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TESO's Base Zones Remake Dreams: (Almost) Complete Guide

OgrimTitan
OgrimTitan
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First off, why is remaking of the old zones is important.
I have no illusions: there is a budget, there are workplans, there are resources which a limited, and in the end it's all about money. In the end the much needed remake will come out only if it's financially relevant. It is. I don't have the right numbers, but you (ZeniMax) do. I'm pretty sure most players of this game didn't even buy a single DLC for various reasons. The base game by itself is quite numerous and diverse in locations and content, after all. I don't need to tell you how important are first impressions. I know that each release you try to steal new players' attention with base game + newest chapter deal every year, but still a chapter is only 1 or 2 zones, and after that players are left with enormous base game. It's only natural if they are drawn to it. Most of Tamriel is in the base game.

And what do they see there? Blurry textures, clumsy animations, bland locates, lack of visual detail, reuse of the assets almost everywhere (Narsis, Hlaalu capital, is built in Indoril style), legendary cites Daggerfall or Mournhold looking like poor villages. I'm sure you know better than me how you can make those oldies shine with the resources and experience in worldbuilding you have now. Rare case of the established-fact-which-is-true is that even the first of yours post-release zones are the sights to behold.

Now, let's get to the zones themselves, and what I would change.

Ebonheart Pact: Dunmeri Lands (Stonefalls & Deshaan & Bal Foyen).
owotaiw0vdwa.jpg
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(first screenshot is mine, second is from UESP)

Those locations are a perfect example of everything wrong with base game TESO. Fanfic in the worst sense of the word. It provides familiar fan-service things like volcanoes, kagouties, netches, weird plants, ashlanders and ordinators, adding NOTHING NEW (well, new plants - yes) to the picture and even removing many things (bonelords, silt striders, bonewalkers, kwama foragers). You had to put your creativity in Vvardenfell, substituting for the mainland Morrowind, introducing nix-oxes and hive golems and others. It's good, because it's good to be bold, throwing new ideas into already established thing.

So if you remake Stonefalls and co. - be even more bolder. Giant butterflies. Centipede express. More weird insects and bugs. More psychedelic-looking plants. No one would come screaming at you with canon wars. If was "your" zones from the start. Bethesda didn't ask anybody when they put dragon mounds and dwemer ruins on Solstheim remaking it for Skyrim.
c6cy1etwlpo6.jpg

Ebonheart Pact: Nord Lands (Eastmarch and the Rift).
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(screenshot is taken from UESP)
While base game Morrowind took too little of TES III worldbuilding philosophy, Eastmarch and the Rift suffer from the exactly opposite - taking too much from Skyrim's own flows of shallowness. Giants, draugrs, mamoths, bears, wolfs and that's about it. It also hurt a lot to see the same city assets literally everywhere, but it's a global TESO problem.

Again, be bolder. More original creatures like grahls. You came with a GREAT IDEA of sea giants which made Skyrim richer. Go further. The world we see, locations and animals we encounter are only the grain of sand of what is out there in 1:1 Tamriel, correct? Should be thousands of types of animals we couldn't see, in Skyrim alone. As an example of what can it be I'll just throw here a woolly rhinoceros. They are cuties.
y06m3k91l6rb.jpg

Aldmeri Dominion: Auridon.
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I remember before Summerset announcement we talked about how Auridon is so extremely lackluster in any way possible. Architecture, culture, flora and fauna. If only we knew back then what was cooked on the main island itself..
Imagine that: there are no unique animal/monster type on Auridon, not a single one. Wolfs and bears, and people call High Rock boring.

I will be bland: I hate Summerset and Auridon with all my soul both and believe they both deserve complete remakes from the ground up. Now, I'm not naive and don't really wait for that, but Auridon can and should be updated. It's also could be the last opportunity to do more lore on the Altmer (something different from Summerset art direction, too). You well know we like you for many things, but I never saw a lorebuff who actually liked your Summerset. Put more fairy on Auridon. Less green vegetation, like it was in Summerset trailer. More magic in the world, damn it. Vivec City has a meteor frozen in place. Screams MAGIC. Nothing like that in all Summerset. You REALLY should've kept that idea with magicka pipelines. Use your own concept on Summerset for inspiration, what I can say. Shimmerene there really shimmers, for starters.
gtwpsr30qx7w.jpg

Aldmeri Dominion: All of Valenwood.
I'll be brief on this one, as there was a great thread here already on the potential Valenwood remake. Current Valenwood is having none of what it should be. It's very-very uninspired. I'm sure you see that yourselves.

