Crafting in ESO can be both a rewarding, though sometimes tedious experience. As in any Elder Scrolls game, you can dabble in any, or all, of the crafting professions if you choose, giving you an inordinate amount of freedom compared to most other MMOs.
Normally the crafting systems in other games of this type are restrictive. Your character is a lot of times forced to specialize in certain areas, and in some games the crafting vocations are heavily dependent of the other professions. In ESO this is not the case. Feel like smithing a dagger? Go ahead. Want to enchant that dagger? As long as you’ve the ingredients needed you can. Any one can use any professions, provided you’ve the materials to do so.
That’s not to say though that you will quickly master each profession. As will all skills in ESO, crafting proficiency utilizes the skill points you gain when leveling up or completing certain quests. You have to really think hard when spending that skill point, as you can be potentially taking away from your combat ability. This is nothing new to The Elder Scrolls, as we see the example of this most recently in Skyrim, but for an MMO this is relatively untrodden ground. Now ESO has more than enough ways to accumulate skill points, so using one for crafting instead of a combat skill may not be a questionable choice in the long run, but this type of choice and freedom really make you think before randomly selecting where to spend your skills.
Crafting in ESO is broken down into several professions:
- Smithing (Blacksmithing, Woodworking, and Clothiers)
- Alchemy (Creating Potions/Poisons)
- Enchanting (Adding Magical Qualities to Weapons and Armor)
- Provisioning (Cooking Food to Aid You)
As you travel around the world you will stumble upon crafting nodes. These will provide you with the materials needed to eventually craft into the item of your choice. These could be wood, ore, runes for enchanting, etc. Once you’ve gathered enough materials, you will need to find a crafting station to create your new item. With Enchanting, you create Glyphs that can be applied to your item of choice. With the Smithing professions you can create any item in that profession from the start, which is really handy. As you use more materials in your item, you boost its stats, but also its required level to use them. You must also use an item to create the specific race style for that weapon or armor, and in the beginning you can only create in the style of the race your character happens to be. As you travel and explore Tamriel, you will find “motifs” that teach you to create in the other races’ styles.
Tempering is another facet of crafting that I enjoy. Being from Las Vegas, I love anything that is a gamble, and tempering your weapons can definitely be one. As in previous Elder Scrolls games, you can improve your items, either at a grinding stone or a crafting table. ESO adds this system to their crafting system in the form of tempers. Tempers are items you gather throughout your exploration of the world, but you can also get these items when you extract materials from other items in your possession. When you apply a temper to an item, there is no guarantee it will work. The more tempers you use, the higher the chance, but choose wisely as if your tempering fails, the item is destroyed in the process. There’s the gamble – will you risk that Iron Sword of Frost you just made, or leave it as it is? The choice is yours, but be prepared to live with it – no matter the outcome.
One of the crafting systems you find in ESO that I particularly love is the “extract” option. Too often I am getting quest rewards I don’t want to use, but they really won’t fetch me much as vendor trash. You can now extract materials from those items. Lets say we were given an Iron Sword from a quest giver. We could extract that sword and gain some experience towards our next crafting level, but also we might receive an ingot or two of iron. Re-purposing items seems to be the way the developers are trying to get you to move towards. The same goes for the traits you can add to items. Traits aren’t just there for you to use. You have to learn the specific trait for that specific item before you can apply it, and each for trait you need a specific item in order to apply it. To learn these traits you need to research them by using an item in your inventory that already has that trait on them. This takes a few hours, and you can only be researching one item at a time at any specific crafting profession, oh – it also consumes the item you’re researching, so choose carefully. Eventually though you will be able to apply this trait to any item of that type in the future.
This is where I think the tedious nature of crafting comes into play. Instead of allowing you to unlock that trait on any item in the profession that can utilize it, you have to continually unlock the same trait for each item as the game progresses. I can see why it’s done this way though, but it still makes me loathe some of the long waits in-between researching. This was probably done so you can’t have every trait unlocked really early, and adds some balance to those crafters who may no necessarily have all the time in the world to devote to pure researching. I will still feel as though I am wasting time when I start researching a trait in the morning, only to start research on that same trait for another item right afterwards.
All in all, crafting so far has been a mostly pleasurable experience. My Redguard Templar has a few skill points slotted in blacksmithing and enchanting, as I’ve created all of my weapons and armor since she was around level 6. Doing so has really saved me some coin in the long run as I have not felt the need to purchase another player’s wares – yet. I can see though that eventually down the road I will be buying some higher level gear, that is until I can make it myself.
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