ESO: Finished Summerset

OK I was close to finishing so I carved out some time to just do it.

The Summerset storyline was 9 quests, each multi-step and fairly involved, and I enjoyed it overall. The boss fights were fun and challenging and I’m grateful that failing (dying) only made me retry from a recent checkpoint, not redo the entire fight.

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The fight against Nocturnal boiled down to paying attention to the on-screen cues to “use the DawnBreaker”, the sword that you went through great trouble to power up (others gave their lives, etc. hope that isn’t too much of a spoiler).

The screenshot above was the tamest one I could get, because the actual fight was way to hectic for me to pause to get a better one. Nocturnal had a cool. ghostly giant apparition in the background, while directing her champion (the main guy the fight was against) plus random adds here and there.

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After my victory I spoke to Sotha Sil to wrap up that chapter. The actual last chapter of the storyline consisted of speaking to a few people and having Razum-Dar call forth various citizens of Summerset that you helped out. That was a nice conclusion!

As for Daurum… I want to find the 3 other wayshrines in Summerset I don’t yet have. Hey, those will come in handy should I want to zip around the island in the future!

After that, I plan to go start the original main quest and defer Morrowind until I’m done.

ESO: Summerset Storyline

My goal was to finish the storyline on Summerset, and make my way to Elsweyr. I figure I’m already “out of order” from the main storyline and Morrowind, might as well not worry about it and see new areas, and then go back to the mainland and Morrowind later.

But, I wasn’t able to do it. I wrapped up A Necessary Alliance and am now at The Crystal Tower, which is 8 of 9. The end is in sight!

Wrapping up the previous step involved a tough fight: defend two portals (one at a time) and basically kill the final mini-boss that attacks. Like most quests in ESO, there are a series of regular enemies to fight as you navigate towards various goals, then the quest wraps up much tougher fight. It generally takes me a few attempts at these “quest completion” fights, buffing up a little by eating some food beforehand, popping a healing potion as needed, etc.

This particular fight was annoying due to the ~minute long run I had to do after dying to get back into the fight. But, after a few attempts I prevailed. It kinda felt like Dark Souls, scaled down of course: get to the problematic mini-boss fight, hang at a distance to learn their moves and what patterns to dodge (various red circles). I’m glad I trained bow as a secondary weapon because it lets me do some damage while kiting for my life.

You have two allies in the fight, one at each portal: Razum-dar and Darien Gautier, both characters in the storyline. Both are decent fighters, but won’t finish the mini-boss off for you. What Darien does do is occasionally is yell “get behind my shield” before popping some bright light damage absorption bubble. I also learned to stand right behind him when he does that and keep attacking.

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Anyway, later I talked to a Daedric Prince, Clavicus Vile. He at least recognizes how awesome I am at previously thwarting his plans. 😉

 

 

ESO: Daily Reward Riches

I’ve been waiting for this day all month… the daily reward is (to me) a fortune!

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100K gold!

I find money to tough to come by in ESO. I’ll quest for 2 hours, finish off 2 or 3 multi-stage quests, and earn enough money to barely cover the repair bills and maybe purchase a single piece of armor. Training horse skills? At 250 gold a pop, I could rarely do that. Fast travel? At 60-100 gold depending on destination, even that ate into my meager cash reserves.

It all changed when I started to pay attention to the daily rewards. Previous months had a total of roughly 15,000 gold spread out over a few days, bunched up at the end of the month (so missing a single day means you miss that reward), often 5,000 gold on the last day. I couldn’t grab the daily reward every single day, due to travel, and thus rarely got the final day’s reward. Nevertheless, I’d happily take whatever I could get.

But this, this is game changing for me. I did a double-take when I first saw this on Aug 1 – does that REALLY say 100,000 gold?! I closed the window, re-opened it, got closer to the TV, and confirmed the 25th daily reward collected in August will be the enormous amount of 100,000 gold.

Before, from the “normal” amount of gold rewarded, I amassed approximately 20,000 gold, and have been spending it down every since. With 100K gold I can play differently: I can always upgrade my gear, I can always fast travel, I can always train my horse, I can buy extra bank slots; all without scrounging or saving up beforehand. Or worse, deliberately farming to make money, rather than following the storyline and/or questing along and having fun.

