Elder Scrolls Online

I was in a wave of beta testers for ESO before it came out. It’s no secret that the game I played then is radically different from what it is now.

Many improvements have been made, the monthly cost was removed in favor of a premium currency store for cosmetics, mounts, and exp/time boosts. I stopped play the beta quickly, and I didn’t come back to the game even after launch. Even when improvements were made I rented the game and tried it out again. I didn’t quite like it enough to keep playing and keep getting grabbed. This has been probably 1 or 2 years ago, and again many improvements have been made.

I rented it again since now the gold edition comes with expansions and I won’t have to pay a monthly fee. I can play it on xbox one even though it won’t be quite the same experience as on a PC. I have become enthralled by this game. The pure amount of content that exists within it is ridiculous. I’m very glad I spent the money on it, and after I write this I think I’ll jump in and play it some more.

However, this game isn’t quite like the other MMOs I have played. I’ve played World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, TERA, AION, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Runescape, Neverwinter, and DC Universe to name a few. In each of these games you have to learn the game. Playing it to have fun doesn’t quite exist in its fullest in an MMORPG. If you want that you’ll stick to single player games with a difficulty option to suite a more story-driven entertainment. MMORPGs need to be learned, and having played them in the past aides in learning future ones.

MMORPGs almost always have certain class and/or race archetypes.

  • You have your thieves which excel in stealth. They usually have big openers and the option to disengage and re-open on monsters. They focus on not taking damage by dodging and evading, have high avoidance characteristics and movement abilities.
  • Warriors will be brutish and tanky. They’ll take a lot of hits and have abilities that allow them to take attention off of the party members that can’t take the hits. You’ll see them with a shield and either a sword, axe, pole-arm, lance, etc etc etc.
  • Berserkers will look like warriors but be focused much more on pure damage. They’ll either carry two one-handed weapons or one big two-handed weapon. They’ll take more damage than a warrior, but dish more out as well. They will have sustain and typically have mechanics that make them stronger the more damage they take. The support a more aggressive play style that rewards reckless behavior if played correctly.
  • Mages will hit hard and have great utility. They will support a range of spells that allow them to deal with any situation they find themselves in. Mages are almost always very squishy and easy to kill, but make up for that by having spells to keep enemies at a distance. Mages should make it hard to be close to them and stay close to them, and hit like a truck from a distance if left unchecked.
  • Archers also like to stay at range, but won’t have the utility that mages have. They will be a little more open to close quarters combat, but also have the rogue’s movement abilities to get out of close combat if needed. Sometimes this is even combined with the rogue class.
  • Priests like to be very focused on healing, obviously. They’ll have many support spells and a few tacked on for solo play even though their main focus is as party healer. WoW does shadow priest’s damage capabilities well or poor depending on what expansion you’re talking about, but recently it’s been better.
  • Mixed classes are those that try to combine archetypes. Paladins will be holy warriors that server as a warrior/priest hybrid. Druids in WoW are the ultimate hybrid of mage/warrior/rogue and shamans have this hybridization as well. Spell-swords will be a mage/warrior mix that augments their warrior abilities with buffing spells. These mixed classes won’t be as good as either of their counterparts, but try to find useful balance in the imperfect combination of each. For example a spell-sword won’t be as hard-hitting as a mage or as tanky as a warrior. However, the utility of one that can hit decently well and not die very quickly could prove more useful if the pros outweigh the cons.

Along with archetypes there are certain mechanic archetypes as well. There will be mechanics that draw a character to being very good at Area of Effect (AoE) abilities. They will do better in fighting large numbers, rather than putting a lot of damage on a single target. Conversely there are those that have few AoE and hit single targets like a truck. For example the Guild Wars 2 the weapons you have equipped define your abilities. If a necromancer has a staff then all their weapon-based abilities become ground-target AoE abilities. If that necromancer switches to a knife then they will gain single-target bleeds that do Damage over Time (DoT). Balancing playstyle mechanics involves single target and AoE damage, DoT that does more in the long run or immediate damage that does less, life-steal effects to keep you alive but deal less damage, so on and so forth.

This is where ESO comes in. ESO doesn’t play like most other MMORPGs, and it took me probably 20–30 hours of gameplay to get the hang of how the classes feel. There are four classes, but there really aren’t. Sorcerer sounds like the Mage archetype does it not? I expected it to have that hit-like-a-truck feel and keeping things at distance. However, it doesn’t have a whole lot of this. The Templar class sounds like a paladin. The skill trees had healing trees as well as tank and damage trees. Sounds like WoW’s paladins to me, right? Well I have found that a templar is a much better feeling mage than the sorcerer. The skill trees don’t quite pan out like I thought they would, and the Elder Scrolls-style leveling abilities by using them doesn’t quite feel right in an MMORPG until I got used to it.

It is completely reasonable to play a sorcerer that uses duel-wield daggers and is dependent on his stamina pool to do melee damage. (called a stam-sorc)

I might have come into the game to learn it at a bit of a bad time as I hear that the skills are going to be changing soon. I don’t know to what degree this will be happening, but I do know that it’s not going to keep me from playing it. If anyone that actually reads this is looking for the next game for them to buy, I highly recommend ESO. Be patient with it, though, it takes some getting used to.