Update 29 Combat Preview

ZOS_BrianWheeler
ZOS_BrianWheeler
PvP & Combat Lead
Welcome to the Update 29 Combat preview! The Combat team would like to share some new features and updates coming your way that we have been working on for quite some time. This isn’t a roadmap for what’s coming beyond Update 29 - this is all coming to PTS tomorrow (January 27)!


Champion System

Back when we first designed the Champion System, the original purpose was to provide players with character advancement beyond level 50. We hit that goal in that the system gave your character more power in incremental stages as you continued to play. The system offered the means to augment your power in very specific roles and fill gaps in your build to help you tackle PvE content, battle against other players in PvP, and aid with crafting. Lastly, the system was originally built to utilize the technology we had at the time which relied heavily on passive abilities to determine if your character should sprint faster, block more, if damage shields were more powerful, etc. Over the years, ESO’s technology, combat, and content have all evolved; due to this, we determined it was also time to take a critical look at the current Champion System design.

Once your characters reach level 50, each time you gain a level you earn a Champion Point. You then spend a Champion Point on more Magicka Regen, Stamina Regen, Damage Mitigation, or any other Champion System star that suits your build or playstyle. This is the simplest form of vertical progression: earn a point, get greater power and “tools” for your playstyle toolbox. While the design is simple, it is also limiting. You spend points in very specific ways to increase what your character already does, whether that be support, damage, or tanking. Additionally, the system’s options to augment those actions are few once you break it down to whether you’re using Magicka or Stamina. As such, while you’re able to progress with the current Champion System, you’re not getting as much in the way of choice as we’d like.

As the game progressed from update to update, the Champion Point cap also increased bit by bit. This allowed you to spend more Champion Points in various stars, which in turn made your characters more powerful. The term “power” is something that can be very broad in definition, so let’s just use one of many definitions when it relates to PvE content. In this case, we’re defining “power” as being able to complete content faster, with reduced pressure on resource management and in some cases minimal risk of death. This increase in power causes a very real gap in content completion ability for players who are at the Champion Point cap versus those who are not. This creates several issues ranging from social pressures of requiring a minimum CP to play with others to creating content which essentially ignores Champion bonuses (like higher health) to create difficult encounters. These issues effectively nullify the whole point of the Champion system.

As mentioned earlier, the current Champion System relies on passive abilities and this was largely due to the technology that was available at the time. On the backend, the game will perform a check on most passive abilities each time you perform an action, whether that be drinking a potion, dodge rolling, or using an ability on your hotbar. The game must also constantly check passive abilities for the right thing at the right time. For example, a Champion ability such as Bastion requires the game to check if a damage shield was cast on every action your character does. Multiply that by the 30-40 passives you have on your character, and the result is a system that puts unnecessary stress on the server.

Given this context and the problems we are looking to solve, there are several aspects of Champion that we needed to improve:
  • First, we want a system that encourages horizontal progression (rewards that prioritize gameplay variety over character power by introducing new and unique tools for you to incorporate into your builds) over vertical progression (rewards that prioritize increased character power by improving existing character tools or replacing them with objectively better options) to provide a better play experience for players of all levels.
  • We also want a system that reduces calculations per combat action to help overall game performance in large-scale combat situations.
  • And finally, we want a system that can expand and evolve with ESO for years to come and provides a wider variety of options for your characters.
With all those aspects and more in mind, we are introducing a revamped Champion System with Update 29.

The new Champion System utilizes several types of stars – the locations within the Champion System UI that you spend your points in – and how you use them. This includes how stars apply stats to your character, and how many Champion Points are necessary to unlock those stats per star. Some stars require you to spend a set number of points to get a set amount of stats, while others have stages to them. A simple example is a star that has 50 total points that grants Stamina for every 10 points invested, up to 50 points.

Some stars also require you to slot them into a new UI element called the Champion Bar. The Champion Bar has 12 total slots – four per constellation – and allows you to drag-and-drop (aka. “Slotting”) specific stars into it to activate their bonuses. The functionality is very similar to your ability bar. Stars which can be slotted into the Champion Bar are bonuses that can offer power or augment a playstyle you enjoy. The capability to control which stars you slot at any given time is the main aspect that governs vertical progression. Other stars which grant stats by unlocking their thresholds, and don’t need to be slotted, will further increase your power vertically. The blend of these two types of stars allows the updated Champion System to offer both power and choice while also promoting greater consideration of, and consequences for, your choices.