It's fauna also a complete miss. Wild Hunt monsters are the perfect opportunity to be original and flex your art design muscles. Here is a picture of a Wild Hunt monster by Darya Makarava.
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Last one, and the most important to me personally.
Daggerfall Covenant: All of High Rock (Glenumbra, Stormhaven, Rivenspire, Bangkorai).
holjaw0udfou.jpg
My screenshot of Daenia's forest. And people say there are no good forests in vanilla!

I can say thousands of things, but it won't be necessary. You've made the Systres this year, and there was a right vision of how High Rock should look and feel. Geography, flora and FAUNa. Good stuff.
Now, High Rock presents challenges of itself.

Remove the hell away ayleid ruins. No one likes them there. Not a single person. Not only they hurt High Rock's uniqueness, their presence hurt Cyrodiil's uniqueness as well. Not to mention this type of dungeon lacks identity in itself in most cases (thanks, TES IV). Again, more diversity in animals and monsters, terrain and visual. Only lazy by now didn't say we need Direnni ruins. That's the most obvious one.
Rivenspire can have more mists and aggressive sharp cliffs. Bloodfiends are creepy, they are a lot like zombies from "28 Days After", and it's a compliment. Oh, and please, don't build up everything there on vampires - it'll make the location one-dimensional, obviously.
Glenumbra - more forest area with enchanted thickets like you had on High Isle. Also, giant sea monster, leviathan Ithguleor, swimming up from time to time being seen from the shores, will work magic on worldbuilding (if you won't make him a mere killable boss, of course).
Stormhaven has dandelion seeds flying in the air. Good, but it's a single thing. How about unique weather events, like the blizzards you have on Mor Khazgur battleground map? Heavy rains to justify the name of the region? Again, that's just one idea from the top of the head.

More magic-oriented people/society with heavy magic integration. Your own piece can help you here.

More magical monsters. There are a lot of extremely original monsters in European bestiaries.

Amphisbaena/ouroboros is what comes to mind first.
sgbaqoxniga4.png
Tylwyth Teg from Welsh myths.
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Nuckelavee from Scottish myths.
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A lot can be said about other zones I won't cover here, I'll leave it to others. Shadowfen, at the very least, can finally have underground worms transportation implemented. And also feature kothringi & lilmothiit ruins - lore fuel that strong no other single zone not from Argonia can have.

And, finally, seeing so much whine here on the forums I want to say: ZeniMax, I love your work, I support you and I want you to succeed. Be more bold, be more original and continue to improve on your creation.

I want to hear what other players would add to the old zones should they be remade, from worldbuilding perspective. Let's try to stay on topic and not go into complains - would be nice to hear ideas instead, art references, inspirations, et cetera.
Edited by OgrimTitan on December 2, 2022 6:34PM
  • Aliyavana
    Aliyavana
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    I agree with removing most ayleid ruins and replacing them with more direnni ruins. id also like to some some druid ruins hidden in the landscape.
  • TinyDragon
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    I'd love to see a difference between the cities in high rock; I get them chronically confused!
  • OgrimTitan
    OgrimTitan
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    TinyDragon wrote: »
    I'd love to see a difference between the cities in high rock; I get them chronically confused!

    YES. Thing is, Bethesda's TES real characters were always cities. They were unique and diverse, much more so than NPC people. TESO has it the other way around (in vanilla). Seeing different Daggerfall, Camlorn, Wayrest and Evermore is like asking for a unicorn under a Christmas tree, though. Even high budget DLC zones has the same cities everywhere. It's honestly a thought for another separate thread. When I was searching "Unique Cities Designs" on forum history, I was shocked how rare that idea surfaced. It's a TITAN-SIZED problem.

    Anyway I can't stop dreaming about it, although I don't honestly know what should happen to make this real.
  • OgrimTitan
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    Aliyavana wrote: »
    I agree with removing most ayleid ruins and replacing them with more direnni ruins. id also like to some some druid ruins hidden in the landscape.

    100% they will include druid megaliths in the updated High Rock should it happen. It's "their" creation after all.

    Scarier to think there will be too much of the druids in the new High Rock for the very same reason. I say we don't really need anything but a handful of druidic presence both in lore, quests and architecture of the High Rock itself. There are so many aspects of the country that should be explored instead.
  • Legoless
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    A lot of dev time was already spent remaking base game delves. I'd prefer their time spent on new content rather than zones I've already completed.

    A remade PvE Cyrodiil zone wouldn't be the worst thing though.
  • OgrimTitan
    OgrimTitan
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    Legoless wrote: »
    A lot of dev time was already spent remaking base game delves. I'd prefer their time spent on new content rather than zones I've already completed.

