Shadows of the Hist - First Impressions
In my last column I discussed the new patch coming to The Elder Scrolls Online and I called it epic, despite not actually having played it. Sadly, I just never had the time to jump into the PTS and give it a shot. Well, today is the day. I am finally able to sit down and dive deep into the new changes and find out if it really is epic or if wisely chosen words make everything sounds grander than they truly are.
First things first, let’s discuss one of the hot button topics that Update 11 has, costume dyes. There are two ways to dye your costumes, via the Crown store or through the dye stations found throughout Tamriel. There is a caveat for this mechanic. If you wish to dye your costume via the dye stations you need to be an ESO Plus member. If you are not an ESO plus member in order to customize your costume you need purchase a dye stamp. These stamps are pre-set colours that will be applied to your outfit of choice. These stamps aren’t limited to dyes you’ve unlocked. If one of the pre-sets is a colour you have not unlocked you will still be able to use it. These stamps only work for one outfit at a time and cannot be removed and put on a new costume.
Looking at the Crown store, there are 18 different stamps to purchase, each having their own uniqueness and individuality to them. Some of which have colours I don’t have yet, and will end up purchasing when this update goes live. Sneezes-When-Sneaking is going to get a much needed colour update to his Wedding Suit, Shadow Jam.
The reason this is such a hot button topic is because of the “pay gate” to be able to fully customize your look. Personally, I don’t see this as an issue, ESO Plus membership was very lack luster up until they included Crafting bags, which in itself made me a subscriber. Now they have yet another unique feature that adds a lot of value for a lot of players. It in no way makes a player overpowered, provides an advantage to the overall gameplay or story arc. It is strictly cosmetic. Offering an option to become a subscriber whilst still having no limitations to gameplay for free players is a very hard line to balance on. And anytime a company places themselves in a situation where there are two sides that are direct opposites there is a no-win situation. No matter what ESO introduces to the ESO Plus membership there will be people upset on both sides of the line.
I think Zenimax is doing a fantastic job at balancing the line perfectly. There are far worse options they could make
Onto the Crown Store services Name/Race/Appearance change
In order to do any of the character changes you need to purchase a token via the Crown Store. To do this you need to be logged into the game. Once you’ve purchased the token you log out and activate the token using one of the new fancy buttons at the bottom of the character select screen.
I’d really like to see an option to access the Crown Store via the character selection screen. These services can only be used while at the character selection screen, logging into the game just to end up logging out seems like added steps that shouldn’t be there. But that’s a little thing to such a major update.
The Race change options allows you to change your race and appearance, while the appearance change only allows you to change your appearance. Being on the PTS the cost of the crowns are only 1 crown which isn’t the real cost value and only for testing. So, I don’t know if there is a cost difference between Race and Appearance change tokens. If there is, I hope it’s not much, if I only wanted to change my race I shouldn’t have to pay extra because it includes a feature I don’t want (appearance change).
When you activate the token you’re brought into the character creation screen and you can change all the options of that service.
Tied to this system is the option to purchase additional “looks” via the crown store. Open up your Crown store window and you’ll find a new section called “Style Parlor”. In this new tab you’ll see a plethora of exciting options ranging from adornments (beards, eye lashes even specific ones for the Beast races), Hair Styles, Markings and Personalities. Again being on the PTS I can’t tell you the true cost of them, but I don’t foresee them being overly priced because these types of items are ones they want to sell often and to do so they want to make sure they are priced so players can buy many of them.
This is my personal favourite addition to the game. When you zone into Cyrodiil and look at the map you’ll notice 3 new icons on the map. These are the new cities that can be controlled by any faction, Bruma, Vlastarus and Cropsford. These towns require you to capture three points within them, one that is unguarded, another with only a few guards and one that is heavily guarded. These new areas will bring new fights to Cyrodiil, as these cities can play a very important role for PvP as they act as resurrection points for those who’ve fallen in battle. Anything that Brian Wheeler can add to Cyrodill that promotes smaller scale combat alongside with the large battles that Cyrodiil is designed around is fantastic.
