Here you can discuss anything and everything pertaining to ESO in general. 

ESO Real Talk: Hardcore vs. Casual Player Conflicts

Greetings, and apologies for leaving so many weeks between posts. I’ve been super busy with work. Next week, we’ll start getting into more regular posts, and talk about new stuff in the Greymoor chapter.

Today I just wanted to briefly address a topic that has plagued ESO for the past several years. Despite my best intentions, it’s leaked into our SkyForge community and discord as well. The topic is the unnecessary, but very real conflicts that arise between “hardcore” players and “casual” players.

ESO has always marketed itself as a “play how you want” game. And it is! You can play it like a PVP game and focus on precision builds designed for Cyrodiil or battlegrounds. You can play it like a high-end PVE game, maximizing your DPS or tanking or healing for 12-man trials, learn to solo Vet Maelstrom Arena, push scores on the leaderboard. You can play for the stories and just quest without worrying about the “meta.” You can focus on housing, or fishing, or crafting, or trading/wheeling dealing. You can get deep into roleplay, whether that’s with a group of people, or completely on your own without ever talking to another player.

It has always confused me why people get in fights about the topic of playing how you want. Just…play how you want, right? And then I started hosting this group and now I think I understand it better.

I’ve been playing this game for more than six years, I’ve completed all of the content, amassed an absurd fortune of fake money, I play with some of the best players in the game (I consider myself to perform at the “low end of the high end”), I am focused almost completely on performance whether it’s in PVE or PVP. I am, in other words, a “hardcore player.”

I would like to say I can be super helpful to new players or folks who want to play casually—and I can be, and I have been. But at times my bias and mindset still creep in. I start wanting new players to be ready for some future I assume will come, when they’ll want to perform well and have a legitimately effective build for hard content. And I just lose sight of the fact that some people DO NOT CARE about that and would rather focus on roleplay, aesthetics or anything else besides the DPS they put out or their ability to complete the latest vet dungeon or wreck face in a battleground.

Many hardcore players are dismissive of casual players, many casual players find hardcore players insufferable and elitist—this isn’t new to gaming. I think it hits ESO really hard, because the game is such an attractive option for both types of players, and it’s hard for them to mix effectively. It doesn’t help that this game has an abnormally huge skill gap between high-end and casual players; in most MMOs, a top player might do 2x the DPS of a novice player, in this game it is more like 5x or worse. You also get anger when the quarterly combat changes come out, and it seems like they favor one “side” or the other.

Anyway, all of this has led to a lot of toxicity in the broader ESO community, largely unnecessary. My entire goal with this ESO effort on the Sky Forge was to push back on that toxicity, with a group that was coming in new to the game, and show that it was a great game for any kind of player. That’s why I wrote this post and this post and this post, and why I’ve spent a ton of time with lots of folks to help them get started. But there were other people doing posts in this group about “What’s your favorite class?” and “Show off your outfit”; these are totally logical posts to engage new players, but they would never have occurred to me. And in the end, we still ended up having a recent dustup in our Discord because of this hardcore vs. casual issue.

So, we’ll just continue to work on it. One tangible change I want to mention: I’ve asked Tae-Rai to co-host this section of the site and our ESO Discord channel. Tae has been playing for years like me, she knows the game really well. She probably has a more diverse perspective in the game than I do; in addition to being a solid PVE player in vet content, she’s also a lead in a very active roleplaying guild. She’s also just cooler than I am. We’re going to work together from now on, we’ll both do posts and talk regularly to come up with a more diverse range of things to share and discuss on the site and in Discord. To be clear, we are not representing two “factions” in the game; we’re going to be partners in helping to cover all aspects of the game. You can expect to see some fun stuff from her and from both of us in the future.

Sorry if this is a bit of a downer, but it really bummed me out that this argument showed up here, when my entire motivation for hosting the group was to get away from this issue. Feel free to comment, or not—I’ve said my piece and I’m looking forward to getting back to game content next time. See you in game - Avi

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  • I'm honoured to be back in the hosting seat, Avi, and I'm glad it's with you.

    In regards to the post, yes, hardcore vs casual will always be a debate not just for ESO, but for every game in existance ever. Hell, even Animal Crossing has hardcore gamers! With the recent developments, our only really motion is to put our foot forward and start towards a new goal and keep ourselves in an open and friendly community. 

    Mistakes happen and now we can learn and grow from them. Here's to new gaming adventures with you, my friend.

  • Whether it's endgame content, casual content, or non-combat content, there is for sure fun and communal activity available throughout ESO. As long as we focus on the fun and the community interaction, with clear communication from everyone, I think ESO is set up for success.

  • Well put Avi, and looking forward to having not one but two experienced players leading the group!

    Your post here has brought to mind an interesting topic we could discuss - what each of us is currently looking to get out of ESO.

  • Well said!

    ESO I feel does a better job than most MMOs I'm leaving no player behind. There's content to enjoy for all players of all skill levels and play styles. The Eso community is far friendlier and supportive that most MMOs I find.

    As a player aspiring to hang with the heavy hitters, I find I have a lot of the same biases as Avi. Looking back, most advice I've given has been geared towards maximizing performance and damage.

    I suppose the important take away here is to respect how others choose to play this game. Whether you're a role player, a casual player, or hardcore elite, every playstyle is equally valid. 

    And before I forget, I'm thrilled to have you hosting this group, Tae.


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