Similarly, if you are lower level, you won’t have to worry about dragging your party down.
When playing Skyrim NPC followers would assist in relieving some of the burdens of combat. However, they never entirely remove the challenge. Additionally, that game also had the world adapting to the player’s level, never allowing them to outgrow old content. ESO works in the same way, ensuring that old and new content is consistently engaging, no matter when it’s encountered.
Bringing Elder Scrolls Online
While there is no denying that the game had to adapt to the MMORPG formula, it is recognisably The Elder Scrolls. Maintaining the series’ identity was essential to making an online game for the fans. In introducing the level sync function, the game was able to achieve a harmony between innovation and tradition. Furthermore, it’s a style that makes it stand out among its online contemporaries. ESO offers a unique experience that is extremely user-friendly. So even now, as MMORPGs are surging in popularity, Bethesda and ZeniMax have created a game worth checking out.