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ESO Bugs and Inventory Management

Keen and I have been putting a lot of time into ESO lately, and have mostly great things to say about it.  The story is engaging and the atmosphere is immersive; however, there are several aspects of the game that we both find to be very frustrating.

kwama-worker

Nope, not that kind of bug.

Bugs

When MMO’s first launch, they usually have a lot of stability and performance issues, but it seems with ESO it is mostly things like broken quests. It is not just a few either. We rarely go a day playing without encountering at least one quest that requires rebooting the game, a creative work-around, /reloadui, or just giving up because the quest is just unable to be completed.

I understand that MMO’s are usually pretty buggy, but the amount of broken content in such an early zone makes it seem like this stuff was barely even play tested. Aside from that, neither of us have run into many performance issues and the game stability has been great so far. So it’s kind of interesting, but aggravating, how things seem to be a little flipped when it comes to bugs.

Another thing that may not be a bug, but is still annoying, is how monster spawn rates seem to be all over the place. Some dungeons won’t spawn monsters very fast at all, while other dungeons and areas will spawn monsters so fast that it’s impossible to keep up. This greatly affects some areas that require you kill everything before the important boss spawns.

World Size and Instancing

I have never liked instancing because it kind of feels like it breaks up part of the immersion of the game. But in the case of ESO, I actually have started to feel like I wish they would instanced the game more. For the most part ZOS did a good job of dividing players into these invisible phases and there is usually a good spread of people around the zone. However, when you get to public dungeons and dark anchors, things start to get very over crowded.

In small numbers, these places can be difficult but very fun and exciting to do. For instance, the other day, Keen and I, along with maybe one or two other people, completed a dark anchor and it was probably one of the funner experiences we had. We also got some pretty good loot from it too! Just today, we attempted another dark anchor, but as soon as it started, what seemed like 20 other people showed up. All of the enemies died super quickly, and by that I mean it was basically impossible to even get a hit off something before it just disintegrated. In the end we didn’t get to loot anything and barely got to contribute at all.

I don’t know how they can fix this problem with dark anchor events, but I imagine they could put a lower cap on public dungeons or something. At least that way you experience the dungeon boss dying before you get there.

Inventory Management

A remarkably large portion of our play time is actually spent managing all of the stuff in our inventory. We constantly have to go back to town to sell and trying to hang on to anything for crafting purposes ends up being a ridiculous juggling act. Earlier today, after we had wrapped up some questing, we spent at least 20 minutes handing items back and forth to each trying to manage our inventory and bank space, while making room for crafting supplies and breaking down items. Requiring real hours to research items seems like a good idea at first, but when you have a backlog of 15 plus pieces, which each require 6 to 12 hours to get rid of, things start to really pile up.  I will say that being able to store it all in your bank helps instead of having to carry it around with you everywhere.

Still Fun Despite the Flaws

I don’t mean to come off incredibly negative, because I’m actually enjoying my time in ESO way more than I have in any MMO in the past several years. These are just some of the larger annoyances that keep rearing up during our play time. All in all, I’d have to say that the good still vastly outweighs the bad, and I’m excited to see more of the game as we continue our adventure through Tamriel. Hopefully there won’t be many more bumps along the way.

H1Z1 … hmm

h1z1-teaser

SOE just officially revealed (sort of) H1Z1, the game John Smedley hinted at 2 months ago when he said:

 “SWG PLAYERS – OUR NEXT GAME (not announced yet) IS DEDICATED TO YOU. Once we launch it… you can come home now.”

As a former / current SWG super-fan, I think I’m qualified to address how I feel after learning a bit about the game, as well as some of my initial thoughts and ramblings on why SOE is making H1Z1.

H1Z1 & SWG

I don’t get it.  I see DayZ meets Rust in a massively multiplayer persistent world.  Don’t get me wrong… that’s sounds like it can be a fantastic game, but that’s not SWG.  SWG was about building a community and living your life in a galaxy far, far away. H1Z1 is about surviving, hiding in the shadows, and being afraid.  I think, perhaps, the only trait the two will share is a sandbox nature and an involved crafting system.

Why a zombie survival game?

Simple. SOE is targeingt a completely different market.  They were live streaming about Landmark at the exact same time they did this first-look at H1Z1 on someone’s live stream show.  This isn’t for the fans who are hyped up about Landmark, EQ Next, or heck even Planetside.  This isn’t for the people who go to fanfare (SOE Live) or post on message boards.  H1Z1 from the moment they came out of the gate has been aimed directly that that L337 crowd of DayZ gamers – the “bros” of gaming.

I get why they are trying new things.  SOE went for the kiddie market for a while, the F2P Eastern model for a bit, the shooter market, then heavily back to the Fantasy RPG crowd (their roots), and now they want a taste of the growing zombie survival scene.

There’s no accounting for taste

Personally, I’m not a big fan of post-apocalyptic settings.  I’m also not big on zombies.  I prefer elves, magic, swords, etc. I’m not interested in games where the aforementioned ‘bros’ run around circle strafing and looting your backpack.  I’m not a big fan of FFA PvP, so I would probably play on a PvE server or a ruleset where I have to opt-in when I’m ready.  I’m not big of dark and scary, and I really hate how most post-apoc games are all brown and gross terrain.

H1Z1 may not be the game for me, but I am intrigued by the scope of a game where Smedley claims people can build anything, burn anything, and drive or fly vehicles all over the place.  Put that on a console (like they plan) and maybe this will be a great ‘sit back on the couch for a few hours’ kind of game.

