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ESO Day 1: Figuring Out What to Play

The Elder Scrolls Online beta head start (Edit: This day has been a trying one) began today.  Graev and I both picked up the Imperial Edition (got it 20% off on Green Man Gaming) and decided to roll characters in the Ebonheart Pact.  We began playing this morning around 8am, got to level 7, then around noon decided to reroll something different. Graev wasn’t really ‘feeling’ the Sorcerer class, and I wasn’t sure the Templar matched my Argonian nature.  What followed was one of the worst experiences ever.

One of the great things about ESO is that you can really do whatever you want with race, class, and weapon combinations.  If you want to be a traditional tank you can make a Dragonknight and use a 1h/shield.  But you can also be a Dragonknight and use a destruction staff, or be restoration staff, and suddenly you’re not really what you’d think a DK would be at all.  A Nightblade, your typical rogue-like class, can be a DPS caster, a healer, a tank, an archer, a dual-wielding backstabing stealther, etc.

When we started to factor in all of these decisions we quickly realized the trappings of min-maxing.  Each race has bonuses fitting a playstyle, and each class has abilities that synergize well with something else.  Before we knew it, hours and hours were gone while we sat at the skill calculator trying to figure out what we wanted to play.

I love options — I really do.  I also hate options, and I hate when just enough freedom is there to trick you into thinking you can do whatever you want but really keep you within boundaries.  Most of that isn’t ESO’s fault.  I think you can do more out-of-the-box builds and playstyles in ESO than you can in most MMOs, but I wish they would have just made it all skill-based instead.

In the end, we settled on Argonians because we like how they look, and we both like how their common tongue names are ridiculous.  Graev is a rather plump, short, and fun-loving Dragonknight named “Eats-His-Feelings,” and I went with a dark-scaled serious looking Nightblade named “Squats-In-Bushes.”  If you’re not familiar with the common tongue naming conventions of the Argonians, they tend to name themselves in a way that describes them  It’s pretty fun to look around and see how creative people are with the Argonians — a bit of roleplay is definitely involved.

Anyway, I plan to be a healer that utilizes my bow to support with DPS.  Graev will be a beefy tank-type with some DPS to follow through.  We plan to roam Cyrodiil and be a hard to kill duo.  Should hopefully yield some fun evenings.  We’ll keep you updated on our progress!

ESO’s Redeeming Qualities

I’ve been on the fence with ESO for a long time.  I’ve also been a harsh critic of a lot of Zenimax’s choices.  I’m a very straight shooter; when I see things I don’t like I tell you, but I also feel it’s important to share things I think are pretty neat.

veteran-content

Small-group Content

I am a fan of small groups.  I like PvPing in small groups, and I like PvEing in small groups.  I love when content is fine-tuned precisely for a small group of people and everyone has a specific role to play.  Whether or not ESO’s content ends up being good, they are at least appealing to my love of being able to just grab my friends and jump into some content.  Forget that 40-man zerg.  I would rather the ‘experience’ guide me than the mechanics.

In ESO there are Veteran content, Adventure zones (4 people), and Trials (12).

Specialization

All of the crafting skills are part of the overall skill system, so you’ll need to consider your options carefully when you spend a skill point. Should you put one more point into blacksmithing, or do you really want to learn a new two-handed weapon ability?

You guys know how much I love specialization.  No one should be able to be everything.  People should have to rely on each other.  That, to me, is a hallmark of a good MMORPG.  I love that people in ESO will have to choose to spend some of their overall skill pool on improving their crafting.  Crafting seems pretty useful, too.  From what little I’ve seen, I believe there will be an actual reason to make gear right from the start. [Read more...]

Albion Online Alpha

Albion Online is a F2P sandbox MMO currently in alpha.  We received keys to participate in the alpha test that began this evening which ended up being so much fun that I had to jump on here and share my thoughts.  I would have had this post up yesterday evening shortly after playing, but my poor little laptop BSOD’d and I lost the whole thing. :(

Albion Online UI

UO meets Action RPG

Think of Ultima Online + a little bit of action RPG and you’ll start to form the foundation of Albion Online.  Played from an isometric perspective, Albion Online offers a completely sandbox experience on any device.  I was shocked to see that you can play cross-platform on iOS, Android devices, PC, etc.

