Not Sure How I’m Feeling Anymore about ESO

The last week or so I’ve been laid up with a back/hip injury, so I had some time over the weekend to play The Elder Scrolls Online when I felt good enough to sit in a chair.  While I was pretty positive overall with ESO the last time I wrote, I’m now starting to feel a bit of malaise.  Mostly because I kept running into game breaking quest bugs where I couldn’t progress.  It would be one thing if they were broken delivery quests, but both times they happened this weekend it was on the last step of longer elaborate quest chains with stories that I was genuinely interested in finding out the end result.

It seems like a lot of people are managing to play ESO without running into these problems, and I’m envious of them. For me, it’s been tedious.  I run into these bugs just about every single play session. They aggravate me and I end up logging off and coming back later, after which they have usually resolved themselves.  I’m normally pretty patient with game bugs, but for me — the questing PvE is the sole reason I am playing this game.  I tried jumping into Cyrodiil a couple times and didn’t enjoy myself at all — mostly due to the sheer amount of travelling you have to do in order to find the action.  So when I can’t continue to quest, I get bored and log off.

I could continue to play ESO to level 50 and at least see all of the Daggerfall Covenant story, which is kind of my plan right now. But if I keep having these problems I may just shelve the game and come back at a future date. I don’t get a ton of time to game anymore, so I want the time I do spend to be meaningful and full of progress. Overall, I still feel that ESO doesn’t deserve the bad rap it received — at least from a storytelling and solo-playstyle perspective.  Have some screenshots though just because.

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Still Scrolling Like an Elder, Online

I have to admit that my gaming time has been severely lacking lately. I’m interviewing for a new job (my current contract expires end of April), getting outdoors to spend time with my horse, and generally enjoying the non-gaming life. However, when I *have* been playing, it’s been Elder Scrolls Online.

I think I really did myself a favor by going in ‘blind’.  I didn’t read many reviews, I barely played the beta after encountering a progress-halting bug.  All the comments I’ve read stated that the PvP was really enjoyable but the PvE is the same-ol-same-ol and I was slightly jaded by that feedback.  I even heard several times that it feels nothing like an Elder Scrolls world.  I honestly, truly, don’t understand what game these people were playing or how they were playing it.  I guess that’s the beauty of games — we all experience them differently.  But so far, I feel like questing in TESO has been the most engaging and interesting experience of any MMO in a LONG time.  The stories are varied, interesting, and interconnected. There isn’t some linear path to take — exploring feels meaningful and valuable.  I feel rewarded. Leveling is slow, which is refreshing and gives the game that kind of enormous feeling scope that I felt in Skyrim. The lore is familiar and everything about my play experience is reminiscent of Skyrim or Oblivion, and I think it’s quite a good game.

My biggest hangups so far are around the skill-based classes. I am terribly bad at building classes in this fashion, and I tried to make a healing Templar but ended up hobbling myself a bit because I can’t really complete some level-appropriate quests.  I have been using a Restoration staff, but apparently that’s not great for damage output?  I don’t really know what I’m doing wrong but I am almost tempted to reroll except I know I’m only level 8 and I have a ton of skill points to receive in the future that will help make my Templar stronger. But if anyone has Templar tips, feel free to lay them in the comments. =)

Here’s some screenshots. It’s really a beautiful game.

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Elder Scrolls Online: Day 1

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You didn’t think I was going to let an MMO release go by without at least dipping my toes in to gauge the temperature, did you?  I’ve played very little of Elder Scrolls Online, but enough to make me realize it’s worth trying it out. I picked up the Imperial edition for the 5-day headstart, and today I’ve created my character and leveled to 5.

