ESO shopping day

I’m slowly preparing myself to return to Elder Scrolls Online, which is supposed to be my main MMO again come september. Yesterday, i read Xannziee’s post with a couple of screenshots as well as her impression with ESO (she made a detour through Black Desert for a while). There was an outfit i liked, so i asked her what it was.

Of course, it turned out to be an outfit from the crown store. Knowing that a couple of those are going away in a few days, i checked the ESO website if that outfit was among those who are going “out of stock” soon- and it is. So in i went to purchase it. I also had a look at a few of the other items who only remain for three days now, and found another outfit and two sets that interest me. I haven’t decided on the sets yet, but i purchased the solo outfits that interested me. Coincidentally, they seem to be originated in the Valenwood, which is the region i’m questing in since…about forever.  Read more

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The sub strikes back – now what?

Woe is me, i’m falling into a trap again! I was really enjoying the first six months of this year when i played Elder Scrolls Online exclusively. Of course, MMO wanderlust was still a thing, but i kept it under check- until the summer break, that is. Interestingly, actually having even less time to play made me ponder my options more than before. Elder Scrolls Online is a great game, but to be honest, it’s not something you log into for half an hour or so to dabble a bit in and log out after a short time. The story-and-lore-heavy quests take time, which is a good thing. But it also means that you have to devote that time and i’ve found it quite difficult to do in the bright season. I don’t know about your place, but summer in Germany means daylight from about 5 am to 10.30 pm- i know it’s very different in China, where it’s dark at 8/9 pm in the evening (Shanghai area). It’s more “difficult” to lose yourself into a game.

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Summer Walkabout

So our small guild is taking a summer break from guild activities from the end of june to the end of august. May and especially june have shown already that this is a smart decision, as the last couple of events had some last-minute-cancellations already. For the most part it didn’t matter as we were still more than a full group to do our stuff. Yesterday, though, marked the first time i had to cancel on short notice. As i’ve said, i try my best to attend guild events that i set up and yesterday, we wanted to try and form a group for a dungeon. As far as i know, we would’ve been only three people attending anyway, so we probably would have opted to do something different. I knew i had something else to do, but i was confident that (a) that would be wrapped up just before 9 p.m. and (b) our son would be so tired by that time that he’d basically fall asleep as soon as he lay in bed. As it turned out, i was wrong on both accounts- i was home at 9.30 and greeted by a still very happy and awake son. It took him until 10 p.m. to sleep, by 10.15 i was sitting at the pc, too late to start anything really and read the message from another guildie that we’d just cancel the event. While i’m really unhappy that it was me who didn’t show up, the truth is that real life can interfer with my gaming plans, as well.

In the next couple of weeks/months, i’ll be even more busy, as we’re moving house in the end of june, our son has to change kindergarten and we’ll have to do some stuff in our old house. So july’s free time will be occupied by stuff like that (in addition to watching football/soccer, as there is the Euro 2016). My guess is that settling into the new house will keep us busy in august, as well.

Nonetheless, i have gaming-related plans for these two months, if i can get some gaming time in.

wildstar

Planning ahead

For me personally, the guild’s summer break means i’ll rejoice in a two-month MMO wanderlust, if i want to. Right now, my limited time to play basically leads me to playing Elder Scrolls Online exclusively, which is a great thing as i like the game a lot and always wanted to settle down. On the other hand, the list of games i’d like to play from time to time grew significantly in the last couple of weeks. I have a few goals for ESO, but i’ll be an MMO hopper for the upcoming months. A word on EVE Online: still love it, but i think i’ll take a break for the summer, at least. I’m still a bloody newbie and playing once a week for 30 minutes won’t do much to change that. I’ll need to put EVE on hold until i begin to spend more time gaming again.

Goals for Elder Scrolls Online

Two months might be enough to get my main character from level 37 to 50. That should be around a level a week; there’s actually a chance i might be able to do that. It would be nice to have a character on maxlevel to get into collecting champion points and being able to do DLC content in a more meaningful manner. I feel i outlevel ESO’s zones too quickly- i don’t even have an idea where my ideal quest hub is right now, the quests i’m currently on in Malabal Tor are all green. And that’s just from dungeon delving and exploring Cyrodiil with the guild. This won’t be a problem anymore when One Tamriel gets released, but we’re not there yet.

walkabout_tsw

MMO Wanderlust

Oh boy, do i want to visit places. I’ll probably play some or all of the following games in the next couple of months.