    A remade PvE Cyrodiil zone wouldn't be the worst thing though.

    It's not about content though first of all, it's about more accurate, more whole and detailed representation of most of the countries which make the biggest part of the explorable world.

    Would you care to elaborate on the delves? Nothing like that passed through me, which never usually happens, and that sounds quite big.
  • INM
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    Vanilla content should get a revamp for sure, but it won't happen ever. It's a helluva ton of work that will take years to do. Work that you can't sell. I'm not even bashing ZoS, it's how the industry works.
    OgrimTitan wrote: »
    Would you care to elaborate on the delves? Nothing like that passed through me, which never usually happens, and that sounds quite big.
    It was before you started playing. You can compare layouts by the links below.
    https://imgur.com/a/3Vp9i#0
    https://imgur.com/a/YinLa#0
  • OgrimTitan
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    INM wrote: »
    Vanilla content should get a revamp for sure, but it won't happen ever. It's a helluva ton of work that will take years to do. Work that you can't sell. I'm not even bashing ZoS, it's how the industry works.
    OgrimTitan wrote: »
    Would you care to elaborate on the delves? Nothing like that passed through me, which never usually happens, and that sounds quite big.
    It was before you started playing. You can compare layouts by the links below.
    https://imgur.com/a/3Vp9i#0
    https://imgur.com/a/YinLa#0

    My, my. Fancy seeing you here.

    Then, if THAT was an update, it means the delves, the weakest part of the base game, are in need for an another update, like other parts of the said zones as well.

    As for the reasons and chances.. I wouldn't even be posting this on the hope alone, that would be naive. The desire to see the updated zones was brought up and discussed live with developers. It's all about the resources, as it was pointed out already in the opening post.

    Time management? More and more I see people asking ZeniMax to slow down and change content bombardment tactics, rework things, fix things, take their time. It also may sound as a naive wish, but is actually logical from marketing and financial sides as well. Refreshing of the old model/brand/YouNameIt is old and efficient.

    No one is talking about remaking the base game in full at once as well. The new zones can come out one by one, as separate updates/DLC.
  • INM
    INM
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    OgrimTitan wrote: »

    Then, if THAT was an update, it means the delves, the weakest part of the base game, are in need for an another update, like other parts of the said zones as well.

    As for the reasons and chances.. I wouldn't even be posting this on the hope alone, that would be naive. The desire to see the updated zones was brought up and discussed live with developers. It's all about the resources, as it was pointed out already in the opening post.
    I think that the whole vanilla shoul be massively revamped, almost every asset is outdated not only by modern standarts, but by modern ESO standart. You can't look at vanilla armor without crying, for example.

    Sadly, it's too much work for almost nothing. Every developer who could work on updating old content could work on something that could be sold. You won't get anything from an established player base by reworking old content, you will likely even lose players from doing so, because resources are finite after all and if you'll gain in one direction, you'll lose somewhere else. You won't attract many new players either and you can do that by releasing new content and launching big ad campaigns. If I'm not mistaken, Warframe's devs were talking about it, new content just makes much more money, that is why every modern service game pushes frequent content updates and almost never revisits old. It will make the game better overall, but it's financially impractical. The game industry is a business foremost, art is secondary. Unfortunately ESO isn't exception.

    Speaking of ZOS. If you listened to the stream when they talked about revamping old content, they put Dragonstar Arena as an example. Rich said it would take too long to update the scripts to make the rounds start faster. And there are thousands of times more to update. You can sense their attitute by recent Flurry and Jabs animation updates. How did you feel about the fact that they used Nighthollow staff motif in Jabs animation? How did you feel about reusing light attack animation for Flurry? It's a lowkey and lazy solution to me. They could make proper animations, but they didn't.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely sure that it must be done, I would be glad if they took year-another to gather their *** together, but I'm being realistic here.

  • OgrimTitan
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    INM wrote: »
    OgrimTitan wrote: »

    Then, if THAT was an update, it means the delves, the weakest part of the base game, are in need for an another update, like other parts of the said zones as well.

    As for the reasons and chances.. I wouldn't even be posting this on the hope alone, that would be naive. The desire to see the updated zones was brought up and discussed live with developers. It's all about the resources, as it was pointed out already in the opening post.
    I think that the whole vanilla shoul be massively revamped, almost every asset is outdated not only by modern standarts, but by modern ESO standart. You can't look at vanilla armor without crying, for example.

    ...

