You can read the full update from developer ZeniMax Online Studios below.
The Elder Scrolls Online – The Year Ahead
Welcome to 2016! 2015 was a crazy, busy, awesome year for us, which we’ve talked about more than a few times at this point. With the millions of players that joined the world of ESO in 2015, our player population is very strong, and we will continue to provide ongoing content and updates on a quarterly basis, and incremental patches as needed. To kick off this new year, I’d like to concentrate on where we are and where the game is going over the next year and beyond.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited is a game with a great player base and community, a good solid foundation, and a very bright promising future. We’re not perfect; we have things to work on, but we are very happy with where we are. We’ve already announced our first two DLC game packs / Updates in 2016: Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood (Q1 and Q2, respectively), and will be working on much more in 2016, including a major change in how world zones treat player character levels. We will also be concentrating on fixes to Cyrodiil server performance, adding text chat to console versions of ESO, and much more.
Focus on Social
As an overall goal for this coming year and beyond, we will be continuing an effort that has been under way internally for some time now, as shown by our level scaling in the Imperial City and Orsinium DLCs. This is a focus on making the game much more “open,” allowing players to play and group with one another with far fewer restrictions. The first step in doing this will be to fix longstanding problems with the Looking for Group system, but we will do much more than that.
Here are some features we are working on as part of this social focus:
Looking for Group version 2.0, which will go live with the Thieves Guild update. This will fix some longstanding problems with our LFG system and allow players to create groups faster and more efficiently.
All future DLC will continue to use player level scaling to ensure that players of all levels can play in the same zone together, as we do with Imperial City and Orsinium.
Enable text chat on consoles later this year to help players – if they wish – to communicate zone-wide with other players, have easier access to emotes, and be able to chat with others using text instead of voice. This will be optional, and we will continue to fully support voice chat on console as the primary means of communication.
Work on a Looking for Guild system, as well as updates and fixes to make it easier manage player guilds.
We are very excited about this, as it will continue to move ESO forward, by focusing on player-to-player interaction, which after all is the heart and soul of games like ESO. Stay tuned for more details as we move farther into 2016.
We’ve talked publicly many times about the removal of veteran ranks and we are still committed to doing so. The goal behind this change is to make the Champion system the primary vehicle for customizing your character past level 50. This work is currently scheduled for Q2 as part of the Dark Brotherhood update.
Here’s some info about how this transition will work:
There will be little or no changes to our current 1-50 player leveling system. You will receive one Skill Point per level as you do now, and one point to put into your Attributes (Stamina, Magicka, or Health.)
From 50+, you will receive Champion Points as you gain Experience, which you can use to further augment your character via the Champion System. The character information window will be updated to show your level, plus your Champion Rating, which is the total number of Champion Points you have accrued.
You will be able to gain more Skill Points the same way you do now, by completing quests, raising your Alliance War rank, and collecting Skyshards.
We will continue to slowly raise the Champion Point cap over time as we add more content. The cap is currently set at 501 Champion Points.
DLC and Update Plan
As we have already announced, we will be launching a big update, including the Thieves Guild DLC game pack, during the first quarter of this year – expect it on the PTS (Public Test Server) in early February. It is a lot of fun and introduces some new gameplay elements as well as the story content. The update will also include a ton of updates and fixes to the core game, including support for 64-bit clients. Stay tuned for more details later this month.
The Dark Brotherhood DLC game pack and update will come in the second quarter. It will be set on the Gold Coast of Cyrodiil (around the towns of Anvil and Kvatch), and will contain some new gameplay elements and story content. We’ll release more information about it when we get a little closer to debuting it on the PTS.
We do have plans for DLC after Dark Brotherhood, but you’ll have to wait for details.
Besides the major DLC packs, other features we are working on include scrolling combat text (which will go live with the Thieves Guild DLC in Q1), character nameplates, the ability for console players to display their character name instead of their PSN ID/XBL Gamertag, among others. Longer term, expect to see information about systems like a character customization shop so you can change your character’s gender, appearance, name, etc., player housing, and other systems that we’ll announce in the future. We’ll have much more information about all of these as the year progresses.
ESO Gatherings and Fan Events
Now that our launch year(s) are behind us, we are planning to host fan events and parties based around major game shows like PAX East, PAX Prime, and Gamescom. We’re still working on our exact show schedule, so stay tuned for details and start thinking about travel plans to come meet your fellow ESO community members, meet members of the development and community teams, and attend panels and discussions by developers.
General Status Updates
Here are updates on some of the features and issues that the community has been asking about:
We will not be adding in the previously discussed PvP component of the Justice System. We caveated this many times – as I said at the ESO QuakeCon presentation in 2014, it was always going to be very difficult making it fun, but not exploitable. When introducing new systems to the game, our number one goal is to make sure that we don’t introduce new problems. Having players enforce justice on the criminal activity of other players has the potential to introduce imbalances and other issues that greatly outweigh any potential gameplay benefits. The game’s central concept of “PvP in PvP areas and be safe in safe areas” needs to stay the way it is.
As I am a regular PvP player (Azura’s Star, NA), I am fully aware of the server responsiveness problems that can result when too many players fight in one area and use too many AoE abilities. This is a problem that needs many fixes – but the main challenge we face is that we can only test these fixes on the live servers, as it is impossible to simulate live conditions on our test servers. As we obviously cannot risk introducing new problems and side-effect issues on the live servers, we need to do these changes incrementally. We have introduced many tweaks over the last two months, including recent experiments with some server physics changes. These have helped, but not enough to alleviate the problem. Our next round of changes is going in shortly, so stay tuned for details. We will continue working on this problem until it is resolved.
Spellcrafting is on the back burner for now. It is a fun and interesting system, but it is not in our current plans to bring it to you in the coming year. We really like the design and what it contributes to the game, though, so we will do what we can in the future to make it happen and do it right.
No message like this should be written without acknowledging the tremendous impact that you, the community, have had on the development of this game. Thank you so much for your feedback, your passion, and your skill at totally pwning me on the battlefields of Cyrodiil. The ESO community has truly found a voice in 2015, which can be seen in many “best of” awards that ESO won recently, such as MMORPG.com’s “Best MMO of 2015″ and the community led “Reader’s Choice Best MMO of 2015″, among many others.
There’s so much more that we will be doing – this is just scratching the surface. We’ll talk more about each update as it gets ready to hit the PTS, and of course will keep everyone updated as we progress through the year. Until then, we very much look forward to seeing you at our first fan events, and of course, see you in Tamriel!
Discuss this on the official ESO forums.
Game Director, ESO