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After playing all the major populated mmo's for the last five years, and seeing the latest successful game XIV now with 2.1 and its failure to deliver on housing, with no profits to be made in crafting or farming, and their raid gear having boxed in and awkward stats, and with EQ 2 and WoW on old systems with old graphics and gameplay, I can honestly say ESO will be the next huge successful game, and has a chance now to actually capitalize on game by making strong the weaknesses in these other games in their current state.
Where can ESO capitalize on being the next long term successful game?
1. Housing, make housing huge as EQ Next housing is going to be, and to make it cheap and accessible to everyone, this will allow them to get rid of competition from FFXIV which failed to deliver in that area, and will compete with EQ Next when it hits the markets in 2014.
2. Crafting. Make sure that crafting is useful and most profitable for end game. Another area where FFXIV has failed in 2.1 patch, and where EQ2 seemed to have failed also with the allowing of selling of raid gear to other players. If you keep the crafters at the top of the game in second best spot to raiding or other activities, you'll see you'll win the heart of every crafter out there and disgruntled crafter on other games.
3. Farming. Make sure farming is profitable and not being controlled so heavily which XIV also has just done. Not sure what EQ Next will be like for farming yet but its got to be worth doing. EQ2 also had great farming rewards with Exquisite chest drops on mobs. I'm sure ESO can do better in rewarding farmers who love to spend hours in the field farming mobs for crafters. Throwing a nice reward bone every once in a while after grinding on mobs would seal the deal and win over all farmers who like this type of gameplay.
4. Raid Gear. Make sure raid gear is worth using and wearing, with really rewarding raiding to all members and not just one or two per a raid. I would like to see more customization with stats on raid gear, where you can choose your stats or abilities on your raid gear.... I see boxed in raid gear and only a few members getting rewards far too often lately and its not very good for moral of guilds or their members. Throw each member in the guild a 5% or 10% progress per a raid towards something useful endgame, and youll have a lot of happy raiders on your hands.
6. Storylines and RPG. You must have a well written and timeline lore in game that makes the player feel part of the game . This is the most important part of the game, and the reason Mines of Moria got Expansion of the year, and XIV became such a success. It allowed the player to move through a timeline in the world and actually feel the adventure of something big happening around them XIV did such a great job of this and this is where a lot of the real competition will come from in the future. I have no doubt after seeing skyrim that they have what it takes to get this part right and the feel of RPG.
7. Dungeons. Your going to have to have dungeons that have hidden chests, secret puzzles and other things in them to be better then other games out right now and to compete with future games who will someday make their dungeons complex and puzzle orientated as a huge bonus and reward side quest to a dungeon. These puzzles and bonus rewards in dungeons should not affect completion of the dungeon though, so less smart people will still be able to progress to the end. Its going to have to be really enjoyable in the aspect of exploration and mind puzzles. Keep gameplay flowing really good and challenging on mini bosses and end bosses of the dungeons, but not cheapshot players.
8. Game World. This one is something I really have not seen a bunch of yet in recent mmo's so the bar for exploration is pretty low, but to keep any other game from competing in the future with this game is to have a massive world. One that takes atleast an hour or more to cross the entire thing.... Have a lot of hidden rewards in unexplored areas, that are randomized around the world and you can bet this could seal the deal for competition with EQ Next or any other game that might capitalize on this as a weakness in this game.
I think if all this is payed attention to and done, you will see ESO as the Next BIG One we have to play for years to come.