The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind and Patch 3.0 launched for PC/Mac on Monday morning, and before most players were able to finish downloading the patch, World #1 PvE Guild “Hodor” had already managed to snag the World First clear of the new Halls of Fabrication trial – and they knocked it out on Hard Mode, to boot.
First off – I want to make sure to congratulate Hodor on their World First accomplishment. A “World First” is a big deal, no matter how you slice it – and I know their guild has been spending a lot of time preparing for this content on the Public Test Server over the past five weeks, so it’s worth applauding their feat!
— Alcast ESO (@AlcastESO) May 22, 2017
That being said, however, seeing the brand new, cornerstone End-Game PvE content, which players have been waiting for for more than a calendar year, be completed so quickly is certainly alarming. This new trial – Halls of Fabrication – was designed to be the hardest piece of content in the entire game, and yet a guild has managed to clear it on it’s hardest difficulty before most players had even finished downloading the new patch. I think that warrants a bit of a discussion.
Players Should Not Be Able To Test Veteran Trials On The PTS
The main reason why top-level guilds like Hodor are able to clear this content so quickly when the content hits the live servers is entirely due to the fact that, in all reality, this race was effectively over nearly a month ago – on the Public Test Server. Most players in the major PvE guilds in The Elder Scrolls Online have had access to this new trial, and all of its mechanics, and on all difficulty levels, for five entire weeks now – and multiple guilds had already cleared the content on the PTS before Patch 3.0 went live.
This, to me – and to many other end-game PvE players and fans of PvE content in general – presents a problem: in many other games of this genre, the “World First” and “Server First” races are a big deal, to be taken extremely seriously. When it comes to end-game PvE content, the most important question is, “who did it first?” – especially in titles with massive, high-end raiding scenes. Veteran Halls of Fabrication, and its associated “Hard Mode” difficulty, are things that are supposed to be designed, fundamentally, to take weeks, and in some cases months, to complete, and that becomes particularly true when a new trial or raid isn’t released more than once every year or longer.
Difficult, well designed content, and a community of rival players and guilds engaging in friendly competition to see who can complete this type of content is the hallmark of great End-Game PvE content design. Having truly hard raids ensures that the content stays meaningful, and fostering an environment in which players are encouraged to compete for notoriety, pride and bragging rights whenever a new trial is released is healthy for a game. Having that race be non-existent because a few folks were able to figure everything out and farm the new trial on the PTS for weeks before launch is not.
On today’s show, I sit down and offer my reaction to the news of Hodor’s shockingly-fast World First clear, and attempt to explain why I believe that ESO‘s developer team may need to make some hard decisions when it comes time to launch their next new Trial.