Our First Week in ESO

We just hit level 16 last night in ESO, and I think we are about to finish up the first zone (Stonefall) for the Ebonheart Pact.  I have to say right off the bat here that I am really enjoying myself far more than I expected.  We picked up ESO as sort of a ‘what the heck we’ll give it a try’ kind of deal.  Turns out, ESO does several things better than most MMOs.

Exploration

I haven’t felt rewarded for exploring, or even the drive to explore a zone, in a very long time.  Roaming around the map in ESO is extremely rewarding.  Hidden throughout the zones are lore books to raise your Mages Guild level, Skyshards to give you skill points, and entire quest chains.  These things are all -awesome- and immensely important.  It’s one thing if the rewards for exploration are jumping puzzles — I feel no desire to explore and find those — but something entirely different when you can truly unlock more content you will not find unless you just roam around.

Throughout the map are optional public dungeons (really just caves with monsters), points of interest, these awesome event things that spawn bad guys, hidden quests, mini-world bosses, and even special crafting stations.  Exploring is totally worth your time.

Story

The story so far has been really quite good.  You’ll need a bit of reading comprehension, but if you can keep these fantasy names straight you’ll figure out that everything you’ve done in the first zone all ties together.  All of the NPCs you’ve met along the way seem to be connected, and many of their individual stories are all building up to something bigger.  Graev and I explored off the beaten path and found this awesome little hidden temple ruins that ended up leading to a longer quest chain that sent us back in time and explained a huge portion of what was going on in Stonefall.  Had we not found this quest we would have missed out on the backstory.

ESO is delivering the story in a really passive way.  I think back to the story in SWTOR which was really spoon-fed, forced into questing instances, and just heavy-handed (and not optional).  The story in ESO falls together and is there for you to absorb however much (or little) you want.

Atmosphere

Story and exploration have yielded a fantastic atmosphere.  Tamriel isn’t a sandbox world.  I do not feel the world is quite as free as the original EverQuest, but it’s a happy medium.  I’m usually not a fan of ‘playing through’ a zone mechanics, but ESO makes the experience rewarding and entertaining to the point that I forget all about the themepark nature and just focus on the moment.  This is where the “Elder Scrolls” feel comes in, and Graev has pointed out dozens of references to things he has seen, done, or known about based on past Elder Scrolls games.  Again, it’s well done.

Character Development

Level takes a decent amount of time.  We spent exactly one week getting to level 16 and spent the entire time in one zone.  Leveling our characters hasn’t been a complete walk in the park, and we’ve had to make a lot of choices along the way.  I love how skill points are limited and in high demand. I cherish every point we find, and I think long and hard before allocating them into skills. My choices have actually mattered.

I’m eager to progress and see what comes next.  As we join up with several in-game guilds (like factions) even more possibilities for character development, story, and exploration unfold.  I am very pleased with my experiences thus far in ESO. Let’s see what another week brings!

ESO Tips for Newbs

As Graev and I play ESO more we are discovering a few things that we wish we knew right when we started.

Interrupting, Avoiding, and Blocking

When you see red sparks, hold the right mouse button then click the left mouse button while target the enemy.  You’ll thrust your weapon forward (or shield bash) the enemy causing their ability to be interrupted.

When you see the yellowish sparks, hold the right mouse button when the enemy lands their hit on you and they will be dazed.  Perform a heavy hit by holding down the left mouse button (with a bow hold for a second or two then let go) and you will knock the enemy off balance.

When you see a red circle, red line, or red anything on the ground, double tap WASD in a direction that will get you out of the indicator.  This will make your character roll or dodge out of the way and avoid being hit by what is going to be an unblockable attack.

eso-map-questsCompleting Quests in Areas

Questing in ESO about roaming around, exploring, and finding quests to complete.  Quest hubs only exist in loosest possible sense.  You can expect there to be a couple of quests around each city.  To make sure you know when to move on, open up your map and look at the symbol representing the city, farm, outposts, etc.  If it’s black that means you may still have something to complete there.  If the symbol has turned white, you have probably done the main quests there.

How to use the Scroll and Ring of Mara

Visit the Shrine of Mara in the city you appear in when first loading into the game.  Once you find the shrine, open your inventory, press and hold Q, and put the scroll of Mara into the quickslot.  Target your friend or significant other (Graev targeted me) and press Q.  You’ll receive the prompt to commit yourself to that person.  It was rather awkward for us.

If you have any tips you’d like to share, post them in the comments below!  I know both Graev and I appreciate any tips you can give us, and I’m sure others reading do as well.

ESO PvP (AvA) First Impressions

I finally made it into Cyradiil!  After playing in the beta since November and having the best intentions every time to participate in PvP I can finally share my thoughts on what is being lauded as the closest thing to DAoC PvP we’ve seen in over a decade.

Cyradiil-ESO

The Map

The very first thing I realized was that Cyradiil is really big.  DAoC’s frontiers are still ginormous by comparison, but Cyradiil is already feels 4x the size of GW2′s WvW zone. Cyradiil can hold 2,000 people and from what I am told is optimized for 200 people on the screen at a time.  I’ll vouch for what I experienced so far, which is probably only ~75 people, but it was 100% smooth.

Cyradiil is full of cities (mostly abandoned) with NPCs (both good and bad) and daily quests to complete.  Graev and I spent what felt like 5 minutes running from one town to the next and didn’t come even remotely close to seeing another player or even a keep or objective to claim.

Teleporting around is a feature.  You can portal between major objectives if you control a path connecting them.  This introduces strategy associated with breaking the enemy’s ability to reinforce quickly.  From only a few hours of play I can already tell you this is going to play a major role like it did in DAoC.  [Read more...]