ESO: Tamriel Unlimited with Character Copy

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Last week Graev and I received emails from the ESO team offering us a promotional package to essentially take our characters from the PC version of ESO and move them to the upcoming console version. Included in this promotional offering was a copy of the game for the console of our choice (PS4/Xbox One).

Graev and I were already planning to revisit the now buy-to-play (B2P) ESO. We enjoyed ourselves a fair bit back when we played for a month of so after launch. ESO PvE wasn’t terrible — pretty fun, actually. The PVP sorta sucked, though.

The console version, being a full price game, isn’t worth it. Getting the game for $20 and being able to play it how it was originally meant to be played (with a controller) while sitting on the couch? Yeah, I’ll take it. The characters transfer doesn’t even appeal to me since neither Graev nor I care to pick up where we left off. We’re rolling a different faction, different characters, etc.

We’re going to play the PS4 version. I think the consoles and PC are separate servers, but I’m not sure if the PS4 and Xbox One are separated or play together. Should be a bit of fun.

DAoC was about PvE

In yesterday’s post about Crowfall I mentioned long-term goals and driving factors for why players should care. What makes someone wake up at 3am to defend a relic? Why should I care if I lose my keep? Many games creating a PvP system these days seem to look to DAoC as an example. WAR, GW2, ESO, and Crowfall all have the keep capturing mechanics and really did/do borrow heavily from the system. While they miss many features like proper character advancement in PvP, map size, and the nitty gritty details of how sieging should work, etc., there’s one bigger picture key ingredient they’re all missing: A focus on PvE.

DAoC was about PvE. The game long-heralded as the best RvR/PvP game of all time was driven by the players caring about PvE and how their characters performed outside of the frontiers (where the realm war/RvR took place).

DAoC had relics which increased your character’s stats and damage. Owning these was paramount and the goal of RvR was typically to try and push hard enough that you controlled the keeps necessarily to make the relic vulnerable. To make players care a bit more about those relics, the realm controlling most keeps had access to the best PvE zone in the game: Darkness Falls. Darkness Falls was the best place to level characters, get gear (that wasn’t player made), and earn money.

I have memories of being in Darkness Falls grouping for Legion and hearing the announcement that Albion was advancing and taking our keeps. We bailed out as fast as possible and rushed to the frontiers to defend or retake our territories in order to keep our coveted Darkness Falls longer.

Player made gear was typically the best back in the day. You weren’t going to earn that gear by PvPing. PvPing gave you realm ranks and points to buy new abilities which made you much stronger, but you still needed that player made gear. Player made gear, like all gear, wore out and broke over time. There was always a need to earn money which meant PvE.

Perhaps I should have started with this, but getting to level 50 was through rigorous PvE. Leveling wasn’t quick (before people macro’d and abused the leveling system like they do in every game). Leveling could take months to reach 50, and you weren’t a ton of use before level 50 out in the frontiers. Leveling through PvP wasn’t an option, and the silly “scaling” systems of today (another way for these games to ignore Pve) did not exist.

Although the “end-game” of DaoC was PvP, and one could PvP the entire time they played (after reaching level 50 and gearing up), the core of the game still maintained a healthy focus on PvE. The key isn’t to ignore PvE or come up with systems to avoid it. The two play-styles needn’t compete against each other. A great game can and perhaps should utilize both in harmony.

WildStar and ESO

wildstar-deluxe-editionBefore I go into some WildStar discourse I want to update you all on where Graev and I are at with The Elder Scrolls Online.

We officially cancelled our ESO accounts 20 minutes before the subscription was due.  We debated back and forth the merits of playing a game that we really weren’t feeling a huge urge to log in to.  ESO always felt like a single-player experience for us, yet failed to live up to the single-player experiences of Morrowind, Oblivion, or Skyrim.  Playing simply became too repetitive.  The Thieves guild, Dark Brotherhood, and justice system should have been in at launch.  There should never have been classes at all and instead been skill-based.  There should have been multiple paths to level up your character instead of letting one person do essentially everything yet creating a linear world.   Neither of us feel ESO is a bad game, it just wasn’t worth the money to continue when our desire to log in was… well, zero.  Coming in at 60 hours each, we got our box price and then some.

I’m biting the bullet and picking up WildStar.  This should come as no surprise to the world: Keen buy’s every MMO.   Graev is still on the fence and wants to wait and see if I stick with it.  I commend him for his ability to abstain.

I picked up WildStar on Green Man Gaming and got 20% off using the code: FUSWJT-B1DU64-JBV8UY

The Keen and  Graev Community will be rolling in on a yet to be named server.  If you’re looking for a laid-back and close-knit community feel then check us out.   We’re not the group to join if you want to dominate 40-man raids.  If you want a group of people you can quickly call your best friends and continue to do so for 7+ years later then look no further.

I’m going to roll up a warrior.  I’m still debating what race I want to play.  I’m really disappointed by not being able to play as the Chua.  Why do classes have to be race restricted?  That’s such an annoying system.  After dabbling in all of the classes over the past year, the Warrior just feels the best.  I’ll most likely have an Esper or Spellslinger alt.

My approach to WildStar is going to be moderately casual.  If we end up raiding it’ll be with our community combined with several other guilds in a similar position.  If that means we never see 40-man content oh well.  I don’t care — at all.  If we can do the 20-man stuff that might be neat, at least until it becomes repetitive.

