ESO – Stonefells

I’ve probably spent more time on my PC ESO account (Steam, and now linked to Stadia), but I’m further along on my PS4 account and also have played it more recently. But, I’m eager to try out ESO via Stadia, doing more than just collecting daily rewards or training my horse. So, I picked up my long neglected character on the PC account, Melanncthe, a Dark Elf Templar.

First order of business was to reset my stats and skills. I’ve come to realize there are better more focused ways to assign this stuff – in fact the “novice” skills guide in game does a pretty decent job advising what skills/morphs to take – so I looked up where to go. Any of the capital cities works and it turns out I was already in Mournhold! So I found the re-dedication shrines and reset my char back to a nice blank slate to spend points on. I’m not claiming expertise but I know I did a MUCH better job distributing stats and skills this time around.

After that I glanced over my quests and … decided to take a step back and remember what I was doing. So I traveled back to Davon’s Watch in Stonefells and pulled up the zone guide and saw I was missing a few things. Like, most everything. What can I say, I was wandering randomly before (and in my defense I’ll claim that the zone guide didn’t exist at the time, which is true because UESP says that came along in update 21, Feb 2019). SERIOUSLY, it didn’t exist for the first ~5 years of the game??? Wow, that was a tremendous addition to the game, it’s felt like it has been there forever and I leaned on it heavily on the PS4.

Completing the zone guide for Stonefells would be a perfect task to get back into playing – maybe not everything, like world bosses and world events, but definitely things like quests, wayshrines, delves, points of interest, striking locales, skyshards… fortunately I had finished the zone quests and 14 of 16 wayshrines, so my goal was to get those other 2 wayshrines and then do a little exploring and a quest or two.

One wayshrine I needed was “Brothers of Strife” so I ported to the nearby “Fort Arand” and started traveling. Soon enough I found a quest giver standing outside Fort Arand, and started the quest “Suspicious Silence”.

Suspicious Silence had me battle through an enemy camp to retrieve orders, which led to the follow up quest Venom of Ahknara. That quest had me fend off 3 assassins infiltrating the fort, explore a dungeon in order to seal it off from an invading force, and then defeat their leader, Ahknara. Fortunately there was another player around because that last fight against Ahknara was tough, but between both of us (generously speaking, they did 70% of the work) we did it.

Screenshots work differently on Stadia – they capture to your Google account and from the app (sigh) you can create a share link. Like this:

I can’t figure out how to get WordPress to render that inline… I guess the previous method of downloading the image and uploading it to the WordPress image library to then insert will still work. I’ll keep fiddling around for a better solution; in the meantime:

Anyway, that is ESO played in a Chrome web browser on my gaming PC. And here is a screenshot from Chrome on my Linux NUC (no video card, only integrated graphics):

This shot was taken the next day, not immediately after (I should have waited in game longer for the day to brighten), so the fact it is darker is more about the time of day in game. Next time I’ll get a pair of screenshots by grabbing one when I log off, then hopping on my other computer to get another.

I’ve got more things to try out with Stadia – controllers, and of course playing ESO on my Android phone, because I can! Am I’m really curious how well it works.

FF14 – Crystal Tower raids

I reached the point in the MSQ where I had to do the Crystal Tower quests to advance. This is a series of quests that leads you to complete 3 raids: Labyrinth of the Ancients, Syrcus Tower, and World of Darkness. Once again I do like the design here, everybody has to raid to advance in the plot and open up new areas.

The raids themselves aren’t too hard. The fights alternate between “trash fights” and “mini boss” fights, with the usual mechanics of extra adds, move out of the telegraphed attack areas, etc. However, at least one fight per raid does throw some extra stuff at you.

In Labyrinth of the Ancients, during the King Behemoth fight, he’ll attack players and leave a giant pile of rocks. Stand behind that pile when he casts Meteor because the rock pile will protect you.

Later, the special attack of the final boss is something to watch for: Ancient Flare by Phlegethon. It kills everyone unless the raid group runs to the platforms at the edge of the arena.

In Syrcus tower, the Amon fight is similar to King Behemoth from Labyrinth, except Amon will freeze players with a pile of ice. Stand behind that pile of ice when he casts Curtain Call and you’ll be protected.

