The Continuing Saga of ESO

So I continue to be tortured by ESO, and my inability to hit “high” DPS numbers. I can still only do about 32K DPS. I’ve reached a point where I don’t have to be ashamed about running any non-trial content in the game, but trials seduce me. There’s a pretty clear delineation between trials and the rest of game; you have to be intentional about playing them. You have to group up, and block out time to do it. But it’s the only way to get the best gear in the game, and if I can’t ever get to a point of being able to run veteran trials, it really turns me off from playing the game at all.

The reason this is all coming up again is because I tried to jump into a PUG to do a vet trial while I was running around scrying and collecting in Craglorn. Someone was pointing out that there were currently double drops happening! Well, count me in! Except that I was told that I needed to hit 70K to be able to join the effort. Oops. At least he wasn’t a jerk about it.

I’ve continued to gear up. I’m carrying around False God’s, New Moon Acolyte, Mother’s Sorrow, Law of Julianos, and a set of Willpower jewelry. (And I also have a set of Coward’s Gear, with swift-traited jewelry for collecting!) I’ve tried many combinations in the armor and weapon/jewelry slots, but all of these tests only seem to confirm that — despite the endless arguments about the “best” gear or traits or abilities or weapons or enchantments or Mundus boons — it’s all essentially a wash. There’s enough going on with all the math involved that losing particular bonuses seems to get made up for by gaining different ones.

I ran the Maelstrom solo trial, and actually got a Crushing Wall inferno staff on the first try. (So the RNG actually worked in my favor for once. Meanwhile, I’m 0 for 9 on a 2-in-6 chance at getting the shoulders I need to complete one of my monster sets in a configuration that will satisfy the Undaunted Mettle passive.) This alone was supposed to boost my DPS numbers by “5-6K.” I can’t see that it makes any difference at all. (And, yes, of course, I’m pairing it with Wall of Elements.)

Because of the way the game stacks and scales the various modifiers, it gets very confusing to see which components of a build combine to produce a particular result. I understand that’s by design, and I guess Zenimax has enough people who can get past the learning curve and find enjoyment in that to make the service profitable, but I find I’m sliding back down the hill before getting over the hump.

I finally found this video, by one of the most detailed-oriented people I’ve ever run across on the internet (and that’s really saying something). I also just found this video as I looked for the other video. Both prove about the same thing. The difference between 300 CP and 810 CP is an increase of about 20-25% DPS.

The first video also tries to account for the difference between using end-game, trial-level gear versus mid-tier, dungeon-level gear. The difference from this also seems to be about about 20-25%. All of these examples are using all-gold everything, even at the lower CP, so it’s an unfair comparison with my setup, which is still limited to purple gear and blue jewelry. (The gold jewelry alone would cost $1M in-game gold to get to.)

I still can’t get anywhere near a number that gives my hope I will ever hit 70K. If I were to expect that getting gold-tier, end-game gear, and maxing out CP would get me to 70K, I estimate that I would have to be hitting about 50K right now, with current gear and CP. I’m only hitting 30K. I need to find another 20. This means I need to somehow find a way to increase my DPS by two-thirds, just by rotation and animation canceling. So it should be obvious why I despair at the prospect.

I actually stumbled on an unbelievably-helpful person a couple months ago, who ran me through Skyreach about 6 times, then took me to his guild’s house to show me how to weave. I shared my screen on Discord, and he respeced my character, setup my bars, and helped me break into the 30’s. I saw 34K at one point. Clearly not the answer to everything, but he got me to slow down, and actually be conscious of my button presses. I’m still not perfect at it, but I’m a lot better now. This video is pretty good at illustrating the timing of the pattern, where the others are not clear.

I’ve loaded up the “light attack helper” mod, to show when I’m actually hitting the light attacks. My percentage is around 0.77, which is low, I know. But I also understand the amount of DPS I would get if I could manage to hit 0.90, and it’s not the difference-maker. Even when I’m screwing up and only hitting, say, 0.58, my numbers only drop by 1-2K.

I’ve loaded up my bars with the best abilities everyone says I should be using. Different combinations of abilities always seem to work out about the same, if you do the math. Sure, you can use, say, the Psijic order ability to boost your next light attack, or, say, the Mage’s guild ability that gives you a 30-second spell crit boost, but then you give up a slot where you could be using a DoT effect. Again, like gear or boons, it all seems like six of one, half a dozen of the other to me.

The whole business just makes me feel like there’s this magical membrane which, if I could pierce, would usher me into a luminescent enlightenment. I’d smack my forehead, say, “Oh! Of course!,” and be able to hit 60K without even looking at the screen. This Zen-like state has eluded me, but, even if I were to suddenly “get it,” what would that mean? That I could run vet trials, finally? And so what if I did? I could start collecting the best gear? For what? Running harder trials? Running around, griefing noobs in PvE? Neither of those things particularly appeal to me. So I guess there’s not much point in mastering the technical mechanics of the game. Except for the principle of the thing, which I find I can’t escape.

My friends find enjoyment in playing the single-player aspect of the game, but I don’t, particularly. Which leaves me the multiplayer aspect, but I don’t enjoy the online-only nature of the relationships that this style requires to play. So, after 880 hours invested in the game, I feel like all the options are closing off to me, and I think I’m going to retire again. But they’re going to start the Halloween event soon, which tempts me, as it’s the only time you can get some of the best recipes in the game, which can sell for hundreds of thousands of gold. Gah! What to do!?

If all this seems obsessive, you’ll certainly get no argument from me. Of course, it’s this sort of obsessiveness that’s caused me to fight with computers for hours, weeks, months, and years, to learn their deepest secrets, and which makes me good at being a full-stack developer. So I guess I got that going for me, which is nice, even if I will never be good at ESO.

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