Elder Scrolls Online Character Progression

This week's TESO updates talk about skill paths, morphing and more

When Zenimax Online first announced The Elder Scrolls Online, one of the key areas they kept talking about was the idea of making a character your own. Their goal was to take the freedom of progression from Skyrim and its prequels and bring it into a multiplayer game. Essentially the idea that you can build your own character with skills you chose and have it be just as effective as another player's build. An interesting concept, but how does it work in practice? In this week's updates, Zenimax is giving players a video walkthrough and a blog post offering a more thorough explanation of their designs and intentions with TESO's progression system.

The core concepts behind TESO's systems aren't unheard of. We've seen weapon-specific skills with Guild Wars 2. We've seen skill point systems there and in The Secret World, with TSW also allowing players to learn all possible skills given enough time. The limited action set to force skill choices can also be seen in both those games and in what we've seen from WildStar. The unique aspects of the TESO system come from its additional skill path sources and the Skill Morphing option.

While everyone can learn all of the weapon and armor skills regardless of personal choices, TESO has other skill trees to make a player more unique. Each of the four classes provides three skill paths that are supposedly role agnostic to mix and match with your other skills. Your race provides another path to draw skills from. While these aren't unique concepts, they do provide more ways for your Dragon Knight/tank spec/etc. to be different from your friends and rivals. The final source of skill trees is where TESO is trying something new by drawing from its single-player roots. As you progress in the main story and side missions, you may find yourself joining the Fighters Guild or becoming a werewolf or some similar big event. Aside from all of the story dialogue, quest rewards, etc., these provide you with access to skill paths specific to that guild or becoming whatever bit you. While not every major storyline will provide a skill path of their own, it does give more avenues for player differentiation as well as giving explorers and completionist players something to work on after they've Morphed all of their main skills.

Skill Morphing is TESO's other major way of distinguishing their skill system from everyone else. As you play your character and use your skills to level up and to unlock the other abilities further down their respective trees, you'll eventually reach a point where you've used a particular skill so many times that it's ready to evolve into something else - this is called Morphing. You can then spend a skill point to choose between two different skills with different effects. The video's example has a single-target heal morphing into either a three-target heal or giving the original heal an additional effect that regenerates Magicka. While changing existing skill effects isn't unheard of in other games, the potential to do so with every skill on your bar, let alone your whole skill list, is both daunting and exciting at the same time.

If you still have questions after watching the video or would just like more detail on what exactly Skill Morphing and everything else The Elder Scrolls Online has to offer, head over to the official post to read the rest of the details.

Michael "Ragar" Branham

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