Later, the final boss special attack is Ancient Quagga from Xande. This does enormous damage unless you stand in the aura of his previous attack. It splits damage among players, but also makes them float above the floor… and floating players take no damage from Ancient Quagga.

In World of Darkness, I would put the toughest fight as the first real fight, after clearing the initial trash. That would be Angra Mainyu who has 4+ mechanics to watch out for. He is the boss the taught me the value of “focus target” (shift F) which pulls up a smaller window of the target stats and cast bar. This lets me switch to a different target, such as a player in order to heal them, or an add in order to attack, while still keeping an “eye” (haha, a pun since Angra is a giant floating eyeball) on the focus target.

Angra does:

  • Mortal Gaze, which is avoided by looking away (turning around in game). If not, run to the light up circles in the middle of the room quickly.
  • Double Vision, which splits the room into red and white floors. You need to alternate which color you stand in.
  • Roulette, which splits the room into 4 quadrants with one add each. Don’t be in the last quadrant when the last add dies.
  • Level 100 Flare and level 150 Doom: keep running out of the circle if you are tethered.

It’s crazy, whoever designed this encounter must have won a bet at the Square Enix offices, because Angra has more mechanics than basically the rest of the raid combined.

OK, there is a fun/crazy fight against Cerebus, where one group tries to get shrunken down and eaten by Cerebus, to fight in his stomach! But this is smooth sailing compared to Angra, where there is so much to look out for.

Duty Finder to the rescue and I managed to knock off these raids in a few days, and advance in the MSQ. Soon I’ll open up Ishgard, new zones, new jobs!


Google launched Stadia, their game streaming service, a little over a year ago. I participated in their trial, the one where you could play/stream Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in a web browser… it worked well. Very well. I tried it on my NUC, which is running Ubuntu Linux and had nothing but integrated graphics, and the game looked and played just fine. It was mind boggling.

But, I didn’t wind up getting a Stadia or subscribing. The launch was confusing, with a complicated chart of different levels of support, and the whole thing about having to buy the games even if you owned them on a different platform. I’ve done plenty of double-dipping, but do try to avoid it for full priced games.

Plus as the cynics would say, what happens to your purchases when Stadia eventually shuts down? And it has been a tough year, with everyone else launching their streaming platforms, from Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Amazon’s Luna, plus Sony and Microsoft launching their next gen consoles with their already established streaming services…

Anyway, a friend received a Stadia from her brother who got one since he’s a YouTube fancy level subscriber, and also a Stadia subscriber, so he passed it along. And I got a demo of it, one year in.

It was… good. Great? I mean, games were there, they ran, it worked just fine. I was still kind of so-so on the whole thing, with the minor exception that I’m out of town a bit more often these days, now and for the forseeable future. Yes I take precautions and so does my family in this COVID world, but I’m planning to travel for most holidays, and then socially distance with my family, rather than just socially distance at my home. 😉

And while the Nintendo Switch does fill in the gap, I would also like to play some other games not available for the Switch. In fact, Stadia is kind of ideal for my use case: my mom’s TV.

So my interest it a bit higher than it was a year ago. I looked over the list of Stadia games (the one on Wikipedia, which is useful, rather than the pointless one on the Stadia website) and saw a few that caught my eye. Ones that I don’t own, like Cyberpunk 2077, Hitman 3 (both coming out in the near future), Elder Scrolls Online (how cool would it be to be able to play a few hours while visiting for a long weekend?!).

I looked more, and figured out the crucial product tiers for me. That would be: Stadia Pro is the subscription service that ALSO lets you stream 4K, for $10 a month; vs the non subscription service that only lets you stream 1080p, for $0 a month. The other one is Stadia Premeire, which is the controller plus Chromecast Ultra, for $100 (except by clicking the “take a sneak peek at Black Friday offers” you’ll see that this will go on sale for $70 a few days from now).

The other thing not entirely clear, is that you can play via the Google Chrome browser, and use mouse/keyboard. This is how I did the AC Odyssey preview and as I mentioned, it worked amazingly well.

