Elder Scrolls Online and the Fourth Faction

Future Elder Scrolls Online players are already thinking about what race they want to play, which faction they want to be part of and where they want to explore first. Not many people are talking about joining the fourth faction or playing as a FOTM class character, yet. We all know about the three playable factions in ESO so you are probably confused by the title of this article. You probably assume I mean the Imperials, but it is actually something else.

Some Elder Scrolls Online players would like each faction to have different, unique classes. Some game designers make the same class across different factions have significantly different abilities. This is a method for giving each faction/class a unique feel and different playstyle. This is not inherently wrong, in fact, many including myself like this concept.

FOTM in Elder Scrolls OnlineESO factions bard

Balancing classes and different playstyles is a difficult matter online games have had to contend with and Elder Scrolls Online will be no exception. What is even more difficult is balancing factions with different classes or significantly different abilities. While balance is usually an ongoing process it gives rise to the Flavor of the Month(FOTM) class. FOTM players will switch to whatever class is the most over-powered. Also, it seems to be a fairly reliable way to find over-powered classes, simply looking at which classes are over-populated and how populations change after an update.

Elder Scrolls Online may suffer more than other games from the ongoing balancing due to characters being flexible. What if you didn’t have to make a new character to change to whatever the currently over-powered class/weapon/skill combination is? Even more people would be willing to switch since there are low barriers to entry for the other playstyle.

The Fourth Alliance of ESOelder scrolls online factions

Now what if factions have different classes or significantly different abilities? If players are allowed to have characters of different factions on the same account there is not much holding them back from switching to the currently over-powered faction. The players that constantly switch to the most over-powered class/faction combination are what I refer to as the fourth faction of Elder Scrolls Online.

Many people have probably experienced this in other games and it can be annoying to players that are loyal to their factions either having a flood of rude, non-cooperative players in your faction, or constantly going up against a zerg. Limiting players to one faction, per server, per account does not necessarily prevent this problem, depending on the business model chosen.

One solution, at least to the fourth faction problem, is to give all factions the same classes. Of course there may be small differences, such as racial abilities and what not, but as long as they do not heavily affect a character’s combat abilities it will not be a problem. This is not to say it is impossible to balance factions with different classes.

Certainly, this does not prevent FOTM players. And there will always be players whining on the forums about one class or another being over-powered. I have no doubt ZeniMax will do their best to balance ESO classes and factions. However, balance is a long process and requires a mature, patient fan base to achieve the best results.

What do you think is the best way to prevent FOTM classes? What about preventing fourth faction players? Should these issues even be addressed or does constantly changing factions add a special flair to the game?

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4 Responses to “Elder Scrolls Online and the Fourth Faction”

  1. Nathan April 23, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    The best way to prevent FOTM characters would be to simply limit every character to one class. Of course, this is impossible for many reasons.
    Unfortunately, trying to prevent FOTM players is difficult to do without destroying the game experience for loyal players. Limiting the player to one faction for the account would be effective enough in its own right, but it would also be an anathema to diverse players who like to experience a wide array of factions and characters, forcing them to either abandon the other storylines of ESO or to have multiple accounts- both costly decisions that should be avoided.
    FOTM players, I fear, will always exist no matter the situation. Whether it’s simply a matter of flawed programming or public opinion on a particular race/class/skill combination, some factions will be more overpowered/overpopulated than others. It is, however, within the players themselves to overcome those odds through skilled gameplay and sheer resilience, no matter their race/class combination. Generally, if the outcry against a particular setup is great enough, action is taken immediately. Otherwise, it’s almost guaranteed that any rumors of overpowered classes or factions circulate falsely, and tend to be ignored or heeded based on individual players’ recent or past experiences.

  2. Warmodon April 25, 2013 at 2:33 am #

    We don’t know so much about the “campaign” system, so I’ll talk here with only pure speculation.
    I see campaign as “virtual subserver” of the megaserver.
    For the fourth faction:
    Each character are linked to a campaign, so if in your character’s campaign are dominated by Dagerfall Covenant by exemple, if you create a new character belonging to DC, this one will be in another campaign where another faction is stronger.
    For the FOTM:
    I don’t really see a way to avoid it completely, but I see a way to don’t care about it if you’re not a FOTM player.
    After the campaign, redispatch all the players in campaign with player (allies and enemies) having the same profile. They could set a profile of the player with PvP stats, PvE stats, PvP/Pve Ratio, time played by day, time spend in the tavern, etc…

  3. marc May 10, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    ez way to solve this probleme in 2 points

    1- call it the 1-1-1 allowed

    just do queu for pvp allowing 1 player from each faction to enter

    by exemple we can have 200 player of each faction u can aslo ajust that letting lvl decide

    by exemple all 3 faction have 800 lvl Worth player in battlegrounds

    and the last point for it to work

    30 sec inactivity in battlegroung makes you booted and unable to join for next hour

    thats verry cruel and rude for all baby cryer player but hey u want it balanced or not

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