With Morrowind for Elder Scrolls Online launching in just a few days, we took the time to break down the major changes that are coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One with this expansion and its accompanying patch. One of the truly amazing and little-known things that Zenimax has done in this update, is taken the exact map used in the Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and duplicated it within Elder Scrolls Online. You can visit all the same locations (such as Vivec City) and they should look, more or less, just like they did in the third installment of this iconic franchise. This is not the case with Oblivion or Skyrim, neither of which have their locations already included in the Online version of the game and are not duplicated from previous installments. Although the Morrowind map is exact, what’s inside of it is quite different indeed. Let’s take a look at what you can expect when the new content launches on June 6th.
Morrowind Patch Game Changes
We’ll start here with the Champion System, which has been given a significant make over in a very positive manner. For starters, players will gain a cap increase of 30 Champion Points, but on top of that they will find that Champion Stars within constellations are now heavily front-loaded. This means that players will not need to invest as many points into a star to get more out of it, in fact the benefit decreases much more significantly the more points you spend in a specific star. This will not only encourage players to spread out their points, and create some more build diversity, but will also give players who don’t have quite as many Champion Points a chance to be more competitive with players who are at the cap.
Furthermore, many of the Constellations and stars have been reworked in some form or another, either with completely different passive abilities or with reductions to their overall benefits. Notable changes are the replacement of the cost reduction stars for both Magicka and Stamina and the reduction of the recovery stars for Magicka, Stamina and Health down from 25% to 15%. What these changes do is put significantly more pressure on the player to manage their resources, encouraging more players to wear Light or Medium armor for the recovery/cost reduction passives as well as makes it harder for players to stack two really high DPS sets.
Other notable changes include reductions to the amount of healing and “damage-type” damage you can deal which are down from 25% to 15%. While this may seem like a huge nerf to DPS, Zenimax has cleverly added a new star that increases the damage of direct damage abilities by 25% called Master-at-Arms, to compliment the Thaumetuerge star that increases damage over time abilities by 25%. This again is a move that should help build diversity and encourage players to find unique combinations of abilities that take full advantage of those passives. Have you been keeping a specific set in your bank that you thought you’d never use? Now might be the right time to dust it off and give it a go.
Cyrodiil and PvP Changes
Cyrodiil and PvP changes are a significant part of the changes. One of the major changes to Cyrodiil is the removal of all current campaigns to be replaced immediately by the following:
- Almalexia – Ruleset: 7 day Non-Champion
- Sotha Sil – Ruleset: 30 day Non-Champion
- Vivec – Ruleset: 30 day Champion
- Kyne – Ruleset: 7 day level 10-49 Non-Champion
Taking a look at these campaigns, besides the heavily inspired Morrowind-ish names, players will notice only one Champion of which to choose from. Between this, the Non-Champion PvP Battlegrounds and the now heavily front loaded Constellations, one would assume that Zenimax is making preemptive moves to remove the Champion System all together. And, since this system has been widely considered a failure by many players, I think this might be a smart move. However, what they might replace it with is anyone’s guess.
Keeps, Outposts and Resources now have a 5 minute cooldown for granting Alliance Points when capturing; you won’t receive AP for capturing it again until 5 minutes have passed. We suppose this is to prevent Emperor AP farming. This may be how some players boosted to the top of a campaign leaderboard rather quickly because resources now give much more AP since the last patch. Hopefully this means that the only Emps we will see truly deserve it for busting their hump and killing lots of DC and EP…
The following Sets are now included in not only Campaign Leaderboard rewards, but also Rewards of the Worthy, and Rewards of the Worthy will no longer contain weapons or jewelry. Yes, you can get gold versions of jewelry for all of these sets now!