I decided to go with a Khajiit Templar, because I love the cat-people and I wanted to be a PvP (AvA?) healer more than any other class. I’m a bit overwhelmed by the skill allocations, but I think I’ve got it figured out thanks to my helpful new guildies in Belghast’s guild House Stalwart.  I am using a 2H Restoration Staff, picked up Sunfire, the healer tree skills, and the Resto Staff skills so far.  I’ve also started Provisioning and Woodworking, joined the Mage’s Guild, and am now starting to harvest wood all over the world.  I don’t feel ready to write up a full ‘impressions’ piece, but I’m pleasantly enjoying the game thus far. I heard so many complaints about how it doesn’t feel like Skyrim, which surprises me because I think it feels so much like Skyrim that it’s disorienting when other players are all up in my zones. The lore is certainly all there, and the world looks familiar.  I’m not a HUGE fan of the textures and the graphics so far, but I normally lean toward stylized art like WoW or Wildstar.  However, the game runs really smooth.

I only ran into one game-breaking bug, where I couldn’t progress beyond finding the suspicious crates.  It seemed that everyone was experiencing this, so I moved on and hopped the ship into Redguard land.

Anyway, I’m not sure how long I’ll be sticking with ESO since I did preorder Wildstar and I’m certainly not done with WoW…but it’s worth stopping in to check out the scenery. And who knows, maybe it will be so fun that I stick around longer than intended. =)  Couple screenshots below:

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Unsure what to do in WoW….

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It wasn’t that long ago that I was talking about how overwhelmed I am in WoW — about how it feels like there are endless things to do.  And here I am, logged into WoW, staring at my Druid and wondering what on earth I should be doing with her.

It’s weird because I’m certainly not even remotely finished with Pandaria. I’m sitting at ilvl 529 and I still haven’t beaten SOO or Garrosh yet in LFR.  I could do that, I guess.  I only just now have a level 25 pet team, but I have a ton of achievements and the Celestial Tournament and all that ahead of me, but I feel ‘meh’ about it.  I could PvP, but I really don’t have interest in that right now.  I could work on factions and dailies, which is moderately appealing I suppose.  I never finished questing in Kun’Lai, and I never did Dread Wastes or that other Pandaria zone.  I’ve never gone to Isle of Thunder. I have tons of achievements and things to do on Timeless Isle if I wanted.  Mounts to farm. I’ve never done challenge modes.  I haven’t done all the scenarios on Normal, and I’ve never done a single one on Heroic.  I haven’t even done all the level 90 dungeons on Heroic yet.  I could gear up my 90 Priest.  I could level an alt. Hell, I could buy WoD and have an instant 90 but I basically already have fresh 90′s that I don’t know what to do with.

In theory, I want to do all these things.  Yet when I log in, I have no interest in any of them.  It’s a conundrum.  Instead I find myself fantasizing about leveling up in EQ again. Or wandering back to LotRO, or giving RIFT a real honest attempt since the housing & dreamweaving profession seem awesome.  I’m not sure if I need to just force myself to do some things in WoW to rekindle the excitement again, or if I should put it aside and play something else for awhile and see if absence makes the heart grow stronger.

Faffing about in various worlds

This past month I’ve felt kind of lost.  I’ve been roaming around, patching up various MMOs and other games, dipping my toes in but not really feeling that warm sunshiney feeling of true enjoyment in any games I’ve been playing.  I’ve also totally blogfaded as of late, because when I’m not super engaged in a game I end up not wanting to blog much about it.  Alas, it’s about time for a roundup of what I’ve been doing over the past month.

WoW:

Admittedly, I’ve grown a bit bored with the game.  I haven’t really played in a month since I finished all the Love is in the Air achievements for my Love Fool title.  Actually, I spent one night grinding pet battling and ended up getting my first level 25 pet, followed by five others.  But then…I don’t know.  I just haven’t felt super excited about the game and I decided I needed to take a break.  I am currently working on getting my three Hearthstone wins so I can get my Hearthsteed mount.  I’m also still going back and forth on what I want my instant 90 character to be, but I’m leaning toward Hunter.  I haven’t preordered Warlords of Draenor yet, but I will be soon.  I have been feeling a bit more of the “WoW itch” though lately, so I’m sure I’ll be back.

Diablo III:

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Like many others, the latest Diablo III patch brought me back to check out the changes.  I made a Monk and she is currently level 23.  I am playing on Hard and aim to finish the campaign and move up to the harder modes.  The game just really aggravates my carpal tunnel for some reason…all that clicking!

