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MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Final  (rel 04/04/14)  | Pub:Bethesda Softworks
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Previews: A First Look at Orsinium

By Ryan Getchell on October 07, 2015

A First Look at Orsinium

There are very few quotes from cinematic trailers that really stick with players.  One of the biggest ones is “You are not prepared” from the Burning Crusade opening cinematic.  But Zenimax has released a trailer for the upcoming Orsinium DLC and “Welcome to my war” may become one of those infamous quotes. It got me hooked and interested in the expansion even more so than I was before I heard it shouted.


Orisinium, the next DLC release for The Elder Scrolls Online, is slated for an official launch date of November 2nd 2015. Only 63 days after the release of Imperial City we’re going to able to play in Orsinium. That’s an impressive content release gap.  During QuakeCon Matt Firor said they wanted to push for a 12 week “Named DLC Pack” release schedule. They are most certainly on the right track. Normally we’re waiting a year for the next expansion at a minimum but ESO is only 1.5 years old and this will be the 2nd DLC pack released not to mention Craglorn, Upper Craglorn, which was released as free content.

Now, let’s see what Orsinium is all about

First, we’re not getting a level cap increase (praise the eight!). However, we are getting the first phase of cross-alliance grouping.  Zenimax, yet again proving it cares about its community, is implementing features to let players group with members from the opposing alliances. This’ll be done in phases and when Orsinium launches in November it’ll come with Phase one. The first phase is cross-alliance via the Looking For Group tool.  Once you’ve selected your role(s) and which dungeon and type you’d like to do you’ll be placed into a pool of all ESO players. So instead of the LFG tool looking for members of your alliance only it can now pull from a game wide pool of players. This will allow the LFG tool to place you into a group a lot quicker than it ever could before. I play Daggerfall and when I queued in the LFG tool it could takes hours to find a group, now with the pool of players being much larger it shouldn’t take very long at all.

Some of you may find this upsetting news that it’s only cross-alliance via the LFG tools and you can’t create manual groups to do quests or dungeons. These concepts are all part of the future LFG update phases. We don’t have any exact dates for when the next phases will be released, they could come as small incremental patches or be included in the next major DLC Base Content updates. Creating cross-alliance grouping isn’t something they can easily do.  The game was originally designed to keep the players separated so they need to slowly introduce this feature using instanced content and dungeons. I don’t foresee the original content (Glenumbra, Greenshade, Stonefalls, etc etc) ever becoming cross-alliance strictly because it would require the game to be completely overhauled in order to work. All those zones are accessible for all alliances but at different stages in the game and to change this would require a ton of work. That said though, if Zenimax continues to release the DLC content the way they have been, where all the content is accessible by all factions at the “same level” then cross-alliance will be much easier for them to implement. But like I said, we have no timelines for the additional phases.  We just know that it is something they’d like to get implemented and that it is a priority for them.

Maelstrom Arena

This I think is the best feature in this DLC. While the story I’m sure is epic (Lawrence Schick never lets us down) a solo arena that can be accessed at level 1 or higher is awesome. Like most dungeons in ESO there are two versions of this arena, normal and veteran.  The normal version can be accessed from level 1 all the way through to VR16 and the veteran version can be accessed from VR1 through VR16, At VR16 you’ll get access to the leaderboards where you will be ranked based on your performance. Now before you get your braids all twisted and start exclaiming how your Nightblade can’t compete against a Dragonknight in a race of survival and DPS, Zenimax has your back. The leaderboards are broken down by class, so no matter your class you’ll only compete against other players of that class.  The top 100 players for that week will receive random rewards via in-game mail. These items can include a chance to receive one of the new ability changing weapons (aka master weapons).

This arena is all about character progression and I’m not talking about levels. You’re going to have to know how to play your character in order to succeed in this arena, especially if you want to compete on the leaderboard. You’re going to have to experiment with new builds and try different techniques. You’re going to be forced to step outside your comfort zone. At first a lot of people may not enjoy the arena.  They will say it’s too hard or it’s not what they want to do.  But the more they practice and the more they learn their skills and abilities the better they will become and within no time at all they will be walking around with a master weapon bragging to all their friends. Not only is this an epic solo driven dungeon it’s also a learning tool.  It’s going to teach players who have never done trials or raiding before the skills they need to be successful within those environments. They won’t feel intimidated when entering the trial because they know more about what to expect than they did before.

Champion Point Cap

Due to some players spending mass amounts of time farming champion points at a rate faster than Zenimax had intended, they’ve now introduced a cap for champion points. They dove deep into their data to find a cap where it wouldn’t cause to many people to end up losing any points. They came up with 501 as the cap. A lot of people are a bit upset that they’ve placed a cap but I think these players are more upset that there is a cap than actually being affected by it. According to a post by Rich Lambert (Creative Director):

I don't usually talk numbers, but here's some to chew on with regards to the number of champion points players have. The number of players that are going to be affected by the cap is very, very small.

Average CP on PC - 93

Average CP on PS4 - 46

Average CP on XB1 – 44 (source)

The averages I posted were calculated from active accounts that have at least 1 VR character. (i.e. - can start earning CP) An account is only considered active if it has been logged into in the past 30 days and played the game for a period of time. (Source)

If the average person on PC only has 93 champion points, those who were affected by this cap is an extremely small percentage. While they do have a right to be upset, this cap isn’t about holding them back, and it’s more about providing those who aren’t as active an opportunity to stay on the progressive curve without being completely left behind. Along with adding the cap they’ve also introduced a Champion Point catch-up system. This system will allow those who don’t have very many points to catch up to the average player. It’s based on how many champion points you have in total.  The fewer points you have the lower the total amount of XP needed to earn a point. The more points you earn the more XP you’re going to need to gain the next level.

Shield Dye

Yes, this is an actual thing. You can finally dye your shield to match the rest of your gear. The only aspect that is missing is the ability to add your guild crest onto your shield. Dying your shield has been a popular request among the players since the dye system was introduced back in Patch 1.3. This feature works the same way as it does for armour. You choose your three colours and place them on the shield location of the UI. Very simple to use and a very simple feature, yet adds a lot towards the customization of your character and truly making that character yours.

There are many more updates included with this DLC patch that I just haven’t had the opportunity to fully explore. The PTS has been fully updated as of Tuesday Oct 6th, and I highly recommend jumping onto that server and giving this new content a looksee. Keep your eyes on we’ll be releasing a flood of Orsinium information as the weeks go on and we get our hands dirty with this new DLC update.

Ryan Getchell / Ryan is our resident Elder Scrolls nerd, and columnist for Zenimax's MMO. When he's not out killing things in Tamriel, he's working in IT professionally.