ESO Day 1: Figuring Out What to Play

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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!

  • I’m currently playing a Dark Elf “Pyromancer” using the Dragonknight. Inferno Staff, 5 light pieces, plus 2 heavy pieces for armor. Been doing very well.

    I also am running a Khajit Sorcerer who is a crit-focused dual-wielder, relying on the sorcerer skills as buffs, rather than as attacks. 5 Medium pieces, 2 light pieces (in the low levels there’s still quite a bit of spell attack going on, after all. . . ).

    I’ve also created 6 other characters to reserve names that I like to use, but I will probably be -remaking some, if not all of them. Or maybe not. From the beta weekends, I have a feel for the playstyles that I liked, so I made the characters along those veins. I’ve got the Nord melee templar (dps-focused), and also a “sun mage” templar that will also be a healer. Breton Nightblade that will be your traditional sneaky assassin, and a wood elf archer Nightblade too. High elf sorcerer that will go the traditional nuker route, and finally an Imperial DK that will be the traditional tank. Or that’s the current plan anyway. As I eventually get around to playing the alts, we’ll see how long that actually holds up. . . .

  • I have to give credit where it is due… I have not had any issues with the game yet. No lag… no queues.. overall one of the smoothest starts to an MMO I had experienced. Granted it is staggered but these days almost all MMO launches are… the true test will be Friday when everyone can play.

    As for the min/max issues my biggest problem is that I have gotten spoiled by The Secret World. Almost 2 years since launch and I still have only ever created one character as a result of their skill system. I like how almost all of the skills are available to any player in ESO but having to blindly pick a class at the start that then locks out of other sets of skills is the biggest issue for me. I know the game has the three Guild skill sets you can unlock but it would have been nice if they had figured a way to do the same with Class skill sets.. I hate having to roll a new character to try other classes.

    I am really enjoying the crafting though… spent about two hours yesterday just getting a better grasp of the system. I like the fact that the research aspect of crafting has a real world time restriction to it… the decision of what to spend that time researching feels more important as a result.

  • i am having no problems just exploring dont care about best skills for best race i just play how i want to play and how i want to play is a heavy armour guy with 2 handed weapons and some healing so a templar with 2 handed and so far its working really well and im having a great deal of fun.

    Personally I think if you play what other people think you should play a class or race then why bother playing you wont really enjoy the game.

  • @pkdude99: See, that’s what melts my brain about this whole thing. 5 pieces of this, 2 pieces of that, heavy here light there. I have no idea how you can figure out the optimal combo. Is there a cliff’s notes version that I can study for a crash course on figuring out how to make these decisions?

    @Bhagpuss: yeah, that was the result of a day long exercise of melting my brain trying to figure out ESO’s meta class/skill/etc system.

    @Nukethesitefromorbit: Agreed. Very smooth. We didn’t have a single disconnect or lag issue.

    @FreeQuest: Playing what I want is ultimately where I’m trying to get my brain to go. I keep getting stuck in this idea that if I’m not a templar then I can’t be a healer, or if I don’t specialize a ton in a certain weapon then I won’t be able to DPS. It’s the mentality that jacks of all trades suck and I have to specialize, but I think (hope) it’s not that way in ESO.

  • Relax about min/maxing; balance patches are going to hit hard in the first 6 months anyway, changing whatever is the FOTM now, next month, and so on. If you roll something now not because you like the look/playstyle but because someone on the Internet is saying the build is ‘best’, you are going to be disappointed and real mad when its nerfed.

    Just enjoy what the game is for now, and if down the line you want to get into top-end PvP where you feel you need to min/max, you will easily be able to either respec or roll an alt and get them up to speed quickly.

  • Interestingly enough I had the same class concept as you, a healer that uses a bow to DPS. I stuck with the Templar though because I get heals to slot from class skills so I don’t have to use a resto staff if I dont want to. I’m also leveling 1 hand/shield so I can tank/off tank.

    Race wise I took the imperial. No min maxing was involved.

    From what I’ve read the soft cap kicks in fast enough that in the long run the racials are a wash for the most part.

  • I did see a video about the in game respec that ESO offers. It seems each faction has a shrine that for a donation of gold can reset your attribute points or skill points. While this will not allow changing the primary class it does allow at least some room for experimentation with your points. The video was from beta and the cost of the skill point reset was about 1440 gold and the narrator said it goes up each time but did not say how much it increases or if the price is modified based on your number of skill points. He had 14 skill points reset with his donation.

  • I think how many of each armor type you want depends on which armor passives you take. The bonus they give is based on the number of that type of item you are wearing.

    Also pay attention to which of your stats are overcharged. They show up as orange on the stat sheet. This is the soft cap everyone is talking about. I overcharged my weapon damage and didn’t do anything special except find a blue weapon in one of the CE treasure chests.

    I think classes end up being a “feel” sort of thing. Do you like fire spells? Go DK. Arcane spells and pets? Go sorc. etc etc.

    There is some argument as to if Templar make the best healers since they are the only class with a healing line. In the end, you can get all 5 skills from your weapon and guild lines and basically ignore the class skills if you want so its not a big deal. Is Templar the best by the numbers? Probably. But what about a DK healer with some resto staff abilities and some stuff from their buff line or a sorc with some CC? When you can’t run a meter on another person, best becomes about the end result and not about the numbers in between.

  • @Freequest: I have to agree. I rolled an Imperial Dragonknight because I really like how ESO does sword and board. I’m exploring every nook and cranny and gathering a ton of mats…which are needed because lvl’ing crafting is crazy!

    That said, I did have to consciously turn off my inner min/max setting. With so many options, I woulda ended up with Alice eating mushrooms and talking to the Cheshire Cat.

  • I spent the last couple weeks before early access agonizing over which class to play. Hard to shut that min/max voice off in my head but eventually even though Dunmer might have been slightly better overall for my class concept I ended up going with Altmer just cause I liked the look a bit better. I think in the end with gear enchants and passive abilities the initial race you choose won’t have a massive impact on your gameplay. Maybe 1-2% less effective if that, doesn’t seem enough to stress over.

  • @Keen The class decision is something you should go with entirely based upon looks, and I think you nailed that with your Argonians. Why? Because the racial passives are minor in the long run. More than you think even. Each race has 4 passives, but only 3 of those even affect your stats. Every single race has one passive that simply lets you gain xp 15% faster in a certain skill line. That is nothing for a min/maxer, at level cap it does jack for you, and before that is barely noticeable. So those 3 passives are it.

    And while those passives definitely hint at a flavor for that particular race, they by no means lock you into a spec. I am an Imperial Templar, going full healer for PvP in a small man setting. Why did I pick templar? Is it because I think the extra 10-30% or whatever of health and stamina will save me in pvp? Hell no, I chose Imperial because their armor makes me happy.

    As for this quote: “It’s the mentality that jacks of all trades suck and I have to specialize, but I think (hope) it’s not that way in ESO.” I disagree. That is not a mentality really, it is simply how things are. You will want to specialize, of course. You won’t (can’t probably) ever go from a 2h sword, to a 1h/shield, to a bow, to a stave, to a healing stave in a fight. So trying to get abilities in all of those things would be downright silly. You want to specialize. I think what you are trying to say is you do not want to be pidgeon-holed into a race/class/spec combination. And if that is the case, then you are not. ESO has done that well. You can be a healer DK, a healer Templar, a healer Sorc, a healer Nightblade. And they all have very different flavor/playstyle. Is one of them “the best only way to play healer GAWD you can’t raid with us!!!”? Probably. I’m sure if the hardcore raid crowd sits together for a few minutes and starts crunching numbers, a “best” healer for raiding will come out on top. And change with every patch.

    But that is neither here nor there. You can heal as a sorc and be extremely magicka efficient, you can heal as a templar and have the hardest hitting heals (their spec line is more powerful than the stave heals in some cases), or a DK and have some fun CC/in your face healing times, or a Nightblade and sneak around like a slippery fish while healing your friends from the shadows. This is all possible.

    ESO did well, and the launch was amazing (even if I did lose my preorder pets and whatnot by deleting my first character). But that is being fixed. So all around, good things.

  • @Keen

    Are you planning to run some optimized super leet bank group? don’t think so.. So why even care? Any class can be respecced later to do what you want. Some mini % here and there won’t make difference anyway.

    Nobody know what real competitive Meta will be.

    You made a great choice with class I think. NB will be an AMAZING small group pvp healer I think. Dark cloak is just plane amazing for self protection and you have aoe fear.. and aoe snare.

    I will be an NB but on DC side I think. Still undecided to either go healer/caster or 2h/bow or maybe even 1h/shield bow.. I am sure I will try all of those. I am mostly going NB because I think I will be solo pvping most of the time and you just can’t replace spamming cloak

  • The ironic thing here is that I completely made up this build and it turns out lots of people say it’s good.

  • Funny thing is; I’ve passed on ESO. I have shared your feelings about the game – I’ve been just meh about it, and I chalked it up to another 30-60 day MMO. But I’m bored out of my mind, I can’t tell you how many games I’ve looked at. I was so desperate I even went to Defiance, which is just a mindless shooter, fun in spurts, but repetitive. Now here I am – debating on whether or not to get ESO……….I played a few of the beta tests, I didn’t have any fun. But then I watch videos of PVP and it looks like something I would enjoy, this is a game where watching other people play; looks more fun than actually playing it………….I’m so torn.

  • @John: Welcome to where I was for the last 3 months. It was a constant game of “should I or shouldn’t I” that I ultimately decided to just try to dang thing and see if I have fun.