Choose My Adventure: Approaching level 10 in The Elder Scrolls Online

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As I make the approach to level 10, I realize that The Elder Scrolls Online is not "just another fantasy MMO" as it's sometimes billed by skeptical players. I'm continuously finding myself pleasantly surprised by the storyline, the crafting, and world, and the execution of it all.

And even though I'm playing it as a single-player game still at this point, it's not a single-player Elder Scrolls game. I'm dying way too much for that.

Last week, you voted on my class specialty and my crafting specialty. The winning selections were Siphoning and Clothing. The second crafting choice was "don't worry yourself about crafting," so I'll stick only with Clothing and not pick a second. Although I did cheat a bit (I grabbed one Shadow skill and dabbled in Blacksmithing), I've stuck to your suggestions. I'm still trigger-shy on dedicating points to a weapon skill yet before I try them all out, but I'm going to certainly focus on medium armor for this character (even though I'm in heavy armor in the header image!).

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As I sit at level 9, I realize that this character is now my main. I have five other characters but have yet to get any past level 7, which means that everything I'm experiencing from here on out is new to me. You'll have to forgive my childlike enthusiasm as I discover things that you early adopters discovered last week, but I have to say that being surprised by this game is a welcome experience.

I've decided that, unlike in other CMAs I've done in the past, I won't have any storyline spoilers in this one. I was excited to describe how I saved so-and-so town from destruction, but I don't think that's fair since the game is so new. I will, however, say that I'm really enjoying the storyline. But it's not just the content of the storyline that's so encapsulating; it's the execution. Through the use of voiced NPCs, classic Bethesda dialogue branching, and phasing, the plot is dynamic and fun. Well, there might be too much evil and death to really be called "fun," but you get my meaning.

I was also able to join one of MJ's livestreams on Saturday, and that was a lot of fun. She made a new Ebonheart character to run around with me as we tried to figure out a few quest goals while being silly. Hey, that jute isn't going to harvest itself! If you missed that stream, head over to our Twitch page to check it out. We may do something like that again if I haven't outleveled her too much since her main isn't Ebonheart.

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Impressions so far

It's no secret that I'm really enjoying myself a lot in The Elder Scrolls Online. I know I dogged on the graphics a bit last week, but I'm discovering more and more about how the environment is improving to ease players into the good stuff. Having a bland-ish starter area and starter gear is an MMO staple; I realize that. I think at this point I'm past that because the game is looking better and better. Spell effects are getting better, armor is getting better, and scenery is getting better; it's a really pleasant surprise. And thanks to a few suggestions from friends and commenters on graphics setting tweaks, I'm recognizing the beauty more and more.

I'm especially enjoying crafting as it's a deep mechanic but not tedious. Larry just wrote up a nifty guide in his column yesterday explaining how to approach crafting by first focusing on deconstructing, and I think that's good advice. Also be sure to check out the ESOHead's HarvestMap add-on he mentions. I'm not usually a fan of add-ons, but this one is a must if you really want to focus on crafting.

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And speaking of harvesting, I do hope that the developers can continue to stop this invisible speed-hack harvesting that's going on. We don't often specifically address things like this on Massively, but the cheating is already rampant. If you approach a node and find that it disappears magically right in front of you, swing your cursor around to find the name of the character running the cheat and report him. No more speed-hacking for you, Fsjhgdk!

As for character progression, I think it's spot-on for an Elder Scrolls game, so I'm enjoying that. I have yet to get to a point where I'm looking for content as quests, and entire quest hubs are everywhere. I've played a few games that really rush you through each zone (TERA, Aion, etc.) and you feel as if you're missing so much. But in ESO, the pace feels comfortable. If you skip dialogue and try to rush through like those other MMOs, you'll be lost. But if you enjoy the scenery and follow the dialogue, you'll find that it's a much fuller and richer experience. Don't worry about the fact that your friends are already level 40. Enjoy the ride!

Of course, a little bit of me does die inside when I'm escorting, Fed-Exing, or killing 10 rats for NPCs that are standing around doing nothing, but it's not the worst thing in the world.

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Overall, I'm finding myself thinking about ESO outside of my alotted play times, and that really says a lot about the game. I'm dedicating myself almost entirely to this CMA character, but once the month is up, I'll go back to my (un)usual style of leveling all alts almost simultaneously.

Since April has five Wednesdays, you'll get an extra CMA article from me on ESO as I'm going to stick to a calendar month instead of straight four weeks of coverage. That leaves us with two remaining weeks in ESO, which is exciting for me. And like I mentioned last week, I'm sure I'll return to this character in a future CMA so that you can see how he has progressed.

For next week, I hope to discover what magic happens as a boy becomes a man at level 10 (so I hear), and I'll dive more deeply into crafting. I want to try grouping with PUGs on the more difficult quests because I'm kinda tired of soloing. I will also dabble with a few add-ons and report back which one(s) I like best. As always, suggestions are welcome in the comments.

Shawn Schuster is now permanently at the helm of Massively's Choose My Adventure with you as the co-captain. It's going to be a rough ride, so put on your seat belt! Join him every Wednesday for a reader-guided deep-dive into a new MMO every month. Farcical puns about cars and farming sold separately.
This article was originally published on Massively.