 

Blade and Soul. I think Blade and Soul can be an excellent game to play in short sessions just for the fun of it. The combat is great, i like the setting, the graphics, the style. I’m really looking forward to playing it some more and probably trying the Soul Fighter, which seems to be quite a fun class. I’ve played some Blade and Soul in the last couple of days and i guess the main thing i need to decide is whether i’d like to move to an international server with new characers as the german one i’m on seems…kind of empty.

The Secret World. TSW is always on my to-do-list. I so hope to see the content this game offers some day. For me, Funcom are the good guys of the genre and i’m happy they seem to have put their financial trouble behind for now. There’s also the museum of the occult coming up, so i’m curious. And it’s the one MMO where our guild might actually meet for an out-of-ESO experience.

Wildstar. The housing is the biggest reason for Wildstar to be on this list. Others are the recent Steam launch and the fact that this MMO is on my personal 8-Ball-endangered-games list. The marketing “effort” Carbine and NCSoft put into their Steam launch didn’t do much in terms of confidence in this game. It’s a shame, actually, as the housing is great, the game does look good, offers a wide array of activities…for me it’s the combat and the bland questing experience that make the game unenjoyable, but i’ll go and visit it anyway.

ScreenShot00121

Lord of the Rings Online. Just like with TSW, i’d like to see the content here- or to be more precise, the landscapes.

World of Warcraft. Yes, i might. But i’ll avoid to sub until i’m level 20 with my newly created disc priest. My main motivation here is, again, landscapes, as Blizzard puts out very beautiful zone designs. I always wanted to see the WotLK zones in particular. This is probably going nowhere, but for now, it is included.

Tera. I might even install this. I have a new PC, the game looks good and the combat is good. Also because of it being featured on Rockpapershotgun yesterday.

Single Player. The backlog is long. I’d like to build a City in Cities: Skylines, a space empire in Stellaris, i’d like to roleplay in Skyrim, The Witcher 3, Mass Effect, shoot others in Overwatch and more.

I know this is way too much for two months- heck, if i focused, i’d probably be able to do most of it in two years. My main focus (besides ESO) will be on Blade&Soul, because my guess is that this will be the game that fits best into available time and playing mood- i think it can be played in shorter sessions, it seems to offer great solo content (that 100-level-thing interests me), it’s fun to play with the great combat, it offers a story i’m interested in and i guess it’s perfectly fine to be played as an alone-together-murder-simulator  MMO. Which might just be what i’ll be looking for in the next couple of months.

One Tamriel! How’bout that?

When people talk about MMO comebacks, they’ll mostly give Final Fantasy XIV as an example. Of course this is true, FFXIV in its current state is immensely better than what they released as V1.0. But this one was essentially rebuilt- it wasn’t evolution that brought FFXIV from 1.0 to 2.0, it was recreation.

Elder Scrolls Online wasn’t too well-received when it released, although i believe this was born more out of disappointment of players who didn’t feel like their interests took the front seat in the game design- as we’ve often read, MMO players felt the game was not MMO enough and Skyrim players felt ESO wasn’t Skyrim enough. Both groups of players felt neglected to some extent. These days, i feel like we are seeing Elder Scrolls Online stepping up to satisfy both player types and the birth of the next great MMORPG- i mean, it has been in the making for quite some time now, but Elder Scrolls Online will be shaping itself up to a set of features and scope that will see it propelled to be one of the best if not the best MMORPG to be released in this decade at least. In my opinion, of course.

Elder Scrolls Online is a great MMORPG with a few things that hinder it at becoming the top MMO for me. To mention a few things:

  • at release and until recently, the prospect of having to quest through all three campaigns with each and every character scared me. That’s at least 300 hours of content if you rush and that would mean about a year or two of me playing only one character and only Elder Scrolls Online. After that, i’d be ready for DLC and Cyrodiil.
  • group options – for people like me and guilds like ours, level scaling is not optional, it’s very important to enable us to do stuff together. It’s great that the DLC are scaled, but going there and doing stuff would mean to almost skip over entire zones in the base game (i saw about a quarter of Greenshade, if it was that much)
  • non-combat content like housing is missing
  • trading with other players still requires us to join trading guilds

I might be a bit too optimistic here, but it seems that at the end of 2016, only the issue of trading with other players will remain, as housing is probably coming this year and yesterday, Matt Firor announced “One Tamriel”.

