I’ve always found it odd that one of Bethesda’s biggest showings at a convention every year is QuakeCon. Elder Scrolls Online, especially, has always treated QuakeCon as the best place to make the biggest reveals for the game. Of course, the total audience for QuakeCon is bigger than those who actually show up because it’s broadcast on Twitch at the same time, but for the last two years QuakeCon brought in between 9,000 and 10,000 actually-in-the-convention-hall people. This, admittedly, is more than would show up at the Larry Everett convention, but at the same time, it’s significantly fewer than the number who attend E3 (50,000 this year) or Gamescom (335,000 last year). Yet ESO’s presence at most other cons is minimal.
And just as the past couple of years, ESO released some significant, though not completely brand-new, information at its presentation at QuakeCon 2015 this past weekend.
I was unable to attend QuakeCon, but thanks to the glories of the internet, I could watch ESO‘s presentation live via Twitch. The vast majority of the presentation consisted of some new and old information about the upcoming DLC Imperial City, which as you might guess from the title completely takes place in the city in the heart of Cyrodiil. I took a bunch of notes from the presentation, and if you’re a PvPer, I believe you will like a lot of what you hear. If you’re not a PvPer, there are significant changes for you, too, and maybe you’ll find delight in a few of the new systems.
If you’ve read my past articles, it should be perfectly obvious that I am not a fan of the Veteran Rank system. So I’m going to touch on parts of it because it’s significant to the new content, but bear in mind that I completely dislike the system and hope that ZeniMax gets rid of it sooner rather than later (which I don’t think will happen).
Game Director Matt Firor first explained the overall direction of the DLC and what the team was hoping to accomplish. I think that he’s made it clear right off the bat that this is going to be PvP-focused DLC. He also made it clear that the PvP will also feel significantly different as well.
Currently, the open-world PvP in ESO focuses on siege battles — defending and attacking keeps and castles. As any PvPer will tell you, the strategies for taking out a castle are significantly different from those for fighting in an arena. Not only is the approach different, but the skills needed to be successful are different.
In the Imperial City, we move from the siege style of PvP in Cyrodiil to close-quarters combat. Many of the designers giving a presentation at QuakeCon compared it to a street brawl, which at times is literally what it is. Players will battle in smaller groups attacking both NPCs as well as other players for loot and rewards. Although to gain the larger rewards and to tackle the bigger NPCs called “sweepers” (more on that later) you’ll have to gather a couple of your friends to come with you, it appears that even the solo rogue-like classes will be able to wander the city catching people unaware and taking their stuff.
New currency for Imperial City
This brings up an important point that Lead PvP Designer Brian Wheeler mentioned: You will be able to loot other players. For the Imperial City specifically, ZeniMax has created a new currency called Tel Var stones. You gain Tel Var stones from defeating NPCs in both the open-world and in the PvE-only dungeons. However, if you happen to have some Tel Var stones on you when you’re killed by another player, she will be able to loot those stones from you. Of course, the details of how many, or what percentage, of these stones can be looted are still undecided, but ZeniMax said that it might go so far as to have all unbanked stones lootable. If you ask any of my PvPer friends, they are completely onboard with Tel Var stones being 100% lootable.
Wheeler also gave us some details about the spawn points in the different districts. He said that each district will have its own spawn point for each of the different factions. He mentioned that they will be high up, so that you can survey the battle situation before jumping back into the fray.
However, PvP in the sewers will be a little bit different. We are still dealing with street-level PvP, but part of the sewers’ mystique is not knowing what’s around the next corner. He explained that you might run into a player, a “sweeper” boss, or even an NPC called a treasure scamp.
Sweeper bosses, which exist in both the street level and sewers of the Imperial City, are large bosses that path throughout the open-world maps. There are several of them, at least one per district. Wheeler explained that you do not want to fight one of these bosses alone. They are specifically group-centered, open-world content. Of course, the rewards from the “sweeper” bosses will reflect their difficulty.
Lead Designer Eric Wrobel explained the treasure scamp when talking about the different rewards for the Imperial City DLC. Treasure scamps are NPCs that randomly show up in the sewers and run away from you. Your job is to catch these scavengers before they jump into a portal. The scamp will run through other mobs and traps with no regard for the people chasing him. However, it is worthwhile to catch one of these guys because they drop not only Tel Var stones but specific crafting mats that you’ll need to craft the new gear.
Let’s talk about those rewards
Wrobel spoke extensively about all the rewards that players can get from the Imperial City. New gear sets and pieces are the most common. The gear will be VR 15 and 16. Wrobel explained that VR 15 gear can be gained rather quickly, but getting to VR 16 will take a tremendous amount of time and work.
Both of the new PvE dungeons have six sets of gear. Each dungeon will have its own new Monster Mask, a helmet with specific stats or procs that will help with a specific group role or job. You can purchase six different sets with Tel Var stones. And three of the sets will be craftable.
He also talked about three different items that are exclusive to the Imperial City. Soul-shriven skin (which sounds totally disgusting) changes the appearance of your character’s skin much in the same fashion as vampirism. Portal stones, which can be bought with Tel Var stones, have an eight-second cast time but will instantly transport you to your homebase within the Imperial City. Lastly, he talked about Prismatic enchantments. These special enchantments boost stats just like the previous enchantments, but instead of affecting just health or just stamina or just magicka, these enhancements increase all three stats. Wrobel explained that these enhancements were designed specifically for hybrid players — players who like to mix both stamina- and magicka-based abilities.
Toward the end, Firor reiterated that the team still plans on removing Veteran Ranks, but it won’t be until after the next DLC of Orsinium. He also pointed out other future plans, like both a Thieves Guild DLC and Dark Brotherhood DLC. He did not go into the details of either of those DLCs other than to say that they are coming soon. He also explained that a much-needed quality-of-life feature will hit the servers soon: a cross-faction group finder. This means that if you queue up for a dungeon, you might be grouped with people from another faction — a very welcome change.
Lastly, Firor said that controller support will be coming to PC very soon. He explained that although this feature is technically beta, ZeniMax devs have been using it in their office for quite some time. It will automagically detect when you touch your mouse or move your controller and swap the screen to the appropriate UI. For those wanting that experience, you will not have to wait much longer. I might even have to try that out because I am a huge fan of the console UI.
Look for the Imperial City DLC to hit PCs on August 31st and consoles on September 15th. Subscribers get the DLC for free, and those who just want the DLC can purchase it from the Crown Store for 2500 crowns. As for testing, it should be live on the public test realm right now for those who
are subbed up own the game on Mac or PC.
Did I miss anything? Do you like what you’ve heard? Let me know below. If something didn’t sit quite right, I’d like to hear about that, too. This is just the start of the discussion. Let’s continue it in the comments below.