Elder Scrolls Online plans live tests and major Cyrodiil changes to combat performance issues

Some testing begins today, with the bulk slated for August


If it seems like we’ve been talking about improved performance in The Elder Scrolls Online for a really long time, you’re not nuts because it was exactly a year ago at QuakeCon that ZeniMax dropped its first timeline of the planned improvements. But performance in Cyrodiil in particular has been a concern for the game a lot longer (here’s a piece from 2017 where the devs are promising to make it a priority). Lag and tech problems in Cyrodiil – that’s the big three-way PvP zone smack in the middle of Tamriel – have persisted since then, and now, ZeniMax really is homing in on it, as yesterday ZeniMax’s Rich Lambert put up a lengthy post on the official forums outlining the testing process and what the impact on combat could be.

Lambert explains that part of the problem has been the growth of player power over time and the fact that some characters “can cast near-infinite numbers of abilities,” including AoEs, which put a serious strain on the server’s performance when it simply can’t keep up with the infinite stream of characters spamming.

“This is not what we intended, but part of the fun of Elder Scrolls games is designing a build that has unexpected and powerful results, and we allowed it,” Lambert explains. “However, as this behavior grew more prevalent, we reached a point where casting so many continuous AOE abilities in such a small area started to overwhelm the server process for that area, leading to situations where the ‘lag meter’ spikes and the server becomes unresponsive for a period of time.”

The long and short of it is that fixes for this have been outstripped by characters every time, and ZeniMax now needs to “address the core problem […] starting with Update 27.” And that’s going to mean live tests on the live PC (not console) servers, and it also means alliance point rewards for everyone online when they go down. The big tests will run for about a week starting on August 24th, focusing on AoEs in Cyrodiil – they’ll “make it more difficult for AOE abilities to be the only abilities used, adjusting cooldown, cost and regen values of all AOEs (damage and healing).” In fact, some more basic tests will run behind the scenes today.

“After we complete the above tests, we may try other combinations of cooldown, cost, and regen values on AOE abilities. However, we need to run these tests first and then assess the data. We will then let everyone know what we found and how we will move forward. We will be very upfront, but please be aware that if these tests confirm our hypothesis, then chain-casting AOE abilities will no longer form the core of the ESO PvP experience in the way it has for the last few years. We would then go through each class and ensure that there are viable builds for each and make adjustments as necessary. The code for these changes will be going into today’s PTS patch, and we will be running some basic tests throughout the day on Tuesday in Cyrodiil to ensure we’re able to make the above changes without requiring any maintenance or downtime. Once we launch Update 27 for PC on August 24, we will announce when one of the tests are beginning through an in-game announcement and will have a forum thread detailing which test is currently being performed. Remember, these tests will be limited to Cyrodiil, so AOE abilities in other PVP spaces (Imperial City and Battlegrounds) and will remain unchanged for now. We will evaluate how these tests go, and let everyone know next steps.”

In other Elder Scrolls Online news, ZeniMax announced the winners of its recent housing challenge. My favorite’s the gardeny home in a giant barrel!

Source: Official forums. Cheers, Bruno!
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