Tamriel Infinium: Exploring the revamped vampires of Elder Scrolls Online’s Greymoor

    
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Tamriel Infinium: Exploring the revamped vampires of Elder Scrolls Online’s Greymoor

Ever since Molag Bal created the first vampires in Tamriel to spite the aedra Arkay, they have held a unique place in the stories of The Elder Scrolls universe. Some are altruistic, some strive only to create chaos, and some even go as far as to be involved in plots to take over various regions of the world, as is no doubt one of the motivations of the antagonist in the upcoming Greymoor chapter. While the “rules” of vampirism seem to differ from game to game and from strain to strain, a few things remain constant: They drink blood, they’re undead, and they’re generally despised and feared by everybody in Tamriel.

During the Dark Heart of Skyrim event earlier this year, ZeniMax revealed that The Elder Scrolls Online would soon be updating the vampire skill line within the game. The term “visceral” was bandied about quite liberally in reference to how ZeniMax wanted the player to feel while piloting a vampire through the game. Visceral is defined as relating to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect. It’s synonymous with instinctual.

While I’m not sure that goal has specifically been met, I did have a chance to sample a vampire character on an early Greymoor build last week. Several changes have been made to the vampire, some of which are not related to the skill line at all.

For starters, vampire feeding works in reverse now. In the current game, lack of feeding results in higher phases of vampirism, as if the lack of blood were somehow responsible for a growing sense of ferality and viciousness. One of the main issues with this design was that once a character turned into a vampire, she really didn’t have anything else to do but wait around to reach phase 4. With the new design, a player must continue to feed to reach higher phases of vampirism and will slip back into lower phases as the time between feedings progresses. The result is that more vampiric actions are needed if higher phases of the disease are desired.

If necromancers are despised by the general populace, then vampires are downright reviled. Appropriately, certain obvious vampire skills will now trigger the justice system within populated areas. The penalty for using these skills can range from fees to city guards attacking the player on-sight.

In addition, some NPCs will refuse to interact with higher-stage vampires. These appear to be the non-essential NPCs (those not relevant to quests). When attempting to interact with one of these nervous townsfolk, the player receives a message that the NPC will not interact with that particular stage of vampire. I was stage 4 for the entirety of my preview server playtime, so I don’t know exactly which stage prevents this kind of interaction, but I can verify that many people in Solitude do not like stage 4 vampires.

When the ESO base game launched in 2014, ZeniMax had not yet mastered the ability to animate a player character and an NPC physically interacting with one another in a convincing way. Thus, the animation used by vampires, while gory, is not exactly what most would consider a realistic depiction. At present, the vampire stands behind the unwitting participant while a column of blood “shoots” from the NPC into the mouth of the vampire character. Effective, but unexpected.

Since the release of the Dark Brotherhood DLC, however, player and NPC animations have advanced tremendously. The Greymoor expansion seeks to make the vampiric feeding an even more realistic experience. Unfortunately, in the build I played it seems like there’s still work to be done in this area. While it looks like ZeniMax is attempting to make the vampire leap onto the NPC and bite his neck, in my experience the camera angle did not follow the action properly, so it was difficult to appreciate the action. I’ve got to believe that this is something still being worked on, and if it ends up looking as good as the dark brotherhood assassination animations, feeding is going to be a much more interesting experience.

The biggest change to vampires comes in the form of the skill line. Currently, vampires have only two active abilities: an ultimate and six passive skills. Greymoor will completely change the skill line for vampires into a more active, participatory line. There are now five active skills to go along with a brand-new ultimate skill and six passives. Keep in mind the following information is from a very early preview build and things may change prior to launch. The new active skill line (base abilities only, not morphs) is as follows:

Eviscerate: Slice an enemy open, dealing Magic Damage. Deals more damage based on your missing health.

Blood Frenzy (toggle, criminal act): Go into a blood frenzy, increasing your weapon and spell damage. While toggled on, you cannot be healed by anyone other than yourself.

Vampiric Drain (criminal act): Drain an enemy’s life force, dealing magic damage and healing you.

Mesmorize: Seduce all enemies in front of you, stunning them if they are facing your direction.

Mist form (toggle, criminal act): Dissolve into a dark mist, reducing your damage taken for as long as you maintain the channel. Entering this form removes and grants immunity to all disabling and immobilization effects, but you cannot be healed and your magicka recovery is disabled.