Racial abilities are something that I’ve discussed in the past, numerous times. I never felt that ESO’s racial passives were deciding factors when it came to building your character. This is something I praise ZOS for, the freedom to truly play a character the way you want without completely ruining your play experience. Yes, the bonuses gave a player a slight advantage in terms of health regen etc, but never enough that another player couldn’t overcome them. That said, I also commented that some racial abilities just didn’t seem right. Let’s take a look at the new ones and you tell me what you think of them.
Amphibious: Renamed to Resourceful. Removed the bonus to swimming (YAY, because swimming faster wasn’t never helpful). It now increases your Max Magicka by 1/2/3% and restores 4/8/12% of your Health/Stamina and Magicka anytime you drink a potion.
Quick Mend: Now increases your healing done and healing received.
Restoration Expertise: Renamed to Amphibian. Still increases Experience with Resto Staff, but now increases your Swim speed by 50%. (Really? Argh! That 50% swimming just doesn’t seem great, where does swimming matter? Maybe ZOS is planning a battleground that’ll have parts where you can swim, because right now, swimming in Cyrodiil is death by fish and swimming faster in a dungeon just means you’re waiting for your friends on the other side. Do RPers go out to ponds and lakes and do swim races? )
Light Armour Affinity: Renamed to Opportunist, Increases experience gain with Light armour and also increases your Alliance point gain. (YAY!!!, more AP, but does this mean we’re going to be seeing a lot more Breton Emperors?)
Ambidexterity: Renamed to Ashlander. Duel Wield experience increase, as well as lava damager decreased by 50%. (For those time you really, really, need to get across a lava pond)
Flame Talent: Renamed to Destructive Ancestry. Still increases Spell damage with fire, but now it also increases your Frost and Shock damage.
Destruction Talent: Renamed to Highborn. Still increases experience gains with Destruction staff but now also increases your overall experience gain.
Shield Affinity: Renamed to Diplomat. Still increases experience with One hand and Shield skill line, but now it also increases your gold gain.
Medium Armour Expertise: Renamed to Cutpurse. Still increases medium armour experience but now it also increases your Pickpocketing chances.
Robust Consitition: Renamed to Nimble and was reverted to the live servers, so nothings changed except the name.
Two Handed Weapon Expertise: Renamed to Reveler. Still increases Two handed weapon experience, it now also increases the duration on consumed drink. (Am I the only one who thinks it’s funny they made the Nord have longer Drink effects?)
Robust: Renamed to Stalwart. Still increases your Health recovery, just not by as much (6/13/20%) and your max stamina.
Heavy Armour Expertise: Renamed to Craftsman. Still increases Heavy Armour experience, but now also increases your inspiration gains. (Suits it’s name)
Robust: Renamed to Unflinching. Same as the Nord, decrease in health received but now increases your healing received.
Shield Affinity: Renamed to Wayfarer. Still increases your One handed and Shield experience but now it increases the duration of consumed food.
Archery Expertise: Renamed Acrobat. Still increases bow Experience, but now it reduces your fall damage by 10%
That’s it for the racial changes, what do you think? I will never understand the swimming speed increase or lava damage taken decrease passives, at least not right now. Until they release a boss fight where players have to swim through water or lava to a switch, lever or something.
That’s all I’ve been able to test as of yet. I don’t have many friends :’( that play on the PTS so trying to get into the group stuff is difficult, hopefully I can find some people to do it with. They look really fun.
A lot of people have been giving me a lot of flak because in my last column I called Updated 11 epic and huge. Many people disagree with me and say it’s not a very big update, there is no new zone, no new story, no new quests, thus making it a small update. To me, these people aren’t looking at the big picture. Yes, I will agree that this update isn’t giving us what we’ve seen in the past, such as the new zones etc. But it’s giving us so much more. This update has more game changing features, features that change the way we play the game. Not many updates change how we play, just where we play. When you introduce an update that makes us rethink our playstyles or gets us out of our typical gaming rotations, it’s a massive update. With One Tamriel coming in the fall this is probably just one of many updates that’ll introduce new game changing mechanics, and I hope after One Tamriel they continue with the updates like this. Keep it up ZOS, you’re doing fantastic work.