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Upcoming Racial Balance Changes for Update 21

Combat Team
Greetings! Today, the combat team will be showing an early glimpse of the racial changes for Update 21 (coming to PTS next week). We’ll discuss the reasoning behind why we targeted racial passives, our goals with the rework, and how some of the goals were met. As always, we’ll be closely monitoring this thread, and are very excited to hear your feedback on the matter! Note that we'll be posting this on the German and French forums as well in the next day or two.

The Problem Space

Below are the higher level reasons on why we decided to move toward reworking many of the racial changes for U21, and explanations of them to help understand their impact.
  1. Right now there are a lack of effective options in picking your race/class combination.
    • This is mainly due to the fact that many of the racial bonuses are percent increases of stats, rather than flat ones. This means races that provided a bonus to a stat that you didn’t focus into gave very little tangible impact.
  2. Many racial bonuses do not have universal applicability.
    • Many bonuses provided from races had narrow application or requirements, such as specific damage types or proc conditions. For example, Orc’s have a damage bonus that only applied to melee attacks, instead of all physical attacks.
  3. Not every race provides a completely unique gameplay element.
    • Some races currently provide smaller unique bonuses such as immunity to specific status effects, or sneaking; but not every race has something of this manner. On top of this, some of the larger, more defining passives were not comparable in terms of impact. For instance, compare the Argonian Resourceful passive to Imperial’s Red Diamond.
  4. Some races provided far more mathematical combat power than others.
    • The delta between some races is noticeably high, leaving some races feeling left behind while others feel too good to pass up from a combat perspective.

To summarize, we decided to focus more on racial balance this update because racial choice was one of the larger outliers to our core mantra of the game - freedom. We wanted to expand the horizon for choice and present players with a self-reflecting question of “What is my playstyle or ideal build?”, providing options to help reach that individual answer. Now, instead of having a single race that focuses almost exclusively on a specific playstyle, you can pick based on a personal level.

Goals & Process
  1. Allow more effective options when picking a race for each role in tanking, healing, or damage dealing.
    • This goal was one of our largest targets for this pass, since many playstyles had only one option for what was viable. This was done by converting percent bonuses into flat ones so they provide similar bonuses to all playstyles. Please note that these flat values will now scale with other % modifiers, so there will be less of a delta between builds. We also expanded many of the interactions and proc conditions for the passives, so more builds could engage with them and allow for improved diversity.
  2. Equalize the overall power that each race provides by using our set bonus efficiency system, which compares the total amount of power that a bonus provides under equal terms.
    • When we’re balancing numerical bonuses, this is our general procedure with the values you see. The system works by looking at the total power a bonus provides and comparing it to a bonus from a 2-4 item set. For example, if we have 2000 Stamina, we would compare that to a 2 piece value of Stamina, which is 1096. The final result would be 2000/1096 = 1.82 set bonus efficiency. We did this for each bonus a race provides so they would all be roughly equal in the power they provide.
    • We decided to find a healthy standard for total racial power provided and used that budget (roughly 6.5 set bonuses) for the power that each passive would grant. We used the previous version of Redguard and Altmer as our target goal. Note that some of our hybrid races will be a slightly higher value, since their power is divided. Most of the races received buffs to reach this figure.
  3. Retain and enhance the unique feeling and gameplay patterns that each race allows.
    • Every race will now have a different way to engage with the game. This is either a new small but unique bonus, or an improvement to their core passive. Note that the smaller bonuses are not meant to work with every build, since these are meant to be more for flavor.
  4. Improve the sense of progression that the racial passives provide when leveling up.
    • We want each race to have a similar rate of gaining power as you level up, and as such, we’ve restructured the unlock order of some passives. Less powerful passives will unlock first, while the larger more defining ones will unlock at later levels. Note that we’ll be refunding all of your racial skill points if you’ve already unlocked these passives. You will not need to unlock them again on characters you’ve already obtained them on.
  5. Achieve the above goals while still obeying our rich and structured lore and storytelling.
    • This was one of our more challenging but exciting tasks, as it gave us additional opportunities to work with other teams. We delved deep into our rich and established lore to make bonuses that highlight racial differences. This means that we didn’t outright balance each race to be equal in every avenue of the game, as there’s a story to be told with how the races engage with the world around them. Nords are well known for being hardier races who can take a hit, while High Elves are better at wielding magical spells. If we were to balance them to be equal in both, we’d lose the unique identities of these races.

Specific Changes

The developer statements below are presented to give insight into our thought processes when deciding how to represent Tamriel’s races in ESO. Actual denizens of Tamriel, if we could talk to them, might debate about these characterizations. The first portion of each passive is how it works in its current state, while the latter are the upcoming changes (if there are any).

