How Elder Scrolls Online Could Deepen Its Marriage Mechanics

Elder Scrolls Online has a marriage function that allows player characters to marry one another to receive a 10% experience boost when both players are online, but ESO could vastly improve this mechanic with a few changes. Though marriage isn’t a mechanic heavily advertised in Elder Scrolls Online, it’s a free buff that players should take advantage of. New ESO players likely focus on acquiring new gear, mounts, pets, and more, but a consistent experience boost can help players of all levels. In addition, updating the marriage mechanic in Elder Scrolls Online could encourage the community to become more social and explore more features of the impressive MMO.

Elder Scrolls Online is an MMO RPG developed by ZeniMax Studios and published by Bethesda, set in Tamriel in an age before the events of the mainline Elder Scrolls games. Players can create unique heroes and explore many regions of the world, from Morrowind to Skyrim. Unfortunately, fans of the series won’t find their favorite characters lurking about anywhere unless they have an extraordinarily long lifespan. Aside from engaging in raids and completing the many storylines and side quests across the open world, players can experience various social activities. Creating or joining guilds is an excellent way to socialize, but marriage also benefits from connecting with fellow players.

Related: Skyrim: Does "An Arrow In The Knee" Mean Marriage?

Marriage has always played a strange role in The Elder Scrolls franchise and provided many opportunities for the community to show love to their favorite characters; however, romance and marriage in Elder Scrolls Online is restricted to player characters. Additionally, aside from the 10% experience buff when both players are online, there are few reasons to engage in marriage. Thankfully there are many existing Elder Scrolls games and Elder Scrolls Online features that could vastly improve the marriage mechanic for new, returning, and existing players.

Harassment and verbal abuse in online video games is nothing new in the industry, and affects gamers of all ages, genders, and sexual identities. Unfortunately, Elder Scrolls Online sets players up to continuously interact with potentially abusive players through its marriage mechanic. Those who have failed to acquire a partner may coerce new players into online relationships and open a vulnerable population to more harassment and manipulation by older players. Additionally, there’s no official way to divorce a player after marrying them, worsening this situation. By introducing a system in Elder Scrolls Online that allows players to restrict their marriage options to an NPC, this risk is negated and instead encourages the community to rally around favorite characters and spouses. Additionally, it offers the opportunity to create new, exciting characters or increase the importance of Elder Scrolls Online’s existing cast.

Marriage in Elder Scrolls Online games has historically been an underwhelming experience, with many characters in games like Skyrim unavailable for romance. New players in Elder Scrolls Online suffer an understandable lack of direction, often resorting to online guides for more information or relying on the occasionally helpful global chat. Gaining access to an early experience boost with the help of an NPC spouse could provide much-needed encouragement for many new players. While maintaining the game’s current player base is an admirable goal, marriage can help ease the transition into ESO’s quests, expansions, and stories by introducing new heroes to activities that don’t involve combat. An NPC that guides players through the social aspects of Elder Scrolls Online and provides early marriage options would lighten the pressure of grinding quests and other activities for experience.

A lacking mechanic in most Elder Scrolls games has been the absence of a significant marriage connection. Often, players acquire an Amulet of Mara and speak to an NPC they’ve helped before. While the ceremony can be touching with the attendance of other friendly NPCs, there isn’t much time to bond with the protagonist’s new significant other. Elder Scrolls Online has the opportunity to change this by creating dedicated quests for various NPCs or player characters, encouraging players to play with their virtual fiance more in personalized quests. Elder Scrolls Online quests for couples could include something as simple as collecting materials for their rings or involve battling bandits and monsters to clear out a honeymoon location for after the wedding. Whether players romance other players or NPCs, the adventure turns marriage from a half-minded experience buff to a dedicated questline that encourages genuine connection.

Related: Skyrim Characters That Should Have Been Marriage Options But Weren't

Perhaps the greatest flaw of Elder Scrolls Online is the lack of a simple divorce option for married player characters. Relationships fall apart after a time, and sometimes people move on to different games, but ESO continues to maintain relationships in a steadfast manner. Providing players with the opportunity to divorce a former partner easily and obtain a new match is essential to undermining problematic partnerships and leaving heroes who’ve departed Elder Scrolls Online and Tamriel for good. A divorce option also encourages players to continue interacting with other members of the ESO community and spending time with new groups of characters, locations, or activities.

Whether Elder Scrolls Online allows players to marry NPCs or exclusively other player characters, a shared housing or farmstead mechanic could provide extra incentive. Players could maintain exclusive rights over personal items to prevent trolling or virtual theft, but both could receive decorating rights to the shared property. Not only would this introduce a shared activity for spouses that doesn’t include combat, but it could open a unique real estate for players who enjoy decorating. Genshin Impact’s 2,0 gardening system performs a similar function in the multiplayer RPG, and Elder Scrolls Online should adopt a similar outlook and activity to maintain relevance.

However, since there are many housing options in Elder Scrolls Online, marriage houses could become farmsteads to provide a different form of income. Acquiring livestock like cattle, sheep, and goats could provide items and a source of passive gold income. Additionally, the farmstead could be used to breed horses and sell them at regulated prices to other players. The opportunity for players to create a unique economy for Elder Scrolls Online likely wouldn’t negate the game’s premium currency or undermine existing money-making systems. Instead, it would allow players to explore other avenues outside of quest completion and PvP.

Though Elder Scrolls Online provides many gameplay opportunities outside of combat and regular quests, marriage is a simple mechanic to improve. Thankfully, the Elder Scrolls Online community isn’t hurting for content, with the recent Deadlands expansion having dropped just over a month ago for PC. Hopefully, with dedicated development over the next few years, marriage can be updated and improved for the current player base. Elder Scrolls Online is available now on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and Stadia.

Next: Why ESO's Dragonbone Style Isn't Worth It

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