In other words, we’re bringing the same auto-leveling system (called “battle leveling”) that has been so successful in our DLCs to the entire game.

Here are the basics:

  • Characters will have their level scaled the same way that we currently scale players to the level of DLC zones (Imperial City, Orsinium, Thieves Guild, and Dark Brotherhood).
  • You will be able to explore the entire world in any sequence you wish – just walk across the world and you will always find appropriately leveled content.
  • You will be able to play and group with anyone in the game at any time (outside of PvP). No longer will you have to create a lower level character to play with a friend who has just joined the game. You will be able to group and adventure together from the moment your friend emerges from the tutorial.
  • We are dropping all PvE Alliance restrictions. You will be free to explore of all Tamriel, including other Alliances. It is up to you how you want to role-play your character while doing this. “Silver” and “gold” versions of zones will be replaced by Cadwell quest storylines that you can do in any order you wish.
  • Alliance restrictions will still be enforced in all PvP areas, of course. One Tamriel will not affect the PvP systems in Cyrodiil.
  • In general, higher level players will be the same “level” as lower level players, but they will have far more tools in their arsenal: better gear, more abilities, and of course more Champion points.
  • We will adjust gear rewards to scale appropriately to make sure that there is always a way to get more powerful via crafting, questing, PvP, and dungeon/trial boss loot drops.
  • All Trials and Dungeons will continue with standard and Veteran difficulty modes, and you will have to be Veteran level to play veteran dungeon modes.
  • The Coldharbour zone will be “roped off” from players who have not yet completed the quests that lead there. However, if you are invited to a group that is already there, or travel to a friend who is there, you can immediately access the zone.

Sooo, level scaling in the whole game. Removal of alliance restrictions in PvE. Imagine what this means for a small guild like ours: finally, we can tackle all the content together. At any one time, we’ll be able to meaningfully form groups to help each other, be in each other’s company, run dungeons. We’ll also be able to recruit players from the other alliances, as we’re PvE-focussed anyway. I don’t know yet what that might mean for our leveling group of DC characters, but i guess it might have an influence, because we don’t need to watch each others’ character levels as closely as before and we’ll also be able to simply join up with whatever character we like.

Now give me a place to call my own, please!
Now give me a place to call my own, please!

For the solo player- and in my personal opinion questing is still better when doing it alone- this means that outleveling content will not be a problem anymore. This opens up so many possibilities like playing through whole DLCs before getting to 50, changing zones and so on. With this change, the leveling experience from 1 to 50 will be very alt-friendly indeed, because while you still can do everything with every character, the order in which to do that will be up to us, the players. This move alone will make the game feel even larger than it is right now.

I am very excited to see where ESO is going this year and i’m very happy with the current state as well as the prospect of what’s coming.

Gaming goals for may

First one: make this post about quantifiable goals and more bullet-pointy than the last one.

Elder Scrolls Online

ESO_logo-blackReviewing april’s goals

  • level my main to 30 – done. She’s 35 right now
  • craft an armor/weapon set – still to do
  • figure out a way to skill my Dragon Knight – not done
  • level the Dragon Knight to 15 – not done

Goals for may

  • level my main to 50. Yes, that’s a stretch- but i feel i could do it if i concentrate on it- would be nice to reach 50 before the veteran ranks go the way of the dodo.

Other games

April’s goals

Not quantifiable, but i haven’t reached any of these. I didn’t play Black Desert and/or The Secret World. Instead, i resubbed to EVE Online and dabbled in Lord of the Rings Online.

Goals for may

EVE Online

  • keep at it!
  • finish the career agent missions

Battleborn, Stellaris, Overwatch

  • no real goals but to actually play each of them

Our guild

Reviewing april’s goals

  • have a guild meeting – done.
  • tackle another dungeon or two – done.
  • have a social event (crafter’s market) – still open.
  • short and middle term strategies for homepage and growth – possibly done.

I feel we’ve overachieved here. Last month, i was worried that my absence damaged the community a bit- this was either totally unfounded or has been corrected during the month of april. We’re now in peak times regarding activity- we visit Cyrodiil regularly, we’ll level characters together in the Daggerfall Covenant, we continue to do dungeons from time to time and a member stepped up to invite us into Imperial City.