High Elf
  • Increases Experience gain in Destruction Staff Skill Line by 15%, extra 1% Generic Experience gain → No changes
  • Spellcharge: 9% Magicka Recovery → Spell Recharge: Restore 575 Magicka or Stamina, based on whichever is higher, after activating a Class Ability. This effect can occur once every 6 seconds. Reduces damage taken by 5% while you are using an ability with a cast or channel time.
  • Gift of Magnus: 10% Max Magicka → Syrabane’s Boon: Increases your Max Magicka by 2000.
  • Elemental Talent: 4% Fire/Shock/Ice damage → Increases your Spell Damage by 258.
Developer Comment
High Elf culture is heavily ingrained with the belief of destiny and birthright, so we wanted a passive that highlighted their ability to harness their innate powers, or class. Granting them a unique resource when accessing a class ability really gets that feeling off and makes it much more engaging than the previous flat recovery bonus.

On top of that, High Elves are well known for being powerful spell casters, and we wanted to make this race feel more powerful when they were charging up a powerful ability.

  • Increases experience gain in Resto Staff Skill Line by 15%, extra 50% Swimming Speed → No changes
  • Resourceful: Gain 3% Max Magicka and restore 4620 Health, Magicka, and Stamina when you drink a potion → Increases your Max Magicka by 1000. Restore 3600 Health, Magicka, and Stamina when you drink a potion.
  • Argonian Resistance: 9% Max Health and 1485 Poison and Disease Resistance → Increases your Max Health by 1000 and your Disease Resistance by 2310. You are immune to the Diseased status effect.
  • Quick to Mend: 5% Healing Done and Received → Life Mender: Increases your Healing Done by 4%.
Developer Comment
Argonians by nature are resilient creatures, adapting to their surroundings and accumulating themselves to the environment. Their ability to shrug off potent diseases makes them harder to take down, and their connection with the Hist empowers their will for life. Their bonus to Healing Done makes them gifted at healing themselves or their allies, while their resource return after drinking a potion helps them stay in the fight. Regardless of their role, their ability to recuperate and get back into the fray is something to respect.

Previously Argonians offered far too many stats and they were mathematically twice as good as some races. This retracted from the unique feeling we wanted each race to have, since their bonuses were all over the place. Now they should have more of some stats that make them stand out a bit more, while they’ll have less in other areas that weren’t in line with that vision.

Wood Elf
  • Increases experience gain in Bow Skill Line by 15%, decreases fall damage taken by 10% → No changes
  • Y’ffre’s Endurance: 21% Stamina Recovery → Increases your Stamina Recovery by 258.
  • Resist Affliction: 6% Max Stamina and 1485 Poison and Disease Resistance → Increases your Max Stamina by 2000 and your Poison Resistance by 2310. You are immune to the Poisoned status effect.
  • Stealthy: Reduces detection Radius by 3m and Increases Damage Done in Stealth by 10% → Hunter’s Eye: Increases your Stealth detection radius by 3m. After you use Roll Dodge you gain 20% Movement Speed for 3 seconds.
    • A quick note on why we changed the Stealthy passive: Previously this passive was shared between Khajiit and Wood Elf, and didn’t help them feel distinct enough from each other. Additionally, since Sneaking isn’t a universal mechanic to the game (many enemies in Tamriel can’t be bothered sneaking about!), we wanted to take away some of the focus from the passive and build that into their other passives instead. We still want to support that game mechanic however, so we kept parts of each the Wood Elf’s and the Khajiit’s version of these passives.
Developer Comment
The thick forests of Valenwood have imprinted the importance of the ability to hunt in the Wood Elf race, and as such they have a natural adeptness for detecting potential threats. Quick to react and well versed in the poisons of nature, they can outlast and outwit their opponents. These traits are demonstrated with their natural speed boost when tactfully engaging combat, and their unparalleled Stamina Recovery.

  • Increases Experience gain in Light Armor Skill Line by 15%, extra 1% Alliance Point gain → No changes
  • Gift of Magnus: 10% Max Magicka → Increases your Max Magicka by 2000.
  • Spell Resistance: 3960 Spell Resistance → Gain 2310 Spell Resistance and 100 Magicka Recovery.
  • Magicka Mastery: 3% Magicka Cost Reduction → Reduces the Magicka cost of your abilities by 7%.
Developer Comment
The Breton race is a proud one, and well attuned to the natures of magic. Their natural hardiness paired with arcane ability allow them to shrug off powerful spells and retaliate in quick succession with their own. This is shown in their bonuses to their Magicka pool, as well as their high resistance to spell attacks. Bretons should be feared for their ability to constantly weave spells with little delay.