Because there is an element of choice when determining which stars to slot vs. passive stars that grant stats on their own, there is also a reduction in how many passives are calculated per combat action. As noted above, with 12 slotted passives on the Champion Bar, the calculations required for combat, especially in high-density situations, is greatly reduced. Additionally, most stars that grant stats without conditions function similarly to item set bonuses. These stats are simply added to your character and do not require an ability to drive their function. By doing this, we’re able to put less strain on the server by having these passives function differently than the current Champion bonuses that are driven by abilities and requirements. Keep in mind this new system isn’t a magic bullet to fix performance, but these changes aid in keeping these Champion abilities performant while also giving compelling options for what to slot.

The last major aspect of the Champion System that we wanted to adjust was room for growth and variety. As ESO continues to expand year after year with new content and systems, we want the Champion System to evolve with it. The new slotted passives and Champion Bar will greatly support this, and allows us to create and add new, unique stars that can interact with new or old systems.

Another method of expanding on the system is our Clustering UI. Most of the Champion constellations have a top layer of stars, but with the launch of the updated Champion System, there is one Constellation that has a few “clusters.” These clusters are essentially sub-constellations of all-new stars. This second layer gives us another canvas on which to add more stars or simply group stars together that suit a common purpose. Each major constellation has several sub-layers we can use, and this gives us a great deal of expandability in the future!

With the new methods of spending Champion Points, the new Champion Bar, and the Clustering layers, we hope this shows how the updated Champion System builds upon the current system and overall improves it. We look forward to reading all your feedback about this great new way to augment your characters. Don’t forget, you can try it out on the PTS starting tomorrow!


Armor Updates

We are also making some updates to Armor passives in ESO. Historically, armor in Elder Scrolls games provide defenses against a variety of damage and bonuses to augment your power. Those bonuses range from improving your damage output, your healing capabilities, or simply allowing you to move faster. Ultimately, armor creates another set of choices for how you want to build your character. Armor is also combined with the three Skill lines for each type, granting further bonuses themed around the armor type and the general playstyles typically associated with each. In almost every situation, wearing armor provides a positive change; you’re gaining power in one form or another. The only real trade-off of damage vs. power is how much damage you can absorb. Traditionally in Elder Scrolls games, armor has more effects than simply damage absorption or ability augmenting. There are very real tradeoffs for your armor choice. ESO doesn’t currently have those trade-offs and is often more about damage than defense.

With this update, we are adding some changes to how the different types of armor in ESO interact with various core combat mechanics (like dodge roll, stealth, sprinting, etc.). These changes will not be to the Skill line passives that you traditionally level up; rather, they will be a part of the armor itself. We’re adding this secondary level of armor mechanics so your choices for equipped gear have tradeoffs and are no longer simply a matter of wearing gear for damage bonuses and other positive gains. We wanted the armor to have a feel and theme to each of them that support the various playstyles you’d expect that armor to support. The bonuses will be listed in your Light, Medium, and Heavy Skill lines and are split up into two passives. These are not traditional passives and have similar functionality to the new Champion stars that grant bonuses without the need to be slotted in the Champion Bar. The system features several bonuses where Light and Heavy are mirrors of each other, and Medium armor offers its own set of unique bonuses. One example of this is how Light and Heavy armor interact with Magical/Martial damage:
  • Light armor will confer the following bonuses/penalties per piece of Light armor worn:
    • Reduce Damage taken from Magical Attacks by 1% per piece (this includes damage types of Flame, Frost, Shock and Magic), but increases damage taken from Martial attacks by 1% per piece (this includes damage types of Disease, Poison, Bleed and Physical)
  • Heavy armor will confer the following bonuses/penalties per piece of Heavy armor worn:
    • Increase Damage taken from Magical Attacks by 1% per piece (this includes damage types of Flame, Frost, Shock and Magic), but Decrease damage taken from Martial attacks by 1% per piece (this includes damage types of Disease, Poison, Bleed and Physical)
These bonuses are per piece worn and the functionality is meant to provide interesting tradeoffs for wearing pieces of specific armor types, not simply providing more damage. We’ll provide the full list of bonuses in tomorrow’s patch notes!


Advanced Stats

Lastly, we know certain stats are very important to know about, and other stats in the game appear to be hidden. While PC players have access to UI addons to display more in-depth stats, those addons are not available on all platforms. As such, we’re adding a new Advanced Stats panel to your character sheet. This new panel shows more stats than ever before in the base UI, and also puts highly desired stats like spell/physical penetration front and center. This panel also displays percentages versus flat bonuses so you can really fine-tune your characters!


We believe these changes to the Champion System and Armor in U29 will provide many years of rewarding character advancement and options going forward. The expandability of the new Champion System opens up many new options for the future, in addition to a more performant game experience. We look forward to seeing your creative new Armor builds in dungeons, Trials, and PVP to account for the new bonuses! Thank you all for waiting patiently for this update and we look forward to your feedback. We’ll see you in Tamriel!