Now I have a 4K TV, but my mom doesn’t, so regular Stadia (non Pro) is fine.

So… ability to play ESO while traveling. I probably need to repurchase the game on Stadia, which I don’t mind, but the benefits would be ability to play while I’m traveling (jump in to pick up daily rewards, train horse, do a bit of questing), ability to play with my friend (who is 100% Nintendo otherwise), with some minor benefits like saving 100 Gb of space on my PC and Playstation.

That was enough to tip me over to signing up for Stadia. I started the process, and when I finished, I was greeted with an ad:

Basically, get a game I am planning to get anyway, with a controller bundle I was going to get anyway (this Fri when it goes on sale for $70), for $60 (the price if you click the pre-order button) – that’s like getting the game for free and $10 off the upcoming sale price of the controller/chromecast?? Plus I have $10 to save on a game purchase…

I did not have to ponder this for long before doing it.

So, I think sometime in the next few days my Stadia Premiere bundle will arrive, and then on Dec 10 I should be able to crank up Cyberpunk 2077. Nice! EDIT: OK it seems the Stadia Premiere bundles won’t ship until after Cyberpunk 2077 releases, to avoid dealing with cancellation and returns. So, mouse/keyboard/Chrome until I can give it a spin on my TV.

Of course, I’m not going to throw away my Switch, PS4, gaming PC, etc. The Stadia fills a niche for me, so while I’m not going to convert over 100%, I would be willing to buy a handful of games on that platform.

FF14 – Healing through the lag

I logged in yesterday evening, looking to kick back and do a few roulettes on my Scholar. No problem, this is part of my routine, besides pecking away at the MSQ.

The roulette dungeon I got was Snowcloak. And right away, I could tell something was wrong, because the game looked like a stop-motion animation movie. It was about 4 seconds of normal movement, followed by 1 second of freeze-in-place.

I ran to catch up to the group, just in time to see my character freeze in place… and die. This was during the very first fight, so I just respawned, resummoned my fairy healer, ran back, and made the best of it. I’m sure the others were impressed with the healer that died during the very first fight. 😉

Combat continued in this herky jerky fashion. I figured the best strategy, if I was to be essentially out of commission for 20% of the fight duration (or more) was to keep Adloquium on the tank as much as possible. It provides a shield buff (called Galvanize) partly nullifying damage, then keep it on the others even if they weren’t in immediate danger. Basically burn extra mana by overhealing and rely on the fairy to heal me.

At one point I mentioned in chat “ugh this is like a stop-motion animation movie”. One of the party members replied “tell me about it”… hm maybe I wasn’t the only one experience the lag?

This worked well and got us to the 2nd boss fight against the Yeti. The fight took a while, due to lag and positioning issues cause by lag, and eventually my luck ran out as I saw myself in the cross hairs of 2 column attacks from adds, frozen.

Anyway, Yeti killed me so I respawned and ran back. Fortunately the group finished the boss off so we continued, and reached Fenrir.

I tried to contribute more DPS, but somewhere about halfway through the fight, I lagged to another death. I respawned, took the shortcut, but that still left a lot of ground to cover before reaching the boss. One by one the group succumbed, and I felt bad about that but I couldn’t really do much.

Nobody said anything.

So we gathered up again, restarted the fight. This time, I only threw my DoT attack (Bio 2), and skipped other attacks in favor of Adloquium upkeep, plus throwing Sacred Soil and the fairy’s Whispering Dawn on cooldown, while staying as mobile as I could.

It was a long fight, I think everybody was dealing with lag and opting for safe play – running out of a telegraphed attack very early rather than staying in range to land an extra hit or two, things like that.

I died yet again, but this time the boss was down to ~5% health so I didn’t respawn and instead just watched, hoping the group would finish him off. They did and we finished, whew. I was so relieved I typed “thank goodness” to the group before everyone exited.

It was surely tough for all but for my troubles as the healer, the group all gave me a commendation. This is another thing I like about FF14 🙂

I decided to call it a night after this due to network performance. And check around to see if I was the only player experiencing the lag.

But I was not – I found a thread on reddit about how terrible the lag was for the entire Crystal data center. Aha, looks like Comcast/Xfinity was having issues.