Dark Elf
  • Increases Experience gain in Dual Wield Skill Line by 15%, reduces damage taken from Lava by 50% → No changes
  • Dynamic: 6% Max Stamina and Magicka → Increases your Max Stamina and Magicka by 1250.
  • Resist Flame: 3% Max Magicka and 2079 Flame Resistance → Increases your Max Health by 600 and your Flame Resistance by 2310. You are immune to the Burning status effect.
  • Destructive Ancestry: 7% Flame damage and 2% Frost/Shock Damage → Ruination: Increases your Weapon and Spell Damage by 258.
Developer Comment
Dark Elves are a sophisticated race that can thrive in the harshest conditions. Intelligent and quick, they are well versed in blade or magic, giving them a keen advantage in juggling between the two. By giving them a balanced bonus of Weapon and Spell Damage, as well as Magicka and Stamina, their natural cunning and versatility will be demonstrated as they can fulfil any role.

  • Increases Experience gain in One Hand and Shield Skill Line by 15%, extra 1% Gold gain → No changes
  • Tough: 12% Max Health → Increases your Max Health by 2000.
  • Conditioning: 10% Max Stamina → Imperial Mettle: Increases your Max Stamina by 2000.
  • Red Diamond: 10% Chance on Melee Attack to heal for 6% of Max Health → When you deal Direct Damage you have a 15% chance to heal for 1750. Reduces the cost of your Block and Bash abilities by 5%.
Developer Comment
Stout and hardy by nature, the Imperial race is one of order in battle and culture. They stand strong and unified, regardless of what hardships face them. This is highlighted with their powerful bonuses to constitution, and ability to push back when under pressure.

  • Increases Experience gain in Medium Armor Skill Line by 15%, 5% bonus change to successfully pickpocket → No changes
  • Nimble: 20% Health Recovery and 10% Stamina Recovery → Robustness: Increases your Health Recovery by 100 and your Stamina and Magicka recovery by 75.
  • Stealthy: Reduce detection radius by 3m and Increase damage from Stealth by 10% → Lunar Blessings: Increases your Max Health, Magicka, and Stamina by 750.
  • Carnage: Increase Weapon Critical Chance by 8% → Feline Ambush: Increases your Weapon and Spell Critical Chance by 8%. Reduces your detection radius in Stealth by 5m.
Developer Comment
The Khajiiti race is one of intrigue and versatility, with a natural ability to adapt to any walk of life. Under the guidance of the moons they can fulfil any role, with a well-rounded bonus to all resources. We also wanted to better demonstrate their keenness for subterfuge and trickery, so they now have more access to critical strike chance and sneaking potential, regardless of what proficiency they build into.

  • Increases Experience gain in Two Handed Skill Line by 15%, 15 extra minutes on drink buffs → No changes
  • Stalwart: 6% Max Stamina and 20% Health Recovery → Increases your Max Stamina by 1500. When you take damage, you gain 5 Ultimate. This effect can occur once every 10 seconds.
  • Resist Frost: 9% Max Health and 2079 Cold Resistance → Increases your Max Health by 1000 and your Cold Resistance by 2310. You are immune to the Chilled status effect.
  • Rugged: 6% damage reduction → Increases your Physical and Spell Resistance by 3960.
Developer Comment
The hardy Nords reigning from Skyrim are well accustom to the hardships of life. With a bonus to constitution and their ability to shrug off the bitter cold, they can soak up immense amounts of damage. Their ability to snap back from punishment is highlighted with their new Ultimate gain passive. We changed their flat damage reduction to Resistances, so it better scaled with all playstyles, and allowed for different build paths than it did before.

  • Increases Experience gain in Heavy Armor Skill Line by 15%, extra 10% Inspiration gain → No changes
  • Brawny: 6% Max Health and Stamina → Increases your Max Health and Stamina by 500.
  • Unflinching: Healing Received by 5% and 20% Health Recovery → Increases your Healing Received by 4%. When you deal damage with a weapon ability you restore 380 Health and Stamina. This effect can occur once every 4 seconds.
  • Swift Warrior: 4% Melee attack, 12% Sprint cost reduction and 10% Sprint Speed → Increases your Weapon Damage by 258. Reduces the cost of your Sprint ability by 12% and increases your Movement Speed while Sprinting by 10%.
Developer Comment
The Orc race is one of honor and code. Well known for their aggressive combat style, we wanted to showcase this by helping them keep up the fight with their new recovery when utilizing any weapon. Their previous bonus to Melee Damage was too niche, and we wanted Orcs to feel powerful with less restrictions. Since we’re giving them more damage and aggression, we also wanted to dial back on some of their defensive power.