Playing in this open beta has shown me that Carbine has made decent progress.  Animations are better, sounds are night and day what they used to be, and I’m starting to feel in the mood for something a little zany.  They timed their release really, really well.

I’ll have more thoughts for your as I play WildStar.  For now just know that I’ll be diving in head first as always.  I didn’t communicate enough of my ESO experiences, but I do plan to play WildStar and write regular adventure log updates as well as my usual critiques. If nothing else, I think getting my money’s worth out of the box price alone will be doable.

ESO’s Future Updates Look Good (on paper)

Zenimax Online Studios released their roadmap for upcoming future changes to The Elder Scrolls Online.  Graev and I are what you might consider ‘regular’ players.  We put in 3-4 hours a week, explore every corner of every zone, listen to 95% of the quest dialog, level our crafting, and do all of the dungeons.  We aren’t leveling quickly at all; We’re getting close to level 30.  We are guildless and just roaming the world together.  I say all of this to give you a bit of context so that you understand where I’m coming from as I comment on what is coming soon to ESO.

Update 1 containing lots of new “veteran” (end-game) content is coming soon.  I think that’s great, but I won’t see any of it for a long time.  What I care about are these future updates:

  • A system that allows grouped players to see each other even when they’re in different phases
  • A justice system—steal from and kill NPCs and deal with the consequences if you are caught
  • Migration of European Megaserver to our European datacenter.
  • Field of View (FOV) adjustment
  • Armor dyeing and tinting
  • Two new Veteran Dungeons: Crypt of Hearts and City of Ash
  • New region of Craglorn with a new Trial (the Serpent)
  • Increased ability to pick up items in the world
  • Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood storyline and quests.
  • Spellcrafting
  • Horse Racing
  • Dragonstar Arena—similar to Trials, but built for a group of four
  • Improvements to fishing
  • Crafting system improvements
  • Improved Looking for Group system
  • Better NPC facial animations

That’s an awesome list.  I’m mostly looking at the changes that make the game and the world feel more like a traditional ES game.  A justice system, more interaction with the world, and two great guilds coming to the game.  Graev and I are both desperately wanting the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves guild.

ESO hasn’t been entirely peachy.  Graev and I are starting to wonder if the subscription is going to be worth it.  We are both tired of just quest grinding, and the experience is starting to feel slightly flat.  The PvP, despite sounding great and all, hasn’t attracted us at all.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me — is it me?  Maybe it’s the game.  I just don’t feel like going out and zerging, and I feel like the PvP is still an arcade experience.  I can’t explain it.  I just see a lack of purpose and meaning.

Maybe, as I think about it here, DAoC was different because of server communities.  I was on Percival in the realm of Midgard.  We worked our butts off to earn Darkness Falls.  We held keeps and fought with unimaginable fervor to hold our keeps and relics.  It was … it really was epic.  I would stand in a keep with my weapon ready staring off into the snowy tree covered hills waiting to see a speck of movement.  The bloody cry of a scout, “THEY’RE COMING!!!!” would make my face tingle as the blood and adrenaline began to flow and we were ready to die where we stood to ensure there wasn’t even a chance in hell our lands would be taken.  I can’t find that in ESO, so I do not participate in PvP.

I’m okay with a PvE experience.  I’m a bit of carebear now.  I just want ESO’s PvE to reflect what matters to me in a game.  It’s getting there.  I just need it to come quicker.

Healing in The Elder Scrolls Online

My character in ESO is coming along nicely.  I guess you can say I play a “Blood Mage.”  I’m a Nightblade with a Restoration Staff, and I plan to one day become a vampire.  I take the life force from others and siphon it off to heal myself and my allies over time.  I can also lay down some great ‘smart hots’ and ‘aoe hots’ (heal over time) abilities to a group.  Everything I do is based around living longer than the enemy, and killing them in the process.

Honestly, I haven’t spent a lot of time in PvP.  Most of my time is spent PvEing with Graev and enjoying the world.  My healer has been more than capable of all content I’ve encountered.  Graev (tank), our friend as a DPS, a random DPS, and myself cleared all of the 20-23 dungeons (3 of them) yesterday in a marathon session.  All of them were actually pretty easy for me to heal.  The hardest encounters are those with lots of monsters all activating abilities at once.  If people stay out of the red circles, block when they need to block, and play it smart then my spec works great.  I contribute to the DPS and keep everyone alive with moderate effort.

I say moderate effort, but it’s not quite the same as other games.  Healing can be frantic.  I feel almost like a Druid in WoW.  I won’t ever have the direct heals of a Paladin, and I have to keep everyone hotted up.  I don’t stare at hotbars and play wack-a-mole.  I pull out my bow and fire off some shots, cast lots of siphon spells, and contribute to the DPS as much as possible.  I’m enjoying myself.

The dungeons themselves have been pretty decent.  The boss fights are fairly straight forward, and the trash mobs are just enough to give you pause but not enough to feel like you’re wading through trash.  We’ll have to see how the later ones pan out.

My build is still missing 3-4 very key abilities that will make everything I do 10x better.  Part of that involves becoming a vampire, which itself is pretty involved and carries with it a series consequences like you find in previous Elder Scrolls games.  If I can convince Graev, well go into PvP tonight and I’ll be able to bring you more of those impressions.

Overall, I have to say my class choice has been superb thus far.  I can kill things quickly, live almost forever, and bring a ton of group utility. Check out a video of us killing a boss in last night’s dungeon run after the break. [Read more…]