Heck, I can even train a horse on an alt! Maxing out a horse is expensive: 3 skills (speed, stamina, capacity) at 60 levels per skill at 250 gold per level = 3 * 60 * 250 = 45,000 gold. That’s pricey for my main so an alt was out of the question. I’ll take a few days to decide if I want to spend that much on an alt. Perhaps I can partially train to give one a nice bump, but not drop half my fortune on a secondary char.

Elder Scrolls Online

One MMO I’m playing these days is Elder Scrolls Online. I started on PC but abandoned that account and restarted on PS4. ESO is great on console, the game and UI is designed with console users in mind.

ESO has a lot that I like. Beautiful graphics and well developed lore/world for starters. Character mechanics I really like – a class in this game gives you 3 skill lines but gives you freedom over armor and weapons, which also have their own skill lines. Many skills can be “morphed” to enhance or change its effects. Equipping a weapon lets you slot 6 skills, eventually you can swap weapons to bring in another 6 skills, so choosing which ones to equip is important. There are also skill lines for crafting, alliance war, guilds, and your race. I like that picking something doesn’t lock you out of other options (besides the fixed one of your race/class).

I also like the minimalist UI. It took some getting used to – as a Morrowind/ Oblivion/ Skyrim player I’ve seen their UIs fade more and more into the background – but I really like it now. Less clutter, more game world.

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There is a main storyline, a zone storyline, and lots of great quests. Quests follow a template: initial stage collecting information, middle stage battling various monsters, final stage concluding with a mini-boss or harder than average fight. Many of them have  ethical dilemmas where you can be truthful or lie at the quest conclusion. I’m not sure either choice affects the game world too much, but I enjoy thinking a little and not just clicking the button to move to the next quest ASAP.

One example is a quest where you are investigating a runaway bride. It turns out she was turned by a werewolf and ran off to avoid bringing shame to the families. She asks you return with some jewelry and tell people you found it on a corpse… you can lie or not at the final stage. Another is investigating a murder, where it turns out a mage was experimenting with vampirism to cure a disease, but lost control. The accused didn’t murder anyone but says they did to hide the truth of what their friend did. You can give a false version of what happened, save a shaky alliance and ensure the accused gets to live out their life teaching under house arrest, or tell the truth and create a very awkward political situation involving foreigners experimenting with forbidden magic/potions.

It’s great, much better than a typical collect-hides-style errands.

Downsides are the action combat. I prefer tab-target even though it seems ridiculous to plant your feet and crank through your rotation as the enemy pounds on you. This game requires a bit of movement to avoid skill effects or re-acquire the target (sometimes even backing up as some of my weapons have a minimum range!) and fortunately it isn’t too bad. Still, many times I’ll start with a disciplined use of skills and wind up mashing buttons. 😉 The combat isn’t a show stopper by any means.

The content appears infinite at my pace. I decided to hang around Summerset Isle and finish up there before going to the mainland/mainquest or Morrowind or Elsweyr now that released…

I’m only able to play about 2-3 hours a week, so my restarted character, a Wood Elf Nightblade, is only level 16. I chose Wood Elf since they have stamina bonuses and I’m playing a stamina nightblade as my class. One thing I’m sure to do is pick up the daily login reward because ESO is fairly generous and the daily rewards give healing potions, food, xp boosts, poisons, skill rewards (crafting, horse), and gold. I need that gold because I’m dirt poor in game!

 

Awaken Online: Catharsis

A friend of mine, who knows I enjoy playing MMOs, recommended a book to me recently: Awaken Online: Catharsis.

The plot involves what you would expect: in the future there is a VR helmet used for playing a realistic MMO, a kid named Jason finds escape from the real world in it, etc. Wait, isn’t this a lot like Ready Player One?

Yes and No… there are some trope inversions so far in AO:C – our real world hero is a chaotic evil necromancer in the game, and his real world antagonist is seemingly a holy paladin…

I am enjoying it quite a bit… not wanting to put it down and stop reading. 🙂 I’m only halfway through and planning to add the book’s sequels to my reading list.

What funny is the next expansion for ESO, Elsweyr, will add the necromancer class. I told my friend that her book recommendation might also make me pick up ESO again.

Dang it, I can tell I’m going to get the ESO expansion. As much as I love LoTRO I like the class and quest system in ESO better. Hm… perhaps the crafting system as well, although I never got too far along with that.

