TESO: Trekking in Tamriel (Pt. 5)

It’s patch week!

One of the most exciting times for anyone who plays MMORPGs especially when it’s close to a major expansion release. Or the most dreaded. It really depends on how much you love your class and how much they could change it. But for those who play The Elder Scrolls Online that doesn’t seem to be much of a concern. There are changes to the classes and they vary from tweaking values to balancing abilities, but they mostly leave the original heart of the class intact. From my limited experience with them at least.

There’s good news if you’ve got an ESO Plus subscription and love banks, though.

You now get double the bank space you would normally get if you maintain an active subscription. For those who already have access to the crafting bank, it seems to work in the same way that for as long as the subscription is active so are the bonuses. But if the subscription becomes inactive the bonuses are withdrawn but you can still take from the banks. Just not deposit to them.

Or, at least, for the standard bank, you can deposit to it as long as you’re under the limit you have without the subscription. Whereas crafting banks you can’t deposit to at all without a subscription. Naturally, the largest and most expansive changes in this patch are all about the adventures you’ll be undertaking in Vvardenfell. Of which, I do believe, there is an early access period if you’ve pre-ordered the expansion. Which more than likely includes access to the Warden class as I’m sure I’ve met one or two already. Either that or someone else can summon spiritual bears. There seem to be a whole host of new dungeons, titles, cosmetic items, trophies, and other oddities for those who will be travelling out to Seyda Neen as well.

Glorious buffs and debuffs!

Character progression has been somewhat rebalanced, too. The experience curve has changed ever so slightly, there are now soft requirements for unlocking skill trees, and Champion Points have been reset. They too have been rebalanced to make the earlier levels more meaningful. I’ve not actually reached Lvl 50 yet so this is something that I’ll learn about at a later date. You can also have additional character slots via the Crown Store now. I don’t think you get any additional slots simply for buying the expansion, though. Or at least that’s not listed anywhere.

Of all the changes my favourite is the buff and debuff bar.

I always found it slightly weird that it wasn’t included from the very beginning. It’s kind of an essential part of understanding whether things are actually activating (like bleeds), or checking something is still active (like Soul Trap), or knowing how long you’re going to be debilitated or weakened. It’s a little odd but functional and definitely better than nothing.

I’ll admit that I haven’t been as active as usual recently. Mostly due to researching and making sure that I’ve got a steady stream of Traits being unlocked, which, with some pieces of equipment, now incurs a seven day wait period before I can continue. I was rather hoping that the next rank of Metallurgy (and equivalent skills) would unlock a third research slot. But it doesn’t. Sadly. In any case, I’m currently working through a suitable amount of content with my Imperial Templar before I finish his main story. I’ll still have the main stories for the numerous locations that I’ll be visiting as well. So the content won’t dry up. But, until then, I hope that your adventures in The Elder Scrolls Online are fruitful!

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

TESO: Trekking in Tamriel (Pt. 4)

Wherein we research many things.

Researching has always been a priority as it affords me the opportunity to create more advanced equipment. It’s now a significantly higher priority as I’ve recently discovered it’s the key to creating set equipment, which, rather surprisingly, has no other requirements. I’d seen the various crafting locations before but I’d never attempted to use them as I assumed they required unique style materials or training. The considerable boost to different parameters is certainly worth the investment in researching, though.

Even if it means my bank will be filled with equipment for some time to come.

I’d prefer being able to destroy the equipment immediately to add it to the list of research and then invest the time as usual. But, sadly, I have to carry each of these pieces around in one inventory or another while the timer ticks away. I don’t even really care that much about the significant investment of time as that ticks away while I’m not actively logged in.

So that’s a thing I’m doing now. I’ve made good use of the various sets, too. With these I can definitely see that crafting is an investment which is worth making as you can essentially build anything you need to suit your character, then improve the quality, add enchantments, and even create it with inherent Traits. It’s a pretty extensive set of mechanics which are surprisingly more flexible than you’d assume. It also means I’ve made good choices with my characters. Which is always nice. The Guild Stores also open up the potential to purchase anything you might need. With all the joy of running to different locations, checking prices, checking more prices, and generally looking to get the best deal you possibly can.

