Milestones: Level 25 in ESO and Orsinium first impressions

Reaching level 25 in ESO

I’ve been a bit on the slow side in the last two weeks- with first our family being sick and then doing other stuff in the evenings, i didn’t really get into ESO much. Sure, i’ve done a quest or two here and there, but mostly, it has been about the guild group evenings on fridays. We’ve been to Elder Hollows, the dungeon beneath Elder Root, which is a level 20 dungeon, i think. It has been a nice experience, although with the way dungeon scaling works in ESO it was quite easy to go through.

The big finale
The big finale

Story-wise, i can’t really tell you what’s going on in there. When i’m with a group, i’m not very good in following storylines. Still, atmosphere is something Elder Scrolls Online is doing very well, and this dungeon is no exception. Very interesting to walk and fight through.

Now, level 25 surely isn’t very far into the game and considering ESO is basically the only MMORPG i played this year, it’s becoming quite obvious that i could play ESO exclusively at least for the remainder of the year considering the amount of content in the game. While everything i did in the last couple of weeks is combat-related, i can say that there’s still some variety. We went to Cyrodiil, i did a few quests, we went into the dungeon and we explored the first steps into Orsinium. All these activities were something i chose to do in the sessions when i took part in them- leveling up was a byproduct. For me, this is leveling as it should be: do something you enjoy, the rest will come. Of course, ESO isn’t perfect in this regard- crafting could provide better leveling experience, for instance, and the level scaling in dungeons could be much better. But the game is on the right track here and is only bound to improve with more DLCs.

Right now, my plans are two-fold: on the one hand, i’d like to get Nuria through Grahtwood- she’ll outlevel the zone very soon (the quests leading her to the next area are for level 26), so i’ll try and figure out which parts of Grahtwood to complete and which ones not. At the very least, i’ll try and get most of the zone achievements done- Achievements grant dyes in ESO, so that’s important. And not only that- there are still a few skyshards and locations to discover.

On the other hand, i want to get the other classes going. Mainly for crafting purposes, but i can’t just craft and not play them. As long as the infinite crafting bag isn’t a thing in ESO, i need someone to take care of all the stuff i put in the bank.

Orsinium

Going into Orsinium, i didn’t know what to expect. I heard it was a “snow zone”, and by all accounts i’ve read it would be pretty much “Skyrim Online”. Well, i don’t know about that last part, but i can tell you that i was impressed the whole time we spent in Orsinium. There’s so much that just feels “right” here that it would actually be quite difficult for me to find something i didn’t like about the DLC.

Orsinium - inside the big city
Orsinium – inside the big city

Story-flow and introduction

Let’s begin by looking at the way ESO introduces you to the DLC while leaving out the part in your home city. When you enter Wrothgar, you are sent to catch up with a caravan, which is actually quite easy to do since the caravan was attacked a few metres into the zone.

Well, that didn't take long.
Well, that didn’t take long.

You’ll then go and look for a few merchants (and their goods) to bring them back to the caravan. What i like about this setup is that it makes a lot of sense: someone (an Orc) is rebuilding a city; of course he’ll need supplies and of course there will be somebody else who wants to make a profit with this whole thing- either monetary or in power gain- so while it is a “convenient” event, it isn’t too far-fetched. Also, you’re not “the hero”- it’s made clear that actually, a lot of invitations have been sent.

Landscape

The landscape in this DLC is just breathtaking- and it’s not all snow and ice, which is nice. You’ll have small lakes, waterfalls, a steppe, snowy plains, a huge city that you’ll be able to see from almost all the rest of the map. So despite it being a winter zone, which can be boring or even disruptive (like that snow zone in Rift, for instance), here you have an open zone where you are able to traverse most paths you can see and it’s still very diverse so it doesn’t get boring.

Screenshots don't really do it justice.
Screenshots don’t really do it justice.

World and interior design

Not only is the landscape breathtaking, its’ design is also very good- there’s nothing implausible to find (for now), it gives a realistic impression- and they did strike a nice balance between being too packed so it feels a bit off and being too empty and thereby feeling “realistic” but also boring. It’s the right amount of trees, paths, hills, mountains, lakes, waterfalls that makes this zone feel real while adding a pinch or two of awesome to the experience.

This quality enters buildings, too, by the way, so when you’ll finally enter the city and go to the bathing house, this thing actually looks its part.

Am i interrupting?
Are we interrupting something important?

As do the taverns.

orsinium_taverne

Level scaling

Last, but not least, i’d like to touch on the level scaling. This might seem so minor for some players, but it’s actually a big deal for me and our small guild: the whole zone is scaled…or, to be more precise: the group will be scaled to the zone. This allows us to go in and find challenging/interesting content for everyone and since there’s no level range within the zone, we can join up, go and do whatever we like with whoever will be online. So if someone missed group night, he or she can easily join up the next week without the need to catch up- we’d just find something else to do or go exploring.

Keeping this for all of their upcoming DLCs is a great decision; if anything, the way ZOS made Orsinium, a snow zone, work, makes me look positively towards the desert zone in the Thieves Guild DLC.

But i also hope they’ll improve on the level scaling in dungeons and in zones. I think that’s where they’re going with the removal of VR, but if they were to treat the leveling zones of the other alliances basically like “optional DLC” in the way Orsinium works (with scaling to one, and only one level and giving us the option to do everything in the order we prefer), thereby removing that feeling of having to go through three storylines (that scares me, a lot) while making it worthwhile and also a potential group activity, that would be great. And then, Housing please.

If Orsinium is any indication, they’re on a very good track with that game.

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