Last updated on September 1st, 2017
With the PC release of the Dark Brotherhood DLC this week, Elder Scrolls Online has come full circle, fulfilling the promise of Veteran Rank removal. Having played the beta and launch of the game over 2 years ago, I am simply amazed at how far the game has come since that time. Zenimax never gave up, religiously improving an adventurous endeavor that many thought would die off quickly due to an identity crisis of being a hybrid MMO/RPG. Zenimax, however, succeeded at reinventing core game mechanics and turned the game into a best-seller by dropping the subscription model early 2015. Today I want to give you guys a brief run down on some of the NEW changes that came with the latest major Update, as they are the most comprehensive to date, and enlighten you on what they mean for the future of Tamriel.
Level Cap, Veteran Ranks and the Champion System
The Champion System was added in 2015 to essentially give capped players a reason to keep playing. Players who hit Veteran Rank 1 gained Champion Points that could be spent on a variety of passive skills which increase in potency with each point spent. These passives increase Damage, Defense, Regeneration and a variety of other effects. While this came with a slew of problems, it did have one major benefit, which was that the Champion Points you earned were shared across all of your characters.
This meant you could roll an alt and have hundreds of Champion Points at Level 1, giving you a significant advantage in Dungeons or PvP. The system encouraged playing more than one character, however players still complained that it took too long to level up to Veteran Rank 16, and so Zenimax has now removed the Veteran Ranks to accommodate. Level 50 is the new cap, and since your Champion Points carry over to your alts, you could have a max level character of another class in 8 hours or so if you now wish. Happy Alting!
What happens to your VR character:
As a character converts from Veteran Ranks to Champion Ranks, it is simply awarded 10 Champion Points per veteran rank. If you were Veteran Rank 16, and had 200 Champion Points, you now have Champion Rank 200. If you were Veteran Rank 3 and had 200 Champion Points, you are now Champion Rank 200. If you were Veteran Rank 3 and had 50 champion points, you are now Champion Rank 50. If you were a Veteran Rank 16 and had 90 Champion Points, you are now Champion Rank 160. The current cap for Champion Points is 501 and you will now see the number a player possesses next to their name plate instead of VR16.
What does this mean for Weapons, Armor and Sets? How are they affected?
For the most part they remain largely the same. Where a Set or Weapon might have been Veteran Rank 12 before, it is now instead Champion 120. The stats, damage and defense remain the same as they were at Veteran Rank 12. Really the only difference is that now Weapons, Armor and Sets are gated behind Champion Ranks. Since your character will automatically be given 10 Champion Ranks for each Veteran Rank you had, you’ll still be able to use all the gear you could before the change. The best gear currently requires Champion 160 and is expected to increase in future Updates. The advantage is, of course, your alts are now the level of your most played character, and can enjoy endgame gear.
New Sets, Old Set Revamps and Set Changes
With the Update came 10 new sets, changes to 8 existing ones and scaling improvements to others. 4 of these new sets were actually added to the Imperial City, and are gated behind that DLC as you need to barter with the Tel Var Stone Vendor there in order to obtain them (you can of course, purchase them from other players). 3 are new crafted sets and 3 can be obtained from the Daily Reapeatable Quests or chests around Gold Coast. The most intriguing of these sets is Pelinal’s Aptitude which makes your Weapon and Spell Damage the higher of the two values, allowing for some interesting new builds.
Of the 8 existing sets that got revamped, the 2 most notable changes are to the Dreugh King Slayer Set and the Viper Sting Set. Dreugh King Slayer now passively provides Major Brutality, effectively gimping the Set (except in some situational builds), and the Viper’s Sting Set got a huge increase to the damage you deal. The other 6 sets were improved, but not enough to be worth noting.
Many Sets have now been scaled to Champion 160, most notably are the Trials Sets and ALL PvP Sets. Furthermore, you can no longer purchase Sets directly from the Elite Gear Vendor and other Vendors in Cyrodiil, but now must purchase boxes that drop pieces at random. These boxes have a considerably reduced cost (20,000 AP), and and are also separated into type (light, medium, heavy), and playstyle (defensive/offensive). You may also purchase Hew’s Bane boxes, which drop pieces of 6 of the Thieves Guild Sets.
All in all, these changes should drastically improve build variety and give the economy of the game a much needed boost. I myself am looking forward to getting Ravager at Champion 160!
Crafting and Trait Changes
A few things have changed on the crafting front. First, Poison Making has been added to the Alchemy craft. New crafting ingredients have been added to make this possible, and many of them drop from enemies (yay for less bag space!). Just as with potions, you will need higher level Alchemy in order to make more potent poisons.
Secondly, there have been some improvements made to Traits. Notably are the changes to Well-Fitted, Charged, Sturdy, Powered, Defending, Nirnhoned, and the addition of Prosperous and Decisive. Well-Fitted now reduces the cost of Roll Dodging as well as Sprinting, making this a serious consideration for Stamina builds. Charged and Infused could both be used in some very specific builds, and might become more mainstream. Powered will now be a staple on most Restoration Staves and Sturdy will be a must on most Shields. Defending actually gives a lot of Resistance now and is worth considering if you need a bump in defense. Nirnhoned simply increases your Weapon Damage by a % now, which is just awesome!
These changes should, again, help to shake up variety, get some creative builds going and really break up that cookie cutter formula the game has possessed for quite some time.
Skill Changes, Buffs and Nerfs
Lastly I want to talk a bit about the Skill changes that came with this Update. Firstly I’ll cover the buffs and nerfs to some prominent skills:
Wrecking Blow – Got a major nerf, as the knockdown and stun were completely removed. It instead has been added to Dizzying Swing, which lost it’s Maiming properties, forcing the player to now choose between the knockdown or the extra damage. I expect to see many more people running Dizzying Swing now, as the knockdown is just too good.
Dawnbreaker – Now deals Physical Damage (thank god!), and now knocks down ANYONE in its Smiting morph. It also no longer does extra damage to Undead/Daedra. This is huge because it has long been used to deal with Vamps in PvP.
Mage Light – Is no longer a toggle and both versions now detect stealth. I expect many players will slot this in their PvP build now more than ever, as the Radiant morph now reduces the damage taken from stealth by 50% AND prevents you from being stunned.
Guard – This skill was completely changed and used to be useless. Now it sends 30% damage from a player of your choice to you until you turn it off or move out of range. This skill now has a legitimate place in PvP and PvE. It’s only drawback is the 15m range, which will be hard to stay within in PvP. I was fully expecting a morph that increased the range, but no such luck. Hoping they change to one in a future patch.
Perhaps the biggest change to Skills in the Update was to the Fighters Guild line. This whole line has been almost completely redone and where the line used to be effective very situationally (mainly fighting undead), they have broadened the scope of most of the skills to make them effective against any enemy. While it remains to be seen how these changes will affect builds and playstyles, you can expect these Skills to be used in some niche builds.
One thing to note is that many Skills that have Stamina morphs or variations have now been changed to deal Poison, Disease or Physical damage so as to be benefited by Champion System passives like Mighty. This is a great change and should help to improve the DPS of many existing builds and help to create new ones.
Elder Scrolls Online has had me playing for over two years now, thanks to a developer team that not only listens to the players, but acts smartly on their suggestions. A lot has changed in these past 26 months, and with more DLC content being added it is actually a great time to consider subscribing to ESO Plus to enjoy the perks to inspiration, experience, free access to DLC and of course, to take advantage of the “expanded crafting inventory” from the “Craft Bag”.
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