Welcome to my review in progress for The Elder Scrolls Online. For the next couple of weeks I’ll be writing down my initial impressions, adventures, and other happenings, so be sure to check back regularly for my latest thoughts. Then, after I’ve reached the level cap and experienced a plethora of end game content, I’ll give you my final verdict.
Hour 30 - Quests
Quests are what bind most MMOs together, providing a sense of direction and accomplishment while a player progress throughout the world. While most MMO players see them as a tool to further accelerate their way to the end-game, that’s simply not the case with The Elder Scrolls Online.
The norm for me in MMOs was to click-click-click through the quests as fast as possible, only really paying attention to the main story quests. This felt like sacrilege in TESO, and I found myself absorbing each morsel of dialogue. It’s an Elder Scrolls game after all, and the voice acting was pretty good. This had a side-effect of slowing my progression down to a snail pace, but that’s not a bad thing. I think Zenimax were pretty accurate saying it would take an average of 150 hours to reach level 50 taking it slow.
For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t in a rush to get to the ‘good stuff’.
The “kill X of Y” quests are few and far between. Instead there’s a lot of travelling to X, talking to Y and collecting Z. Populated throughout these are monsters to fight, so combat feels natural and not forced upon you. If you wanted you could take a completely pacifist approach to some of them and stealth your way around. I’ve also had a few puzzles to solve, although they’ve all been incredibly easy e.g. put the phases of the moon in the correct order.
Unfortunately I’ve been having a ton of issues with game-breaking bugs that have plagued my playthrough. Quest objectives become non interactable, NPC characters freeze in position and certain triggered events remain un-triggerable. I’m surprised that these exist, considering there were multiple beta events before launch and the first initial zones would of been heavily populated.
The fixes for these bugs are even more frustrating. Some can be fixed with a simple “/reloadui” command, if you’re lucky. The rest require you to logout and then back in multiple times in hopes that you enter an instance where the bug hasn’t cropped up. It’s a roulette: it might be fixed on your third try or your twentieth. These aren’t a rare occurrence either: so far I’ve had at least one bugged quest every hour or so. Not fun.
This will be my last entry in my review in progress as I commit to a final review and a verdict. If you’ve been playing the game, why not share with me your thoughts in the comments below. Look out for my final review in the next couple of days.
Hour 25 - Crafting
Crafting has always been a key part of the Elder Scrolls experience. Similar to your combat and racial skills and passives, crafting can be leveled up to increase your proficiency and provide you with additional bonuses. You’ll be pleased to know that crafting in The Elder Scrolls Online is rather enjoyable, simple and yet deep enough to be constantly fascinating. There’s Blacksmithing, Clothing, Woodworking, Enchanting, Alchemy and Provisioning (cooking) to master in the game, each one includes its own progression and devoted skill tree.
The first step in any of the crafting professions is the obtain the raw materials. You can harvest ore, wood and herbs from the environment, but it goes a bit deeper than that and it’s all in the little details. You’ll hear the familiar chimes of Nirnroot scattered throughout your adventures. Various insect life can be plucked from the air for your alchemical needs. Runestones are of cryptic languages (Dragontongue?) that need to be deciphered to unlock their powers. You can also obtain materials from deconstructing items and salvaging their raw components.
Creating items is simple. You start by making a basic normal version of the item and the more raw materials you put in, the higher level item it will output. Once that’s created, you can then upgrade it to the next rarity: fine, superior, epic and finally legendary. This is a risky process, and you’ll have a percentage chance of succeeding relative to how much of the required material you dedicate to the process. If it fails, you lose the item for good.
You can also augment items with specific traits, which must be learned via researching. For example, if you find a axe that increases your stamina you can use it to research that specific trait. This will unlock that stamina upgrade for all future axes you craft, but the process of researching takes hours at a time, and also destroys the item used to research it.
As you gain levels in your profession, you can unlock new skills and passives. The majority of them are confined to the professions themselves, but some extend into other roles. An Alchemy passive increases the duration of potion effects, which can increase your combat prowess. You can also unlock hirelings and outfitters, who can be sent out to find raw materials while you’re offline. If you’re lucky they can also bring back other rare items.
An items cosmetic apparel is specific to each race: Khajiit can only produce Khajiit style weapons and armour. You can unlock other race styles however via lore books and recipes that you can discover or buy from other players. I haven’t personally tinkered with this, but I’m having a hard time imagining my Khajiit wearing Imperial armour; where would my ears go?