The Road Ahead for Elder Scrolls Online – July 2014
Zenimax, through the ESO Game Director Matt Firor have just released details of their plans for ESO over the next few months. Importantly for us in Lux there are some nice features being implemented for guilds, with probably the most exciting being the heraldry feature, which is coming in alongside the introduction of dyes. Also great news about the EU Megaserver finally moving to Europe which should make PvP much more enjoyable. We have already seen the changes with the veteran system and while I totally disagree with the dumbing down of the game I suppose if more people are coming through to veteran levels it’s not a bad thing, at least they will be easy to kill in PvP. See below for the up and coming changes and check the video for the update 3 http://youtu.be/n-H6ljISiIw
Update 3 and Guild Enhancements
Update 3 (or “Guild Extravaganza!” as we call it) introduces lots of guild and player customization improvements, and it will be coming to the Public Test Server (PTS) soon. Few features are more important to ESO than guilds. They provide the easiest and most fun way to meet new people, chat with groups while you’re playing, and are almost always the first choice when putting together a dungeon or PvP group. As such, we’re devoting a large portion of Update 3 to making sure that guilds are easy to create, fun to join and manage, and provide players with a social group that helps them in their journey through Tamriel. It is also important to note that almost all of these guild enhancements came about as a result of your feedback. Please keep up the comments on the forums, on social media, and in places like reddit—we are reading and listening. Here’s a quick summary of Update 3’s guild enhancements:
- Management: guild leaders can create, delete, and promote guild ranks. Guilds can have up to ten ranks of membership, each of which can have its own icon.
- Bank: guild leaders can set permissions to allow members to withdraw gold from the guild bank based on their rank.
- Store updates: anyone in your alliance can browse your guild store in Cyrodiil if your guild owns a keep.
- Traders: The Gold Coast Trading Company will establish kiosks throughout the cities of Tamriel. The merchants running the kiosks can be hired by guilds on a weekly basis (via auction) to act as a portal to their guild’s store, which can be browsed by any player in the guild’s alliance. Auctions use a blind bidding process and are held once a week per merchant.
- Heraldry: guild leaders can design guild heraldry for their guilds if they have 10 or more members. Each guild member can purchase and wear a tabard emblazoned with the guild’s chosen colors and crest. There are 250 colors, 63 backgrounds, and 136 crests that can be mixed and matched to form guild heraldry.
One of the most fun reasons to play games like ESO is to obtain cool weapons, armor, and other gear through the course of your adventures. We’ve been closely following commentary about how, at some points in the game, it feels like you aren’t being rewarded adequately for the amount of effort you put in. I’ve already talked above about how we’re looking to alleviate this at Veteran Ranks, but it also applies to some sections of the 1-50 experience. We’ve seen feedback that there isn’t enough differentiation in armor appearances—especially as you adventure from moment to moment—and that the items you find are not substantially better than the ones you already have, leading to a feeling of incremental gain but never something exciting or momentous. Armor dyes, which will be in the game as part of Update 3, will help by giving you the ability to customize gear colors to your tastes, but we’re also going to introduce some new itemization features over the next couple of updates:
- New armor sets that are visually distinct from others.
- A new system that makes it easier to find complete sets in-game.
- Item rewards will be handed out in a more logical fashion by quests and enemy drops.
Fun with Armor Dyes
Update 3 will be on the PTS soon, bringing with it a lot of fun new character and guild customization features. This update has been in internal testing at ZOS for many weeks now, and as part of that effort, we had a studio-wide contest to see who could use the new dye system to come up with the coolest (or most horrendous?) outfit. Check out some of the screenshots from the contest—it was a lot of fun, and it shows the lengths to which you can change what your character looks like just by applying different colors.
EU Megaserver Update
We’re getting closer and closer to being able to announce a specific date for the migration of the EU Megaserver to our Frankfurt data center. As I type this, it looks like the move will happen during either the last week of July or the first week of August. This is obviously a delicate operation, and we have to make sure that everything is up and running and that all character data is transferred successfully. We are taking the time to do it right.
Veteran Rank System
We’ve been listening to your feedback about ESO’s Veteran Rank content. Some of the issues are that it’s too much of a departure from the 1-50 experience, it’s much more “grindy,” it can be too difficult, and the rewards don’t match the effort you have to put in to progress. I’m very happy to say that we’ll be making a series of announcements (starting at QuakeCon) that will address problems with the Veteran System in ESO, leading to a much more compelling high-level PvE experience for everyone. In the interim, we’ve implemented some balance changes to content in post-50 zones that will make it much more like the content from levels 1-50. Our goal is to remove the feeling of “I have just hit a wall of difficulty” that many of you have commented on—you’ll be able to solo much more easily. One of the guiding principles of our Veteran gameplay was to encourage people (not force them) to group. We wanted people to be able to solo to max level, but still wanted you to participate in group content. This principle was the reason we made our post-50 zones more difficult; we wanted you to get together with others and take on tougher challenges. But this hasn’t been well-received. Many of you love the game you played from 1-50, and the Veteran-level zones are too much of a departure from that experience. We know you want the ability to continue participating in solo content as you progress through Veteran Ranks. This will occur over time, but the first few phases look like this:
- Phase 1: Make sure the difficulty in Veteran zones ramps up slowly and rarely exceeds what a good player can do on their own. This change came to the live servers on July 7th. By the time you read this, you should be able to play Veteran content the same way you played from 1-50.
- Phase 2: Remove the Veteran Points system and have normal experience gains direct the growth of the Veteran System. Also, we’ll increase the amount of XP granted in PvP. This will happen at some point over the summer as we transition to the new system.
- Phase 3: Introduce a completely new Veteran System based on new character customization and growth mechanics. We’ll talk more about this in the near future—especially during Quakecon—but for now, be aware that we’re going to make some much-needed changes to post-50 PvE gameplay.
The primary reason for making these changes is to ensure that you have meaningful choices in the post-50 PvE game experience that reinforce the design idea that you can play the way you want to play.
Class Builds and Balance
I’ll take this opportunity to repeat an important point: we make class balance changes very slowly because they can have a big impact on your play experience. We’re making changes carefully, but we are always watching feedback about balance concerns. Recently, we adjusted stamina builds to help them become more competitive by making medium armor reduce the cost of stamina abilities and by improving the damage for several stamina-based abilities. In Update 3, ultimate abilities will scale from weapon damage or spell damage—whichever one benefits you the most. We’ll continue to make incremental changes to address balance issues. It’s important to note that from now on, whenever we introduce a major change to a skill line, we will be offering a free respec to players who have invested points in that line. Here are some other character and ability topics we’re looking at for potential balance changes and tweaks:
- The survivability of werewolves and the balance between their strengths and weaknesses may receive some adjustments.
- The effectiveness of Templars is being evaluated, particularly some specific builds that may be underperforming when compared to similar builds for other classes.
- Our previous changes to the Dragonknight class are undergoing review to ensure that the class is fun to play and still feels powerful.
- We’re continuing to make adjustments to the Nightblade. We believe that what we’ve done so far has helped, but there may be more on the way.
We’ve been working steadily behind the scenes to make combat more fun and visceral. This is a multi-pronged effort to tweak and fix dozens of different game systems to lead to a smoother, more responsive combat system. Similar to how we’re changing the Veteran System, we’ll make meaningful changes over time. We’re making changes to animations, audio, timing, server network optimization, and other factors to make combat more engaging. We’ll show off some of these new combat enhancements at QuakeCon to demonstrate the evolution the combat system has made over the last few months.