Last night, right after I managed to unlock Warrior for Tai, the FFXIV servers went wonky. So, I decided to take a break from FFXIV… and chose to pick up the copy of ESO that I bought, and play it for the first time since beta.
My very first impression of ESO was, “Wow, this is one HUGE patching game!” It seemed that every time I tried to launch it, the patcher would barely get 1-2% before I needed to turn it off and do something else. The patcher (like the game) seems to hog a lot of my computer’s resources, so I couldn’t leave it running if I wanted to play another game or do something CPU intensive.
I eventually gave up and left the computer on overnight to let it download… something I haven’t had to do with a MMO for years. Lucky that I did, because it was all patched and ready for me to try it out last night.
I sat down and did some quick research on classes and races that were meant for soloing well. Seemed that DK and Templar are well-liked, and while I usually go full on DPS, I chose Templar for my first character.
I read all about the differences between stamina based and magic based Templars and what race was best for them (I was reading wood elves). However, when I got to character creation, I found I still can’t stomach the way elf races look (sorry to those who like them). So I went back to my Khajiit kitty, similar to what I played in beta.
Took me a while to come up with a character that I liked, but I finally did, and was off to the introduction. This introduction has been quite streamlined since I last played (over a year ago). I notice there’s a lot less gogogogogo and more battle tutorial and teaching. It even spent some time teaching me to sneak and to pick locks.
The old tutorial I remembered was littered with tons of chests and urns to loot. They cut back on this significantly, too. However, the chests and mobs I did loot scored much better and more useful items (armor and weapons) compared to the urns that used to give a ton of crafting material and did nothing but distract me from moving forward in the story.
The story itself was largely unchanged. Again, mostly just streamlined with less annoying little objectives, getting you much more quickly to the point. I also noticed that NPC cutscenes have added some minor character animation. While this is still no match for cutscenes in FFXIV or Guild Wars 2, it’s far better than it used to be, when I felt I was talking to a wooden pole NPC who had good lip syncing to mostly mediocre voice acting.
Once I got back to the living world, I was deposited in a boat in Auridon. A few quests in, I was then diverted to Khenarthis Roost instead, which used to be the old beta starting point for new players. I think players gave a lot of negative feedback about the area (though I never had any issue with it), and it was completely removed during the last beta I played. I was surprised to see Khenarthis Roost returned to the game, and thought it was a bit odd that they sent you back there via quests. Why didn’t they just start us there in the beginning was strange.
I didn’t get much further in before I got sidetracked by installing add-ons (yay for a mini map!). But I was happy to see they decided to keep Razum-dar’s little storyline, since he was one of my favorite NPCs from beta. When they completely cut the Khenarthis Roost scenario, they ended up cutting a lot of the friendship-bonding my character had with Razum-dar… so I was all for returning to the noob island.
Speaking of which, though it’s a real pain not being able to see floating player and NPC names (is there an add-on for that?), I could tell there were a lot of low level players in the intro areas. I was quite surprised with the activity I saw there. I have no idea what server I’m on (is it a mega server?) or anything like that. But it looks like at this point, there’s a healthy low-player population, even on a random weekday night.
I don’t know how much I’ll get to play ESO, since FFXIV still remains my main MMO. But I’ll try to put some time into it and see how it’s changed over the past year or so.