Monday, March 11, 2019

Elder Scrolls Online Champion Points: The Allure Of The Ding

I'm about 2 months from the end of my planned time in Elder Scrolls Online. As I approached level 50, I began to take the game a bit more seriously, as once the level cap is reached, the leveling process changed. Gone were the skill and attribute points awarded for each level. Instead, players advance by earning champion points.

With the upcoming change in systems, I began to look for skill points. I discovered that the main quest lines give skill points for completing each step, so I started using the quest journal. I wish I had done that months ago. While chomping up the skill points, I managed to hit level 50 a week ago. Then the effects of the champion system kicked in, and I started getting excited about the game for the first time. And not just because the content in Coldharbour is pretty good.

I can think of three reasons for the change in attitude. The first is the way I approached the game. When I began, my only goal, really, was to reach level 50. I searched for a templar healer leveling build and used that until level 48. When I started researching the champion points system, I discovered I needed a guide to distribute my champion points. A couple of Google searches later, I found an end game build from the same guy who designed the leveling build.

I began to feel the way I did when I got my first Maelstrom in EVE. I know had a fitting, and a list of gear I needed to acquire and skills to train. The skills to train is the most important part, as training in ESO is not a passive activity like in EVE. The skills in the end game build required me to become a AOE DPS character where I had relied on a lot of direct damage on my leveling build. Also, with my leveling build, I could get away with only using one hot bar while with the end game build, I need to switch between my weapons (and hot bars). In other words, I changed my style of play as I hit the level cap. Not an ideal situation, but made the game fresh and I became used to the new build.

Because most of the items in the 300 point build are crafted, I became interested in other quest lines. In order to craft the 5 Kagrenac's Hope pieces, I need to finish the 5 Fighter's Guild quests. The Nightflame shoulders are acquired by doing quests for the Undaunted guild that require running dungeons. I also need to reach level 5 in the Undaunted to get the Energy Orb skill. And finally, I need to do some PvP in order to unlock the Aggressive Horn ultimate skill.

The second is that once I reached Coldharbour, the population picked up. Thankfully, because my build, with the underpowered skills I had just started leveling, just didn't have the oomph to overcome some of the obsticles.  So if I saw another player coming through, I'd just go ahead and start healing and buffing to push the character through. I discovered that, unlike EVE, I didn't need to apply any damage to get credit for kills. Apparently, since my skills contain a few heals over time, that's all I need.

The final reason is the big one. Champion points have come fast over the past 10 days. I'm already over 100. People like getting stuff, and in the beginning of MMORPGs, the developers usually make leveling easy so new players feel they are advancing, hooking them into the game. As the levels increase, the time between the "dings" takes longer and longer as the player is weaned off the initial stimulus. I'm waiting for someone in the UK Parliament to decry the use of such psychological tricks.

The champion points serve the same purpose. To further enhance the effect, the first 4.8 million skill points spent earning champion points are earned at an accelerated rate. I seem to get a point every 10-15 minutes. Each time I stop to apply the points, I can see my character slowly become more powerful. With 100 points and ordinary gear,  I can now go into delves (dungeons suitable for single players to enter) and survive all but the bosses now. Give me another 100 points and max level gear, even if green, and I'll cruise around Tamriel like a boss.

Right now, I'm fairly excited about playing ESO, but I don't think the feeling will last. I'm scurrying around running through the main quest lines for the other two factions, and I still need to go back to running dungeons again. I even need to do a little PvP, just to complete the skills I need for my fit. I may even decide to play more than two months in order to complete the 300 skill point build. But I can see the end game becoming another grind, which will lead to my departure. But I do have to give Zenimax credit. I'm enjoying the end game so far.

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