The Elder Scrolls Online 5 day headstart began yesterday, with the servers actually going up an hour ahead of the scheduled start time (I’m sure someone out there raged about that as being ‘unfair’, because some people suck like that). As far as MMO launches go, yesterday might have been the smoothest I’ve ever experienced. Everything worked, there was no queue, I didn’t have to jump through any hoops, and I was able to play the game as if it had been live for 6 months. Being able to patch-up the beta client was huge too. Hats off to Bethesda, they nailed day one.
I’ve noted before that during beta, I was skipping all quest text/voice, and basically rushing through much of the game to see more stuff at higher levels. I’m taking the exact opposite approach to live; I’m intentionally playing really slow, wandering around often, doing one quest at a time to get the full story/point, and checking every little corner and box ‘just in case’. It’s sadly surprising how hard I have to fight down my ‘gamer urges’ to min/max stuff, but I’m committed.
So far the game has been far more enjoyable than in beta because of the above approach. ‘Simple’ quest steps suddenly have meaning, and the entire starter island for the Aldmeri Dominion now makes sense to me from a ‘why’ perspective. I can only talk about that one zone, but now knowing the full story behind it and every quest, I can say it was masterfully done, easily on par with the better quests of Skyrim. If this level of quality and storytelling continues throughout the game, I’m really going to enjoy myself.
Gameplay wise I went with an Imperial Nightblade, wearing a mix of the three armor types and duel-wielding whatever weapons I come across. For skills I’m spreading points across the three skill lines of the Nightblade, while also spending a few points in the duel-wield line and a point or two into some crafting stuff (I love the passive gathering). Basically a jack-of-all-trades so far, and I can always respec to min/max him out later if I get serious about PvP or ‘endgame’.
Final note: One of the early criticisms of the game was that the starter zone was small and limited on exploration. While I know that things open up beyond it, taking my time with the zone I can say there are a fair number of optional areas and hidden things to find, be they sky shards, treasure chests, or just little details like a chair with a bow and arrows on top of a ruined tower that requires a jump or two to access. I loved that kind of stuff in Skyrim, and it’s nice to also find it in ESO.