In Elder Scrolls Online, player gear can be customized in a number of ways. One such way is through traits, which can add effects like more damage, penetration, healing, etc. Training is one of those traits, and I hate it. You wouldn’t think so given its effect of increasing EXP gained from ALL sources. I must be crazy, right? Who doesn’t like leveling up faster?! Yet never have EXP bonuses felt so tainted as they do with training gear.
Training gear has a massive impact on leveling speed. Depending on the quality of the individual pieces, a full training set can increase EXP gains by over 80%. It’s really hard to pass that up in a genre that is first and foremost about advancing one’s character. And it’s nice that Zenimax included some means to speed up the grind for both alts and new players. Unfortunately, it brings some unintended consequences and ultimately weakens the game.
The worst aspect of training gear in ESO is it makes acquiring new equipment pointless until endgame. No matter how epic that new sword or armor is, it won’t help you level as fast as a set of common training gear. Even at low levels, acquiring new loot should be a fun activity. In ESO, every single piece of pre-endgame equipment either gets vendored or deconstructed for crafting materials.
Secondly, because acquiring loot is pointless until endgame, it disincentivizes activities that aren’t EXP focused. It follows then that the most effective use of training gear is grinding. Grinding in highly concentrated areas will level one up quickly, but it’s as horribly dull as grinding in any other MMORPG. Leveling up this way also lets you save money in the long run by maintaining outdated equipment. That brings me to point #3.
Training gear isn’t overly difficult to craft, which I suppose is good. The one exception to that is for newbies, who typically won’t have the friends or funds to finance their own training gear set. Even if they can get their hands on a full set early on, there’s no way to upgrade it to keep it level appropriate. Crafting a new set every 10 levels to maintain somewhat adequate stats is burdensome at best. So new players either have to devote resources to recrafting the same lame gear, earn deficient EXP, or (as referenced above) grind with others who can do all of the work instead.
ESO isn’t the only game at fault. Other MMORPGs exist which employ a similar system of encouraging suboptimal equipment to increase overall leveling speed. It doesn’t make any sense though. It establishes progression as the primary means of entertainment, which should be a byproduct of actual quality entertainment like dungeons, PvP, and quests. In games where grinding is really all there is to do, maybe it’s reasonable. In a game like ESO where dungeons, PvP, and questing are all high quality activities, it hurts the game.
Training gear only serves to boil a content saturated MMORPG like Elder Scrolls Online down to a mindless level grind. Zenimax Online should replace it with a trait with actual endgame uses and just increase EXP rates from all sources by 80% before level 50, gradually declining to 0% at 160 champion point levels (the highest gear level requirement). ESO is not a game that needs the filler content of level grinding to keep people around, and it shouldn’t act like it.