 

Building

Players in Albion are able to build structures out in the world.  From what I can tell, there appear to be pre-designated spots close to the main city.  I haven’t explored far (the world is pretty dang big) enough to see if it opens up to more of a ‘place anywhere’ mechanic.  You can place storage buildings to help you store all of your heavy resources (there is a carry capacity), crafting stations, buildings to decorate, etc.  Like UO, you are safe in your building unless you built in the guild warfare areas.

Gathering and Skills

Albion Online Skills

This is about 5% of the skill menu

From the moment I started playing I realized how much time I could lose to this game.  The very first thing I had to do was gather wood, stone, and hides to craft myself some basic tools and armor.  I recommend making a shield and adding the Shield Wall spell — great survivability!  After crafting my tools I realized that everything in-game seems to be driven by the skill menu.  This skill menu is MASSIVE and makes Path of Exile look tame. [Read more...]

The Elder Scrolls Online vs. WildStar

I’m fighting a big internal battle right now over these two games. I’m in the weird predicament of not really being ecstatic about either of them. They are two of the biggest releases of the year, and I am still 100% undecided if I am going to get either of them. I go from an adamant “no” to a “well maybe I could” several times a day.

I’m going to make a pros and cons list here and maybe you all can help me decide what I should do.

ESO-BoxartThe Elder Scrolls Online

Pros:

  • PvP is being heralded as DAoC 2.0
  • Tamriel has a rich lore
  • Lots of  skill customization
  • Combat is the right balance of active

Cons:

  • Ugly Animations
  • Not very Elder Scrolls at all
  • Questing sucks
  • Unsure of the end-game
  • Could be a 3 monther

Pre-order off Amazon

Wildstar-BoxartWildStar

Pros:

  • Lots of my friends are going to play
  • Fantastic housing
  • Lots of diverse content
  • World PvP isn’t bad

Cons:

  • Questing sucks
  • Endgame = Raid treadmill
  • Spaztactic Combat
  • 40-man content
  • 3 monther

Pre-order on Amazon or Green Man Gaming (Save 20%: PLOCVS-G2T5YX-DATY6M)

Both games are probably going to be 3 monthers.  I can most likely get 3 months out of both.  The reason I’d quit WildStar is I get to the end and not want to raid, and I would quit Elder Scrolls Online because I get bored of the PvP.  I could get ESO since WildStar comes out 2 months later, then get WildStar; in other words get both.

Neither company has impressed me.  The ESO devs are wishy washy and do things like launch a CE and pre-order with outrageous bonuses.  The three factions were only thrown in to try and make a DAoC type PvP at the expense of hurting the brand.  WildStar devs think 40-man raids for the 1% is a good end-game, and that bringing back what most people hated about WoW somehow constitutes forward thinking.  Neither has revolutionized or even innovated much at all.

Here’s where I’m honestly at right now… I think I’m leaning towards getting ESO since people claim the PvP is so amazing, and I’ll have a 2 month window in which to convince myself to get WildStar.  Thoughts?  Is that a sad state of affairs or what?

Mixed Feelings On Elder Scrolls Online

Keen and I tried out the ESO beta this past weekend. I hadn’t had any prior experience with it so I was very curious about how it played. After the experience I was left with some mixed feelings on the game and I’m still not entirely sure if I like it or not.

Classes

I am a little bothered that there are only four classes. Usually in ES games you get offered a full list of options or you can just straight up make your own. I usually like playing some kind of battle mage but I’m not entirely sure how to go about doing that. From what I understand if I want to be able to cast spells without a staff then I need to start out as a sorcerer and then I can just equip whatever weapon I want along with some heavy armor. It sounds simple enough but I have to wonder about the viability of that kind of build. I don’t know how tough a sorcerer is compared to the more melee-oriented classes. You can’t really start out as one of them and then learn magic since you are stuck with your core class skills. You could use a staff to get some magic but a dude in heavy armor with a staff is just weird. Maybe there’s a lot more flexibility to the system and certain combinations are more viable than I think, but  honestly I just wish they had gone with an entirely skill based progression system rather than limited class options. [Read more...]