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The Champion System - An Entirely New Game Design

Ryan Getchell Posted:
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Elder Scrolls Online's forthcoming new Champion System is not just a simple small update. It’s an entirely new game design. Taking a game that has been in development for seven years, and within seven months of release completely changing the “end game progression” would be a hard thing to do. The amount of pride that would need to be swallowed is unfathomable.  But that is something Zenimax has, and is, doing.

Zenimax held an invite only Guild Summit at their headquarters in Hunt Valley, MD to which I was lucky enough to receive an invite. I had the opportunity to sit down and hear about these new changes and provide my feedback. Based on what I saw, when this new system is fully launched, what we currently know of “Veteran Rank Progression” or “End Game Progression” will be nothing like what we will have. This system is going to change the way we progress our characters once we’ve achieved Level 50.

The impromptu survey Paul Sage (Creative Director of Elder Scrolls Online) did during the Champion System presentation explains exactly why they are doing this massive overhaul.

“How many people are Veteran Rank 1 or above?”


*Everyone raises their hands*

“How many people are satisfied with Veteran Content at this point?”

*No one raises their hands except for the two developers in the room*

What is the Champion System?

It’s a horizontal progression system. As it stands right now, once you hit level 50, you begin the insanely mundane grind to Veteran Rank 14. With this new system there will be no more level grind. You aren’t forced to do the 50+/50++ zones, or grind out the Veteran ranks in a Craglorn XP grind. 

This system is designed to put players on a much more level playing field yet still allowing those who dedicated way too much time to the game (myself included) to still have a slight advantage over someone who isn’t as veteran.

This new system will be released in phases (four in total). We’re currently in Phase 1, and Phase 4 will be the complete removal of the Veteran Rank system. There will be an overlap between the Veteran Rank system and the Champion System. 

When the removal of the Veteran Ranks happen, we will not have our skill points removed, instead they will allow us to keep them, and anyone who did not achieve Veteran Rank 14 will have those skill points allotted to them. My question to this is, what happens if I create a new character after this system is fully implemented, will I be allotted 13 extra points right away or will all new characters not receive these extra points?

If you have a character that isn’t Veteran Rank 14 right now, and you’re wondering if it is worth the time investment to level since they are removing the ranks all together, it is. They have implemented a tracking system that is already tracking our progress, so even those of us who are Veteran Rank 14 are already earning Champion System Points.

Earning Champion Points

Once you obtain level 50 you’ll be granted access to the Champion System where you’ll be able to obtain Champion Points (1200 total) which you can place into the constellations of your choice. 

You’ll earn these points by doing virtually anything in the game that would typically yield XP, killing monsters, questing, killing filthy players from Ebonheart Pact or Aldmeri Dominion, etc. Once you’ve earned enough XP, you'll be granted a Champion Point that you can place.  You must follow one simple rule.  You have to go around the sky in a clockwise order. What this means is your first point MUST be spent within the Warrior constellation, than your second point into the Thief, and your third point into the Mage.

Each section of the sky (The Warrior, The Thief, and The Mage) has three separate trees within them that you can put points into. For example, if you’re a tank there is a spot in The Mage for added spell resistances. Every section of the sky offers added benefits to every role within the game. So your points won’t ever go into a tree that isn’t providing you some sort of direct benefit.

Each tree has four abilities you can select from, offering you a total of 12 options per constellation (The Warrior, The Mage, and The Thief). As you place points into these trees you’ll unlock added bonuses that are passives and don’t require you to spend points on them, and each tree has four added passives.

Paul Sage mentioned that it would take (approximately) an average time of one hour per champion point. With there being 1200 points total, we’re going to be playing the game for a while in order to fully maximize our characters. It will take roughly 50 days of in-game time in order to cap out the champion system. That’s if you’re constantly doing something every moment you’re logged in. For the average game session of three hours a day, it’ll take them roughly one year and a month to complete. That’s if Zenimax doesn’t release any new content which expands on the current champion system.

Account Wide

The Champion System is an account wide system. Once you’ve progressed one character to level 50 the champion system is unlocked for the account. Only level 50 characters will be able to earn points towards additional champion points but characters that are not level 50 can still reap the rewards of it.  In this way it reminds me a lot of the perk system Borderlands 2 uses.

For example, if I have a character that is level 50 and has earned 500 champion points, all my characters will have 500 champion points available to them. Each character can spend those points individually, to create a build that is unique to their character. The points are account wide, but the allocation of them is unique to each character.

One thing to keep in mind is no matter how many level 50s you have, you’ll earn champion point experience at the same rate as someone who has only one.

The Champion Experience Points is account wide (but as mentioned only level 50s can earn it) and all the earned experience will go into a large pool that encompasses the whole account. In order to earn an additional champion point the account needs to earn the required experience amount. 

If you’ve played Star Wars: The Old Republic, you’ll be familiar with this type of account wide experience pool. In SWTOR you have the Legacy system, which is very similar to the Champion System with the exception that the Champion System is useful to all the characters on the account.  They will become stronger, and not have added XP boosts, or a family tree.


From the moment you log off your level 50 characters and either play a character that is below level 50 or just log off for the night your account will get bestowed with enlightenment. This is a “buff” of sorts that increases the amount of Champion Experience you’ll earn for a short while. To compare this to something that players might be familiar with, it is “Rested Experience”.

This buff is placed on the Champion Experience Pool so it is account wide. It doesn’t matter which level 50 you wish to play, it’ll be earning points for the account just as it would normally, just at a slightly faster rate. This system is to help those that can’t play as often as other players. To keep them on the bell curve of progression instead of leaving them at the wayside. 

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Ryan Getchell