I do NOT have time to play two MMOs!!

Changing Game Tastes

I’ve noticed my gaming tastes changing over the months/years. Currently my MMO playing is ebbing while other games are not.

I still do play though. I’m taking a break from SWL because I was stuck on a ridiculous blocking storyline quest and can’t advance without passing it. Whoever thought that was a good idea is… well they’re just wrong.

I log into LoTRO a few times a week to grab daily rewards and quest a bit. But that makes for glacial progress and thus Spessartina, my hobbit minstrel, is still in the Rivendell/Trollshaws regions and a few levels away from starting the next storyline quest. Scarlatina, my hobbit warden, is likewise still in the Lone Lands. That’s fine though, I always do enjoy coming back to LoTRO and playing a bit.

In ESO, I decided to start a new char after migrating to the PS4. In order to play something different, I picked stamina nightblade. Since Redguards get racial stamina bonuses, I went with that. I’m not too far along, having completed the Morrowind tutorial and then immediately sailing back to Stros M’Kai in order to work through the original storyline. I’d rather play in the order the game released in!

What I have been doing more of is playing single player open-world adventure-style console games, like Rise of the Tomb Raider. I take advantage of Redbox and rent some games too (Monster Hunter World, God of War) with an eye towards checking a game out before buying it. I really like God of War but I can also wait for a sale since I have a backlog. 🙂

I hit level 15 in Ingress, almost 2 years after I started to play. It’s still fun and easy to work into playing bits and pieces as time permits.

Recently I was in Hawaii on a family vacation, and had an afternoon or two to myself. So I got some exercise and walked around doing some banners/mosaics. Again, missions involve visiting various points of interest and doing something (typically hacking the portal). A series of missions that together form a picture is called a banner or mosaic. And I like doing those. Here’s the 3 I did:

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Top 3 rows are “Iolani Palace”, middle row is “Legend of the Menehune”, bottow rows are “Aloha, Waikiki”. Not a bad way to enjoy a walk around town!

I’ve also been playing a lot of Pokémon Go. Yes, there isn’t a whole lot going on in the game… or is there?

The fundamentals of “collecting all the pokémon” is still the driving force, but Niantic has been slowly adding more and more things to do in the game.

There is a rudimentary quest system, which currently leads to finding legendary pokémon (so far: Zapdos, Moltres).

You can have a buddy pokémon that gains candy when you walk certain distances, as well as hatch eggs, so when I walk or run with my phone I leave it on with pokémon running. Every candy helps!

There are medals which grant catch bonuses after getting certain numbers. I’m still working on a few (e.g. 156/200 Steel type, 136/200 ice type, etc.)

They revamped the gym battling system to encourage more turnover, and as a result I’ve been working on getting gold on gyms I live near (when you attack or defend a gym you gain points on it, and rank up bronze to silver to gold. Each higher tier yields more stuff when you spin the disc, you also get more stuff when the gym is your team) since that results in the most efficient farming. 😉 I have 13 gold gyms and am close to #14 and #15.

A recent addition are community days where one pokémon spawns in abundance for a 3 hour period. I missed the first few, but have participated in last month’s (Mareep) and yesterday’s (Charmander). I met up with 3 friends and we walked around Rockville town center, seeing dozens and dozens of other players, catching every charmander in sight and evolving Charizards with a special event-only move (Blast Burn). We joined in raids for the Legendary Ho-Oh and I am happy to say I got one:

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A bunch of players gathered for a raid as the event was winding down, but it turned out to be a Latias. Luckily I got that one too:

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The thing about Legendary raids is with enough people, you will defeat the boss.  All your pokémon may faint and you might have to re-enter, but enough people will do it unless they are horribly underleveled (using low combat power pokémon). The hard part is catching it afterwards. Each player that participates get a number of white premiere pokeballs to use, that are only available from winning legendary raids and they don’t carry over, but there are bonuses for the team that does the most damage, for defeating the boss, your badge level at the gym, team that controls the gym. So when teams form, usually Valor (red), Mystic (blue), Instinct (yellow) will try to form their own group – not being exclusionary per se, anybody on any team can still hop in, it’s just more beneficial to you if you are raiding with others of your own team since you really want those extra premiere balls. That’s because legendary pokémon are ninja dodgers, and they are also very good at breaking out. So more premiere balls is better.

