Dark or Light

Interview: Elder Scrolls Online Now Boasts Over 19 Million Lifetime Players As Deadlands Launches November 1st

Joseph Bradford Updated: Posted:
Interviews 0

During a livestream earlier today, ZeniMax Online Studios announced quite a few tidbits for Elder Scrolls Online fans, including the reveal that the MMO now boasts over 19 million lifetime players in Tamriel.

The stream, which also revealed more information about the upcoming Deadlands DLC for The Elder Scrolls Online, detailed that not only has the MMO reached over 19 million lifetime players, but the MMO has seen players connect from over 240 different countries from around the world. In their efforts to continue localization options for players across the world, ZeniMax has introduced a Spanish langugage option for in-game text and subtitles, and will affect the MMO's content both past and in the future.

As for Deadlands, the 20-hour story DLC brings the year-long Gates of Oblivion storyline to its conclusion. Deadlands will see players explore a new region within the realm of Oblivion, The Sever, which sees weather and more unlike that which has been experienced in the Daedric realm before. The Deadlands themselves, which is what ESO calls the planes of Oblivion, were first introduced to players in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion back in the middle '00s, bringing the nostalgia drip that ESO is so well suited for.

"Those who’ve played The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion will recognize parts of the Deadlands. The Burn is an area that sports molten rivers, flame-infused beasts, and towering metal spires. And never-before-seen in an Elder Scrolls game, players can venture into a new zone of the Deadlands called The Sever, a region with fierce storms and ferocious winds."

In addition to the new region, players will explore the new city of Fargrave, one of the largest cities added to The Elder Scrolls Online. The spraling desert metropolis is home to crafters and more, and is covered by a large, skeletal roof. 

The Elder Scrolls Online: Deadlands' prologue is actually available to play right now in ESO, though to actually dive into the Deadlands DLC itself, players will be waiting until November 1st when it launches on PC, Stadia and Mac. Console players, including Xbox Series S|X and PlayStation 5 players, will have to wait until November 16th before catching up with the conclusion.

We had the opportunity to chat with creative director Rich Lambert ahead of today's reveals, talking briefly about the DLC and just the work the team has put in over the past year.

MMORPG: So looking back on the year long “Gates of Oblivion” story, is there a moment during this journey where you can look back and be most proud of personally?

Rich Lambert, Creative Director: The thing I’m most proud of, isn’t the content itself, it’s that we were able to deliver a high-quality story, that was polished and on time – all while being in the midst of a global pandemic and everyone working from home. It has been a remarkable effort and learning experience for the team.

MMORPG: One thing I’ve noticed lately from your Twitter account is a push to stream more with ESO players. What has that been like as well as the reaction from the player base for a chance to run around with the creative director in game? And have you learned anything from these streams that have helped development as well?

Rich: The reaction has been amazing! The community has turned out in droves and the support from them has been overwhelming. It’s been so much fun to talk about a thing I love so much and share fun stories while I play. The community has also been super understanding that when I’m streaming, I’m just Rich – who also happens to be the Creative Director on a game they love playing. They are respectful and people have kept interactions fun which has been great. I’ve still got a lot to learn about streaming, but I’m enjoying the heck out of it. It has been great to just hang out with the community on a regular basis.

As for learning things for future development – absolutely. We talk a lot about pain points, bugs, and new ideas the community has for features, stories, cosmetics, etc.

MMORPG: Journeying back into Oblivion is the shot of nostalgia I think ESO is really well-suited for. As someone who worked on ESIV: Oblivion, what was it like for you to not only venture back into one of the more iconic areas you helped to create, but approach it from a completely new angle entirely as well as a creative?

Rich: One of my favorite parts of this entire year has been the exploration of Mehrunes Dagon and his realm. He’s one of my favorite princes, so getting the chance to create more lore for him and explore his realm in great detail was a ton of fun.

MMORPG: Deadlands has 20 hours of content – that itself is almost an expansion on top of the Chapter launch from earlier this year. How do you go about deciding the amount and type of content that goes into this last DLC of the year?

Rich: It’s been something that we’ve iterated upon over the course of ESO being live. We knew early on that regular updates would be something the community craved. When we first started, the updates didn’t really have a theme or fit together in terms of story – they were all standalone products. That ended up being confusing for folks, so we set out to solve that and the yearlong adventures were what came of it. We settled on Q2 Chapter and Q4 story DLC mainly due to scheduling reasons. It takes a ton of time to build this content and the teams need some breathing room between them.

MMORPG: I know we’ve talked about this in the past, but now with even more time under your belt in these quasi-semi-post pandemic conditions, what are some key takeaways you and the team are bringing with you as you begin the work on the next storyline for players in 2022?

Rich: The hardest part about working from home, is learning how to be collaborative all over again. When you are at the office, it’s really easy to walk over to someone’s desk and ask a question or do quick over the shoulder drive-byes. That is difficult to do when working from home as everything needs to be scheduled now. We’ve gotten a lot better over the last 18 or so months at this, but it’s really amazing just how many game development issues get solved with those simple, quick ad-hoc chats.

MMORPG: Dungeon design has been a rock solid point for me and my playing group specifically ever since even Summerset. It seemingly just keeps getting better and better. What do you think is helping each dungeon, each location, exceed the next each year?

Rich: It comes down to the team, and their desire to constantly one-up themselves. Everyone on the team is really plugged into the community and takes the feedback to heart. They want to have the best dungeons in gaming, and with every update they want to try new things and find new ways to surprise the community.

MMORPG: What’s next for the Deadlands in ESO? Are we going to be seeing even more of the Daedric realms in future content, or will we be passing it by with the conclusion of the Deadlands DLC?

Rich: Good question and one that can only be answered in the future. ??

MMORPG: This year has been one of milestones for ESO it seems: two new platforms officially supported in the new consoles, as well as the announcement earlier this year of 18 million players lifetime in Tamriel, and just recently the infusion of even more technology into the engine with Nvidia DLAA and DLSS. How has the team celebrated these feats and what do these milestones mean for you personally as creative director of the MMO?

Rich: Celebrating these milestones is difficult given the current pandemic – there’s only so much you can do from home. It’s amazing though to see ESO continue to thrive and grow – this year to over 19 million players – especially considering we’re going on 8 years now. It’s such a privilege being able to work with such a dedicated group on this game. I really can’t wait for us to be able to return to the office someday and have a big celebration for all that we’ve accomplished!


Joseph Bradford

Joseph has been writing or podcasting about games in some form since about 2012. Having written for multiple major outlets such as IGN, Playboy, and more, Joseph started writing for MMORPG in 2015. When he's not writing or talking about games, you can typically find him hanging out with his 10-year old or playing Magic: The Gathering with his family. Also, don't get him started on why Balrogs *don't* have wings. You can find him on Twitter @LotrLore