The toughest nut for me to crack to truly enjoy Elder Scrolls Online has got to be its combat system (for me, at least). I’ve been experimenting with a lot of different things, mostly moving spells around or trying out different weapons, in the hopes that I’ll get a build that offers a smooth and enjoyable rotation.
After doing a little bit of research, I figured that it might be worth giving an archery-focused build a try — or StamBowWarden or whatever abbreviation the community likes to do with these things. To assist with this switch, one of my most excellent guild mates offered not only to make me a bow but an entire outfit (with enchants) to support the build. The end result is a character that feels and plays a lot more different then my old haphazard magicka one did — and I didn’t have to reroll. That’s a plus.
So far, it’s working really well for me. Fast kills, not too much key spamming, and extra XP thanks to the armor set. I also paid to respec for the first time, which I think was long overdue because I had so many wasted points spread out over everywhere. I’m working on rebuilding her and working up skill lines that I want her to use in the end. Again, good so far. We’ll see how it goes in the long run.
And I genuinely want there to BE a long run because everything else about Elder Scrolls Online is clicking hard with me these days — especially the stories. Man, I love these quests, to the point where I’m excited if I uncover another quest giver. This game really reminds me of The Secret World in that respect, with fewer but more detailed quests and quest givers. I think ESO has a lot more emphasis on dialogue and additional scripting than TSW did, but both place a premium of making even “side” quests full stories that don’t distract the player with scads of tasks but rather one mission, one story, one quest at a time.
Why are these quests so good? While some of the tales and characters are pretty memorable in their own right, there are enough mediocre ones to encourage exploration somewhere else for this answer. I think it’s because ESO really nailed quest flow in a way that most MMOs don’t. Most MMOs front-load you with a task — go here, do this, this is the flimsy pretext why — and then there’s very little narrative development, surprises, or resolution after that. You just Do The Thing.
In ESO, there are objectives and clickies and even kill requests, but almost all of it is in service to the story of the quest. There’s enough time and space to really sell the narrative, establish the characters, and let development happen. A lot of the side quests are much like short stories, where characters are introduced, you get to know the general situation, and you’re plunged into the meat of a crisis or a mystery.
I love seeing NPCs come and go, especially inside of the little dungeons that populate this land. They keep reminding me of what’s at stake and offer up more actions and dialogue to further my understanding. Every once in a while a quest might toss in a choice — usually at the conclusion — that is appreciated, and usually there’s a scripted epilogue that takes place if you stick around.
It’s really good stuff, and I’m excited to think that there’s so many of them in the game I’ve yet to experience. That’s why I so desperately want to take combat above “functional” to “fun,” just to extend my potential interest here.