Goals for may

  • have a guild meeting
  • begin levelling our DC characters
  • continue in Cyrodiil
  • tackle a dungeon or two
  • write a “How to get involved” post on the forums

Blog & Meta

April’s goals

  • seperate Real Life  and gaming stuff – not done. In fact, i’m back to the “normal” blog layout with whole posts on the home page.
  • write more China posts. No, i don’t think this’ll happen. Somehow i feel MMORPG, RL and movie/book blogging don’t mix very well
  • Still need to look more into Anook
  • Still need to get better at commenting

Goals for may

  • have a bigger range in content length. Everything i write is about 1000 words long. I need to be able to keep it short, as well, making the blog more fun and easy to read and maybe get more posts up
  • figure out how i want the site to look and feel. Work on the navigation.
  • provide “deeper” content. I can’t really do guides, because i’m inexperienced, but i’d like to try and offer more value.

Tamriel together – experiencing ESO in a dedicated group

We’ll start our “level together” series in our guild soon. Right now, we’re in the “prologue” part where we’ll play alone until we reach Daggerfall. From there, we’ll make an effort to play together. However, when i thought about ways to do this, normal questing left me with an uneasy feeling. If we were to do all the quests together, there’d be logistics involved- what questlines to follow, what decisions to make and always noting and telling others where we are in the questing process. And overlevelling content would soon begin to be a problem, as well. In the end, i put together a different plan.

Questing

We’ll concentrate on the following types of quests:

  • Main Story Quests
  • Quests that grant skillpoints
  • Mages guild quests
  • Fighters Guild Quests
  • Undaunted Quests

Open World

Instead of questing, we’ll give things in the open world priority, with the added advantage that everything in this category is actually easier/faster when it is done in a group. Most of these things are also marked on the map and for the items that aren’t, i’ve got some addons installed.

Before we decided to found a guild in Elder Scrolls Online, we had already met a few times to play together. At that time, there were four of us and we did everything together- mainly because none of us was actually playing Elder Scrolls Online by themselves (that was something that just happened after our meet-ups) and so the quests were still new to us and also, because my research didn’t show many guides/topics on how ESO could be played in a small or full dedicated group. Now, with some knowledge of the game, i actually think ESO provides plenty of content for small or full dedicated groups- maybe even more than other contemporary MMORPGs. So here’s what you can do as a small or full dedicated group in Elder Scrolls Online and how we’re planning to progress through the zones in our group(s).

  • Delves – Each map contains 6 delves and there’s a skyshard and a boss in each of them. I guess this will become the thread we’ll follow throughout a zone, hopping between Delves, World Bosses, Points-of-Interest and Dolmen. Normally, Delves can be done solo, but it’ll be faster when done in a group. Delves also count towards the Meta-Achievement of zone explorer.
  • Group Bosses – There are 6 group bosses in each zone- you can solo them, but they do get difficult from time to time.
  • Landmarks – These are marked as “eyes” on the map and often, there’s not much to do there, but they are beautiful places, sometimes contain a nice story element and give some xp. They also count towards the meta-achievement of zone explorer. I thinke there are usually five of them in a zone.
  • Dolmen / Anchor – I tried to do an anchor by myself yesterday and it didn’t end well. Anchors are group content- and as such, they’ll be more fun and more rewarding being done in a group. There seem to be three Dolmens in levelling zones.
  • Public Dungeons – Each zone contains one public dungeon- they’re similar to delves but are bigger. We’ll do them when we see them on the map, as the last PvE content in any given zone or to get some progress before doing the zone’s instanced group dungeon.
  • Skyshards – Last but not least, before leaving a zone, we’ll make sure to uncover all skyshards- to get the associated skill points.

Dungeons

In every zone, there’s an instanced group dungeon that can be done in a group of four. I don’t know yet how we’ll approach these, it depends on how many of us are logged in and playing together in a session. We are enough to build two groups, but that’s assuming everyone will log in. My plan is to do them unscaled when we meet the level requirements.

Helpful Addons

While i don’t like using addons much (i much prefer exploring/solving riddles when i’m by myself), in this case it’s advisable, as “exploring”- or “searching for something” is actually a boring thing to do in a group.