We’ll cleanse this corruption or we’ll die trying.

I’ve also been working through the main story which is shorter than I’d anticipated. I know that’s hardly new for The Elder Scrolls, but in this case it almost feels a little anti-climactic as I’ll be able to finish the main story before I even reach Lvl 50. I know I could always go and level up to Lvl 50 and then finish it but there scarcely seems any point to do so. That’s the less appealing aspect of having the content scale with your character rather than be at a set level. I was rather hoping that the main story would take me through to Lvl 50.

There’s always the main story for the Daggerfall Convenant if I want more content, though.

I’ve been exploring the opening areas for the Ebonheart Pact, too. That’s an interesting diversion as their main opposing Alliance seems to be the Daggerfall Convenant. Which kind of sort of means he’s fighting his own people, but in my defence he is an Imperial and therefore chose to join the Daggerfall Convenant as they don’t have any Alliance of their own.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I’m most interested in their story as I don’t currently have a character with the Ebonheart Pact. I’m already experiencing what the Daggerfall Convenant have to offer, while I’ll be heading off with the Aldmeri Dominion soon. That and they’ve got giant mushrooms out in Davon’s Watch. I love giant mushrooms! Almost as much as I love giant trees and random assortments of colourful foliage. I’m looking forward to exploring more dungeons, delves, and the like out there. They’ll have some interesting ones for sure. I’m rather surprised to find that many of the Mundus Stones are repeated out there, too. I thought that they would be placed across the entire world and you’d have to travel across Alliances for them.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

TESO: Trekking in Tamriel (Pt. 3)

Wherein the vast crafting empire begins.

The Elder Scrolls Online has one of the most enjoyable crafting systems I’ve encountered in any MMORPG. It doesn’t require an excessive list of raw materials, all of the different components are pretty intuitive, the strength of crafted equipment is comparable to that which you find in dungeons, and there are many different ways to improve your crafting talents (most of which are free). It’s nice to think that I haven’t invested this time erroneously or for reasons which are no longer as attractive as they once were.

I’m actually quite excited to reach Lvl 50 now.

That’s when I’ll likely be building my first completely strengthened set of equipment. Though, due to overflowing Fire Opals, I do invest in Sharpened on any of my weapons as the extra armour penetration is very attractive. I’m not sure if I want a Crushing rune on it, though. Or whether it’s better to have health steal or a damage shield. I’ve certainly got enough options.

I’ve been exploring the different crafting options available in Blacksmithing (on my Imperial Templar), Woodworking (on my Orc Dragonknight), and Clothing (on my Altmer Sorcerer) as they all follow similar rules and so it’s easy to advance them together. Even if I’m not playing the other characters as much. That said, I’ve been steadily pushing my Sorcerer towards Lvl 10 while my Templar has now surpassed Lvl 20. My Khajiit Nightblade has Alchemy and Provisioning. One of which is almost exclusively useful to him, while the other, Provisioning, doesn’t really hold much of my attention as I’m not too interested in housing. Nor am I particularly thrilled with the prospect of carrying around hundreds of ingredients.

It’s been a while since we’ve been back here.

Which, unlike Enchanting, or even Alchemy, I can’t experiment with and so I need recipes to actually cook food. I’m sure that cooked meals will one day be very important to my progression for some reason or another, but at the moment it’s something I think I’ll leave until I better understand it. Whereas the other crafting options are all covered and I’m constantly researching new things. I’m prioritising things I think I’ll need on my equipment first as the research duration increases somewhat dramatically after one or two Traits are unlocked.

I’ve explored the depths of public and group dungeons now, too.

The group dungeon was an attempt to solo a boss and get a better understanding of how things work. The boss was pretty tough, sporting a two phase engagement that had a combined total of 2.5m health which took some patience. I defeated it, but, sadly, the rest of the dungeon seems a little outside of my soloing capability at the moment. But one day. Maybe.

