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Dungeon Improvements & Making Content Accessible to All

William Murphy Posted:
Interviews 0

Recently Elder Scrolls Online updated its dungeons and trial content to make it more accessible to all players in the launch of Shadows of the Hist. We had the opportunity to chat with Creative Director Rich Lambert and Dungeon Lead Mike Finnigan to learn more about why and how those changes were made. 

MMORPG: What made you all decide to go back and tune old content like Hel Ra Citadel and Aetherian Archive?

Trial content scratches a certain itch for a large portion of our player base and we wanted to make sure that content was as accessible as possible. Maw of Lorkhaj was our initial foray into scaling a trial and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive - it made sense to go back and revisit the older trials and bring them in line in Maw.

MMORPG: What sorts of changes were made, and why do you think they were necessary?

Originally, the Trials were developed for players that wanted to push their limits and skills. While we still want to appeal to that type of player, we also want to make them accessible to players that may not have tried PvE content in a large group. We made the decision to include a Normal and Veteran version for just that reason. We also realized that initial design for the Trials may push the envelope on what our more casual players want from their experience so we went through each trial and evaluated the encounters and mechanics to ensure that players of all skill level will find enjoyment.

Elder Scrolls Online Aetherian Archive

MMORPG: Item sets got a major rework too. 14 different sets, 7 for each trial, are now spread across the encounters. Why make this change?

When we decided to scale all the older Trials and Dragonstar Arena, we had to take a look at the items that were dropped there. Those sets were not built to scale to max level and we had to revisit them to make sure they were balanced properly.

MMORPG: With max level set at CP 160, what happens if and when you do change the max level? Will the rewards of Hel Ra and AA change too?

We have a plan for how to address this and our goal is to make sure this content doesn’t become obsolete. More details on that when/if we decide to raise the gear cap. (Note – it won’t be anytime soon)

MMORPG: The Dragonstar Arena also got some reworking with Shadows of the Hist. Explain why?

As with the Trials, Dragonstar Arena is a great piece of content and a lot of fun. It also offers unique items that are not available elsewhere. Now that we have our scaling Tech, it just made sense to include this content with the update and provide another avenue for players seeking that thrill.

MMORPG: It seems to me there’s a great deal of content like the trials, dungeons, arenas, and so forth that many players don’t know exist. Is anything being worked on internally to advertise this stuff more to players? Some sort of “content guide”?

We’ve seen a pretty big uptick in dungeon/trial participation in recent months with the addition of the new trial and dungeons, so word of mouth is definitely spreading. That being said, getting more people into trying them is definitely something we’ve talked a lot about internally. While we don’t have any firm plans, one system we are interested in adding is a LFG type system for Trials.

MMORPG: The Bind on Pickup system was altered a lot too in this DLC. What’s the reasoning there and how does it work now?

With the Shadows of the Hist DLC, we added in the ability to trade BoP items to group members. As long as that member was present for the kill of the monster, items that were looted are able to be traded freely for up to two hours. When we discussed this feature, the question that kept coming up was how do we reward people for running dungeons? If all sets are BoE, then there wouldn’t be much incentive to run dungeons or trials – players would just purchase every piece of gear they wanted from other players. With the trade BoP system, players are incentivized to have fun in the dungeons/trials and can help their friends gear up a little easier.

MMORPG: Why not just have personal loot for each person in a group?

Each person does get their own personal loot in the dungeon/trial/arena. While the gear isn’t tailored to their specific specialization or preference, the addition of the BoP trading system allows players to help each other – ensuring everyone is happy.

MMORPG: Now you know it’s coming… what’s next for ESO? We’re all waiting for One Tamriel, and what it could bring.

One Tamriel and Housing are the two big items on our plates currently. Expect to hear more about those soon! As for the future… well we have some surprises coming, but details on those will have to wait a bit longer. 


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.