This week, I really wanted to talk about Orsinium. There are some really great things happening in Elder Scrolls Online in the DLC that I’d like to talk about. Unlike some other developers who like to think they understand the Killer type, ZeniMax Online Studios has a decent perspective on what makes that group of players tick.
However, another post — the Veteran Ranks announcement — hit the forums last week, and I believe it takes precedence.
As always, this column is an editorial, an opinion, which I encourage you to disagree with and discuss in the comments.
I want to be wrong about ZeniMax. I want it to be a company that we can trust to keep to what it says and make ESO a fun game to play for everyone at any level of gameplay. And I believe there is a big fat brick wall at the level cap of this game named Veteran Ranks.
ZOS Creative Director Rich Lambert made an interesting post on the Orsinium AuA seemingly solidifying the argument of those who want Veteran Ranks to go away. “As for the removal [of VR], we’re still working on that,” he wrote. “We will have more info to share with everyone next year, once we’ve worked out and finalized things.” It actually disappointed me, although it encouraged others because of its ambiguity.
In a response thread on the official forums about Lambert’s AuA post, Lambert posted a very promising outline for what ZOS intends to do about VR. However, I found some issues that concern me still. So let’s take a moment to talk about two of issues that I have, and then discuss the possible positive outcomes of the proposed changes to the VR system.
The first thing I’d like to point out in Lambert’s announcement is the lack of a timeline. The biggest issue I’ve had with any announcement surrounding the changes with Veteran Ranks is the fact that none of it has ever been followed up with a window of when it will actually be completed. There have been only hints of when we might see the changes: At QuakeCon, producer Matt Firor said that they would start working on VR after Orsinium.
The problem with this announcement is that it never gave a time as to when the work will be finished… if ever. Many people, including commenters who opposed my point of view, took this to mean that the removal of VR will happen on or before the next major update (which is a bigger problem, actually). However, skeptics and people who have been riding this MMO train for a long time didn’t take that to mean anything. In fact, I count myself among the people who consider this to be among the many vapor-promises the industry has made over the years. The unfortunate truth is that much of the phrasing from the ZOS camp is spun to make fans more hopeful and continue to shovel cash its way.
I’ve been optimistic about other MMOs in the past, and sometimes give the company the benefit of the doubt, but ZOS has taken too long to produce content for me to believe that anything that it says will be done in a timely manner. Again, I hope I’m wrong.
The Lambert post
There were some very positive things in Lambert’s forum post, and I will talk about them because I want to end on a positive note. But let me touch on the one thing that didn’t sit right with me.
“When the conversion happens, any player with CP less than their old veteran rank * 10 will instead be given enough CP such that their total is VR * 10. For example: A player is VR14 with 75 CP, they will be given 65 CP (140-75) instead of 40, so that they can still equip any gear they may have.”
I’d like to point out the last thing he said in that phrase: “so that they can still equip any gear they may have.” He mentioned something similar a little further down.
“It’s important that everyone understands they are not suddenly going to have to have 501 CP in order to equip the top level gear. We will introduce new gear, with higher CP requirements sometime in the future, but we won’t be making huge jumps.”
So there is still going to be a level grind so that you can have the right gear? Basically, one linear progression system is replaced by another linear progression system with no catch-up mechanics. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not opposed to a grind, and there is a positive aspect of the changes that I will talk about in just a bit. But from what I can see, the VR switch to Champion Points (CP) does nothing to change the initial grind, and in fact, it makes catching up to current content more difficult. The “easy” fix to this issue is to restrict the gear to specific aspects of CP and not a CP number.
From a broad perspective, I am on board with the changes that Lambert proposed in his post. I believe that ZOS is on the right track, and unlike other MMO developers, it does listen to its playerbase, albeit slowly.
From glancing at the calculations that Lambert mentions, I think they look pretty solid. And there is no way players with a half dozen or more VR16 characters should get possibly thousands of CP, nor should those who only have one VR16 be punished for not having alts. Lambert mentioned that they are aware of gear issues and CP. The developers will make provisions for that.
Lastly, I think the most positive part of getting rid of VR is that it will encourage making alts, a part of ESO that has been sorely missing. You will still have to level normally, but once you hit max level, your grind could be done, assuming you’ve done it on another character. And anything that reduces the grind on alts will encourage them. And maybe that will encourage me to earn more CP now.
Those are my thoughts, and I’ve tried to be reasonable even in my more controversial stances. Tell me if you think that we’ll see the VR change in the next big patch or not. Those who are better at the maths, let me know what you think about the conversion rate. Those who have done the VR grind multiple times, is the conversion rate fair? Thank you for putting up with my not-so popular opinion, and in the words of Bill S. Preston Esquire and “Ted” Theodore Logan, be excellent to each other.