  • QuestMap – shows quests on the map and provides filtering options such as “skill point” or “Cadwells silver/gold”
  • Destinations – shows the other locations on the map
  • Skyshards – shows skyshards on the map

With all these, you should know where to go at any point.

Conclusion

My hope is that this system will allow us to make progress in the game by doing the content mentioned above, while not levelling too fast or too slow for any given zone. Logistics-wise, this will be easy: all players who miss out a week or two or want to catch up to us later have to do is reach about the same level as the group (+/- 3). Doing things this way also allows each player to play these characters outside of that group without being afraid to lose touch. While crafting and questing of course do give experience, it’s not necessary that we’re all exactly on the same level at all times, even without level scaling.

Monday Quick Notes: All about EVE

Learning lessons

Commitment. It’s about making a choice and sticking to it. When i was still looking for that game, i thought it meant to force myself to play one or two MMOs only, but that’s not what it is about- it’s more about giving a particular game a fair shot both in session length and time spent in game in any given month and allow the game to get me hooked. These days, for the first time since my WoW days, i find myself enjoying the game worlds i play in outside of the respective games.

EVE Online

With EVE, i’m not there yet, but i realize that i’m on my way to becoming attached to EVE. I didn’t play much since i last wrote about it, but i was reading. All those very fun to read articles about the current war and a book about past ones, as well. And i want to get in there. Really, EVE online will be rememberred, far more than, say, SWTOR, because its players shaped the game’s history and one of the few games to be an “MMORPG” from the bottom to the top. I feel that, right now, we’re on the brink of another important phase in the game. I don’t know if World War Bee is still going, if The Imperium has won or lost, but from what i can see, i think it’s very realistic to assume that the Mercenary Coalition isn’t really interested in keeping all that space. So there might be a power vacuum coming to Nullsec, and it will be interesting to see where this is going.

Reading Empires of EVE also introduced me to the idea of a “free port” in Nullsec- basically, there used to be an alliance that opened up its Nullsec space for all EVE pilots and strived to make it a safe place. That’s an interesting idea- imagine being able to carebear around in Nullsec- that would be great. Alas, i don’t think such an alliance still exists.

So what i’m planning with EVE is the following: i’m going to commit. I want to be in there, become whatever small part i am able to be in that (ingame) community. For now, that simply means continuing doing career agent missions, then the Sisters of EVE storyline. When i’m done with that, i think i’ll have an inkling about the game and how i am going to approach it. I know this, however: moreso than Elder Scrolls Online, getting into EVE takes an effort- i can’t really expect it to pull me in in the first two hours of gameplay. I’ll also look into finding a corporation sooner or later, EVE is meant to be played with others, after all.

Elder Scrolls Online

In addition to playing three characters right now- my main, the tank and the Nightblade Leech healer for the guild group, there’s one question on my mind right now regarding ESO: how can i earn more gold? So i’ll try and take a look at the following content:

  • fishing
  • stealing
  • crafting

Possibly the best way to earn some gold is by joining trading guilds- but in all honesty, i’m not a big fan of those. If they were combined with a large social levelling guild that requires no commitment at all (i’m committed to my guild, after all), it would be fine. But the trading guilds i experienced are silent groups of strangers using the guild as auction house only. That’s not even what i’d have in mind when thinking how to create a trading guild, it’s just a band-aid fix to get auction house functionality.

Hero shooters and may

What march was for MMOs and MMO-likes, may might become the same for single-/multiplayer. There are three titles i’m very much looking forward to: Battleborn (may 3rd), Stellaris (may 9th) and Overwatch (may 24th). Well, actually i’m a bit indifferent towards Battleborn- there are three reasons i bought it: i’d like to play one of those hero shooters soon and Battleborn releases earlier than Overwatch. It also offers PvE content, so that’s an advantage. And with Greenmangaming’s always-on 20% discount, i could buy it cheaper than the 50€ standard price.

In Stellaris, i’ll be creating the space empire i’m never going to build in EVE, and i’m really looking forward to see that space 4X game from the developers of Europa Universalis and Crusader Kings.

Overwatch will be the most fitting to my gameplay style of using singleplayer games (or multiplayer lobby titles, for that matter) as a distraction for short sessions and fun gameplay. I’m in the mood to play a shooter right now and Overwatch might just fit the bill. I’m hoping for an arcade feel like the Unreal Tournament games or Quake 3 used to have.