Blood Scion (ultimate, criminal act): Transform into a lord of night for 20 seconds, instantly healing to full health and increasing your max health, magicka and stamina. While in this form, you heal based on the amount of damage you deal and you can see enemies through walls.

Some of the passives have remained the same. The passives will include:

Feed: Allows you to feed on an unsuspecting target, killing them and increasing your vampire stage. Higher stages make you a stronger vampire at the cost of your humanity. Stages decrease over long periods of time.

Dark Stalker: Ignore the movement speed penalty of sneak. Decreases the time it takes to enter sneak.

Strike from the Shadows (While you are at vampire stage 2 or higher): When you leave sneak, invisibility or Mist Form your spell damage is increased.

Blood Ritual: Allows you to infect another player with Noxiphilic Sanguivoria once every 7 days by returning to the vampire ritual site. Players already infected with Lycanthropy cannot be infected by Noxiphilic Sanguivoria.

Undeath (while you are at vampire stage 3 or higher): Reduces your damage taken based on your missing health.

Many changes are on the horizon for the Elder Scrolls Online, not the least of which involve vampire player characters. Do these changes excite or frustrate you? Let us know in the comments!

Traverse the troubled land of Tamriel in the Elder Scrolls Online! Larry Everett and Ben Griggs will be your guides here in Tamriel Infinium on Wednesdays as we explore together the world created by ZeniMax and Bethesda in one of the biggest MMOs in the genre. Larry and Ben welcome questions and topic ideas!

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Hurbster

And still the forums are full of people who don’t want their vampires to look like vampires.

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Sorenthaz

“Let me min-max without paying a price for investing in a life-changing transformation, reeeeeee”

Raleigh-St-Clair
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Raleigh-St-Clair

Dr Sinclair prescribes a triple dose of Bram Stoker for them, and the ritual burning of the Twilight box set.

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Gristoi Zir

I think you left out an important piece of information, or at least what most of the players are complaining about. As you feed and advance in your vampire stages your vampire skills cost less, but all of your non-vampire skills cost more. The people who were invited to test the new skills were not allowed to post the numbers on the skills, but they were leaked and as it is now feeding works like this:
stage 1: 5%-stage 2: 10%-stage 3: 15%- stage 4: 20%
This means that all of your normal skills will cost 20% more at vampire level 4. Of course this may all change due to the feedback received during the PTS.
I guess ZeniMax wants people to really invest in vampirism and not only take it due to its useful passives.

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Sorenthaz

Makes sense and that’s probably a good idea for them to do. From what I’ve seen, it sounded like Vampire was basically what most people would go for simply because it’s free extra stats/passives and only one real downside that can be mitigated without too much effort.

Like Werewolf is a huge investment, but Vampire for some reason gave folks largely free bonuses that they can apply to any class/spec without having to really invest in the playstyle.

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Nate Woodard

Yes. Basically, if you used magicka at all, then you rolled vampire for the stat boost.

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Sorenthaz

Yeah and you can’t do similar with Werewolf which is more stamina-heavy. With Werewolf there’s some significant tradeoffs and it’s not king of stamina DPS builds or anything like that. It takes some real thought into it VS Vampire basically just being “yeah sure go for it, not like the fire weakness matters much”.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Why necros are despised? I was gonna buy DLC and play necro.

A change in how feeding works is definetly for the good. Not sure why it wasnt like that from the beginning.

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Daniel Reasor

Pretty much ever society in Tamriel takes a dim view of disturbing the dead. Even the Dark Elves practice ancestor worship.

Mind you, there’s no airport metal detector at the city gates that can sniff out the necromancers that pass through. A number of necromancer spells are criminal acts, like several of the vampire skills listed above. What this means in practice is that you shouldn’t use them when dueling in the cities, the only time that a vendor or guard is likely to see.

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Emiliano Lozada

Actually, Dunmer are fine with necromancy as long as it’s not used on their corpses. Bringing back an Argonian? That’s cool in their books but yeah as a rule of thumb it’s shunned.

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NeoWolf

Currently when you feed, you are instantly criminalised, your target loses some health and is then stunned allowing you to retreat or kill them as you please but irrespective as I say the instant you fed you got a bounty.

Has that changed with Greymoor? Will the need feeding work like say Assassinations with the wicked blade? in so much as so long as noone sees there is no detrimental impact or criminality?