I have been progressing very slowly on my Elder Scrolls Online character, but today I hit the giddy heights of level 15. This is worthy of a post as it means I now have the ability to swap between two weapons sets. My main is a sword and shield and my second set is a bow. So I can hit the bastards from a distance and then switch to my primary when they run at me trying to eat off my face.

I’m really liking the skills and talents and how they’re set up. The system is simple and intuitive and offers a crap-tonne of combinations. Once you have skills up to a certain level you are offered a choice to morph them into further abilities. However, you are limited to 5 abilities at any one time on each weapon set, which solves the problem of ability fatigue. This was a big issue in Age of Conan where there were so many abilities you never really understood what you were choosing and more importantly, whether or not you were choosing badly.

I also really like the way combat plays out in ESO. It’s nicely balanced between using your skills and just smashing your enemies on the face with your shield. Block works nicely, as does dodging and rolling away. I haven’t done any PvP yet, however, and I’m sure any weaknesses in the system will come to light very quickly when I make that plunge.

As for crafting, I’ve decided to concentrate on Blacksmithing. Crafting is the best I have ever seen in an MMO. You need iron to make items which you combine with a racial crafting item which you find in the world and also when you break items apart for their resources. On top of that you can research magical properties when you find a relevant item that has the attribute. This will consume the item and it also takes time; 6 to 12 hours being the range I have seen so far. I stuck a skill point into a very cool ability which gives me my own personal blacksmithing assistant. My assistant sends me items in the mail every couple of days, and so far I’ve picked up some powerful resources.

All of the stuff I craft is as good or better than what I’ve been finding in game at the same level. Which is great, as my Nightblade Assassin is now fully decked out in my gear. I have a rogue who wears heavy armor and uses a shield. Sound unlikely? That’s the great thing about ESO, you can do whatever sort of build you want. I’m dealing pretty good damage as I’m able to hold my own against mobs a few levels higher than me. It’s no cakewalk, but I think my build is okay. That said, I haven’t done any dungeon runs yet and there is a level 12-15 dungeon which I should have a look at. That will tell me how well I’m doing.

So overall very happy with how skills and crafting works in this game. The world itself, however, is one gigantic single player experience. I still have not spoken to anybody in game. And every zone I go to requires my help to make it a better place. Every single village and town has been taken over by bandits/slavers/wizards/demons/whatever, and I have to put things right. I’m a one-man army of saving the entire planet, and an MMO this does not make.