As ESO reaches the four-week mark and is about to embark on their first major update,Matt Firor ( Game Director for ZeniMax Online Studios) talks about what they have been doing for the game in the past month, what the team at ESO is working on currently, and what exciting new content and systems are in the plan to add over the next few months.
First and foremost, as I posted in my mini-update last week, we’re working every day to reduce gold farming and botting, which detract from the gameplay experience for everyone. You may have seen Customer Support GMs in the game over the last week actively banning bots in dungeons. We’re also doing a lot of work behind the scenes to keep the game honest and will continue to do so. Please keep helping us by reporting botting and spamming activity in-game.
We’re also continuing to fix bugs as we find them and as players report them to us. In a world as large as ESO’s, with endless variations of gameplay by players, it is impossible for QA to identify all bugs before launch, but we’re working hard to find and close them quickly. We’ve fixed many quest blockers, especially in zone, NPC guild, and main story quests, but we know there are still others. These affect far fewer players, but they’re annoying when encountered and we will address them. Fixes are getting patched in during our regular weekly updates, and of course Update 1 (see below) will contain many more.
As you may have seen from the patch notes on PTS (Update 1 has been available to our PTS players for a week), the first update contains much more than just Craglorn, our first Adventure Zone. It also contains lots of tweaks and bug fixes above and beyond what we’ve been doing on the live servers. Keep in mind that the PTS patch notes aren’t final—more changes will be made as we continue testing. Here’s a summary of what’s new in Update 1:
- Craglorn, the first Adventure Zone, specifically created for groups of Veteran Rank 1 and above characters
- Trials, which are 12-player “raid”-type instances for Veteran Rank characters, featuring completion time leaderboards
- Death recap: you can now see who killed you and what ability they were using. This is invaluable information in dungeons, PvP, and Craglorn
- Underdog bonuses in Cyrodiil—you’ll get more Alliance Points and XP while fighting for an alliance with a lower population in your campaign
- Animation tweaks and polish
- Combat ability balance changes and fixes
- Class ability tweaks and updates
- Content bug fixes, especially edge cases where quests could become de-synced
- And much, much more—check out the final patch notes when they are posted in the forums
Update 1 will hit the live servers as soon as testing is completed on PTS. Stay tuned for news about the exact date you’ll be able to play it.
As those who follow ESO closely know, a wide range of reviews have been posted for the game, with scores ranging from 90s to 50s. ESO generates strong emotions in gamers—both positive and negative. While I obviously don’t agree with the more negative articles, the reviews are out there, and we read them to determine if there are legitimate complaints that we should address. We are gratified by the many positive fan comments—the love that those fans express for ESO motivates us to keep working to make this the best MMO ever. Some of the negativity in reviews comes from bugs. As you can see, we’re hard at work addressing them and will keep rolling out fixes. The important thing for you, the community, to know is that we’re looking at ALL the feedback (from critics and from players), we’re addressing any shortcomings, and we’ll continue to do so. This game will get better and better every week.
The true measure of ESO is what players in the game think. We’re starting up several community programs that put you in the spotlight and ask you to submit your builds, guilds, screenshots, and more—the chronicles of your life in Tamriel—for us to share. Games like ESO are very, very large and have enormous breadth, and sometimes you’ll find that watching videos and reading stories by other players about the fun and interesting things they’ve done in-game will lead you in a different direction to try new things. You can find a link to information about some of these programs here.
Coming in Future Updates
Along with fixing bugs, combatting black market gold farmers, and balance tweaks, we have a long list of features and updates we’re working on that will be coming throughout 2014 and beyond. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s coming up. For most of these, we don’t know yet which update they’ll be in, but they’re under active development right now:
- A system that allows grouped players to see each other even when they’re in different phases
- A justice system—steal from and kill NPCs and deal with the consequences if you are caught
- Migration of European Megaserver to our European datacenter.
- Field of View (FOV) adjustment
- Armor dyeing and tinting
- Two new Veteran Dungeons: Crypt of Hearts and City of Ash
- New region of Craglorn with a new Trial (the Serpent)
- Increased ability to pick up items in the world
- Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood storyline and quests.
- Horse Racing
- Dragonstar Arena—similar to Trials, but built for a group of four
- Improvements to fishing
- Crafting system improvements
- Improved Looking for Group system
- Better NPC facial animations
- Guild functionality updates: guild store interface updates, customizable guild insignias, tabards, and guild ranks, and Guild Kiosks—guild stores open to everyone that are available to the highest-bidding guild.
- Auto-leveling dungeons that level to your group leader
- Awards when you repeat dungeons
- Imperial City PvP dungeon
We recognize that some of the launch issues—especially black market botting and spam, de-synced quests, and the disappearing bank slot bug—affected the early gameplay experience of a number of players. Fixing these problems required us to take the megaservers offline, costing players time in the game. In recognition of this experience and to show our gratitude to everyone who supported the launch, we are giving an additional five days of included game time to every ESO player who set up an active account prior to 8pm EDT Thursday May 1st and who are currently enjoying their 30 days of included game time. If you’re eligible to receive the five additional days, a confirmation will be sent to your account’s registered email address. For further details, please visit help.elderscrollsonline.com. This is a small gesture to show our thanks for being part of the ESO community while we work to make this extraordinary game and service even better.
As we end this first month of our journey together, we want to express sincere appreciation to our loyal fans. Be assured that we are working diligently to keep ESO balanced, stable, and fresh for veteran players. We’ve gotten through our launch month well and are heading towards our first update soon. After that, expect many more good things in ESO. Thank you so much for your support and continued enthusiasm about the game—now I’m off to level my Nightblade.
You are invited to discuss this article further on the official TESO forums!