The public dungeons are quite interesting and are (as I understand it) more extensive and more difficult versions of delves. Delves being miniature dungeons often housing a Skyshard and a boss to clear the event. Whereas public dungeons have multiple bosses, more loot, and quests. It’s nice to be able to engage in group content outside of an actual group, though. Keeps you busy. As if exploring the many areas you have to visit over the course of your personal story wouldn’t do that already. Or the endless number of diversions set to side track you into next Tuesday. In either case, I’m enjoying the available content much more than I anticipated I would. I’m particularly enjoying the close combat style of the Templar.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

TESO: Trekking in Tamriel (Pt. 2)

Seafaring in Tamriel must be a lucrative business.

It makes you wonder why they even bother to have boats (or other methods of transportation) when Wayshrines are everywhere. It doesn’t even cost you anything to use them if you’re using one to travel to another. But, if they did use Wayshrines, things would be much less interesting and there would be no such thing as pirates. Which is pretty much half of the reason I had opening area quests to begin with. I also briefly worked for a pirate, but she disowned me because I wouldn’t desecrate ancient graves to summon her a great army.

Adventuring sure does make for an interesting life.

I’ve learned so much about The Elder Scrolls Online recently. Like how my horse (which I assumed was a mount) is actually an extension of my character (while also serving as a mount). I can carry more items by investing in Riding Skill, while also improving the stamina of the horse and the speed at which it travels. Oddly those are tied to the character and not the horse.

The horse defaults back to the standard statistics on another character until I make those investments. I’ve also discovered that inventory upgrades are character specific (as suspected), bank upgrades are not, there are Crafting Writs to complete each day if I want to, there are actual dungeons in the world which don’t require groups, the major city for my particular Alliance is huge, and that splitting my crafting between different characters was probably sensible. It certainly makes shuffling inventory space around a lot easier earlier on. I can definitely see the optional ESO Plus subscription being worth it for the crafting bank. Which I would more than likely spend Crowns on if a similar crafting bank service was offered through the Crown Store.

By the power of righteousness!

Otherwise ESO Plus doesn’t really suit me. I’m not particularly interested in putting more items in my house, nor do I care that much about dye stations in general, and the bonuses to levelling speed are nice but not necessary. The 1500 Crowns per month are also nice but not necessary. While the access to the DLC would probably become more expensive with an extended subscription than just buying them outright. Still, it’s got an appealing point in the crafting bank. It’s just not something I think I’d ever really want that much.

The Crowns could be a nice passive source of income to buy extra services, though.

I’ve been exploring the first major area for my Alliance recently, too. It’s definitely got tougher and more dangerous enemies, more variety in types of locations, and is more interesting than the smaller islands. That said, the smaller islands were packed with things to do and were surprisingly content dense. So I don’t think I’ll be running out of content any time soon here, either.

I’ve also got an extension of the main quest now. Which is nice as we hadn’t really heard that much about it for a while, which, naturally, I’m going to ignore for as long as is humanly possible because there’s a whole island to explore. Filled with treasures and whatnot. I don’t really care if Tamriel is at threat from some great evil. I’ve played The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion- I know they survived and everything was fine. I might even find a higher quality of ore to mine. Or new exotic flowers to pick and then eat to discover their properties. The possibilities are quite simply endless and I won’t waste time defeating Daedric abominations. In all seriousness, I’ll likely push ahead once I’ve had some time to acclimatise to these new surroundings.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

TESO: Trekking in Tamriel (Pt. 1)

It’s the world that never stops giving.

The Elder Scrolls Online is an interesting combination of many things that you would expect from a conventional MMORPG and many things that you wouldn’t. It has all of the staple elements like character classes, instanced events, crafting, world exploration, and character development. Except it does many of these things in different ways. With the One Tamriel update the entire world scales with you, too. This is reminiscent of how you scale up or down from your current level in Guild Wars 2 except it’s always active.

It’s an approach that fits how they expect you to experience the content quite well.