1/27 Addendum

CP Cap Increase + DPS/Power

With Update 29, we are also increasing (or releasing, actually) the Champion Point cap to 3600. In CP 1.0, the cap – or maximum Champion Points you could earn – was always 3600, but we had a per-patch cap to put a clamp on the maximum power you could extract from CP. The current cap of 810 is where we stopped increasing that number because we saw significant power gaps between players that were lower CP vs. higher.

With CP 2.0, we have reduced a lot of that gap by baking in the base max Magicka, Stamina, and Health you got from spending 100 points per “CP color” into your characters as you level up. We have also increased Weapon and Spell damage for players with this change to make up for that gap. Lastly, we adjusted the rate at which you gain CP to be faster than it currently is on the live servers. Considering we haven’t raised the cap by 30 per patch in quite some time, we adjusted the CP curve to accommodate for that difference with a focus on speeding up the gain between 810 CP and roughly 1200 CP. This means you’ll gain CP levels faster at lower levels, and the rate at which you gain CP between 810 and 1200 (ish) will be slightly faster than how it is now with CP 1.0. After 1200 CP or so, the CP gain rate will feel about the same as it did in CP 1.0 once you reached higher ranks.

As noted earlier in this discussion, we wanted to provide a system that favors horizontal progression over vertical. That said, there is a certain point where the system shifts to favor horizontal progression IF you invest enough CP in vertical power first. That switch happens around the point where you’ve invested 300 CP per tree (or 900 total CP), depending on how you spend your CP. It really tails off around 1200 total CP. We chose those value milestones as the points where power turns more into choices because the majority of players with CP in ESO are actually fairly close to, or in that range of CP levels.

This also brings us back to the baked-in stats for players levels 1-50, and more specifically, damage output. Those changes combined with CP-value adjustments will result in changes in DPS output. With the baked-in weapon and spell damage, max Magicka and max Stamina, many players will see an overall increase in their DPS output in the lower spectrum of CP (EG 100-300 CP). Around 300 CP, we wanted to ensure that a baseline of DPS was capable to complete all DLC dungeons on Normal, as that’s also when those dungeons open up in the Activity Finder. Around 300-600 CP, an average player who spends their points in relatively the same way as they would in CP 1.0, should see no real difference in DPS output and in turn no significant impact in the ability to complete activities you did before.

For players who are in the higher end of the CP scale (900+) that participate in the most challenging and demanding encounters, you will still be able to beat those encounters. Where you’ll see a difference is a shift in favoring survivability over DPS at that point. This is due to several factors we’ve already noted regarding social pressure to “catch up” in CP, bypassing or otherwise ignoring content mechanics, and reducing the gap between high-CP vs. low-CP players. Internally, we’ve tested many, many encounters with CP 2.0 and all of them were still very possible to beat. It may not be as fast at first with CP 2.0, but as new strategies develop and builds evolve with this system in mind, we are confident that players will find new and diverse builds that allow them to master current and future content.

As with all updates and PTS cycles, we anticipate there will be further adjustments to balance based on player feedback!
Edited by ZOS_BrianWheeler on January 27, 2021 6:24PM
Wheeler
ESO PVP Lead & Combat Lead
Staff Post
  • beagles
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    The armor changes seem like they'll add another gear requirement for tanks to carry around.

    I have to say, playing healers and tanks, you carry up to 11-12 sets of gear on you. I keep hoping for something to reduce that, in-system.

    Will the new update help with this? Hopeful.
  • prof_doom
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    I'm really looking forward to seeing how this new champion system can help us create more specialized builds. Fingers crossed that it leads to more diverse ways to play.

    It probably will, but meta will meta. By the time Blackwood comes out, we'll have the "ideal" CP layouts for each class.
    Though hopefully it's more a 1-5% difference in effectiveness as opposed to "do it this way or get kicked from raid" that we have today.
  • xgoku1
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    What about players already at max CP (810)? Will there be some form of CP normalization to fit the new higher cap of 3600? Or do we need to grind to 3600 from 810?
  • DjMuscleboy02
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    prof_doom wrote: »
    I'm really looking forward to seeing how this new champion system can help us create more specialized builds. Fingers crossed that it leads to more diverse ways to play.

    It probably will, but meta will meta. By the time Blackwood comes out, we'll have the "ideal" CP layouts for each class.
    Though hopefully it's more a 1-5% difference in effectiveness as opposed to "do it this way or get kicked from raid" that we have today.

