ESO – High Isle Reveal

I realized I’m hooked on this game when I juggled around my work schedule so I could go home and watch the reveal earlier today. I also prepared last night by linking my twitch account (which somehow I have via Amazon Prime) and my ESO account.

I was lured in by the crab pet and stayed for the info.

Me and my new (non-combat) Barnacle-Back Coral Crab pet. I’m on the left.

We’re off to the High Isles, a small archipelago of four islands, steeped in Breton lore and history. The story looks political – tension between royal houses.

This sounds excellent, my favorite zone story so far is Wrothgar, all about royal ascension and who is fighting for the throne. There’s only so many “end of the world doom bringers” you can defeat before putting up a sign and telling the next one that comes along to reconsider their plans.

More new stuff includes a zone event – volcanic vents. They will be similar to Abyssal Geysers from Summerset.

Also an in-game collectible card game. They promise a mechanic to ensure new players won’t be at a disadvantage to someone who has unlocked everything – players select cards to use, and the combination is shuffled and dealt.

Two new companions – Ember (“with flexible morals”) and Isobel, who is more of a knight and wants to “do right by players”. Interesting… Ember might be a criminal companion, who might help out with Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood work. Or at least look the other way.

The stream then showed off an upcoming dungeon, a mix of flooded ruins and seashore, with coral enemies and overall great looking graphics.

The post reveal stream revealed a new assistant – Giladil the Ragpicker, a deconstruction assistant. This is so huge, can get rid of stuff out in the world rather than returning to a crafting area!!

There was more of course, new armor sets, new monster sets, new underwater house, etc. I’m looking forward to this! Releases June 6th and ~2 weeks later for consoles.

500 Hours

After seeing others posting about games they have 500 hours in, I too was interested in checking.

My list is dominated by MMOs.

Completely certain

  • Lord of the Rings Online – the Steam launcher shows I have 504.4 hours, so there it is. But that’s only a fraction of my time played, because I played LoTRO before it was available via Steam (which says it launched Jun 6 2012, but I started Jul 2007), and also have skipped Steam and installed directly (how I have it installed right now).
  • Elder Scrolls Online – Steam says 268 hours. But I am 100% certain I have 500 hours here too. I remember starting this game on Steam in 2015 or so, but I also played a year on the PS4, and am heavily back since Jan 2021 on PC directly. Oh yeah, this is the one MMO I can play while visiting family because it is available through Stadia, so I have a bunch of hours via Stadia as well.
  • Guild Wars 1 – I’d have to reinstall the game to log in a check my hours. But I am also 100% certain I have 500 hours. I played nearly+ every class through all three campaigns, repeating missions to get the Protector title on every mission for every char. For my main character (Ranger), I got the Guardian title for every mission, plus Legendary Skill Hunter. There is no way I don’t have 500 hours.

+ Nearly every class… the game had 10 classes total (6 base, 2 factions, 2 nightfall) and I played 9 of them. The only one I didn’t technically play was Elementalist, because the game allowed dual classing. What I did was make my Mesmer my Elementalist – I would sometimes equip nothing but Elementalist skills on my Mesmer. I’d lose the Elementalist primary attribute Energy Storage and instead have the Mesmer primary attribute Fast Casting, but for all intents and purposes that was an Elementalist.

  • Asheron’s Call – my first MMO, started in Feb 2000 and played about 2 years. Lots of adventuring around with friends from work, we’d stay late and conference call each other. For me to have 500 hours in 2 years means an average of 21 hours a month? An easily cleared hurdle.


  • World of Warcraft – I’d have to reinstall and resub to check – and I played on different servers each time I tried it. There was my first foray, in 2008/2009 on a PvP world (Firefoot, I think) with a friend/coworker. And I hated server-wide PvP. There was the 2nd time, on Zangarmarsh, where I was in the official guild of “The Guild”. There was the third time (Gorgonnash and Earthen Ring), with friends/coworkers in 2015 ish where I had the most fun raiding after using the level boost that came with Warlords of Draenor. There was the fourth/most recent/final time in WoW Classic where I got to the low 50’s on my priest.

Close but not quite

  • Final Fantasy XIV – Steam shows 80 hours, but that was my first account. I started another one to take advantage of the much larger free intro (base game plus Heavensward with level 60 cap) in Sep 2020. Yes, I am a cheap bastard. Logging in there shows about 250 hours. I also played some on the PS4, but it definitely wasn’t the ~170 more hours I’d need to get to 500.

