Murkmire is just around the corner as the next chapter in the Elder Scrolls Online saga. We had the chance to chat with Creative Director Rich Lambert about the lore behind the game and the importance of visiting some of the lesser-known regions of the world and much more.
MMORPG: Without diving into so many spoilers - where are our players now, and what’s taking them to Murkmire with this new DLC?
Rich Lambert: With Update 20, the marsh of Murkmire is open for exploration. Players get to explore Argonian culture and save priceless Argonian relics.
MMORPG: Can you talk more about the Cyrodilic Collections and who they are?
RL: An Imperial named Famia heads the group. She is extremely passionate about Argonian culture and history and wants to do everything in her power to ensure that it is preserved.
MMORPG: What is the Remnant of Argon and why is it so important?
RL: Without spoiling things, the Remnant is a rumored powerful relic from ancient Argonian history. Over the course of exploring the zone, the player will find out more details of what it is, and why it is so important to them.
MMORPG: Why was it important for you all to dive into the Argonians?
RL: The Argonians are a very odd race – some might even call them weird. We love how different they are and really wanted to dig deeper into their culture and share it with our players.
MMORPG: What’s the significance of Murkmire itself, in relation to Elder Scrolls? Is it just the Ancestral Home of the Argonians, or is there more to it than that?
RL: Murkmire has a very interesting history. It is not just the ancestral home of the Argonians – it is one of the few places in Tamriel that has never been fully conquered. There have been many, many attempts over the years, but the Argonians, and the swamp, have never bent the knee.
MMORPG: Why haven’t we visited the region before? Is it hostile to the other races?
RL: Murkmire is a location we have wanted to go and explore for a very long time – at Quakecon 2014 we actually showed off some concepts of a Murkmire zone. We were not happy with how it was turning out however, so we stopped it to work on other zones, while we spent more time rethinking how we wanted to show the Argonian homeland.
MMORPG: The zone is obviously very friendly to the fast-swimming Argonians, but what sort of wildlife exists there as well?
RL: The zone is filled with many of swampland creatures that you would expect, creatures like the Wamasu, and Haj Mota are good examples of that. There are also a number of new creatures as well. The “Bog blight”, (Argonian-like zombies) and Voriplasm (giant slime creatures) are just two examples.
MMORPG: Is this part of a larger goal to visit more “unknown” locations of Nirn? It seems like we’re finally starting to fill in that map more and more.
RL: Eventually, we would love to be able to fill out the map and explore the entire world. It is so full of interesting lore and stories – there is no shortage of places to visit!
MMORPG: Finally, if there’s one area of the world we’ve not yet visited that you hope to get to one day - what is it?
RL: Totally not spoiling this one just yet… next year might just be one of those places though. ;)
MMORPG: One of the big new features of the Murkmire DLC is the new 4-player arena, Blackrose Prison. Can you explain more about it, what players will face, and what can be earned through participating?
RL: Blackrose is 4-player arena; it contains five levels that get progressively more difficult, with the end level awarding unique Blackrose weapons for completion. These weapons buff up specific weapon abilities (i.e. – the 2h sword modifies how the uppercut ability works).
In addition, there is both a normal and veteran mode, where veteran mode has a competitive element to it – groups compete against each other for leaderboard scores and extra loot!
MMORPG:The Alliance War in Cyrodiil is getting a huge overhaul as part of the base game patch for Update 20 too, right? Can you tell us more about what all is changing?
RL: Big changes are indeed coming for Cyrodiil with Update 20. Bridges and Milegates are going to be destructible, which means players are now going to have control over how other players get around the zone.
Want to stop EP and AD from their regular Alessia Bridge skirmishes? Destroy the bridge! Need to slow down the EP zerg at Bleakers? Take out the Chalman milegate!
In addition to the milegates and bridges, there are also a number of new “goat paths” that have been added to Cyrodiil. These paths provide a means for players to go around the bridges and milegates, but they are dangerous and extremely tight spaces… perfect places for an ambush!
These changes add a completely new level of control for the players and something we are excited about seeing how they change player flow.
MMORPG:How goes the fight against performance issues in Cyrodiil, on that note?
RL: It is something we are still working on. We continue to make and measure changes, but admittedly, we are not making the progress as quickly as we would like. We are committed to improving performance in both PVE and PVP however, so it is something that is still on our hit list.
MMORPG:There are some big quality of life changes being added in this patch too. What sorts of things can players expect?
RL: With update 20, players will (finally) be able to reorder their character on the character select screen. It is something that has long been requested, and we finally made it happen.
In addition to character reordering, we are also adding in some new functionality for the housing editor (undo/redo and item grouping).
- Undo/Redo - gives players much more control in editing how they are placing furnishings and makes undoing mistakes easy.
- Item Grouping - gives players the ability to group furnishings together and then move them all at the same time. This makes moving that table that you just painstakingly decorated with plates and other objects simple to move - just group all the objects on the table to the table and then move the table. All of the grouped objects will move together!
MMORPG: And finally, the all-important question, what’s changing in combat and balance this patch. Can you give us a high-level overview?
RL: At a high level, our goal from a combat perspective was to get the classes on a more level playing field in terms of overall balance. Many of the changes focused primarily on adjustments to damage, and sustain, but we also looked at survivability comparisons between ranged and melee builds.
MMORPG:Why did you feel the need to make these changes?
RL: The ultimate goal is to get us closer to our vision of “Play the way you want”. We like the idea of players having a choice in how they build their characters and ultimately how they play them.