    I haven't changed blue cp in over a year on most of my dds. There's not a "do it this way or get kicked from raid." There's a "don't do 60k less dps than the rest of the dds or get kicked from raid." Otherwise, unless you're fighting for seconds, just run whatever you want lol.
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  • Iarao
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    xgoku1 wrote: »
    What about players already at max CP (810)? Will there be some form of CP normalization to fit the new higher cap of 3600? Or do we need to grind to 3600 from 810?

    best i can remember, cuz i've been an 810cp forever, you got a cp to spend every time you leveled. i would think you would have use of all those extra cp right out the door, up to your level. zos capped usage at 810, but we should have still been earning future usable ones.
  • J18696
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    xgoku1 wrote: »
    What about players already at max CP (810)? Will there be some form of CP normalization to fit the new higher cap of 3600? Or do we need to grind to 3600 from 810?

    You will need to grind more some people are already at 3000+ cp
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  • Vevvev
    Vevvev
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    Aliyavana wrote: »
    i feel like Medium Armor is left out from what I saw.

    They said that was one of the examples. They didn't post the entire full change log of all the light/medium/heavy stats.
    PC NA
    Ceyanna Ashton - Breton MagDK
  • Vevvev
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    Azorean wrote: »
    Vevvev wrote: »
    Aliyavana wrote: »
    i feel like Medium Armor is left out from what I saw.

    They said that was one of the examples. They didn't post the entire full change log of all the light/medium/heavy stats.

    In the stream there was no medium armor penalties, only buffs :|

    Oh... I missed that part :#
    PC NA
    Ceyanna Ashton - Breton MagDK
  • saf227_ESO
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    We'll have to see how these changes play out once we've had a chance to play with them. But, really, thank you to the combat and UI teams at ZOS for re-examing the CP system & working hard to make meaningful changes without making it just a major nerf (which is a direction you could've gone to combat power creep).
  • NewBlacksmurf
    NewBlacksmurf
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    What are the medium armor changes.
    -PC (PTS)/Xbox One: NewBlacksmurf
    ~<{[50]}>~ looks better than *501
  • NewBlacksmurf
    NewBlacksmurf
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    sat wrote: »

    Thanks for the tag and image. I like this.
    I need to download PTS and take a spin or two.

    If only combat would change more inline with TES and move away from MMO dmg sponge NPCs.
    Edited by NewBlacksmurf on January 27, 2021 1:42AM
    -PC (PTS)/Xbox One: NewBlacksmurf
    ~<{[50]}>~ looks better than *501
  • Ratzkifal
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    I really like the idea of inherent properties of armor types, but I am not sure if I like the sound of tanks in PvE receiving more fire, frost, shock and magic damage... even if it's just 7% for 7 pieces worn.
    This Bosmer was tortured to death. There is nothing left to be done.
  • lucky_Sage
    lucky_Sage
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    Dracane wrote: »
    For those interested, my love has created a list of the current penalties and benefits for us.

    142670902_475675167160449_6890674394871143000_n.png?_nc_cat=102&ccb=2&_nc_sid=ae9488&_nc_ohc=UfCIph40O2AAX-TJGt7&_nc_ht=scontent-dus1-1.xx&oh=d54df18b8a39e2653b64d4e37d61c44a&oe=60120ACF

    We also have to think they also could of changed the base passives
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  • SupremeRissole
    SupremeRissole
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    Balance has been an issue for years and now you add some drastic changes to combat and balance that is going to set back balance for another year or two? Are you going to do a pass on all armour again after buffing and nerfing it on the base model you've used armour and CP over the years? What about the class pass that still hasn't been finished? I don't think people realise the flow on effect on how much work the devs have made for themselves.
  • ACamaroGuy
    ACamaroGuy
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    So what exactly will be the new usable CP? Right now I'm able to use 810 of my 1256.
  • Darktrox
    Darktrox
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    Balance has been an issue for years and now you add some drastic changes to combat and balance that is going to set back balance for another year or two? Are you going to do a pass on all armour again after buffing and nerfing it on the base model you've used armour and CP over the years? What about the class pass that still hasn't been finished? I don't think people realise the flow on effect on how much work the devs have made for themselves.

    They these changes based on all the years of balancing according to him on the stream.
  • Dracane
    Dracane
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    lucky_Sage wrote: »
    Dracane wrote: »
    For those interested, my love has created a list of the current penalties and benefits for us.

    142670902_475675167160449_6890674394871143000_n.png?_nc_cat=102&ccb=2&_nc_sid=ae9488&_nc_ohc=UfCIph40O2AAX-TJGt7&_nc_ht=scontent-dus1-1.xx&oh=d54df18b8a39e2653b64d4e37d61c44a&oe=60120ACF

    We also have to think they also could of changed the base passives

    I strongly hope and anticipate this. Hence I delay further comments until we have seen the whole picture later.
    Though since they did not mention it with a single word, I fear nothing else will change.

    On the contrary, it stands written that they want to make changes that are isolated from just dealing damage.
    Auri-El is my lord,
    Trinimac is my shield,
    Magnus is my mind.
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