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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...]

Day 2 and 3 in ESO – Progress!

The Argonian brothers, Squats-In-Bushes and Eats-His-Feelings, are well on their way!  We just hit level 10 last night after slowing roaming around and just ‘doing’ whatever comes our way.  As I said the other day, we’re taking it slow.  We’re not in a rush to power game to the max level or get into the PvP right away.  When we run across a fellow Argonian needing assistance, we lend a hand.  When a snotty Dunmer demands we kill the Dreugh on his land we begrudgingly clean them out.  We like to roleplay it up a bit!

So far the world and immersion factor has been great.  I’ve always maintained that ESO has a nice world.  It feels almost EQ1 level of open, in a way.  If EQ1 was populated with a lot of quests instead of camps of mobs, that would be ESO.

The act of questing — go here, kill this, etc. – is a little boring.  The way in which ZoS delivers those quests in ESO, however, is fitting.  For example, we helped some guy rob a house earlier in the game and when we arrived in another city he was there to greet us and actually remembered the work we did to help him.  We then, without even knowing to find him here, continued on to another heist.  We’ve met several  – and I do mean several — NPCs who remember what we did for them and it appears provide us an experience matching our actions.  The continuity is actually remarkable.

I also like how we  can be roaming around just exploring and an NPC will run up to us and ask for help fighting back some annoying Shalks or whatever kind of monster might be attacking their house.  Kinda cool.  Sure, once they actually give you the quest and you realize it’s “Kill 1o Shalks” it sorta kills it a bit.

A lot of quests are bugged.  We’ve run into 4 quests now that can’t be completed because of some glitch that won’t let an item activate or a monster be summoned.  I don’t know if it’s their phasing tech or the megaserver to blame, but the broken quests make progressing really frustrating.  We completed this long series of quests to finally get to the boss just to have him not spawn.  Logging in the next day fixed the issue, but it was a buzz kill.

Tonight we’ll experience the PvP.  Stay tuned tomorrow for my first ever initial thoughts on ESO’s alleged “DAoC style” experience.

Too many Games, too little time

Sorry for the slow few days around here.  We’ve actually been *gasp* playing games.

The Elder Scrolls Online

ESO launched two days ago, and I’m actually having more fun than I thought I would.  No that’s not an April Fool’s day psych-out.  I think it’s partially how we’re going about things.  Three days in we are still only level 8.  We are going really, really slow.  I long for the days when I could play 10 hours at a time — those are my weekends — but playing slow has helped avoid the burnout.  ESO is quest-heavy leveling.  The quests themselves are 85% boring and “go here do this” lead you by the nose stuff, but you don’t get lead one quest to the next — that’s part is less linear.  If I can actually get to 10, we’ll be able to PvP!  Stay tuned.

Live Streaming

We are making a serious push to stream more of the games we play and even upload to Youtube.  I got Graev a microphone, the new Playstation Gold headset, and a Live Gamer Portable.  He better stream or I’ll kick his butt.

Look for his streams every morning between 9am-12pm pacific time.  He’ll most likely be streaming a lot of Xbox One Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare.  Then look for me to stream in the evenings.  Probably a lot of ESO and EQ Next Landmark.  You can find our stream on Twitch.tv or on our stream page here on the blog.  Be sure to follow us to know when we go live!

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls

Graev and I picked up RoS and started completely new characters.  We’re now on Act 5 and just (minor spoilers) beat Adra.  So far so good.  I think Diablo 3 has been patched for the better over the past year, especially in loot patch 2.0. The legendary loot drops are pretty sweet now that they have been tuned to give you pretty much a guaranteed drop every 2-3 hours.  Each boss you kill for the first time is also a guaranteed drop.  We’ll write up more formal thoughts once we finish the campaign and run some of the new Rift and Bounties.

It’s still, hard as it tries, not Diablo 2 .  Really fun though, and much improved.  Now that I think about it… D3 is probably awesome on consoles.  More on that in the D3 post to come.

So many games…

Aside from Diablo 3 and Elder Scrolls, I’m also enjoying the heck out of Landmark.  I claimed an awesome bit of open land where I’m going to build a a Harvest Moon style farm (pictures coming soon!).  It’s an awesome piece of property overlooking a lake and the ocean on a flat hilltop.  Man I love Landmark.  I’m also wanting to jump in and play more Albion Online, some original EverQuest, and Assassin’s Creed Black Flag.  Sheesh, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.