ESO Game Director Matt Firor rings in a new year with a new message. Read on to learn more about what's in store for the Elder Scrolls Online in 2017.
Welcome to a new year in The Elder Scrolls Online! We had a great year in 2016. Our user base is larger than it was at this point last year, and is thriving. There are more adventures in Tamriel and more freedom in how you choose to explore them than ever.
Now it is time to look ahead to 2017. All of you are well aware that we have already announced Morrowind, the next Chapter in ESO, which will be launching in June - but we will be also continuing to add many other great things to the game. You can expect to see more of the standard DLC you are accustomed to, including our regular commitment to upgrading, fixing, and providing quality of life additions and fixes for the game, and much more.
Thank you all for being part of the ESO community. We have come a long way together – but the journey is just beginning, and it is going to be a lot of fun enjoying the ride together.
This year will feature four major events:
•Homestead, our player housing DLC, in February
•ESO: Morrowind, our first Chapter release, in June
•A dungeon-based DLC in the third quarter
•A content-based DLC in the fourth quarter
We will – of course – provide a base patch with each of these launches that will provide quality of life fixes, updates, balance changes, and other items. For more on each of these events, keep reading.
I want to be sure that the awesomeness that is Homestead – the ESO player housing system – doesn't get lost in the excitement about Morrowind. Homestead is amazingly fun and will provide something that many ESO players have long requested: a piece of Tamriel to call their own. Homestead is launching in just a few days, and is by far the largest single system that we have designed and implemented for the game since launch. It is fun, provides endless opportunities for crafting, designing, and building, and we will be adding new items and homes periodically.
As all of you long time players know, we have never been shy about evolving ESO over time by introducing new concepts, new designs, and doing what we need to do to make sure that ESO remains awesome and relevant. So, in 2017, we are going to make a major addition to the way content is delivered to you.
In the past, we've released four major updates per year, most with an associated DLC. This has produced great DLC like Orsinium, Thieves Guild, and Dark Brotherhood for players in a regular cadence, and has been the perfect way to update the game with larger changes like One Tamriel. This cadence is perfect for smaller additions, but we've found that this approach is so aggressive that it hamstrings us a bit when it comes to introducing updates larger than DLC – that is, updates that include new content as well as features like system changes, new abilities, and new classes. This is why we are evolving to deliver some updates as “Chapters," with the target of having one Chapter per year.
In any other game of this type, these would be called “expansions" – but ESO is a game unlike any other. Because ESO is not level-based, Chapters don't fit the general definition of an “expansion," which typically, in MMO-speak, means it is aimed only at existing (and usually high level) players. Chapters in ESO are different. Each ESO Chapter will feature a self-contained story and zone that can be experienced by itself without needing to travel out to the main game. Our content is never level-gated, which means you can play Chapters with an existing character, or a completely new one.
Expect ESO Chapters to introduce things like new game systems, new classes, and a ton of new content. For example, our new Chapter, ESO: Morrowind, contains a new class (the Warden), small-scale PvP Battlegrounds, and of course, a completely new zone to explore.
Each Chapter will be available at retail complete with new box art and packaging. It will contain the Chapter and will include the original game. All standard DLC will still be purchased from the Crown Store or be available to ESO Plus members as part of the subscription, but new Chapter content is available only via retail (including digital retail) game or upgrade purchase if you already own ESO.
A new content Cadence
Because we will be regularly introducing Chapters to ESO, we are going to make a small revision to our content delivery cadence, starting this year. We will continue to ship quarterly updates to the game – each with a base patch that has all the balance, quality of life, and bug fixes that you have come to expect. Additionally, we'll have a DLC in the first quarter of each year, a Chapter in the second quarter, a dungeon-based DLC in the third quarter, and a DLC in the 4th quarter.
Morrowind: ESO's next Chapter
As you can tell from the announcement, ESO: Morrowind is a big deal. It is our first retail launch in a while, it contains a LOT of content, and has two major new additions to the game: the Warden class, and small-group PvP Battlegrounds.
Because Elder Scrolls Online is not level-gated, it gives us the chance to do something different from any other online game of this type. Chapters are for more than just long-time or hardcore players of the game – Chapters are designed for ALL players of the game. As I've said many times before, we have a huge variety of players in Elder Scrolls Online. Many play every day and have invested thousands of hours in the game. Some play the game once a month, some play casually with their friends and families when they have time. And some just want to play through the storylines of the game as they would any other Elder Scrolls title and then wait for the next one. With our new Chapter content, all of these will be supported.
This means a new player will experience the Chapter as a 30-hour game, but with a hundreds-of-hours-of-content massive Online RPG to experience afterwards. To an existing player who hasn't played in a while, it's a new chance to upgrade to the current Chapter, log in and either create a new character to start fresh, or just play with an older character. For our many regular players of the game, you can just follow the quest to start the Chapter with your existing character (or create a new one) and go from there.
Battlegrounds and Cyrodiil
We are very excited to offer new PvP possibilities with the introduction of 4v4v4 small-scale Battlegrounds in Morrowind. However, just because we are introducing Battlegrounds with Morrowind doesn't mean we are walking away from Cyrodiil. We consider open-world PvP to be separate from small-scale PvP, and we want to be sure that we offer - and fully support - both.
As for Cyrodiil: we know that performance (both server and client) is often not up to par, to put it mildly. These problems particularly plague Champion-ranked Campaigns and, coupled with some of the balance issues and bugs that are still present, result in an often-frustrating experience for some players. We will be addressing this in 2017 – from Champion System performance to class/armor balance to client/server performance in large battles. This is a priority for us, but as these issues are extremely complex, we will be re-thinking how some of the systems in the game interact with each other; changes of this magnitude cannot happen quickly. We are not taking this lightly – change needs to happen. We will have lots more information on Cyrodiil balance and fixes shortly, but right now, we are focusing on investigating and testing different options.
I've devoted a lot of space here to discuss our new content delivery strategy and how Morrowind will work. But we're doing a lot more than that – we'll have our dungeon-based DLC in Q3 and a content-based DLC in Q4. As usual, we will be selling them a la carte in the Crown Store and they will be available to ESO Plus members. We will also delve deep into Cyrodiil performance issues and provide much needed relief. And each update will come with a base patch full of bug fixes, quality of life updates, and balance changes. We'll release much more information about all of these later in the year.
As always, thank you so much for your continued passion and support! See you in Tamriel.
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