    That's exactly what I'm talking about since the opening post. A lot of things you saying I've covered at that opening message as well. I lot can be added more, and discussed, too, but I'm not having an argument here. Nor here, nor anywhere else. Here, I want to see specific ideas for the potential update of the specific zones and stick to that.

    There is a lot of whining, complaining and condemning threads out there, don't you think? it's like 80% of content here on forums instead of some rational dialogue, and although some of the complains are justified INDEED, mostly it's some infantile opinions.
  • INM
    INM
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    .
    OgrimTitan wrote: »
    That's exactly what I'm talking about since the opening post
    At least in something we agree.
    OgrimTitan wrote: »
    There is a lot of whining, complaining and condemning threads out there, don't you think? it's like 80% of content here on forums instead of some rational dialogue, and although some of the complains are justified INDEED, mostly it's some infantile opinions.
    I can understand that, you can't really have a dialogue when a person you're supposed to speak to is keeping silent. But at this point this outrage reminds more of bashing head against a wall, but it's a logical outcome of unresolved issues that accumulated over the years.
  • NotaDaedraWorshipper
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    I will be forever salty about Valenwood.

    Any reason you did not mention Cyrodiil in this? Because that's awfully bland too. They didn't even fix it in Blackwood. Just continued on and hammered in the generic medieval blandness from TES4. Like imperials and bretons are just recolours of eachother in blandless.
    [Lie] Of course! I don't even worship Daedra!
  • Supreme_Atromancer
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    Legoless wrote: »
    A lot of dev time was already spent remaking base game delves. I'd prefer their time spent on new content rather than zones I've already completed.

    Zones that can be "completed" are against ZOS' design philosophy, though. At least since 1-T, where they began to realise the value of open exploration.

    I'm someone who would even argue that designing more reasons to return to zones, and *be in* the zones, once you've done the WB-Delve-Story formula would be good. Not only could ZOS find ways to "milk" them more, I tend to think that they absolutely should: one-and-done consumption is such a waste of Tamriel. I believe its apparent ZOS feels this way in some of their design; I'd love to see it taken further.

    It stuck with me when Rich said on stream that the world-builders would love to return to the base-game zones- other than the absolutely gorgeous aesthetics the team delivers on year after year, I think there's reason to believe that another drive for that is that they were designing those zones for what was essentially a different game- level-gated zone locks, tubes of content that direct you in very specific orders through the zone, consume and move on. I don't like to overly quote Rich or take what he was saying out of context- he was just trying to be candid with what was a originally a small, insular, and comfy audience. But it reflects what they might be thinking, so it bares pointing out.

    Building new zones to be more robust to ongoing adventures and reasons to be in them is designing a zone to have more bang for the buck. A redo of base-game zones could draw them into this philosophy because you can put as many reasons as you want to go back, but if the zones are (comparatively) ugly, you're just burning through it as fast as possible to get back to High Isle, or Western Skyrim or any zone built literally 5 minutes after launch that is full of those moments that you stop the grind for a second, breathe, and just soak in the gorgeous landscape, or think about the world. Those moments are defining Elder Scrolls experiences, and something post base-game ZOS does masterfully.

    I want to point out that I agree with what some people are saying here: it can't be simple. There are big practicalities that need to be considered. Maybe there's a way to do it in the future, but maybe not. Its just some thoughts on why I think it might be worth it. But its up to ZOS to evaluate that against the cost.
    Edited by Supreme_Atromancer on December 10, 2022 3:35AM
  • KingArthasMenethil
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    Legoless wrote: »
    A lot of dev time was already spent remaking base game delves. I'd prefer their time spent on new content rather than zones I've already completed.

    A remade PvE Cyrodiil zone wouldn't be the worst thing though.

    No way we're getting a PvE Cyrodiil zone without cutting it up into like 3 or 4 zones (one for each city) and giving it to another race.
    Zone is simply too big and they don't like the Cyrodiils.
    EU 2000+ CP
    Characters
    Gaius Sulla 50 Cyrodiil DragonKnight.
    Livia Sulla 50 Cyrodiil Nightblade.
    Divayth-Fyr 50 Dunmer Sorcerer.
    Ragnar Shatter-Shield 50 Nord Dragonknight.
    Selvia Sulla 50 Cyrodiil Templar.
    Attrebus Mede 50 Cyrodiil Warden.
    Zirath Urivith 50 Dunmer Dragonknight.
    Dame Edwinna Gelas 50 Breton Dragonknight.
    Agrippina Tharn 50 Cyrodiil Necromancer.
    Bedal Dren 50 Dunmer Dragonknight.
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