In The Elder Scrolls Online, crafted gear will be “slightly better” than its found equivalent

Crafting is one of the deeper systems on offer in The Elder Scrolls Online.

The Elder Scrolls Online is out now; here’s our Elder Scrolls Online review.

Zenimax have gone to great lengths to ensure that The Elder Scrolls Online, like its namesakes, is exploration-driven – and for the most part they’ve succeeded. Skill points are acquired from magic crystals secreted around its maps, and you won’t find many if you stick to the cities.

Sometimes, though, it’ll make sense to chain yourself to the leg of a crafting table. Because the level 10 axe you put together yourself is going to be ever-so-slightly better for cleaving with than the level 10 axe your friend will ride back into town wielding at the end of the day.

“Crafted gear of the same level and same quality as gear found in the world is almost always better,” explained Zenimax in a crafting Q&A. “For instance, if you find a level 22 sword of fine quality, but your friend crafts a level 22 sword of fine quality, the damage done by the crafted sword is going to be slightly better.”

That’s not the whole scroll, however. Some equippable items found about Tamriel will be infused with unique enchantments or set bonuses – and those crafters cannot replicate. What they might be able to do, though, is take that item and hammer some improvements into it – while preserving the enchantment.

Asked whether crafters could replace one item enchantment with another if they didn’t particularly like its attributes, Zenimax replied: “Not always”.

“Some enchantments can’t be replaced,” they wrote. “This is represented on items with a lock icon above the enchantment. However, any player-crafted enchantment can be replaced.”

Items also have inherent traits – a piece of armour, for instance, might be ‘sturdy’, ‘impenetrable’ or ‘well-fitted’. Those are permanent, and can’t be swapped out even by the most skilled crafters.

On the subject of high-level crafting, Zenimax noted that players could spend their skill points on a hireling to gather crafting materials for them, or on an increased chance to extract better materials when deconstructing items or refining resources.

Which sounds wonderful – only, those skill points will come from the same pool you might otherwise spend on weapon abilities or spells.

“A skill point spent in crafting is one you didn’t spend on a combat skill that you might want on the battlefield,” said Zenimax, “so make sure you consider your choices carefully.”

Do you think you’ll play ESO as a crafting specialist, or something else? Or perhaps not at all?