Exploration is a pretty large part of The Elder Scrolls Online. There are many quests, locations, and other oddities dotted around the map which you will only find if you go out there and explore the overflowing world. Crafting anything also encourages exploration, as there are many resource nodes out there and you don’t need any particular skills to harvest them.

Unlike World of Warcraft where each crafting style requires both a gathering component (like Mining) and production component (like Tailoring), The Elder Scrolls Online allows you to freely harvest anything even if you don’t intend to use it. You can upgrade those skills, though. But you’re not locked into anything and it doesn’t cost you any gold to start hammering ingots into a blade or a set of gauntlets. There are styles which will likely require research and resource investment. It’s also likely there will be rarer recipes which are harder to acquire. But it’s a nice touch to be able to find resources and craft things in a way that feels natural, which doesn’t really impact your character progression if you choose not to follow it up later.

A world as vast as it is beautiful.

Combat is interesting and not as integral to progression as you might think. It’s a mixture of blocking, dodging, and using mitigation abilities alongside attacking with both light and heavy attacks. Each providing a unique benefit in particular situations. For example, dodging will completely mitigate the damage (if done successfully) but it drains stamina. Whereas blocking can be used to follow up with a heavy attack on a staggered opponent. It’s quite an interesting change of pace for those who wear heavy armour and hit things until they stop moving.

You’ve got a limited abilities bar, too.

You’ll be able to take a combination of five standard abilities and one Ultimate ability. These are taken from your class skill progression, your weapon skill progression, and even from the type of armour you’re currently using. There’s also a quick slot mechanic (for potions and the like) which you can activate and choose from previously assigned items to quickly use them.

My journey with The Elder Scrolls Online started three years ago when I was in the closed beta. It was an interesting concept and always had potential to be a different kind of MMORPG, but at the time the execution left a lot to be desired and it wasn’t really too fun to play. After the introduction of the free to play model and (more importantly) recent updates I decided to give it another shot. Which, naturally, will translate to a series of posts, as it’s so much more fun to experience these things together. In the next post I’ll have more information on actual questing, exploration, and whatnot from a character perspective. I might even talk about the optional ESO Plus subscription if you’re good. Maybe even if you’re not.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

To Ink a Deathclaw

An ill advised pursuit at best.

The phrasing could be misconstrued to suggest that the deathclaw is getting a tattoo, which would also likely be an ill advised pursuit. Unless you’d enjoy being eviscerated by a colossal lizard in an irradiated hell. Then it’s probably pretty fun. In any case, this is a digital work in progress that doesn’t feature any actual ink- but it’s the best parallel I’ve got to lining a piece crisply and cleanly. In many ways this is also the complete opposite of what I’d do traditionally, lacking many of the intricate and busy details.

Which might not be an entirely bad thing, either.

I’ve wanted to try and use less details in some pieces to get a feeling of how that would change the presentation, composition, and level of quality. I wasn’t necessarily hoping to do this digitally, but when the opportunity arrived (and the original approach wasn’t working out) it seemed to fit. It does look incredibly weird to me, though. I’m used to lines and whatnot being everywhere!

It’s also taking a fair amount of time to get even the basic elements looking as I would like them to. This is nothing new with digital illustrating or painting for me, which is something I’m heavily considering the reasons for with each new piece. In comparison to traditional art many of these pieces take several times longer. In all the worst ways. This could be inexperience with digital approaches showing through, or it may be an indication that I might need a higher specification tablet, as I currently use a Wacom Bamboo, and I’m not sure if that’s meeting my needs any more. Normally I would refuse that suggestion as even being a possibility but there might be some truth to it. I’ve been thinking about upgrading to an Intuos at some point anyway.

That’s quite an impressive maw you’ve got there.

There is definitely a disconnection somewhere between my brain, my hand, and my tablet. Something isn’t working as intended. Which, again, could simply be that the pressure sensitivity isn’t as good on a Wacom Bamboo. I know it isn’t via the technical specifications. But I also know that you don’t need the best materials to create high quality art. One of the things that novice artists tend to assume is that they need the highest quality everything immediately, which, in skilled hands, does provide higher quality results, but will not immediately make you a better artist.

