ESO’s Game Director Matt Firor has posted the monthly Road Ahead article, which discusses the content in Update 3 and Update 4.
The article also reveals roughly how long it will be until the new game features shown in QuakeCon will be going live. We can expect the first features by the end of this year, whilst the longer-term features will appear some time in 2015.
Expect to see soon: New facial animation system, improved grouping, fixes to player separation issues
Expect to see in a while: Imperial City, Champion System
Expect to see later: Justice System, Spellcrafting
Matt Firor wrote:
Greetings, everyone, and welcome to the latest Road Ahead update. It’s been a busy month for ESO: Update 3 has been released, we’re already looking ahead to Update 4 (check out the trailer), and we presented the in-depth Future of ESO panel at QuakeCon. If you missed the panel, where a team of our developers gave everyone a detailed look at upcoming features and answered questions from fans, you can watch the entire thing here.
As always, thank you so much for being part of the ESO community. The players that populate an online game can add so much to the experience, and more than once I’ve seen players remark that ESO has one of the best, most helpful, and most fun groups in gaming. Thank you for making the game environment so welcoming and enjoyable for everyone.
Now, let’s take a look at what we’ve been up to:
EU Megasever Migration
The European megaserver successfully moved to its permanent home in Frankfurt a few weeks ago. Many of you playing from Europe immediately reported far lower ping times and less latency along with a generally better gameplay experience. Things are looking good, but we’ll continue to watch for any reports of intermittent networking and latency issues to make sure everything is running as smoothly as possible.
Combat System Tweaks
As I mentioned in July’s Road Ahead, we’re working to refine our combat system to make it more responsive and give your actions (and your enemies’) more punch. This work continues, and you’ve already started to see some of the changes–like our recent change to weapon swapping, for example. We’ve changed the way we cache textures for your alternate weapon, and what that means for you is faster, more reliable weapon swapping, which in turn helps make combat feel more responsive. We have many more changes to combat in the works, and you’ll see the bulk of them in Update 5. We’ll have more details about what you can expect before long.
We’re always on the lookout for in-game exploits and cheating, and we aim to deal with these issues quickly and appropriately. Thank you so much to those of you who report issues you see on the forums and through feedback. Please keep it coming! Investigating and addressing these kinds of problems is one of our highest priorities, and it helps us keep the playing field fair and fun.
Later this week, you’ll find out more about our Loyalty Program, a new feature that will give you special in-game rewards for spending your time subscribed to ESO. It will start out relatively small, with an Ice Wraith vanity pet that you can obtain, but we’ll be expanding it over time to include more items we think you’ll really love. Everyone will know if you’re really a veteran player! Stay tuned for details.
Update 4 features the final region of Craglorn, where you and your Veteran Rank friends will find more to explore and plenty of new challenges to test yourselves against. The new region completes the story of the first Adventure Zone and will feel familiar to those of you who have already explored the rest of Craglorn. Expect tough enemies, new delves and quests, and more of the story of the fallen constellations.
The Serpent Trial
Also included in Update 4 is the Serpent Trial, the final Trial in the constellation storyline (first two being the Warrior and the Mage). Like the original Trials, the Serpent Trial is designed for a group of 12 players and is timed with limited player resurrections allowed. Have fun with your speed runs—we can’t wait to see the new strategies you develop to overcome the dangers you’ll face!
We’re introducing a new type of group content in Update 4: the arena. The first is the Dragonstar Arena, made for a 4-player (standard) group. In this PvE event, your group will face progressively more difficult waves of incoming enemies in a battle for glory—and prizes. You’ll face combat in 10 different arenas, each deadlier than the last, avoiding environmental hazards and coordinating with your allies to try and survive the onslaught. To make it even more interesting, we’ve created both a normal and difficult mode for the Dragonstar Arena. Like in Trials, your progress will be displayed on a persistent leaderboard, and you’ll receive some excellent rewards for your success.
In the future, we’ll be wiping our leaderboards. We want to do this in light of several exploits that have allowed teams to achieve completion times that shouldn’t be possible. We’ve fixed the exploits we are aware of, and we’ll continue to keep our eyes open for and correct any other unintended behavior. As part of our steps to address unrealistic completion times, we’ve made sure that you have to kill all the bosses in Trial runs before the timer stops.
In the future, we expect to introduce a new mechanism built around point scoring for our leaderboards that will encourage players to engage in the encounters rather than try to avoid them.
We are hard at work on the Champion System. The real crux of the Champion System is encouraging growth in your character for as long as you wish. Balancing this growth is going to take time and result in some changes in the game. The final result of those changes isn’t entirely known yet. As an example, we believe the Champion System may entirely remove the concept of soft caps from the game. In order to do that, we have to make sure sets, potions, abilities, and passives still feel effective, but they may need to have their numbers adjusted. In fact, to add more granularity to the system, a great deal of the numbers you’re used to now may have to change. The idea is that we want everyone to still feel just as powerful with their current characters, but to also allow more opportunities for visible growth while still feeling challenged.
As for Phase 2 in the series of changes leading to the Champion System, which is converting Veteran Points to experience, we’re still working to implement this. We’ll have more news in the future as we hammer out the details of the Champion System. We’re excited to get this into your hands, but want to make sure it feels great and continues to provide you with ways to improve your character as ESO expands.
A Plea for Help on PTS
As you all know, every major patch spends a number of weeks being tested on our Public Test Server (PTS). We would love to have more of you participate in Update testing on PTS—right now, we have a dedicated crew of players who run through new content there before it launches on our live servers, but it isn’t a large enough population to find some of the more esoteric load-related problems.
Now that Update 4 has hit PTS, please go over and try out the new content and see what you think. Be sure to give feedback, especially any bugs or balance problems you encounter. As a reminder, every current subscriber has access to PTS, and you will be able to create high-level characters appropriate to the content featured in the Update. In the future, we plan to add some kind of incentive for helping us test new content, so keep your eyes open for details.
Updates to QuakeCon Presentation
We talked about a whole bunch of new systems and features during our QuakeCon presentation. Here’s a short update on some of the systems we talked about and roughly when you can expect to see them in an Update. As I said when I introduced the panel, we talked about features and systems that extend through the end of this year and beyond, so not all of them are short term.
“Expect to see soon”: new facial animation system, improved grouping, fixes to player separation issues
“Expect to see in a while”: Imperial City, Champion System
“Expect to see later”: Justice System, Spellcrafting
Sorry I can’t be more explicit than that, but obviously we need to make sure that the live game is tended to, with fixes and tweaks as appropriate while we work on big new systems like these. Stay tuned to patch notes and future Road Ahead articles for more information.