Guild Wars 2:

I recently patched up Guild Wars 2 and ended up making a little Charrdian, before going back to my level 25 Human Ranger.  I find the game to be so incredibly beautiful and I *want* to enjoy it, but something about the game just doesn’t catch my fancy. I don’t know what it is.  I think the problem is that it’s been so long since I was playing my Ranger that I forgot what her personal story is, and so I have no idea what’s going on.  And the questing feels so boring now that the lower level zones are so empty.  And my guild is really quiet so there is never any activity happening when I log in. I like to play by myself, but I also really like to talk to other people while I play.  I don’t know, I might just scrap GW2 and stop trying to make it work when it’s obvious I’m not really enjoying myself while I play. But it’s sooooo pretttty. ;)

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Heroes of the Storm:

I just got into the Technical Alpha tonight, and I played the tutorial and one AI game.  So far, I’m thoroughly impressed.  It’s Blizzard, so I don’t know why I expected it would be rough, but it really is polished and beautiful just like all their games.  This weekend I’m going to really dive in and get to know the mechanics.  I’m thrilled to be a part of the alpha so early and hope to stream some of it soon. =)

CaptureOther Games:

That’s certainly not it for me in terms of games played.  I patched up EverQuest and ended up getting my free level 85 heroic character for the anniversary event. I made a Dark Elf Enchanter, logged her in, had no idea what to do or where to go, and logged her back out.  If I were to really come back to EQ (unlikely at this point), I’d want to start over from scratch anyway. But since it’s free for awhile, I decided to make one.  I picked up Titanfall on PC and I’ve been playing it, though I’m TERRIBLE at shooters.  Along those lines, I’ve played a bit of Planetside 2, which I’m getting better at.  I am slowly working on finishing Mass Effect 2.  I patched up LotRO and I’ve been toying around with the idea of stopping in there as well.  I even patched RIFT and logged in, but didn’t play for long before I realized that I’m just not interested in it.  I partook in the Elder Scrolls Online weekend event and I’m still undecided if I’m going to buy it.  Wildstar I’m also on the fence about, though I’ve been in beta for awhile.  I am going to pick one of those two and play it, but I’m not sure which. I’m leaning toward Wildstar because it’s cartoony and I like that over ESO’s art style. But we’ll see.  Knowing me, I’ll pick up both of them and not be playing either of them a week later.

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been.  Playing everything, but not really devoting my time to anything in particular.  Roaming around.  Faffing about.

 

 

EverQuest Next Landmark: My Early Impressions

Like many other MMO bloggers and players and longtime EverQuest fans, I am playing Landmark a bit.  Not quite as much as others because I’m gearing up for the biggest exam of my life (real estate license) and life is crazy right now….but enough that I’ve formed some early thoughts on the experience thus far.

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Hanging out with Firiona Vie

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Year of EverQuest event last Friday at the SOE headquarters here in San Diego.  It was a neat event with a ton of fans of the franchise coming together in excitement to get their hands on Landmark almost 8 hours before the rest of the alpha testers were let in.  It was a fun experience. We were separated into groups (which made the size manageable) and we received a live demo from Eric Smith, Associate Producer for Everquest Next.  After showing us the tools, we all went into a room with some beastly PC setups and were set free for about 15 minutes.  I wasn’t allowed to take pictures while I was in there, but I made some silly happy face while I familiarized myself with the tools. The first time my pickaxe sunk into the ground I thought “wow” as I watched the terrain change.  It has a feel to it that no experience I have played before has given me — a real almost tactile feel to forging your way into the earth in a 3D world.  Immensely powerful.

Friday night I gained my own alpha access and tried to play for a bit, but the login servers and platform were plagued with load and I decided not to fight with it.  I tried to roam around but had a lot of rubber banding and loading issues that prevented me from enjoying the game that night.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take screenshots either because I figured the NDA would be hovering around for awhile.  Oh well.

