During PAX West, the Elder Scrolls Online team reserved a big presentation room that basically served as “ESO Haven” for the entirety of the show. It had costumes, weapons, flags, banners, and a swanky presentation space to show off bits of Update 12: One Tamriel. During the event, I sat down with Creative Director Rich Lambert to discuss the free update and its many bits and pieces.
The first thing we dove into was Craglorn, and how it’s essentially new content for this update (my words, not Rich’s). Craglorn, as some intrepid ESO fans will remember, is one of the game’s earliest content updates and was an almost entirely group-centric zone. However, with the change to world-wide level scaling in One Tamriel, it’s now been scaled down to have its main story completely solo-able. Most of the group content within the zone is now doable in groups of two as well. For folks (like me) who never played Craglorn, this essentially makes the content “all new”. Even the puzzle-based stuff that had four-player puzzles are now rescripted to only need one person. Rich’s thought was – zones like this tend to play better for one person out adventuring. Our group content remains our dungeons, our world bosses, and Cyrodiil PVP. Craglorn should (and will) see a lot more foot traffic now that it’s more solo-friendly.
Craglorn also has its own gear and weapon set to earn and collect, as a big part of One Tamriel is also about giving each zone its own unique collections. Every dungeon, every zone across the board, has its own set to collect. Thirty new item sets were created to cover the overland zones, and the dungeons now all have veteran modes – which means 16 brand new monster masks to collect as well. Pledges have been reworked as well to support different difficulties.
Dueling is also coming to ESO with One Tamriel, and it’s fairly straightforward for those who’ve done dueling in any other MMORPG. You can challenge players, you can set auto-decline if you never want to engage, and the person who loses does indeed die – but they get a free resurrection as well, so at least there’s that. With the death recap, this will make for an excellent way to train yourself for Cyrodiil, or maybe hold your own tournaments in some sort of Fight Club.
Speaking of Cyrodiil, major advances on performance are being made in the Cyrodiil play space. The hard part for ZOS has been that they don’t want to sacrifice the visual quality of the large scale PVP in order to make it work flawlessly. Ergo, they’ve had to optimize how lists are parsed, changed how abilities work on the back end, and so forth. Mechanically it’s the same, but the improvement of the data flow has been greatly noticed and Rich believes that players will be able to see it for sure when One Tam drops in October. The focus now is moving to visual optimization in order to get the framerate up and allow people to play in Cyrodiil on modest systems without feeling the pain of framerate drops.
When One Tamriel drops, while lore purists may get upset, player level restrictions aren’t the only splitter being lifted with the Orsinium-esque level normalization. Gone too are the faction restrictions. The war, as it were, will be fought in Cyrodiil. In the wide world, players of opposing factions can work together to take down threats. Cadwell’s Silver and Gold, the “Other Faction Story” quests you do after completing the main game, now can be done at any order and any time after the main quest is completed. This should really help illustrate just how much more freedom to explore One Tamriel offers.
Finally, The Gold Edition is out today, allowing players who haven’t yet picked up Elder Scrolls Online to do so for any platform and get four DLC packs (minus the Dungeon Pack released with Update 11) for the cost of the original base game. A Crown Store DLC pack to get all four is also available for those who’ve been missing out. There’s never been a better time to come back to ESO than when One Tamriel lands on the live servers next month. To end on a tease, Rich wink-winked and nudge-nudged about how we just might pick up the main story now that the Prophet has warned us that more bad stuff is coming that’s not Molag Bal.
One Tamriel next, then Housing, but Rich admits that there sure are a lot of empty spaces on the map that we’ve yet to visit in ESO. In his words, “You would probably lose your mind if you got to look at my white board. It goes all the way out passed 2018. We have lots of plans.” Rich was mum with a coy smile and a “I don’t know anything about that…” when prodded about PSVR, Bethesda’s own VR, and so forth, so keep your eyes peeled for news there. One thing’s for sure. ESO continues to grow and put out some of the best content updates in the MMO world, and we can’t wait to see what’s to come in 2017.