Review in Progress #2
Welcome back to week two of our Elder Scrolls Online Review in Progress. I’m writing this one a bit earlier than I normally would, because many of us at the site are headed off to PAX East on Thursday. For the first week’s article, head here. I’ve locked in around 30 hours so far, I’m sitting at level 17, and just finally completed the first main zone of the Ebonheart Pact. By completed, I mean I’ve finished the quests achievement, unlocked all the POIs on the map, and collected every skyshard available. And yet, I’ve not completed the Fungal Grotto (the first group dungeon for the Pact) and I’ve not even set foot in Cyrodiil. I could gloat about how my Guild’s campaign (Hopesfire) is dominated by the Ebonheart, but as Mike B pointed out to me earlier: that’s like saying we’re winning the war even though we’re the only side that’s showing up.
In any case, I’ve spent a fair amount of time since last Thursday (when I wrote the first RIP) crafting and continuing to explore. I’ve realized that it’s foolish to try and craft every profession all at once, even though ESO allows you to do so. The reason? Your inventory will constantly be filled and you won’t be able to do anything about it. I’ve since begun focusing on blacksmithing, and I’m slowly working my way through the researching of traits across different armor pieces and weapons.
One of the beauties of ESO is that all crafted items can and will be just as good as the stuff you’re liable to find in the wild. Quest Rewards and dropped items tend to be really good, but with crafting and doing the improvements you can pull off with the right materials, your created items can be the best out there. I can’t wait to see what you can make at the top levels, because crafters are also capable of creating some great set pieces. Across the world you’ll find specific crafting stations that enable you to create set pieces like the Ashen Grip set. This one has a 10% proc if you’re wearing three pieces to spew fire from your mouth that does pretty decent damage over time. These kinds of procs can be applied even to elder game items, meaning the knowledge to do so never stops being useful, especially if you’re looking to sell your wares.
I really appreciate that there are actually timers on some of the things you want to progress in ESO. I know some may disagree, but I like that researching traits for your different items will take hours, eventually even a week of real time. I means that I generally have a reason to keep progressing my crafting and I can’t just know it all in the span of an hour or two. Power-crafters will still know it all before anyone else, but at least they’ll have to take some time doing so. The same can be said of the horse training. Each horse has three different skills to progress: stamina, speed, and pack-mule (inventory). You can only feed them once every 20 hours, so I can’t just sit there and pretend like it’s OK to shove three hundred pounds of apples down Beatrix’ gullet to get her to run faster.
In recent days Bethesda has employed another patch as of this writing to fix some bugged quests and nerf some spawns of mobs that people were farming inside of minor dungeons. I still think some places are bugged or at least not quite working right (Matron’s Clutch comes to mind), but overall there’s progress being made to polish the game up in its first weeks. I will say though that people are still losing equipped items randomly (Rob lost two helms already), and plenty of progress quests are stuck still for people across my guild. ESO may be pretty, fun, and deep… but it’s also fairly buggy. I maintain that the experience has been enjoyable all things considered, but in terms of scoring for our review, the Polish category is still the biggest suspect.
Last week I maligned that inventory and money fountains were needed. I think I’m starting to lessen in that regard. As some pointed out, I had no clue that running to the nearest wayshrine to teleport to a destination was free. I’ve since been doing that, and I have been saving tons. I also started selling white level items, as they don’t help much in terms of crafting XP or materials, and I’ve been selling all other minor items I don’t really use as opposed to deconstructing them. Doing this allowed me to afford my second bag upgrade to 80 slots, and I’ve already got 2,000 gold back. Repair costs are still a problem when you die often (say in a dungeon or in a tough group area), but they’re more manageable now.
I’ve also been dealing with the idea of having a second weapon since hitting 15. Many might say that five slots and an Ultimate is too few or that it’s geared towards consoles. Ordinarily, I’d be saying the same. But as I progress, I’m totally OK with the amount Zenimax has chosen. So much so, that I even with another five plus an ultimate, I find myself not switching. Instead, I’m treating the second set as a quick way to change specs depending on my group. If there’s a good tank, I switch over to 2H and go PBAOE damage. I’m also toying with the idea of building out a healing staff spec, with DPS capabilities. Or, I might just go all in with the tank, equip a second set of 1H + Shield, and be the ultimate unstoppable force.
And that’s really what I love the most so far about ESO: you can be or do anything you want. Yes, it’s still in the confines of a themepark, but this theme park is a very enjoyable ride and one that seems to stretch on for miles to come. Next week, barring any PAX flus, I plan on diving into Cyrodiil and dungeons. Then we’ll see how two more crucial parts of the ESO core game stand up. For last week’s piece once more, head over here. Have a good weekend, and see some of you at PAX East!
Bill Murphy / Bill Murphy is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.