|Genre: Adventure & RPG|
|Min OS X: 10.7|
|The Elder Scrolls Online - Review Part 1|
May 21, 2014 | Ted Bade
Combat in ESO is relatively easy, although to gain true proficiency, you’ll need to spend the time to master the game’s interface. Combat is usually initiated by the player clicking on an attackable object and beginning combat. You have quick access to six major special attacks using the game’s provided slots. Simply pressing the number one through six keys initiates the attack in the corresponding slot. A special “Ultimate” attack slot (using the “R” key) gives access to one special and very powerful attack, once one has been achieved. Combat tactics are pretty standard. Certain attacks have a cool-down and others a ramp-up to use. As you battle the health of your character as well as that of the opponent(s) is shown on the HUD.
Once you win the battle, you often get some loot, but not always. Foods and beverages you make can buff up your character. As well there are regeneration potions that heal, bring back used mana and restore stamina. There are quick slots providing in combat access to these items. You get a single key access to one item in your “Quick-slot” tree. The others require use of a key to bring up the quick slot wheel and then a mouse click to use the item, not a very quick means of accessing items. Actually, it is kind of clunky.
If your character dies your equipment is damaged. There are a couple of options for resurrection. First, you can choose to rez at the nearest Wayshrine. While this doesn’t cost you anything, it does generally bring you away from the battle related danger. This can be a good or bad thing, depending upon circumstances. Usually the time necessary to get you back to the area to continue working on the quest is the major issue. However, if you need to sell junk and do equipment repairs, you are in the right place. If you manage to find one, you can use a minor soul stone to be rezzed right where you died. This is a time saver, but can put you right back in harm's way.
Crafting is a major subset of a character’s skills. Abilities with a craft can offer rewards in the game, such as equipment or items that enhance the character in some way. Perhaps you’ll cook some food or craft a drink that adds a buff, or create a piece of armor or a weapon to improve one’s battle craft. There doesn’t appear to be any restriction with crafting either. Unlike WoW, you can work on any craft, provided you have the time and patience to do so. One bit lacking with ESO is a lack of an auction house. Unless you are working with a group of people who trade/sell things back and forth, there is really only a little need to put work into crating skills. I did see a bit of Want To Sell (WTS) and Want To Buy (WTB) chatter in the game’s built in text communication window which is another option, but this requires a lot of player time.
Crafting can be a bit involved and learning the many possible combinations can take a lot of time. Making use of a good ESO crafting web site is almost a necessity. In some cases, like cooking, you gain a recipe by looting or reading a book or note. However, you to try a variety of combinations and discover on your own what might be beneficial. Consider the enchanting craft, for instance. There are three basic types of rune stones used in this process. You need to combine one of each type to create a device that can add a feature to a piece of gear. When you begin, you don’t even know the names of the basic runes (which might give you an inkling as to what effect they have), but learn this when you try using them the first time. Use an Enchanting table to combine the runes and create the modification. I poked around an Elder Scrolls fan web site and found a lot of enchantment recipes organized by type of gear they can enchant. This method is easier then spending lots of time and effort figuring out combinations on your own.
Having useful results in crafting skills adds a lot of value to an MMORPG. Not only can a skilled crafter enhance their own characters, but those of friends as well. Then there is usually a secondary market, selling for game gold, to other players who could use the item. Again, Elder Scrolls Online doesn’t have an outlet for this aspect of crafting. I expect they might reconsider this in the future.
Visually, ESO is very realistic. The scenery is well designed, full of detail and background motion. Humanoids seem real, although they have that look I have come to associate with computer generated people, almost real, but enough off to seem alien. Movement, both controlled by the player and that which takes place in the background is fluid. The scenery detail extends well into the distance. Obviously, all this come at a steep cost in graphics ability of your Mac. I played on both my older MacPro, with a decent graphics card, as well as on my newer MacBook Pro with a more recent and somewhat better card. As with all graphically intense games, there are ways to control the level of graphics, which generally means turning features off when playing on an older machine. Camera angle can easily be controlled using the mouse wheel from your character’s POV to a point above and behind him/her. I had no issues graphically with this game. However, it definitely looked better on the newer and more powerful Mac.