ESO News February 2016
There has been lots of news so far in February because of the release of Update 9 (Thieves Guild DLC) to the Public Test Server. There has also been some other information hidden in the forums or spoken about on ESO Live. This is a round-up of that information, including some lesser known (or talked about) changes coming soon to ESO.
ESO Live (2/12)
The most recent ESO Live (2/12) featured Eric Wrobel the Lead Combat Designer for Elder Scrolls Online. He spoke about the direction of the combat changes leading into Update 9 and Update 10.
AoE Caps, Siege Weapons
In summary, AoE caps are here to stay. If you don’t know, area of effect abilities have a cap of 6 targets, after which the damage falls off. This was done in an attempt to prevent over-powered area abilities and procs which could apply to unlimited targets. With the caps in place, though, there are significant concerns about what this does to zergs (huge groups of players) because with a cap there is a motive to simply stack in the one place allowing AoE effects to have less effect. This concern is mainly PVP focussed where huge groups of players basically have no counter.
What Eric Wrobel had to say was that the fix to this problem isn’t necessarily related to AoE caps. While players from both sides have often suggested increasing, removing and reducing the number of targets hit with AoE effects, Wrobel suggests that the problem of zergs can possibly be fixed through other means. Obviously changing AoE caps effects all players, from PVP to PVE and Trials, Group Dungeons and just regular combat. Such a large change would be difficult to balance across the different types of play, and potentially causes other problems as well. To address the problem of invincible zergs a number of smaller changes have been made and are included in Update 9.
These changes include the increased damage of siege equipment. The damage of siege has been increased by 30% across the board. When the Battle Spirit buff was changed with the release of Imperial City all damage in Cyrodill and IC was reduced by 50%. This also effected siege weapons, so this change is to ensure that siege is having the desired effect against enemy players. Eric mentioned that siege weapons turn slightly faster and should be easier to hit moving enemy players.
Along with this change, is the change to the Purge ability. Purge now costs more and only effects members of your group. It also only effects at most 6 players down from 20 players. Barrier is another one which has been reduced to only effect 6 players as well. Steel Tornado also has its range decreased to 9 meters as this has been commonly spammed in huge groups providing lots of damage at a radius much higher than other AoE.
The rational behind much of these changes is directed towards improving small and medium groups in comparison to huge zergs. Eric mentioned that most AoE heals effect 6 other players. These ideas were also used when changing Magicka Detonation, which should be much more powerful against large groups, but less powerful against single targets.
Along with these changes small and medium groups can expect to recieve around the same amount of AP as a larger group, adding to the move away from huge zergs.
Update 9 includes lots of ability changes inclining several major Class Skills changes. Update 10 (Dark Brotherhood) will contain more changes for the other Skill Lines like Weapons and Armor (including possible Heavy Armor buffs). Also, in Update 10, Eric mentioned that they are going through all the Vampire, Werewolf, Undaunted and Guild Skill Lines.
Breath of Life
One of the biggest changes, or nerfs, was to Templar’s Breath of Life ability. This ability now only heals one additional target as opposed to two additional targets. This ability, as admitted by Eric Wrobel on ESO Live, is one of a Templar’s defining skills, so changing it is quite major. The reason Eric gave is quite long but basically they always intended Rushed Ceremony (Breath of Life and Honor the Dead) to be a big, instantly cast, burst heal for a target which is perhaps close to dying. In reality, the Breath of Life morph has become the bread and butter skill for many Templar healers. Breath of Life became a mobile skill (you can cast it with no mobility loss) which is instantly cast to low Health allies in a huge range – and on top of that it is being used as an AoE heal. ZOS felt that this was too powerful, and should be reduced to its original intended use as an emergency, powerful burst heal for one target and only a lesser heal for one other target.
There will be lots of discussion on this, and whether it is a needed change or a disaster for an already struggling Class. There has been some interesting discussion, like on this Reddit thread and this forum post.
Charges, Gap Closers
In Update 9 gap closing or charge abilities mechanics are slightly tweaked. At the moment, in the live game, a 100% snare is applied to a target of a gap closer for 0.5 seconds. This is to ensure that the charge actually hits the target and counters lag and latency. In Update 9 this is being changed to a 60% snare for 0.75 seconds. This should prevent some of that freezing that sometimes occurs, mostly in PVP, when lots of players are charging you at the same time.
Forums Developer Responses
There has been lots of activity on the forums over the testing period of the PTS, some of the interesting ones are below.
There has been some great feedback in here. One of the abilities specifically called out was Dawnbreaker and we’ve made some changes to greatly improve its responsiveness. We hope to have those changes on one of the next incremental PTS patches.
I’d also like to clarify again that weaving should work the same as it always has. If you interrupt a Heavy Attack with an instant ability, you will still cast that ability instantly – but because that semi-charged Heavy Attack still happens, we briefly show a part of that attack (on average, about 250-350ms) then switch to showing that second ability already in progress. Similarly, when interrupting an instant ability with block, the actual act of blocking should happen as soon as you activate it, the only difference is that the blocking *animation* (not the block itself) will be queued for that fraction of a second until the ability reaches its impact/launch frame. That frame on the Dawnbreaker ability was determined to happen far too late, which negatively impacted the perceived response time.
I should also note that this visual change is systemic and should not affect any class or weapon type more or less than any other.
In short, you should still be able to weave as you always have, only you will not be able to completely obscure one ability in favor of another when both are successful.
Alliance War Rank AP Changes
The amount of Alliance Points required to Level up your Alliance War rank has been reduced for Update 9. Rich Lambert described the reasons for the change.
Some quick notes as to why we’re making the changes to the AP required for the Assault/Support Skill Lines.
- The top 5 AP earners worldwide, over the past 8 weeks are averaging 32k AP/hour. This means it takes roughly 212 hours of PvP to reach Rank 10 in the Skill Lines for them.
- Over the past 8 weeks, the average PvP player earns ~10k AP/day. This means it takes roughly 692 days of PvP for them to reach Rank 10 in the Skill Lines.
We want these skill lines to be a lot more accessible than what I noted above. We made some changes to how AP is awarded and that will help some, but it’s not enough – we need to reduce the amount of AP required as well. That being said, the numbers that are currently on PTS are too low and will be updated in next week’s PTS build. The new numbers will be as follows.
- Rank 2 – 700
- Rank 3 – 8,000
- Rank 4 – 38,000
- Rank 5 – 98,000
- Rank 6 – 188,000
- Rank 7 – 308,000
- Rank 8 – 488,000
- Rank 9 – 758,000
- Rank 10 – 1,158,000
(Note: This is the cumulative AP, so to reach Rank 10 you need to earn 1,158,000 AP.)
With these changes the “top 5” group will be able to unlock all AvA skills in roughly 36 hours, while the average player will take roughly 116 days. It’s still a long haul effort for the average player, but it’s at least in the realm of possible for them now.
Also, while I’m on the topic of AP earning, we used this same data to help set the AP cost for the items that Adhazabi Aba-daro (Cyrodill Undaunted Merchant) sells. The “top 5” group will be able to earn 200k AP in about 6 hours, while the average player will take about 20 days.