  • Increases One Hand and Shield Skill Line by 15%, 15 extra minutes on food buffs → No changes
  • Exhilaration: 9% Stamina Recovery → Martial Training: Reduces the cost of your Weapon abilities by 8%.
  • Conditioning: 10% Max Stamina → Increases your Max Stamina by 2000.
  • Adrenaline Rush: When you deal damage with a melee attack you restore 792 Stamina. This effect can occur once every 5 seconds. → When you deal Direct Damage, you restore 950 Stamina. This effect can occur once every 5 seconds.
Developer Comment
Fierce and resilient, the Redguard race are well respected for their physical combat prowess. We wanted to emphasize their cultural background of being well versed in the ways of combat by granting them a cost reduction bonus for weapon abilities, while pulling back from some of their passive recovery. Instead we’ve moved it more into their offensive staying power with Adrenaline Rush to highlight their natural advantage to attrition.

As a closing note, we want to reiterate that all players will have a refund of all of their character’s racial passives if they’ve spent any, so remember to reallocate any points into these on your characters once the changes go live. We'll also be granting one free race change, per account.
Edited by ZOS_GinaBruno on January 17, 2019 3:41AM
ESO Combat Designer
Staff Post
  • Oakmontowls_ESO
  • Nicalas
  • Brutusmax1mus
  • Tonturri
    Wow, very well done!
  • Minno
    Didn't think it would happen but Nord got a Nerf against bleed builds lol
    Minno - DC - Forum-plar Extraordinaire
    - Guild-lead for MV
    - Filthy Casual
  • CyberSkooma
    I dig it.

    EDIT: Wait, no I don't...... RIP Khajiit sustain even more.
    Edited by CyberSkooma on January 17, 2019 4:16AM
    I play this game a little bit I guess
  • nud3_voxel
    Rippo. I'd have to race change 2 mag toons and 2 tanks. That's a wrap.

    The whole 1 race change is just a scam. They know full well end game players have 10+ characters they play.
    Edited by nud3_voxel on January 17, 2019 4:00AM
  • bbqwolf13b14_ESO1
    only[ONE] race change? so if you have more then one character you get screwed on all but one... you guys changed the whole game play again and we have to pay to change? Doesn't seem right.
    Edited by bbqwolf13b14_ESO1 on January 17, 2019 3:59AM
  • ll_Rev
    why is orcs brawny passive 500 each? shouldn't it be 1000 or 1250?
    Edited by ll_Rev on January 17, 2019 4:03AM
  • bottleofsyrup
    @ZOS_Gilliam Thanks for this write-up! Changes sound good so far. I am curious if the racial stat passives will be calculated before or after the Undaunted Mettle passive.
  • Nifty2g
    Beautiful changes, love the Magicka version of Adrenaline Rush. Long overdue.
  • Ulfgarde
    oh this is bad
    Very athletic eso player
    PC EU
  • WreckfulAbandon
    PC NA

    All my comments are regarding PvP
  • MaddPowered
    these are okay
    World's First Planesbreaker
    World's First Bugged Planesbreaker
    World's First Dawnbringer
    World's Third Godslayer
    World's Second Immortal Redeemer
    World's Third Gryphon Heart

    Top scores :
    vAA - 4D (PC NA) - 154,068 - 8:31 Greymoor
    vSO - 4D (PC NA) - 180,238 - 11:28 Greymoor
    vHRC - 4D (PC NA) - 163,258 - 8:28 Greymoor
    vMOL - Calamity (PC NA) - 174,680 - 9:42 Stonethorn
    vHOF - 4D (PC NA) - 232,362 - 14:11 Greymoor
    vAS - 4D (PC NA) - 117,014 - 2:41 Stonethorn
    vCR - Calamity (PC NA) - 136,091 - 3:45 Stonethorn
    vSS - 4D (PC NA) - 255,552 - 21:34 Greymoor
    vKA - 4D (PC NA) - 247,292 - 16:19 Greymoor
    vRG - Calamity (PC NA) - 301,438 - 24:21 Blackwood
  • NBrookus
    A very consistent and balanced approach.

