Edited by Quantact on February 14, 2019 10:47PM
I am a big fan of Elder Scrolls, and have been for a long time. Part of what I like about Elder Scrolls is the use of history and politics as basis for some of the lore and character personalities.
ESO is a good example, and I like how the first rule of real-life international politics is followed in this game: national self interest. This is one of the first things real-life diplomats learn in school. So, politicians may tell their countries a lot of things to justify foreign policy, but on the international stage, it's every country for itself, diplomats and national leaders talking with each other away from the cameras know this, and if a politician doesn't follow this rule, he or she isn't properly representing his or her country and should be replaced. High King Emeric, Queen Ayrenn and the Jorunn the Skald King all do this very well, because while they are good people individually and to their loyal subjects, when dealing with the other factions, quite a bit of dirty stuff gets done in their name and by their knowledge. When they have the end-game summit, they quickly start fighting with each other as enemies, only act together because Molag Bal tries to assassinate all of them, and the Fighter's Guild leader points out that they themselves are to blame for the war that's going on.
The player character is the close eye and confidante of one of the faction leaders. When you're just going through the game, everything makes sense. Where it decisively stops making sense is when you finish your faction's quest line and get into Cadwell's Gold and Silver, where you're invited to see how things would have turned out if you had washed ashore in one of the other two factions. You then go to bat for the other two faction leaders, very often foiling the plans of the faction you're actually with.
This is very immersion breaking and both RP wise and lore wise makes absolutely no sense. If you fought and risked your life for Queen Ayrenn, you want to hinder and harm the other two faction leaders any chance you get. You won't go and save the King of Daggerfall, clear Siluum of Dominion troops, and solve Emeric's problems for him. Yes, the Dominion you encounter don't know you are working for Ayrenn, but YOU know you work for Ayrenn. You WANT Emeric's territory to be a screaming mess where Bloodthorn and Red Rooks rampage unchecked, kill people and ultimately kill Emeric, you WANT him to be assassinated, for Camlorn to be overrun by werewolves and so on. If this was otherwise, Queen Ayrenn wouldn't have trusted you as she did. She certainly wouldn't approve of you aiding her enemies, who literally want to kill her, to get some stupid helmet. She'd see it as a complete betrayal and have you hunted down and executed, probably by Razum Dar, who knows how you think.
Same goes for the other two factions. I understand Emeric and Skald King are likeable people, but if you work for Emeric, you work for Emeric. If you work for the Skald King, you work for the Skald King.
I definitely see how and why Zenimax wants people to be able to play Cadwell's gold and silver, but the justification needs to be changed. For example, you might have the progression purely in your mind, where you DO the quest line and get the skyshards and your experience and progression are real, but the actual aid you give the two enemy factions happens only in your mind and is not real. The faction leader you work for would actually approve of this, because the hindrance you're presenting him or her is not real, but the life experience you get is real and can then be used, for real, on the faction leader's behalf, such as in Cyrodiil. Ayrenn is not going to judge you a traitor for clearing Siluum of Dominion troops fictitiously; it would actually let her get a feel for how her troops perform on the field and how they can be bettered. Also, since she relies on you as her close eye and confidante, if such a fiction can make you vastly more powerful without hindering her in reality, she would personally approve of you doing that. Same for other two faction leaders and their servants.
The justification need not be what I suggest, of course, but I strongly feel something like that is needed. When I brought this up in-game with my friends, they said "you do it for the pretty helmet," which doesn't really strike me as the best reason to mess up such a lore-rich game's immersion and lore.