An understanding of fundamental concepts will always take you further.

Which is why I’m committed to seeing this through to the end. I’d like to know whether the problem exists within my approach (which is likely) or whether it exists as a result of my tools (which could be likely). In either case, I’m not going to invest in an Intuos any time soon and I’ve already made great progress over the last year with digital art. So we’ll keep going.

I do enjoy working with digital approaches and I see an incredible amount of potential in them. They’re also helping me appreciate my traditional pieces in a new light. It’s an interesting side step towards something that is fundamentally the same but provides a different challenge, which, hopefully if I pursue it further, will make me a better artist overall. I’m not really sure where this piece is going in the future, either. I will more than likely finish it as a lined piece. I’ve been talking to someone I know (who does great deathclaw pieces) to add some colour to it when I’m done. I think their approach would suit much better than mine would. It would also be a learning experience to see how they would approach this piece (likely differently to me).

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Art, design, and the like found herein (unless otherwise specified) is drawn and owned by David Wilkshire (also credited as Moggie) from 2006 to present date.

Fallout 4, Deathclaws, Super Mutants, Pip-Boys, and all associated trademarks and devices are owned by Interplay/Bethesda.

A Neptune to the Past

That’s what you get for going into the light.

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3 V Generation is an alternate universe continuation of the story present in the preceding entry in the series. We’re also in the past… so it gets a little confusing as to where this Gamindustri fits into the universe, whether we’ll see it again, or if it’s just a pudding induced Neptune fever dream. Or eggplant induced fever dream. Stella’s Dungeon makes a return alongside a new Remake system with the (much appreciated) ability to search for materials, while everything else is generally bigger and better.

Stella’s Dungeon has an impact on the main story now, too.

Each time you successfully complete an area you’ll get a bounty of goodies- items, plans, materials, keys to the next area, and much more will be awarded for your efforts. These not only help when progressing to new areas in Stella’s Dungeon, but also with quests and the like where these materials will help you meet the requirements. It’s also a steady source of easily attainable income.

There are also new character challenges which fit into the Remake system to provide further party customisation. Most are statistical changes and are valuable in varying degrees of importance, but some will unlock new skills and new passive bonuses. The EXE Drive system has been completely reworked as well. SP is now immediately and permanently set to a maximum of 1000 for each character, it’s generated through Rush Attacks (or through general combat), and will be how you activate the EXE Drive. Either through having to reach a particular amount to use EXE Finish Skills, or by consuming a considerable portion of SP to unleash an exceptionally devastating EXE Drive Skill. It’s a change which adds a strategic layer to most combat.

Within which there are many positive changes from having more EXE Drive Skills available per character, more advantage being taken of the various Coupling and Formation Skills, further choices for the equipment CPUs and CPU Candidates will use in their HDD form, and a fifth combo slot for each attack type which expands the potential for damage and chain bonuses. It definitely feels more content dense (in a good way), while, at the same time, there are opportunities to expand on these mechanics even further in later entries in the series.

Which the Hyperdimension Neptunia series has done quite successfully so far.

No two entries are the same and that’s a good thing. It’s enjoyable to experience new mechanics or at the very least alterations to existing ones. This makes the desire to continue playing through the series even stronger than it normally would be, as you can’t wait to see all of the positive changes they’re making. Or all of the new things you’ll have to get accustomed to.

I’ve definitely spent more time with this entry than anticipated but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the time spent. Which is why I would recommend this series to anyone looking for something akin to the JRPGs of old from the days of the SNES or the PS1. They’re light hearted, fun, and not too complex. There are a lot of characters to choose from (especially with the free DLC options) and each is genuinely interesting in their own way. It’s also sure to induce a few pangs of nostalgia given it’s a parody of the gaming industry (and many of the series and characters therein). There are also quite a few different titles available which branch off from the main series in interesting ways, which might also interest those who love the characters and want more from them.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie