The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited is now live, which means that anyone with a copy of the game can now log in and play without a subscription. This new subscription-optional chapter in the game’s history is expected to attract both new and returning players. When it comes to returning players, it’s a given that some left after their initial free month and haven’t returned since. Today’s column is a list geared toward you, the returning player who might be stepping back into what seems like familiar territory only to land in a city and find yourself at the mercy of the guards within the first five minutes. Or not. But for those returning to ESO, here are a few quick things to keep in mind.
1: Much Has Changed
If you’ve been out of the game loop for months or longer, then there are many things about the game that have changed. The story, characters, and locations have all stayed put. If you log in a character that’s been sitting in the middle of Tamriel since you left, then you won’t log in to complete disorientation. However, with the new Justice system, Champion system, and other changes, such as the way Provisioning works, and of course, the Crown store (Which answers the question -why are so many people walking around with all these pets and fancy mounts, anyway?). Yet, included in this new buy to play model is all of the game’s story and full access to whatever was released before this time. However, with multiple improvements, new content, expanded delves, and addressing some of the game’s initial big issues with phasing and problems playing together have turned things around. If you step into ESO now, and weren’t someone that left over something such as a dislike of the story, you should almost consider it a new game with lots of familiar pieces. It’s also designed to feel more immersive and let players interact with the world better.
2: Looting Items Is Harder
You could, at one time, simply root through every crate, box, cabinet, wine rack, or sack of food and grab everything that wasn’t nailed down. The Justice system, however, makes that a criminal offense in many cases. You’ll still be able to search in quest areas and other places and whenever there are no witnesses. The art of a successful crime is also a skill for you, the player, to learn. Be concealed, make sure there aren’t witnesses present, and learn how to effectively utilize fences for outlaws. If you’re going to have stolen ingredients, use them quickly in recipes or crafting.
As for gathering items, the game still has items you can grab for free, but it is harder to do things like loot all the crates you see along a dockside. It might be a little jarring at first, especially if you’re the type of person that takes as much (or more) than you can carry during your RPG and MMO journeys, but the ZOS team knows that people need their ingredients and items to sell, so you will still be able to find loot without always stealing it.
Accidentally committing crimes can also happen if you’re not careful. Stolen items will appear in red on the loot screen, and mindlessly hitting loot all isn’t going to work much of the time. You’ll probably acquire a bounty by accident at some point. In fact, you should. Depending how you react, you’ll unlock achievements.
3: Beware of Livestock
Killing or stealing livestock is now going to cost you. Not only is livestock used in Provisioning recipes, but you now have to be careful how you obtain them. Witnesses, again, are a no-go. When you log into Tamriel Unlimited, your skills and abilities will likely have been reset. On my sorcerer, I had to reslot skill points and abilities. I decided to test something and next thing I know, I’ve killed a chicken. These chickens were just sitting around, minding their own chickeny business with no obvious owner around, so it caught me off guard. After giggling at earning the Poultry Assassin achievement, I realized I had a new bounty. I did not loot the dead chicken and instead ran on my way. Until I accidentally bumped into a guard and declined to pay the bounty, earning another achievement for cutting and running and becoming Kill on Sight.
This was the perfect time for a swim and waiting out my meter.
4: Remember to Have Fun
The evasion of justice is a fun little minigame all its own, and it reminds me a bit of Grand Theft Auto, including the outlaw dens/fences which are like a Medieval Pay’n’Spray. The time in Vice City when I escaped from the cops in a golf cart that I drove off a bridge is among my favorite gaming memories. I don’t think the accidental chicken slaughter will last forever, but it’s certainly one bit of fun. You should be careful if that’s how you want to play it, but try the system out at least once. Whether by accident or working through it to test your skills, you should walk the criminal path and check out its implementation.
While The Elder Scrolls Online took a bit of a beating when it launched nearly a year ago, the population still continues to be strong, and with many people all over talking about a possible return, and new players coming with the console release in June, just remember to have fun. It’s a beautiful game and has undergone so much polish that it’s sometimes tempting to just look at how pretty it is until you find yourself at the mercy of some wolves biting your hands. Engage with the new systems, especially if you’re a returning player, as it’s likely that you will find something new to enjoy at this part of the road. It’s likely what Zenimax is counting on as the PC players can return now and possibly encourage their console friends to join in later. Overall, giving all of the new additions and changes a chance is rewarding, and one hopes the community will continue to remain robust and helpful as players return and others decide to try the game.