As The Elder Scrolls Online creeps toward its 10th anniversary, the team at ZeniMax Online Studios has continued to deliver fresh experiences via yearly expansions and regular content updates. The latest patch – Update 40 – brings with it a new mode that will see players tackle elements from the rogue-like genre.
Endless Archive is a PvE arena allowing players to unlock collectibles and new gear while climbing the leaderboard. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with the creative director of The Elder Scrolls Online, Rich Lambert, to discuss the latest expansion, Endless Archive, and the future of ESO.
The Necrom expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online was released at the start of this year, which introduced a brand new class to the game – the Arcanist. Only a few classes have been added since ESO first launched in 2014, and the Arcanist utilizes a combo system that takes advantage of a new mechanic. We asked Lambert his thoughts on how the Arcanist has found its place within the game now that it had some months to settle. “I think it’s safe to say now that it’s the best class we’ve ever done up to this point. The players really love it,” Lambert said.
“They love the fact that it’s all faceted. It looks amazing, but then it has this really cool mechanic in the crux system. The other thing that has really resonated with a lot of our newer players is they don’t have to participate in the crux system in order to get these big, flashy, cool things that feel like they are powerful. It’s just an extra thing that, if they pay attention to it, they can get even more powerful stuff. It’s in a really good spot, we’ve made some balance adjustments to it, but it’s been super positive.”
On the subject of newer players, something live service titles with a longer history have been trying to figure out is how to onboard new players or bring returning players up to speed with the biggest changes. Lambert stated that it’s definitely an area they can improve on, and they are actively looking at solutions to address the dilemma. “It’s actually something we’re actively working on right now. We’ve been around for nine years and added a ton of stuff over those years,” Lambert said.
“Obviously, lots of quests, tons of stories, but we’ve also added other systems. It’s really a virtual word at this point. So, how do we make sure that players know all that content is there? That’s a challenge, and I don’t know if we’ve done that particularly well up to this point. But it’s definitely on our list of things to look at and make that new player experience better and less overwhelming.”
The idea of Endless Archive has been kicking around behind the scenes for a while at ZeniMax Online Studios, but Update 40 will introduce this new mode to players as they take on waves of enemies. As fans of the rogue-like genre, Lambert and the team wanted to put their own spin on the formula by injecting these concepts into the world of Elder Scrolls. “Endless Archive has been floating around for a long time,” Lambert said. “Not necessarily in the iteration it currently is, but when we first started working on Maelstrom Arena, which we launched back in 2015, originally it was pitched as a solo, duo, and group – it was just a solo arena at launch. That concept has kind of always been there.”
“This iteration was definitely inspired by some of those older designs, but also from a lot of the games that we play. I’m a huge Rogue-like fan; I love playing Rogue-likes. I also love the idea that your runs are always different, and so we tried to incorporate as much of that as we could. There are lots of great games like Hades and Vampire Survivors; there are so many good ones out there that do it so well. So, it’s pretty cool to put our own spin on that genre.”
Lambert described how those looking to invest time into Endless Archive will be rewarded with new items and gear, while the results are showcased on a leaderboard to others around the world. “Like what we’ve done with our previous leaderboards, you’ll get a gold set piece that is curated for you, as well as a few other bits and pieces,” Lambert said. “There is a currency that you can get while you’re playing Endless Archive, and then there are vendors in the instance that you can spend that currency on. The more you play in there, the more powerful you become, which allows you to get deeper and deeper.”
“One of the things we’ve done with the leaderboards this time around is they are not time-based. This is just level-based, so the deeper you go, the better your score. It also actually makes the system a little more approachable for more players. There is additional build viability in the Endless Archive to be able to go as deep as you want.”
As I wrapped up my conversation with Lambert, I asked about the 10-year anniversary that is coming up for The Elder Scrolls Online next year, and if he and the team were planning for it to be something big. “It’s huge. 10 years is a huge milestone. There were lots of games that were supposed to kill ESO that are no longer around and were still going,” Lambert said.
“We want to do something special. We want to celebrate the game, we want to celebrate the community, but most importantly, we want to celebrate the team. 10 years of building this game and turning it into what it is. We didn’t have the best of launches on PC, and to be able to really roll your sleeves up, hunker down, and just turn it into what it is today, it was a lot of hard work. So we want to celebrate that.”
Update 40 for The Elder Scrolls Online arrives on October 30 for PC and will be released on consoles on November 14.