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MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Final  (rel 04/04/14)  | Pub:Bethesda Softworks
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Enough With the Veteran Rank Ping Pong

By Christina Gonzalez on July 08, 2015 | Columns | Comments

Enough With the Veteran Rank Ping Pong

Players of The Elder Scrolls Online who have been around for a while know that the game underwent many large changes over the past year. I have praised Zenimax for the dedication to making improvements and listening to the community on certain points during that time. Yet, now that we’re getting our first hints at future content to come, with promises that mid-July will begin reveals about The Imperial City and more, Veteran Ranks are beginning to feel like a bit of a drag on the system. With their promised removal seeming now even further away, it is beginning to feel like a game of ping pong.

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On the most recent episode of ESO Live, Eric Wrobel mentioned a few changes that intend to make VR more viable and keep up with community progression. Veteran Rank 16 is being added, and because of continued problems getting the balance right with VR, a host of bonuses come along with the new rank so that players don’t feel like progress comes at a crushingly slow pace. The changes include slashing the amount of XP needed to reach all VR levels by 15%, boosting all VR quest rewards by 50%, making Public Dungeons worth double XP, and bumping up XP in Craglorn. Yet this feels like a bandage, rather than progress on the matter of VR ranks.

The Champion System was put in in update 6 and it was supposed to signal the beginning of the end, but here we are. Wrobel called the removal of VR “more of a long term goal”, which is why we need these gap fillers for the time being. It makes me wonder if the need to push the new system out was tied to the buy to play announcement and getting that out there before spending potentially months on how to replace it. The result is now the two systems have a consistent balancing process of getting them to play nice with one another, with a few bandage measures to make them viable, but without a timetable on the promised removal. Calling something a “long term goal” doesn’t tell players anything.

Initially, players with at least one maxed character were given a point allotment with the new Champion System to spend. This allotment was initially going to be uniform, but was later changed to account for time spent in game and XP earned.We knew the Champion System was set to roll out in phases, and the devs to emphasize that players will be able to keep their progress made in VR, but the stalling can be frustrating. some players had given up on VR entirely for the time being, thinking there wouldn’t be new ranks and the Champion System would be fully integrated anyway, so they decided to wait out the phase where both systems needed to be addressed and kept balanced. Now, we have a new rank to look out for and whatever items or access roll out with it.

Veteran Ranks existing alongside Champion Points are a mixed bag. One, these two systems at once do allow for players to earn CP while trying to earn new veteran ranks, so that whenever there’s not quite enough workable content to carry one through, at least there’s some progression being earned at the time. I like the concept and intent behind veteran ranks. It’s fun to be able to continue your journey and not have to PvP or start over. Players can create their own endgame this way. Implementation proved there were some issues with player experience and a new system to preserve the spirit but also make advantages more custom sounded promising. It is promising, but it might be better if the team (which does, to its credit, acknowledge the problems) decides to keep both systems or give a timetable.

This being addressed by bumping up XP in Public Dungeons and rewards for VR quests should bring some players up who would’ve otherwise been left behind. Yet both systems coexisting at once, especially when it seemed one would be removed pretty soon, once all the balance checked out, makes it clear that there likely wasn’t enough time, planning, or forethought before pushing update 6 out with the new buy to play model before making sure the game’s itemization was hammered out in detail. And while the ESO team has done a lot of good over the past year, neglecting this issue, unveiling and implementing the new system prematurely, and now this ambiguous delay, feel like a miss.

Christina Gonzalez / Christina is a freelancer and contributor to MMORPG.com, where she writes the community-focused Social Hub column.
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