ESO: Necromancers make their own friends

Probably the single biggest obstacle for me getting more deeply invested into Elder Scrolls Online — more stuck to it, I should say — is what I see as its lackluster combat system and class skills that feed into it. I feel that there are too few weapon types (of which almost all are boring) and the class skills feel more spammy than fun. Not all, but many.

So I’ve been biding my time to the Elsweyr release this summer and the hope that the Necromancer promised. Since necros almost always signal “pet class” in MMOs — and an interesting, Halloween-themed one at that — I gravitate toward them. And with the additional stigma of ESO’s Necros, that you can’t use their magic in cities or else be swarmed by guards, this seemed to be an attractive prospect.

With some of my birthday money, I picked up Elseweyr a couple of weeks ago and got right to making a new character and exploring whether ESO’s Necro was a bone-raising hellion or a dead corpse walking. Once again I got frustrated with the ugly character creation settings and ended up hitting the “randomize” button until I got something palpable.

I actually like the setting that Elseweyr presents, as it’s more “African savanna” than “Sahara desert.” Definitely warm and bright and inviting, even with those pesky dragons flitting about. With the new zone guide, I was up and running on the main quest line. Figured I might as well go through this expansion while I’m here.

So far, there are the usual assortment of incredible settings and inviting questlines. I really enjoyed one in which I helped a hapless private investigator track down a missing daughter. The longer quest chains for even side quests in this game get a lot of respect from me, and once I’m on one of these chains, I ride them to the very end.

But what about the Necromancer? I’m only like level 5 as I write this, so I’m not coming at it from a great position of knowledge. What I can say is that I’m a little intrigued and a little worried. I mean, the expectation I have for a necromancer is to be able to order skeletons and other dead things about with impunity, kind of a minion master, but that’s not ESO’s vision. Most all skills have some element of undead theming, from tossing skulls to wearing bone armor, but the closest thing you have to a pet is a 16-second summon — and I don’t even have that yet. The Warden felt more like a true pet class than this, and that worries me. I don’t want to get disillusioned with it just yet.

I think it’s going to take more time to come to a verdict. The combat is very smooth and I do appreciate the choice of morphing skills into stamina-based, offering a different build if I’m so inclined. I’m either going with a one hander and shield or dual wielding, because I feel that the staff is the obvious (and thus, more boring) choice. I want her to get up and personal while she slings her dark magic.

If after a few weeks I’m not warming up more to this class, then I’ll probably go back to the Warden and its permanent pet and skills that, if I don’t love, I at least like and can work with. Plus, I have my Warden’s steed almost maxed out, which is something I haven’t even started doing with my Necro (pitiful sigh as I think about how great it would be to have account-wide unlocks in this department).

What do you think of the Necro so far? What build are you running?

3 thoughts on “ESO: Necromancers make their own friends

  1. Tyler F.M. Edwards June 13, 2019 / 1:39 pm

    I haven’t played Elsweyr or necro yet, but reading about it I agree the lack of permanent pets is a disappointment. The trouble is they already had two pet classes, so adding a third probably would have been excessive. I think it’s probably better to think of necromancer along the lines of a death knight or general dark caster rather than a summoner.

    As an aside, I do still find it a little surprising you haven’t (so far as I recall) spent more time playing a sorcerer in ESO, since it’s the most pet-focused class in the game.

  2. cerement June 13, 2019 / 11:19 pm

    I keep wanting to like ESO, but “its lackluster combat system and class skills that feed into it” keeps coming up. The way it currently plays, you get slotted into 1 of 4 play styles: Stamina DPS (points into stamina, use weapon skills, ignore class skills), Magicka DPS (points into magicka, use class skills, ignore weapon skills), Tank (points into health), or Healer (points into magicka, pretend you’re not a magicka DPS) … combined with “too few weapon types” that play identically across all classes, your class doesn’t matter, it just becomes a tedious cookie-cutter mess …

  3. Sylow June 14, 2019 / 1:25 pm

    Hmm. I am always a bit surprised on the negatives you find on ESO.

    I mean, ugly characters and bad character creation? I find the system better than in many other games. You have plenty of options, if you look into it. Most of my characters actually look good enough. (Exceptions are the sorcerer, who i intentionally made more ugly, and characters with vampirism. But that’s another story. )

    On the combat system, there’s more to it than many people think. But where i agree is that many builds gravitate towards the same weapon and other skills, with the class only contributing to a limited degree. This means that things sometimes feel less different than they could be. But on the positive, it also provides a lot of flexibility, any class can do any job, just with different flavour.

    That being said, i also don’t find the combat system too awesome. But it works, some people love and enjoy it a lot and i think they actually hit a good spot between the combat system of other elder scrolls games and an MMO. It’s a compromise, and a rather good one at that. They could’ve done much worse on this aspect. (Also, hope they never want to change it. SWGs NGE and TWSs SWL just come to mind… i don’t want another good game go down the drain like that. )

    And on the necromancer: no, it’s not a pet class. Does every necro in every game be pet centered? I find the skill setup more interesting than that. If you want to go pet-heavy, go magica sorcerer. That one can have two pets along permanently, and those pets actually even are useful. I in contrast find the warden pet quite underwhelming. It’s good for one thing only: damage. And it blocks the ultimate spot for both bars, where you could have some really useful abilities instead. (And don’t even ask what i think about the “ice magic” part for the Warden. It really feels it was added as it was left over and no other class wanted it. )

    So i actually like the temporary summons of the necromancer. Not a permanent zoo (and thus nothing which again and again follows you into town and gets you wanted) but something you have to pay attention to and work on keeping it up. Now consider that they create corpses, which other abilities again require to use or consume to be more effective and you actually have a combo system. You prepare your corpses, you consume your corpses. This might not seem that important in open world content, where stuff dies quickly and you have corpses around, but it matters a lot when you’re in dungeons and fight a single strong boss. If you want to use corpses, you better also make sure that you can create enough of them.

    So all in all, the necromancer -can- be played very weapon focused, just like any other class, but you can also make good use of the class abilities. (Also, despite what some people think, the necromancers stamina morphs seem to be used a lot. It’s not like stamina necromancers rely all on weapon and alliance war abilities. ) It’s not a bad class, but not a pet class.

    Also, on the matter of riding skills: if there’s just a small chance that you ever want to play an alt character, i advise to create a character of every class early. Put some gold to the bank from your mail character, withdraw on your alt. Then move the alt to the riding trainer. When you log in for the first time on a day, go to each character and do the horse training, then switch to your main character. For this little effort, you’ll have characters with high riding skills once you start playing them. This very little planing makes things much more enjoyable in the long run.

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