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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...]

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!

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.

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...]

My Mixed ESO Emotions

I must confess I am having mixed feelings about The Elder Scrolls Online.  I recently wrote my opinion on the 1-20 experience during beta.  I was pretty bored with most of it — lots of boring quests, being guided by the nose, etc. — but I never tried the PvP.  A while back I wrote how the PvP looked awful on paper.  One big server, campaigns, etc.

I don’t know how I feel now.  I’ve watched the PvP streams and the combat looks fun.  Siege weapons look great — those trebs and catapults are pretty cool.  I admit to wishing I was playing in the PvP right now.  Unfortunately, I am stuck without a gaming computer while our leaking roof dries.

My PvP concerns:

  • Zerg PvP is both boring and frustrating.  I see quite a bit of it going on.
  • Door Wars.  Bashing on doors all day.
  • AoE and Ranged being the only way to truly participate.

Anyone care to share a personal experience that will alleviate any of my concerns?

I like the recent announcement that the starter islands will be optional.  Then there’s this whole idea floating around out there that the PvE game opens up and becomes less themepark questing and more traditional Elder Scrolls.  Is there any truth to that?  If so, I can push past 20 levels of crap for 30 levels of fun.   My spidey-sense tells me something is amiss and that I should be cautious.

That’s where I’m at.  I’m trying to work through all of these contradicting feelings and opinions.  I’m currently hovering around the middle ground between ‘stay the heck away’ and ‘give it a shot’ … but slightly toward staying away.   Your thoughts are most definitely welcome.