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Elder Scrolls Online Developers Talk Dungeons

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The good people over at Zenimax have taken another round of questions from fans and have provided their answers. This time the topic was dungeons. A couple of weeks ago they posted an article discussing what players can expect from dungeons. The article talked about how the different roles (DPS, tank and heals) should handle themselves and what to expect, in general, from monsters. I love running dungeons in MMOs, for me this experience dates back to yee old Everquest. Do I mention Everquest enough? Anyway a good dungeon will keep me coming back again and again while a poor dungeon may make me stop playing the game altogether. You got a lot riding on this Zenimax...don't mess it up!

First question: "Are there dungeons in ESO with multiple entrances and exits which allow you to enter the same dungeons in different ways? In the previous games, the dungeons were fairly linear and it was difficult to get lost.

Answer: "ESO dungeons do offer some branching paths, and they often have convenient exits at the end of the dungeon. Philosophically though we want the challenge from dungeons to focus on combat encounters rather than from trying to navigate through them."

I definitely understand the concern the questioner has. I loved Skyrim but most of the dungeons were extremely linear, certain Dwemer ruins notwithstanding. I prefer exploring a large, cavernous environment to going from large square room to large square room. The answer Zenimax gave does not bode well for my preferences. I prefer something like this to something like this.

Question: "In previous Elder Scrolls games, we always had the ability to wander into a cave, old fort, or sunken boat to explore, plunder and pillage. With ESO being an MMO, will we still have the ability to do this in a solo-encounter type situation where we don't run into other players or will be be seeing other players and having to wait for enemies/loot to spawn, or will these only be available in group encounters?"

Answer: "Certain rare locales will just be for solo players, and some dungeons are meant for groups. Most locales, however, will be accessible by everyone. Some might be too dangerous for your because of your current level, but you can always come back when you are more powerful..."

This is another good question. In most Elder Scrolls games if you find an interesting cave or fort you want to explore you just go do it. In ESO you might not be able to because of a group requirement or you might find the place empty except for a few fortuitous players running around making sure they've snatched everything up. That experience just wouldn't feel the same. Hopefully they place lots of fun areas far out into the wilderness where you have to trek to get to so there's less of a chance of other people ruining the fun.

Question: "Will there be a lockout timer for dungeons, or can we run the same dungeon with different friends over and over if we want to?"

Answer: "We don't currently have any plans to use lockout timers. You can run through a dungeon as often as you like."

I have to say this was surprising. The standard for MMOs since World of Warcraft has been to have a lock on dungeons and raids so that players can only complete them once per day and once per week respectively. The reason for this cap is to extend the amount of real time for a player to attain an optimal set of gear. If someone could spent 8 hours in a day running the same dungeon 10 times and get all the gear they need, that player is much more likely to get burned out. Hopefully in ESO players can attain the best gear through multiple avenues and don't feel forced to run the same dungeon 10 times in a day.

Question: "Will monsters in dungeons have the capacity to weapon swap and switch roles in the middle of combat like players?"

Answer: "A select few monsters do have the capacity to do this. The Battlemage monster type is one example of this."

Question: "If you die in a dungeons and your party members cannot revive you, will you be able to rejoin the party after respawning?"

Answers: "Each dungeon has Wayshrines inside where you can always resurrect. You will never be forced to leave your party because you died."

I guess there's not going to be any long corpse runs like the good ole days. This wayshrine system sounds similar to Guild Wars 2 where there are a set of waypoints throughout the dungeon, usually around bosses once you activate them you can then resurrect from them when you die. This makes your run back to your group less aggravating. They didn't say if you could use these Wayshrines in combat or not, hopefully they've learned from past failures in other games and only allow resurrecting from Wayshrines out of combat.

Question: "I'd like to know if the enemy NPCs will be in different locations each time a group of players enters a dungeon or will they have a static location...?"

Answers: "Each group dungeon offers a quest which can sometimes change the location, behavior or types of monsters you will encounter in the dungeon."

This could be an indication that dungeons will have a kind of "story" mode and a "regular" mode. There was no mention of difficulty in the answer though, so these dungeon quests may be similar in difficulty just different from a regular run through. This design makes sense, it takes a lot of development time to create a dungeon and they want to get more bang for their buck on it. The quests will add some variety to each dungeon.

Question: "In the recent dungeon article, you revealed that enemies function by a 'pack mentality....' What does this mean for stealthy characters trying to decrease the amount of mobs before the rest of the party engages in battle?"

Answer: "Starting off a pack encounter with a stealth attack is a great strategy, though once your group has engaged in combat you'll need special abilities to gain invisibility again.

I don't think the developers understood the question. I believe the questioner was asking about crowd control and pulling of groups of monsters and not how the stealth works in combat. In many MMOs it is the job of one of the DPS classes to lessen the number of monsters that attack at once. Sometimes that means sneaking behind one and sapping them so they don't follow when your party engages. Unfortunately Zenimax didn't address if/how crowd control will work in a dungeon. If there will be abilities you need to use out of combat or you just handle everything on the fly.

There were a couple other questions that were asked that either were not interesting or basically duplicates. You can see the whole Q & A here. They still say they are on schedule to post a new set of answers every two weeks so if you have a question, about anything, send it to them. This one was dungeon focused but they've done general ones before too. With the announcements that ESO is coming to consoles and the release date is being pushed back to 2014; it seems hype for the game as dwindled. Hopefully we get some more exciting news from Zenimax soon.

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