Over time I’ve switched to a curve-ball style throw (wind up in a circle before a throw until you get sparklies, then throw at an angle and the ball will curve left or right depending on whether you wound up clockwise or counter-clockwise). I don’t know the specific numbers but especially for a legendary Pokémon you want to use your best berries (golden razz berry) with a curve ball throw and ideally get a nice/great/excellent hit (how well you hit the circle target)… and even then there is a large chance the legendary will break out. I had 2 Latios (the blue clones of Latias) escape after raids because they I missed or they dodge half of the time, and broke out of all hits – as I recall it was roughly 25 chances over 2 raids and nothing. Argh! To a degree its a random chance you can attempt to raise, so all you can do is have the opportunity to catch one, which is what happened yesterday and I am thankful. 🙂

For the Latias raid, I counted 35 players. Yes, almost 3 dozen people across all age groups and genders, standing on a street corner split into multiple raid groups, all wanting their chance to catch a Latias. It was awesome in many respects!

One thing I haven’t really gotten into is analyzing pokémon stats any deeper than the builtin appraisal system. But the serious players are all about pokémon IVs (individual values; the stamina, attack, defense stats) and move sets (fast and charged; attack and defense). There is of course a massive amount of stats info google will turn up, and it is kind of mind boggling since IVs can’t be changed and move sets are randomly assigned (however there are in-game items called Technical Machines that can change fast or charged attacks). There are also apps that help analyze these things so as a first step, I bought PokeGenie and started analyzing all my high CP wonder pokémon. I may change up what pokémon I keep, what ones I evolve and power up based on the next level of stat analysis. 😉

By and large I’m mostly a “collector” player, just trying to fill out my pokedex. I swap buddies to get candy for evolving, fight gyms here and there to make them Mystic (my team), leave pokémon to defend gyms for badge levels and coins, and so. It isn’t the most sophisticated game ever, but for a low key mobile phone game, I’m finding it social and fun.

ESO – Deshaan

I’ve been trying to divide my MMO playtime between LoTRO, SWL, and ESO, and I know that 3 games isn’t really sustainable for me. Originally I thought I’d dabble some in ESO but put it aside… however the game has grown on me. I’m enjoying general questing and am not rushing through by any means.

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My templar is level 18 now, and just entered Deshaan, a zone south of Stonefells. I haven’t seen much of the new zone, but I find it gorgeous just like Stonefells. Part of that is it hits the right amount of “fantasy” landscape for me – different enough to be another world, but not too bizarro. Stonefells had a lot of volcano/lava which I’m not the biggest fan of, but it also had its share of giant mushrooms and hilly fields.

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Plus these glowing orange formations look really cool at night.

Anyway, besides the usual questing and following storylines, there is also crafting which I’ve dipped a toe in just a bit. Rather than sell armor/weapons, I see if there are traits I can research first and do that if available. I’m also using up runes I collect at enchanting tables… I have yet to figure out how to use the resulting glyphs but if I can’t figure it out in-game I can also google around. 😉

Since I can really only play 2 MMOs, the game that might suffer is… SWL. It’s fun but I’m hitting some rough spots in the new design. One is combat – it is faster but more monotonous. With fewer active and passive skills to use in a build, and less synergy between main and off-hand weapons, I’m not getting as much build variety which I miss from TSW. I have a pistol build which is doing the job, granted my weapons are level 25 blue, and it’ll be a long time before I accumulate enough skill points and ability points to train decently into another weapon.

A related problem is weapons – the new SWL scheme of increasing items draws plenty of criticism. One thing is definitely does is make it tough to switch – you’re in for a lot of grind to get back and equivalent power weapon. Same goes for amulets and trinkets… and I’m not sure that any enhancements applied (e.g. glyphs, signets) can be reused or if they are simply lost and become yet another item to re-level and replace.

Crafting is simplified, in fact I think it basically vanished. TSW might have been a little over-the-top with dust/runes/basic components, but you could craft anything by making patterns. In SWL, crafting is totally replaced with infusions that come from quest rewards and/or lock boxes.

I still like the overall storyline and quests, and I’m determined to get past the Scorched Desert, where I left off in TSW, but I might wind up playing SWL here and there as time permits as a break from LoTRO and ESO.