That second PC account is one I’m still playing, poking along the Stormblood Main Scenario. I recently arrived at the Azim Steppe. Login queues are still high in prime time (hey this is a really good problem for a game to have) so I sneak in a few hours here and there, mostly late morning on the weekends.

  • Eve Online – Steam says 320.3 hours, a very solid number that even I was surprised at. This is a great game with a very different design attitude. I was in Eve University for a while, joined a small corporation that did wormhole planetary interaction, eventually joined Brave Newbies… it was fun but ultimately I didn’t have the time to devote to it. If I do come back (haha, wait it could happen) my next plan is stealth ship exploration in low/null sec.
  • Secret World – Steam shows 215 hours for Secret World Legends, but I don’t think that includes time I spent in The Secret World, the original pre-rebooted version. Great game I think about all the time, when chatting with friends about games. Great skill system (in the original game, but even the reboot let you make a variety of builds), awesome quests, unique crafting system that sometimes would appear in quests, entirely cosmetic clothing because all armor/buffs/stats came from trinkets and jewelry… oh heck I might fire this up again soon.
  • Slay the Spire – 340 hours on Steam. This deckbuilding roguelike really grabbed my attention. Fantastic game, with a great balance between luck and allowing choices/decisions that let you steer things better ways. Great replay value with four classes that feel different enough, plus a daily challenge. I bought this for Switch as well, and have 70 hours there. So total of 410 hours, and counting higher a bit here and there.
  • Splatoon 2 – 175 hours. This is Nintendo’s take on a PvP team-based shooter, and it is a lot of fun. The game involves crazy weapons shooting paint, and your 4 player squad wins the match not by racking up kills, but by having the most surface area of the arena painted your team’s color. Of course, knocking an opponent out helps because it takes them out for a few seconds. Game has events (Splatfests) and nice variety of arenas and weapons. I never finished the single player campaign, but should. Also, Splatoon 3 is coming out and I am absolutely going to buy it.
  • SSX Tricky – this game hooked my on my PS2 for months. I 100%ed it, played every course to gold medals and so on. No way for me to check but I had to mention it as the game I played the most on my first console. Based on my Slay the Spire and Splatoon 2 hours, modified down since there wasn’t as much to do, and guesstimated up due to playing a lot of split-screen racing and competitive mode with friends… let’s say 125-150 hours as my best reasonable guess?

I also loved Ratchet and Clank but I just played through the storyline. 🙂

ESO – Many Chars

I’m the proud (?) owner of 6 level 50 chars in Elder Scrolls Online, one of each class. And a 7th char is level 48 so very soon I’ll have 7. This seemed near impossible a year ago, and I don’t mention this as a brag – it’s actually relatively easy to do.

The secret is: the random dungeon queue. Well, plus the double xp buff during festivals. That festival xp buff takes the form of some themed drink/food (New Life Mead, Jubilee Cake, Witch’s Brew, etc) and also stacks with xp scrolls, which you can get from daily rewards.

Level up fast by group dungeons. You know, the main reason for playing an MMO. 😉

In ESO, each character can get a huge xp bonus and 10 transmute crystals for a daily random dungeon. Figure the queue time is 10-15 mins for DPS, the dungeon is 15-30 more (yes, this will vary wildly depending on what you get and the rest of the group), so ~45 mins per char for a huge xp chunk and 10 transmute crystals.

It was turbo mode compared to my usual leveling pace.

I found my two favorite classes are Templar and Dragonknight, so I’m focusing on them. But still doing the random queue on as many as time permits, for the transmute crystals (more on those in another post).

I went the healing route for dungeons on my Templar, and am enjoying that. For everyone else I enter as DPS. I’d be willing to tank but I’d like to be more familiar with every dungeon first… and ideally start tanking in the base game dungeons. Except there isn’t really a way to select that from the random queue – other than the workaround of taking a lower level character along (dungeon access unlocks as you level so taking a lowbie along limits what dungeons you will get). Or of course tanking for my friends, which is where the bulk of my experience comes from.

Tales from the Random Queue

Most groups are just fine, players just want to enjoy the content.

  • Many groups try to avoid fighting as must as possible, mostly by running at the edge of the map and skipping “trash” mobs. Various rooms in Castle Thorn, jungle areas in Ruins of Mazzatun, the initial area of Falkreath Hold – consistently avoided. Even in one of the first dungeons you can access, Fungal Grotto, it is possible to jump off a waterfall and skip about 40% of the dungeon to beeline the final boss. And players do this – Fungal Grotto 1 on normal has got to be the fastest dungeon to complete.

