|Genre: Adventure & RPG|
|Min OS X: 10.7|
|The Elder Scrolls Online - Review Part 1|
May 21, 2014 | Ted Bade
Typical of the adventure game, your character finds some person to speak with who begins their questing. The game starts relatively easy, but soon becomes a bit more challenging. Following a major quest string may quickly bring a player to events that are beyond their abilities. When reading about a quest, information is provided about the level the quest was designed for. Sometimes it makes sense to explore and find other adventures until your character is ready.
ESO depends heavily on the curiosity of the player to explore the local environments to find adventure. Speaking with any NPC often provides a hint to some adventure, treasure, or quest, or simply information about the world. Finding quests and quest givers isn’t completely “spoon-fed” to the player. One is instead required to explore to find them, perhaps taking out a pile of the local monsters and nasty beasties along the way. The beginnings of some quests I found were in obvious places, such as cities and towns, along the major roads, and in areas one is sent to for another quest. I did find some quests just by wandering around the wilds, exploring areas that my map indicated I hadn’t yet visited. I am a big fan of exploring a game world and would rather not have all quests spoon fed and easy to locate.
In addition to locating quests, exploring the countryside has other benefits. Typically, there are animals and monsters to kill. Players gain some experience from each kill, in addition to whatever random loot drops they might acquire. While a realist might think that a perfectly fitting suit of armor dropping from a small dead creature is nigh impossible, fans of these games have grown to expect such things. One is also likely to find a random camp site, or other human made container with stuff inside. ESO does try to put some reason into why some of the debris is laying around. In the one area that I spent most time in, a mage created hurricane wrecked many ships, so random crates and other containers litter the sea side. A player will also find notes, books, and pieces of information by searching about, not to mention a random chest of goodies! I should also mention that one is also likely to locate materials used for a variety of crafts and other valuable items as they explore the country side. We’ll look more closely at crafting in a bit.
Developing your character is a major aspect of games of this genre. ESO has somewhat of a complex system for doing this. I am of two minds concerning which is best. A simple development system means you spend less time learning the various and often complex options available to develop your character, leaving one more time to actually play the game. However, this makes the game a lot less realistic. A more complex system requires some research and thought on the part of the player, something that is appealing to some gamers. The more complex system is also more realistic. It allows the player to make both good and poor choices when developing their character. It also rewards player experience, since as you play, you probably learn from your mistakes. (Probably!) ☺.
When your ESO character gains a level he/she gains a point in two major aspects of development. One point applies to the basic character statistics (called Attributes), you can concentrate on magic (effectiveness and number of spells cast), health (the character’s ability to handle damage), or stamina (The character’s ability to deal damage). The player needs to choose if they want to concentrate on one stat, or even them out.
The other is a skill point. Using this point require a bit more thinking. Depending upon the race and class of your character, there will be many different paths to follow in development. First there are the three traits related to your class. These are the attacks or special abilities of that class. One could easily write a whole book on how to make the best choices here. Next there are skills associated with weapons. ESO doesn’t appear to have any weapon restrictions based on class, but certain race/classes have bonus abilities related to a weapon type. Weapon categories are two handed, one handed and shield, bow, and two staffs: destruction and restoration. Next are those related to armor, broken into light, medium, and heavy. Again there appears to be no restrictions related to armor type chosen. Next up are the world related skills, the guild related, and racial abilities. And finally there are those related to crafting: alchemy, blacksmithing, clothing, enchanting, provisioning, and wood working.
When you gain a skill point, you can select which of these many choices to increase. Luckily, other activities that occur while you are playing can also improve your various skills. Completing certain quests award a skill point. Using equipment and actually applying your abilities to the environment will sometimes gain added skills in that area. This makes a lot of sense, since in reality skills are honed by using them. Skills can also be improved by reading the various written materials found when searching items and even finding an item. For instance, the first time you actually click on a crafting material found in the environment, you get the beginning skill for this craft. Put all together, this paints a quite complex leveling system.