I’ve been spending a lot of my time harvesting. This game requires a. ton. of. harvesting.  To be completely honest, it’s too much for me.  But I do not fall into the segment of players who will find most of my enjoyment in Landmark by building.  I am definitely the explorer type in sandbox games.  My time in Second Life was almost 100% spent on running around and admiring other people’s creations. I think it’s fascinating to see what others can make.  However, I want to get a feel for how difficult the crafting is so that I can appreciate other players’ handiwork even more — which is why I’ve decided to try gathering and building a bit for comparison’s sake.  I have a claim now on the Dome world on the Serenity server, and I was fortunate that it’s not too far away from the spires so I can easily teleport to different worlds for my exploring fix.

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My claim!

Here’s my few early thoughts in no specific order:

Holy fuck this team is working hard - Some serious kudos are in order to the team working long hours and all weekend long getting this game in the shape required for proper alpha testing.  The amount of communication has been staggering, and Keen summed this up nicely. If this is the face of the new SOE — I’m all for it.  I think separating community engagement work and delegating it to a community team is actually detrimental in the long term to both the player base and the development team, so it’s great to see this collaboration from SOE and the amazing benefits it’s bringing to the community.

Holy fuck there is a lot of gathering required – I know they’re tuning this. It will be interesting to see where this goes.  There are a ton of players who feel that it’s wayyyy too grindy to get started. On the flip side, there are a ton of old skool players fighting the idea of ‘dumbing it down’.  Then again, these players are saying they don’t want maps and they don’t want any helpful modern quality of life features in the game too so….here’s hoping SOE don’t cater to the niche players who are stuck in the past.  Who knows.

The world is pretty, but could use more saturation – It’s my same complaint with Planetside 2. The environment is glorious and wonderful but these games both feel like the gamma is up too high, like things are washed out.  I’m not talking WoW level of cartoon colors, but some Guild Wars 2/FFXIV type of deep color palette would lend wonders to this world I think.

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The creativity is near limitless – I can’t build shit. But other people are already making amazing stuff.  I watched a guy stream today and he is building a fantastic airship that is intricate and gorgeous.  I’ve seen some carvings into the side of mountains that blew my mind.  And it’s early AND there have been a couple of server wipes — so imagine what some time and effort will do.  I’m excited to be a tourist of this new world.

There is some amazing potential here – I think SOE have a huge undertaking on their hands. Landmark could very well be fleshed out into a full-featured product with a 100+ dev team and countless ways to monetize and grow it.  However, they’re also trying to make a full MMO as well using this technology and assets in EQ Next.  I can’t wait to see how this works out in the end. I could see the team being derailed by Landmark’s success, and that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.  If it buys more time for EQ Next while also keeping SOE above water to support all their games, I support all efforts going toward Landmark if it’s what it takes.  There really is something special in there, even now with the amount of early understandable bugs.  I’m super stoked to see where this all goes.

Other good stuff – Avatars look nice and their animations are great.  The world is detailed and beautiful.  The amount of different types of building resources and tools are adequate to make some amazing things. Mining feels great. Chopping down trees is fun and relaxing.  Great that we can chat with other people and that we’re not tied down to a server.

All in all, I’m really excited to dig in more and see what Landmark will offer.  So far, so good.

Farmin’ and Fishin’

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Now that both of my characters are level 90, I’ve decided it’s time to start on some of the other Mists of Pandaria experiences that I haven’t done yet.  The first thing (after getting my enchanting maxed out on Jiraa) was to bring Treetopsy to Halfhill and start doing the farming and cooking dailies.  So far I still only have 4 plots to work with, but I just hit honored with The Tillers faction so I believe another plot or two are opening up shortly.  I find doing these Halfhill dailies to be rather peaceful. I know people have their opinions on dailies and not everyone enjoys them, but I never had a real problem with them.  I’m starting the Shado-Pan dailies on my Priest, and in addition to the Tillers I am doing the Anglers dailies as well on Treetopsy.  I want that water-walking mount for Timeless Isle!

I’ve also been doing some Auction House flipping, which has been pretty fun.  I’ve more than doubled my gold in just a day worth of buying low and selling high — transmog gear mostly.  Being on an RP server has its benefits for sure!  One of these days I’m going to hop back into LFR and spend a bit more time farming the Timeless Isle for gear for my Priest.  :)