You might think that I think ESO is perfect, from reading all my posts gushing about it. While I do think the game has many well-designed systems with great interplay between said systems, there is one design element I’m not a fan of… the random number generator (RNG).
OK, every game has this, I am specifically referring to how random it is getting leads for mythic items. These are powerful items that require getting (and digging up via the antiquities system) 5 or more leads that drop randomly. When I say random, I mean both low chance for the drop and spread out through all kinds of activities – killing world bosses, delve bosses, public dungeon bosses, opening chests, etc.
One in particular is the Ring of the Pale Order (RPO). This is an unusual item that appeals to both casual players, and hardcore players. Wow, how can that be?
It’s basic property is: return a percentage of your damage as healing… with the drawback that nobody else can heal you.
So for a casual player, who is probably solo most the time, this is fantastic. That extra bit of healing makes it easier to do the content. Especially if you are a class with a spammable damage/healing ability… say a Templar using the Puncturing Sweeps morph of Puncturing Strikes. You already get 40% of your damage as healing, throw on another 20 from RPO?!
And over on the hardcore side, maybe you’re chasing one of the speed achievements. Even though the healing is less in a group (4% less per ally), any bonus at all might allow you to do without a dedicated healer and go all-out damage – everyone self-heals, uses potions, the RPO, some combo of all of the above, etc.
So this item is very desirable and the leads are heavily farmed. And one of those leads drops off any monster inside the Bad Man’s Hollows public dungeon.
Since that is a public dungeon, it isn’t instanced for you. Depending on when you go, it will be empty or jam packed. The dungeon is a small, base-game public dungeon so all the monsters are pretty easy and you might get dizzy running loops.
And in a mind boggling design decision, there is another desirable mythic lead in the same public dungeon! It’s a lead for the Ring of the Wild Hunt, a mythic that makes you faster: 15% in combat, and 45% faster out of combat.
As you can imagine, this is also extremely desirable. Let’s be honest and admit that a huge amount of time in an MMO is spent traveling from one place to another. Getting a speed boost is something everyone benefits from.
So Bad Man’s Hollows is generally farmed with a steady stream of players all hoping for various leads. Me included.
Well, not for a bit, I burned out trying to get either lead. I estimate I’ve spent ~15 hours across several days without getting either lead. And I’m taking a lengthy break from doing it just because it isn’t all that fun killing the same mobs in the same small dungeon over and over.
Trying to collect armor sets from a dungeon comes down to RNG, but that is actually fun to do. And a recent patch introduced curated drops, where you get items you don’t already have. (Well that’s the goal but I’ve seen different behavior. Nevertheless, the curated drops do help).
It makes me think how other games have a token system, for example FF14 and Allagan Tomestone of Poetics. Do content, get a few tomestones, eventually you can buy what you want. Win Win!!
I know that Zenimax is in a tough spot. The players really want these items, if they made a predictable way to get them, everyone would have them. MMO players are all about optimizing the path to a result.
The random drop system is probably necessary but ugh it feels terrible.