As many of my readers know, I am a hardcore Skyrim fan. I have played it so long and for so many hours now that I have developed odd habits in the game. Like collecting boots off people and then placing them inside a single room of my house. I have leveled characters completely from crafting and building houses. Run around using Th’uum to push NPC’s off cliffs, or did my best to make my horses fly via giant.
Skyrim is one of my favorite games and Bethesda is one of my favorite developers. So when The Elder Scrolls Online was announced I was one of the first to jump into the beta test line and get on board with that.
The first beta test weekend I was invited to arrived. I had downloaded early but when I went to log in on that Friday night, I was unable to do so. They did not get the issue fixed until the next day and then I only had a few hours to play.
Needless to say I went into the beta test frustrated. Coupled with that frustration was that the test that weekend was for the PVP aspects which you cannot access till you reach level 10. The leveling system in ESO is very slow. So I did not even reach level 6 in the weekend I played.
When the invite to the next weekend came to my inbox. I ignored it. I was disappointed in many things ESO had to offer during the beta.
I knew it would be glitchy but overall the game just did not make me want to play it. It felt like one huge grindfest with very little reward.
So I did not go back.
Then my good friend Reikon who runs a multi-game guild with me called Paradox told me he had two keys to ESO and wanted to give it another shot. He offered me a key and I reinstalled the game.
I decided to give it another look with less frustration involved and once the game had really had time to develop. Boy was I impressed.
After a full 9 hours straight of playing I am only level 7, and I never even noticed how low my level was because I was having so much fun just playing the game.
Some major differences that I have noticed at this point in the game are the justice system, the death recap, and the dye systems. There are many other aspects that have been tweaked over the time I was gone that have significantly improved gameplay but they are too numerous to review in one session so I will focus on these three to begin with and review others as they impact my gameplay.
The Justice System
When I first tried ESO there was no genuine Justice System. You could just random do crimes without repercussion. Now every single crime can lead to punishment. You can steal, murder NPC’s, pickpocket, and break into homes now but not without possible repercussion.
Bounty is how crime is accounted for in ESO. There are multiple levels of Bounty on your person and NPC’s and guards will act according to the level of bounty you have on you when you are around them.
Disreputable, Notorious, and Fugitive
At the lowest level you are generally disregarded unless you directly approach a guard. At higher levels guards will chase you down and demand you pay, and at the highest level guards will outright try to kill you.
You can lower your bounty via various ways but most often you just end up having to pay.
The good news? If no one sees you there isn’t anyone to put a bounty on your head.
In general things in peoples homes and shops can be stolen. The item tooltip when you mouse over it will show in the color red with the option to steal. If an NPC or guard sees you steal something you will have to pay a fine, do it enough and your bounty will go up.
Stolen goods must be sold to special merchants in Outlaw Refuges where criminals can’t be attacked or stopped by Enforcers).
NPC’s now have inventories you can pickpocket from. Crouch behind them and target them to have the option to pickpocket.
Most NPC’s can now be murdered. Other NPC’s will react if they see you murdering someone. You cannot murder key NPC’s that are vital. I have not checked yet if there is a timer for respawn on murdered NPC’s but I think it would be awesome if they didn’t have one or had a very very long one.
Enforcers vs Outlaws
An aspect I haven’t really explored is the role of the Enforcer. You can uphold the law and PVP kill those whom you find committing crimes or having bounties high enough. To become an enforcer find the Enforcer tower and speak to the NPC there. You will be given a tabard that enables you to see the crime bounties of all visible players when you have it on and can then elect to PVP those who have committed crimes.
Overall really digging the Justice System. I haven’t played with it much yet because before I go delving into being chased by every guard everywhere, I want to get a good handle on the game.
The Dye System
One of the coolest additions I came across in my playing of ESO is the dye system. Dye stations are found in at least one city in every major area and using them is simple. Activating the dye station like any other crafting station will bring up the above menu.
Each dye is unlocked via achievements and you can view the achievement needed for every dye presented. As an achievement hunter in most games myself I really like this. Visible rewards for spending hours to get that achievable? I’m sold.
Some might be turned off by the achievement aspect but honestly unlocking the lower tier ones has been happening just as I play the game and not even actively searching out achievements. I imagine the higher tier ones are going to take some work but when I have the set I want, I will be proud to show off my hard earned colors.
The Death Recap
Last but not least. (Yea I did that.) The death recap. This addition was nice. I like being able to see what enemy was killing me with what skill after death. I imagine this comes in handy in raiding when you are trying to see what you were missing, not avoiding, or what stupid you happened to be standing in. The recap tells you what was hitting you over the last few hits and how much damage it did to you and tells you how you might even the odds in the future based on your skills and armor rating. It also informs you of the killing blow with a skull and crossbone symbol next to it.
Way to go ESO, you managed to bring me back. You haven’t quite stolen me from SWTOR but I do now feel like I am playing multiplayer Skyrim with an awesome storyline. I can’t wait to check out becoming a werewolf or vampire. I love the crafting system and a review will be coming in the future on this. I did not expect to have quite this much fun after an abysmal beta experience and wish I had given ESO a shot again sooner.
Added note on ESO – Addons are available and I would highly recommend that returning players and veterans alike go check out http://minion.mmoui.com/ and get the addon manager for ESO. Works like Curse’s addon manager but covers ESO. In my opinion the Lootdrop addon for ESO is a very necessary addition to your game.