Elder Scrolls Online is the MMO I played the longest without ever grouping with anybody. Granted, there was a multi-year break when I didn’t play – about 3 years from mid-2015 to the Summerset release in mid-2018 (and sporadically since then) – but that ended yesterday when my friend and I grouped up to tackle the Fungal Grotto (part 1).
OK, not super epic, but we decided to do our own hard-mode by just grouping with each other: 2-manning this rather than PUGging a full group of 4.
Grouping intimidates me in this game, due to build and play mechanics. In other game, like FF14, all the level X whatever class players all have the same skills. That player may be pathologically bad and not actually use them ;), but that can happen anywhere. Group content can be tuned to know that Scholars at level 50 have access to Sacred Soil, Paladins at level 50 have access to Hallowed Ground, etc. However in ESO you have huge latitude in what skills you take into battle.
I did some research and found groups mostly expect healers to provide group buffs, some healing (of course, but not full-time as I felt was expected in WoW for example), and off-DPS. At least for regular dungeons, veteran difficulty, trials and so on will require higher performance. Recommended party buffs include Aggressive Horn, Energy Orb, Elemental Drain, Combat Prayer – these are from skill lines available to everyone, so I looked into skill morphs needed. Obviously class specific skills are great to bring along too.
My friend came over and we grouped by being in the same room, and thus could talk/shout/scream-in-panic to each other. She can only play ESO via Stadia, where I have it on PS4 (doesn’t help group with her because no cross-play) and PC (linked to Steam and Stadia). She used my Stadia controller and CCU to play on my TV, where I grabbed a PS4 controller and played on my PC. I tried mouse and keyboard but ugh movement felt terrible compared to using the left joystick. Being mobile is huge in this game, so back to a controller.
Unfortunately I didn’t take any screen shots of our adventure – didn’t think to map a key and the PS4 share button didn’t take screenshots (Stadia controller has a separate screenshot key).
We generally did OK, dying once or twice to each major fight: mini-bosses and the first boss Ozozai. The final boss Kra’gh the Dreugh King was a different story – we needed around a half-dozen attempts.
Each time we fought him down to ~20% health before something happened: a damage spike caught us, or he’d reset (one time I dodge rolled out of an AoE too close to the edge and fell off the platform into a river. On the way back I probably exceeded an anti-exploit range and that reset the encounter. Dang it!). One time we didn’t take care of the adds he dug up (swarm of mudcrabs) quickly enough and got overwhelmed.
The fight was tough but never felt impossible – each time we felt we were doing well enough to make another attempt. It’s one thing if we were dying and the boss was still at 80% health, at that point you pack up and come back with more people or higher level. But most attempts went well even if we had to kite like crazy, use all skill cooldowns, fire our ultimates as often as possible… finally we made no major errors and defeated the boss!
Afterwards we spent ~20 minutes turning in quests, selling and repairing, and managing inventory at the bank. Overall it was a lot of fun and we’re going to do this again. I need to level up to qualify for Pledges (need to be level 45, my friend is 50 and into the Champion Point system) and obviously having better gear, more skills, etc will make future Dungeons “easier” for us to duo. We can also group for trickier storyline or zone quests.
I’m having enough fun on the PC version of ESO I don’t mind mostly abandoning my PS4 account. That’s fine, the PC version has too many advantages because I/we play via Stadia – can play while traveling (works just fine on my chromebook) or when visiting each other (we might figure out some simple voice chat solution to use too; Discord might work for this). A minor advantage for me is Stadia saves my gaming PC ~100 GB of disk space.
Before this I hadn’t actually seen Stadia on my TV. I… kind of like playing on my PC because my other computer is next to it, and that is convenient for referring to other websites while playing. But ESO does look pretty nice playing on the TV via the Chromecast.