Elder Scrolls Online Second Impressions

An MMORPG is optimally something that people stick with and come back to over the course on months or years, is a game of habit and rhythm – break the rhythm and it can break your sense of investment in the game. Personally I’ve had this happen over and over again.

But as I mentioned in the last post, I’ve been playing The Elder Scrolls Online pretty casually for a couple of weeks, with a couple of different characters. I expected, based on my past history, that my interest would wither after a few days out of town on business. To my mild surprise that didn’t happen — when I got home I wanted to play ESO, even though it had to wait for a recovery day to pass. And during the travel time I watched a fair bit of video to get a better handle on ESO’s fairly baroque character development system and interface.


One of the interesting things that system does, although it isn’t at all transparent when you start, is to largely divorce playstyle from the actual classes. The Dragon Knight, for example, appears tanky at a glance, but by picking the right stuff as you advance (or after a respec) you could also heal or DPS. Same with the other classes, all of which can also pick their own weapons, armor and other skills without any restriction. Only the three class skills are restricted to a particular class, and those represent only a subset of the combat-relevant skills. Class in ESO is meaningful but in a different way than it is in other games in the same space.

In terms of feel, in addition to the Elder Scrolls vibe that it tries (not entirely successfully) to embody, ESO also gives me hints of EQ2, Age of Conan and (perhaps most importantly for me) Vanguard. I am finding this odd melange to be more effective the more I play, despite the variances from single-player Elder Scrolls games and more conventional MMORPGs reading as off-putting at first. That I also prefer less twitchy games was also a barrier… but then, I did play a lot of Skyrim, and at least a little bit of that does carry over. I’m very slowly getting less inept.

Sooooo… does this mean that I am back on the MMO wagon? I will commit to nothing, but at this instant I am inclined to keep playing. Which means I will continue to write about it.


Exploring ESO

So I’ve been playing The Elder Scrolls Online. I think there’s a fair bit to like in there, although as someone who ate Skyrim up, to me it also lacks a lot of the same feel. In a single-player Elder Scrolls game there’s a main story — that you can basically totally ignore if you want, in favor of unstructred adventuring and exploration. There’s room for some of that in ESO, but as far as I have seen thus far (and bear in mind, I’m still early on at about level 12) not nearly as much. It favors structured questing instead, which given the brand is disappointing.

Perhaps most annoyingly, I have a favored play style in Elder Scrolls games: the stealth archer, which is a character type that I really don’t play in any other game. This is effectively an invalid play style in ESO due to the combat mechanics, which are largely a reflection of its nature as an MMO.

On the upside, there is a lot to do in the game, the world has a lot of space, and you’ll in time get to see parts of the world that have been left out since Morrowind. There’s also solid, regular support and expansion, which Bethesda/Zenimax has probably done better with than anyone else.

ESO is also a lot better than it was back in beta, which is when I played it last. For now I’m still playing, and that’s a good sign.

100 Water Worlds Initiative, Day Seven: New Space Ahead

  • Newly Discovered Water Worlds: 20
  • Virgin Systems Fully Explored: 10

Zheng He and I are still trekking towards Scutum-Centaurus. Every jump now takes me farther from settled space. At the end of the day I was 2500 light-years out of Hilary, and over 4,000 light-years from Sol.


It was a long day of jumping and scooping, and I’m still not yet where I want to be. But on the way I found a lot. A double Water World system, and then another big multiple-star system with no less than three Water Worlds. And later, and Earthlike.


A few scattered other Water Worlds were found along the route. I also found my first Ammonia World on this trip; I’m not sure I have the knack for spotting them yet. This one had a set of rings and seas of liquid hydrocarbons.


For a day of jumping 2500 light-years, I did very well: the current Water Worlds tally stands at 20. I didn’t do much additional scouting, so I didn’t fully explore any new systems, save for a few that only had a couple of bodies in them. But things are really moving now.

100 Water Worlds Initiative, Day Six: A New Trajectory

  • Newly Discovered Water Worlds: 10
  • Virgin Systems Fully Explored: 10

The day was mostly consumed by heading outward from Hilary Depot. I took, more or less, a straight shot out to Antispinward, driving just away from the inhabited bubble. Needless to say I kept my eyes open for any interesting worlds.


Mostly, though, the region around the refueling route to Colonia is pretty thoroughly picked over. I did find a new interesting sights, but only two Water Worlds, both of them previously charted.


I stopped for the day about halfway to my goal; I’m aiming to go further out than ever before on this run. Not all the way to the Core this time around… but I want to hit the next spiral arm in from Sol this time. That’s Scutum-Centaurus, according to my possibly-outdated charts.

Comments Off on 100 Water Worlds Initiative, Day Six: A New Trajectory Posted in Commentary

100 Water Worlds Initiative, Day Five: The Pitstop

  • Newly Discovered Water Worlds: 10
  • Virgin Systems Fully Explored: 9

The trip in to Hilary Depot was close to 900 light-years. So of course I explored as I went. It’s a good thing, too. I camE across a system. Not a new system; someone had buzzed through and scanned the primary but ignored the orbiting bodies. Co-orbiting with a small gas giant I found an Earthlike with metal-rich rings. A literal jackpot, and quite a sight.

ww8-1 20170316230115_1c

Hilary Depot is named, of course, for a legendary explorer of old Earth, who climbed Mount Olympus with his faithful Grizzly Bear, Ben. I remember seeing a holofilm about him when I was a kid.

ww9 20170317191718_1 (2)

Another fifty light-years or so later, I found another Earthlike. I am counting these towards my 100, of course. They are quite rare, though perhaps not so rare as Ammonia Worlds… of which I have found none so far on this expedition.


And then the Pitstop at Hilary. Some clown tried to interdict me on the way in, but eluding him wasn’t much trouble. I increased by previous record of max distance from home, and my data was worth close to 6 million credits. Word is, by the way, that Lakon is making some upgrades to the Diamondback Explorer some time soon, shedding some weight but still putting in an extra internal slot. It’ll be nice to have.

100 Water Worlds Initiative, Day Four: The Neutron Highway

  • Newly Discovered Water Worlds: 6
  • Virgin Systems Fully Explored: 5

Another poor starting day. But I did find a handful of Neutron Stars, clustered within 50 light-years or so of each other. All had already been discovered, but their jets allow you to “supercharge” your FSD for a one-time long-distance jump that’s roughly three times the normal maximum distance.


This kickstart, while I’m skipping over potentially promising systems, saves me time; getting me out to virgin space quicker.


Now I’m going to hop back in to Hilary Depot for a quick repair and data dump. Then back out in a slightly different direction.

100 Water Worlds Initiative, Day Three: Expanding the Mini-Bubble

  • Newly Discovered Water Worlds: 6
  • Virgin Systems Fully Explored: 5


The day began inauspiciously, with a string of empty or otherwise barren systems that I elected not to explore fully. Sticking to my current area of exploration the pickings had slimmed considerably.


But not all was wasted; I explored a number of new systems, many not fully. And in one I found an earth-mass Water World orbiting a larger Water World. Not quite twins, but close.

ww5 20170315230241_1 (2)

I will now drive my efforts along a single axis of exploration for the next day or two.