Players are optimizers – the good loot drops off the bosses, not the trash mobs, so skipping the trash makes the run faster without sacrificing goodies.

It’s rough if you want to do the quest, you really can’t read the text or anything. Save that for friend groups.

  • One controversial practice is the “fake tank” or “fake healer”. That is a player that queues for the tank or heal role, but actually isn’t one. Typically they are DPS, and do it because the queue times for tanks are extremely short (instant) and the one for healers is as well (not as fast as tanks but definitely shorter than the DPS queue).

Since the 4-man dungeon party is 1 tank, 1 healer, 2 DPS, the group winds up 3 DPS and tank or healer, or possibly 4 DPS.

To be honest, a full on tank and healer really isn’t necessary for regular base game dungeons. The thinking is 4 DPS will burn down all the bosses before most mechanics come into play. Or even 3 DPS will. In fact, sentiment online (reddit) is a player that is fully healing is a bit of a detriment.

And that’s probably true. Most healing builds I’ve seen have some damage skills, typically on the backbar (frontbar is for healing) even if you only do 25% the damage of a DPS player, that’s something.

A tank might not do a lot of damage, but if they can group the enemies up, DPS AoE can finish them off faster so having a tank can speed the run.

But for harder content, veteran mode dungeons or DLC dungeon, or veteran DLC dungeons, having a real tank and real healer become more necessary.

There’s some overlap of course, base game veteran dungeons are harder but not ridiculously so. Some end bosses in regular DLC dungeons can be tough unless everyone is playing well.

I’ve had fake tanks and fake healers and it gets ugly in some of the harder dungeons. Two come to mind: one time in Red Petal Bastion, the tank couldn’t take 2 hits without dying. They kept taunt on bosses never. The healer didn’t appear to slot any group heals at all, or energy orbs. Most large fights to this point were rez juggling – the tank or healer was down, so one surviving player stopped to try to rez them. We were fighting half strength most of the time, due to this.

At the final boss after trying a few times, I typed that I was leaving, and did. I think there is a requeue time penalty, but I just switched to another char and didn’t see it.

Another time in The Cauldron, we slugged it out to the final boss. Same deal, tank and healer just couldn’t do the job (different players than the other time). After a handful of tries, they both ported out and dropped group! Leadership passed to me so I requeued, we got another tank and healer, and were able to complete. Which felt really good.

  • Sometimes, typically in a long DLC dungeon that isn’t as popular (i.e. it doesn’t have desirable gear sets), the tank will drop nearly immediately. This has happened a few times and I think it is for one of two reasons: 1) they were actually a fake tank and realized they weren’t at all equipped to deal with the dungeon the random queue gave them, or 2) they were a real tank that didn’t want to spend the time in the dungeon. There is a penalty for dropping, but tank queue times are short anyway, and sometimes it is faster to get a different shorter dungeon, if the only goal is getting the daily transmute crystals.
  • I play my Templar as a healer in group content. I’m considering making my Sorcerer a healer as well, because I’m not liking them as DPS. That’s only if I can cobble together enough healing gear, without spending my precious transmute crystals, to outfit the char. I think I can do it.

I need to do a massive inventory clearing/consolidation anyway.

  • Players generally don’t talk much in a PUG. It boils down to three main interactions:
  1. At the start, if somebody is looking for gear available in the dungeon, they’ll say so. Usually abbreviated like “looking for EC” (so if you were in Stone Garden, they meant Elemental Catalyst gear).
  2. In the middle sometimes they’ll say “HS” or “Chest”. HS is a Heavy Sack, an item everybody can loot. Chests can also be looted by everyone, after somebody picks them open.
  3. At the end, “TYFG” (thank you for group) or something similar. Here is where someone looking for specific drops will again ask. Players are generally receptive to trading gear somebody needs that they don’t.

EDIT: My 7th char reached level 50, from just starting level 48. I had a scroll going for double XP and also did the quest in the dungeon. After setting up their new level 50/160 gear I decided to apply a motif at the outfit station. This is Medium Glass Armor. Hm… I remember Glass Armor in Morrowind being a LOT more green. Maybe I need to dye the armor too!

EDIT again: ugh the in-game pics come out so dark. I suppose it was nighttime. The character load screen has better light at least.