I had just finished a long assignment from the elven ambassador in the province of Elsweyr. I was tired from running to and fro, tangling with spies and fighting the Sea Elves at every turn.
Suddenly, Commander Karinth stopped me in my path and pressed me into duty fighting these ocean foes. I had to run into the fabled Wind Tunnels, looking to destroy the foul Storm Totems. Enemies at every turn of the weaving passages forced me to dodge back and forth to avoid vicious attacks while retaliating with my own spells and sword blows.
After what seemed a lifetime of combat and destruction, I returned a hero. Then I took some time out for me, finding a crafting table to put together some ingredients I’d gathered to make something useful. A restorative meal got me feeling better than usual.
As in many MMO games, Elder Scrolls Online offers many activities to engage in, including questing, crafting, cooking, combat (both player versus player and player versus environment) and traveling through dungeons with a few close friends. Even marriage — if you bought the digital Collector’s Edition.
There’s a reason people get addicted to games like Elder Scrolls Online: There’s so much to do that it’s incredibly easy to get sucked into these deep virtual worlds.
The crafting systems in Elder Scrolls Online will keep you engaged in both the world and the process of making your character better. It’s not only fun to gather materials and recipes; it’s beneficial — meals you make will grant your character special effects, or buffs, for specific amounts of time, like extra health or better defense stats (helpful in combat!).
Materials are gathered from around the countryside and towns, and can be found in barrels, crates and on dead enemies. You end up carrying around a bunch of items like “aged pork meat” or “untainted water” at the lower levels, ingredients that will go into some recipe in the future. You can craft potions, create weaponry and armor, and even brew various libations to help you along your path to leveling up.
The crafting here is super-easy to manage when compared to other MMOs I’ve played (I’m looking at you, Guild Wars 2). And while Elder Scrolls Online has its own complexity and depth, newcomers will figure out fairly quickly how to make a recipe, which itself can be found or purchased in-game.
The various crafting skills — Alchemy, Provisioning, Woodworking, Blacksmithing, Clothing, Enchanting — are skills you must learn and level up as well, making player-created items a potentially large chunk of the gameplay, if you decide to pursue it.
The bulk of your time, at least before level 10 (when you can start player-versus-player combat) and level 12 (when you can jump into four-player dungeon instances), will be spent questing. You’ll engage in several quests given to you when you start the game.
They range from the interesting (see Queen Ayrenn in Part 2 of this series) to the average to the fairly ridiculous (see the image above). Some, like a quest I discovered while swooshing around the sandy dunes outside of Stros M’Kai, are downright hilarious: There’s an orc there who would like to become a tradesman, but his mother wants him to be a fierce warrior. The poor would-be merchant needs help fighting a nearby beast, but he loses his sword repeatedly, and you have to keep finding it. The quest culminates with you defeating the monstrous creature, and then deciding whether to tell the orc to follow his heart or listen to his mother.
I told him to follow his heart.
In many quests, you’ll be engaging in combat — a lot of combat. You’ll click your left mouse button to attack, hold it down for a slower yet stronger attack, and click the right button to block. If you hold the right mouse button down to block, then click the left mouse button, you’ll block and smack your opponent, possibly interrupting whatever attack they were preparing.
Every melee action you take uses up stamina points. The heavier the weapon you swing, the more stamina you lose, which refill over time. Magic spells — accessed with a keyboard shortcut — take up Magicka points, with a similar recharging delay.
If it all sounds terribly complicated, it is. However, after a little bit of thoughtful practice, everything becomes second nature. The action is fast-paced without feeling overwhelming, and the enemies you face in the lower levels are — usually — only as tough as you can handle.
This should give you just a taste of all the things there are to do in Elder Scrolls Online; as you spend time in the world of Tamriel, you’ll immerse yourself in the kinds of activities you most enjoy, unless you’re some sort of completionist gamer who must do it all.
In the final call, Elder Scrolls Online is an engaging, immersive world that I’m having a ton of fun playing around in. The amount of time it would take to fully take advantage of all it has to offer is far more than I typically have at my disposal, but it’s completely fun to mess around with the different systems and activities while I’m there.