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Feb142017

How ZeniMax is Doing Elder Scrolls Online Player Housing Right

By Jeff Francis
ZeniMax gets Elder Scrolls Online player housing right

Player housing is often an online rpg feature that can divide players. Some players consider player housing to be nothing but fluff while others consider it an integral part of their gameplay experience. Personally, I'm a big proponent of player housing in online games as I think players deserver their own slice of virtual real estate to call home and just be able to relax. The new Elder Scrolls Online Homestead update is adding player housing to the fantasy mmo, and I have to admit that the system's features look extremely well designed. It's time to move up on up to that big apartment in the sky as we examine how ZeniMax is doing Elder Scrolls Online player housing right.

The Elder Scrolls Online Homestead update went live last week, bringing the gift of virtual real estate that players can call their own. There are a number of interesting features about ESO player housing that really piqued my interest, and I have to say that how ZeniMax implemented such a system shows a really strong level of design. The first facet of Elder Scrolls player housing that I really like is that players can own multiple homes. There's no need to pack up an older home when you decide to buy a new one. This is a great feature as the player doesn't have to choose which home they currently want active. Plus, there's no need to totally redecorate a home if you make it active again like some other mmo games force you to do as every home stays active in ESO. Players can have homes in multiple areas, so that they can always have a place to bunk, no matter where they are in the game's world. The more, the merrier is a sentiment that should be embraced when it comes to player housing in online games.

An even better feature of Elder Scrolls Online player housing is that homes are account-wide, not bound to a specific character. Far too many mmorpg games nickel and dime players by forcing them to buy homes for each individual character. With the launch of the ESO Homestead update, every home that a player purchases is fully usable by every character on their account. It may be true that some homes may be more useful to certain characters over others (in terms of furnishings), but that does not mean anything as it's simply great for a character to buy a home and have it accessible to every other character on the player's account. Plus, the Elder Scrolls Online Homestead update is absolutely free. Players can buy homes with either in-game gold or with store Crowns.

The ability to have lots of choices is another facet in how ZeniMax is doing Elder Scrolls Online player housing. There are almost forty different homes for players to pick up, and many homes are keyed to specific races in how they are designed. However, a player is free to purchase any home of their choice, despite the race and alliance of their character, with the caveat of Imperial housing. (Players will need to have purchased the Digital Imperial Upgrade Edition to buy Imperial-style housing.) Players can choose to purchase either furnished or unfurnished homes in the new ESO player housing system. Furnished homes require Crowns to buy while unfurnished ones can be bought with in-game gold. While it would be nice to be able to buy both types with in-game gold, I'm not going to quibble over this. I think it's tremendous that players have options on whether their home is already furnished or not. Plus, players can still change everything to their heart's desire even if a home is furnished.

Another strong feature of the Elder Scrolls Online player housing system is the furnishings. The ESO Homestead update introduced over 2000 unique items that players can use to decorate their humble abode. Players can craft their own furnishings using the game's trade skill system or purchase them from vendors or the game's cash shop. I can see a profitable future for players who can churn out furnishings that are highly sought out by other players. Trophies are another interesting facet of ESO player housing, in which trophies gained from dungeons, trials, and veteran arenas can be displayed. I really like this feature as I've long been a proponent of allowing players to showcase their in-game successes.

Elder Scrolls Online player housing

Finally, there are some other features that make Elder Scrolls Online player housing such a good system. First is that all the homes are instanced, so there's no mad land rush or players using exploits to grab all the best parcels of land that are common in most sandbox mmo games. Second is that players can fast travel to their ESO player housing via the World Map. While a number of older players decry fast travel in online games, I love it as I've never understood the mad love for having to waste a lot of time walking to wherever I wanted to go. Players can also breathe easy knowing that homes cannot be broken into or have their contents burgled. I can understand how players who have characters in the Thieves Guild may lament such a feature, I think it's a good call. When players invest time and/or money into their homes and furnishings, allowing other players to steal such items can only lead to anger and frustration. Another strong component of Elder Scrolls Online housing is that players can place pets, mounts, and functional items in their homes besides just decorative items. Crafting stations, assistants, and even target skeletons can be installed so that some work can get done.

The last feature of the Elder Scrolls Online housing system that I want to discuss is that players can invite others into their homes. This should be a given as it's no fun if you can't share your home with your friends and guild buddies (and even strangers). Members of a player's guild and friends can even visit a player's home when they're offline, but they cannot add or remove furnishings (which means that no shenanigans will be taking place!). Overall, the introduction of player housing in the ESO Homestead update allows players to have a place of their own, where they can hang out and role-play/party with friends. Flexibility and lots of options seem to be the hallmark of ESO player housing as players have plenty of different homes to choose from, several thousand items to place in their homes, and the fact that all homes are account-wide. Players can even preview a home before they buy. This is a strong system that should make most players very happy as they unleash their inner interior decorator. I have to say that ZeniMax has really done Elder Scrolls Online player housing the right way.

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