    I do wish ZOS would reconsider the 1 race change per account and make it maybe 1 per so many level 50 characters. For people with many toons, 1 race change is very inadequate in the face of some of these changes.
  • WuffyCerulei
    Very interested as to how this’ll play out. Certainly changing my main to a cat tho.
    For the love of Kyne, buff sorc. PC NACP 2100+Star-Sïnger - Khajiit Magicka Sorc - EP Grand Overlord - Flawless Conqueror vMA/vBRP/vDSA no death/vHel Ra HM/vAA HM/vSO HM/vMoL HM/vHoF HM/vAS +2/vCR+3/vSS HMs/vKA HMs/vVH/vRG Oax HM/vDSR
  • Aliyavana
    Any race any alliance should be free so all factions can have equal access to racials. The speed buff for bosmer being 3 seconds is odd, why not make it 4 seconds like the other ones?
    Edited by Aliyavana on January 18, 2019 6:26PM
  • starkerealm
    Only one I'm worried about is the Redguard. Given how hard that race is pushed as "The Choice for StamDPS," buffing Adrenaline Rush feels like a mistake.
  • joshfong
    Interesting. For the most part, I like what I see. Still seems like Altmer might have the upper hand for magicka DPS over Dunmer though, but I'll wait for testing for a proper conclusion.
  • JazzyNova
    Magicka & spell crit bonuses for the khajiit, so I'm not complaining, lol!
  • Nicalas
    Nice cash grab. 1 free race change. Which means I have to spend $300 or reroll everything.
  • GeneralSezme
    Dark elf change is bizzare, why health increase and loss of magic?

    I think this will further solidify one race as the obvious highest magic dps character as high elves with the homogenization of the 2 last racial passives.

    Trying to force Dark elf to be a hybrid race is a terrible idea, what they should have done is have different, for the lack of a better word, “morphs” for racial passive, to better fit into ones particular playstyle, because I understand that some races are good at both spell and sword, but you should have to chose which one to be better at, not just innately have both

    Let me end with this:

    A jack of all trades is a master at none
    Edited by GeneralSezme on January 17, 2019 4:19AM
    Cheese Engine

    My bombing videos

    Notable toons:
    Pact Corsair- Breton Magblade Former Emperor BWB Prolly Stole your scroll and bombed you
    Lack of Aoe caps: Prolly bombed u
    Neraz Gulio- Stamplar- Former Empress BWB
    Paints-Her-Face - prolly painted your face
    Zealot of the Great Sun- Blazeplar, frmr Emp Vivec

  • WhiteKhajiit
    My Magicat is finally viable for vet content! So excited.
  • Froil
    Can we do away with the health recovery for Khajiit? It's like the most useless stat in the game; maybe add that 100, or even 25, to the stam and mag recovery?
    "Best" healer PC/NA
  • russelmmendoza
    That is so well balance. And lore friendly.
  • lassitershawn
    As someone with a lot of Bretons and nords, LOVE IT!
    William Thorne - EP Breton Sorcerer
    Astrid Winterborn - EP Breton Warden
    Erik Ironskin - EP Nord Dragonknight
    Venasa Viri - EP Dunmer Nightblade

    IR x8, GH x5, TTT x2
  • grannas211
    Aliyavana wrote: »
    The only racial that matters for bosmer is being bis for cuteness

    The passives look very good as well
  • jlb1705
    Only one I'm worried about is the Redguard. Given how hard that race is pushed as "The Choice for StamDPS," buffing Adrenaline Rush feels like a mistake.

    Is it not balanced by this part though?:
    Exhilaration: 9% Stamina Recovery → Martial Training: Reduces the cost of your Weapon abilities by 8%.

    This line is definitely a nerf - not just the difference between 9% and 8%, but the difference between passive recovery and cost reduction to only weapon skills. It sounds like the cost reduction wouldn't apply to things like Surprise Attack, Killer's Blade, Relentless Focus, Razor Caltrops, Resolving Vigor, Rearming Trap, etc.
  • CyberSkooma
    Only one I'm worried about is the Redguard. Given how hard that race is pushed as "The Choice for StamDPS," buffing Adrenaline Rush feels like a mistake.

    Buffs Redguard's Adrenaline Rush and then gives Khajiit 75 stam recovery. Thank u so much..... /s
    I play this game a little bit I guess
  • LLawlietW
    Why was redguard buffed? how does that make sense when they are already considered the best race for stamina dps. and then the second best option khajiit gets nerfed. i just dont understand how that is supposed to make sense at all. now khajiit has more health recovery than stam... but yea lets buff adrenaline rush
    Edited by LLawlietW on January 17, 2019 4:24AM
    PC/NA cagit. i do stuffs. IR/GH/TTT/unchained. AR41
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