Update 6 For the Once and Future Provisioner
We’ve arrived at the release of the packed update 6 to The Elder Scrolls Online before it becomes subscription-optional. This means the road of consistent updates and major content releases that isn’t DLC has reached its end. Aside from tweaks to existing systems and completion of the implementation of others that began with this update, we simply await the conversion and possibly the console versions before we know what else we might see first down the line. Yet this is a tale not of adventuring. This is a tale of crafting, of cooking, of gathering. The Elder Scrolls Online has, with this update, a brand new Provisioning system.
The system gets a complete overhaul that changes the number of recipes, ingredient types, and buffs from each. The overall effect is a streamlined, leaner, more straightforward system that makes better use of the world around the player. There are a few downsides, but Provisioning seeks to be more relevant and useful, and even lighter on your storage. Ingredient stack limits have doubled to 200, while the number of ingredients used in recipes has been reduced overall.
Provisioning is an easily appreciated crafting discipline, and has always been one of the easier to continuously level over time, given how many ingredients were obtained through drops or via simple searches. It’s also one of my favorite forms of in-game crafting, and I almost always engage in it one way or another. Some systems are more fun than others, and some make you feel more involved in the world, while others just feel like more of a game. I liked ESO’s Provisioning system before, but the new system improves upon things significantly and is more within the world, that I will overlook some of the downsides. ESO’s new system reminds me a little bit of the way cooking in LOTRO works. In that game, my Hobbit is a farmer and a cook, so she plants seeds, gathers crops, fishes, and then uses ingredients to prepare consumables. The ESO team has tried to make the world more important in Provisioning, so now you can use fish you catch, ingredients out in the world, and even steal people’s livestock to utilize in your recipes.
The new Justice system can come into play if you’ve got eyes on the neighbor’s chickens for your recipes. I think those of us who do stop at fishing holes are glad that our catches are now useful. Yet, the whole thing might just be lacking a little bit of flavor, pun completely intended. Previously, each faction had recipes and ingredients unique to that area. This made perfect sense from a roleplaying perspective, since regional differences in cuisine just makes sense. You could also do things such as keep your Bosmeri characters in food and drink crafted from meat. You still can, though, you’ll have tougher times with it, especially as recipes get more complicated. Regional cuisine has been eliminated in favor of a few basic categories of food and drink, all divided into three sets of ingredient types for each. Drinks have been improved to be of greater benefit, similar to food. This results in about 50 overall ingredients to use in crafting, many new recipes, and old recipes returning under new names and sometimes tweaked buffs.
There have always been two crafting skills I love in my MMOs - cooking and making gear. I chose the title of this piece because although the new system has less diversity in terms of region specific items, it’s a hell of a lot kinder on player storage and inventory. I have a long history with the overstuffed inventory, dropping items or becoming encumbered by them. In ESO, although I expanded my bank, I’d still regularly fill it up. Add in ingredients put into shared storage by characters in other factions for what amounted to functionally identical recipes, and you can probably tell one of the main reasons to be excited for this new system. That thing I mentioned earlier about stealing someone’s livestock? Well, it gives some new dimension to gathering ingredients, after all. Looting items will still be the primary way to receive raw ingredients, but the additional opportunities add to the fun of it all, without making me keep all these extra items around. And being able to not loot apples from a bag of peas on the ground is one way things have gotten more immersive and consistent. It sounds like a small detail, but the game world matters in each way it can feel more real. That doesn’t mean the world can’t be full of elves and Khajiit at the same time other elements gain congruence.
The way buffs are organized is also cleaner and is a result of feedback asking for stacked consumable buffs. Without the overlap, there are fewer to learn, and many recipes that increase multiple stats. Many players have asked for food and drink buffs to stack, but this system should offer something that, while short of that, is intuitive. Previously, most of the higher level recipes didn’t differ much, so this new system brings this across the board.
Overall, the new system is arriving in the middle of a very packed update that otherwise has much flashier elements within. I felt that Provisioning was worth another look, given how important, and sometimes overlooked it might be. The Elder Scrolls Online is marching toward its subscription optional switch soon, and the new system may go diminished as players coo over other additions, but being able to take full advantage of fishing holes and maybe working out how to filch a few bits of cheese with impunity (the system encourages you to use stolen items first) work in tandem to add some depth for those looking to change it up.