- Alessian Order
- Almalexia’s Mercy
- Bastion of the Heartland
- Beckoning Steel
- Blessing of the Potentates
- Buffer of the Swift
- Crest of Cyrodiil
- Curse Eater
- Deadly Strike
- Desert Rose
- Eagle Eye
- Elf Bane
- Fasalla’s Guile
- Grace of the Ancients
- Hawk’s Eye
- Kyne’s Kiss
- Leki’s Focus
- Light of Cyrodiil
- Marksman’s Crest
- Robes of Alteration Mastery
- Shadow Walker
- Shield of the Valiant
- The Morag Tong
- Vengeance Leech
- Vicious Death
- Ward of Cyrodiil
- Warrior’s Fury
- Wrath of the Imperium
General Combat Changes
The main focus of many of general combat changes is resource management. Zenimax simply felt that players were too overpowered and had to spend very little effort to maintain their resource pools while being able to output huge damage numbers, so they have implemented some changes to make sustain something that must actually be managed. The first of these changes is to reduce the cooldown for being charged Stamina or Magicka to block an attack to 0.25 seconds from 0.5 seconds. This will drain these resources twice as fast when blocking, providing a huge nerf to tanks and PvP builds that could nearly perma-block.
Sneak attacks no longer grant a bonus to Critical Damage when used against other players. Sneak attacks will continue to guarantee a Critical Strike and stun the target, and will also still grant a bonus to Critical Damage when used against monsters. This is a huge nerf to PvPers that play from stealth often, primarily Nightblades. We can only assume this was done because they want players to get back into using Light and Medium Armor and Nightblades pose the biggest threat to making this possible by being able to CC and kill anyone within seconds who may have done so. It sucks for Nightblades, not so much for the rest of us.
Roll Dodge now grants a 2 second immunity to immobilization after the roll is complete. This change helps to combat Sorcerers and Dragonknights that spam root abilities in PvP making it nearly impossible to escape, or completely draining your Stamina. I don’t think it will be enough to seriously nerf these sorts of builds, but it should help give it a little balance.
Stamina abilities are now universally 15% cheaper than their Magicka counterparts, originally being 20% cheaper and this includes class abilities that morph into Stamina abilities. This was done because Stamina players were able to do huge damage without ever running out of resources because of their possible set combinations and Zenimax is trying to make it so that Stamina and Magicka builds must focus on resource management. We don’t see this nerf breaking anyone’s build, but expect a few people to complain.
To help combat some of these and other resource nerfs, Zenimax has:
- Increased the damage of Light Attacks by 15% and decreased the damage of Heavy Attacks by 15%.
- Increased the resources restored by fully-charged Heavy Attacks by 30%.
- Reduced the cast time of fully-charged Bow Heavy Attacks by 10%.To compensate for this increased attack speed, the damage for Bow Heavy Attacks has been reduced by an additional 10% for a total of 25%, and resources restored has been reduced by 10% for a total increase of 20%.
- Reduced the cast time of fully-charged Flame and Frost Heavy Attacks by 12.5%. To compensate for this increased attack speed, the damage for Flame and Frost Heavy Attacks has been reduced by an additional 12.5% for a total of 27.5%, and resources restored has been reduced by 12.5% for a total increase of 17.5%.
- Fully-charged Heavy Attacks no longer restore resources if the attack is dodged or blocked. Increased the bonus damage done to off-balance targets with a Heavy Attack to 70% from 45%.
Overall these changes should take some of the sting of the sustain nerfs off and might even encourage a few new niche builds in PvP that take advantage of Heavy Attacks. I fully expect to see people running these sort of builds with a Destro, the Queens Elegance Set and the new Knight Slayer Set, both of which increase the damage your Heavy Attacks deal significantly.
Class and Ability Changes
There are many Class changes that will have significant impacts on both PvE and PvP so let’s take a look at the ones that do the most damage.
- Battle Roar: This passive ability now restores an equal amount of Health, Magicka, and Stamina when you use an Ultimate ability, and the amounts are now based on your character level instead of your Max Resource(s). This will be a nerf to any Dragonknight with more than 26k Health or 26k Magicka or Stamina, so pretty much all of them.
- Helping Hands: This passive ability now restores Stamina based on your character level instead of your Max Stamina. Another nerf if you have high Stamina.
- Igneous Shield (Obsidian Shield morph): Decreased the duration of the Major Mending buff granted by this morph to 2.5 seconds from 6 seconds. Huge nerf and probably the one that most DKs will be screaming about. Seriously reduces their tankiness which is bad news for them and good news for the rest of us.
- Siphoning Strikes: This ability now causes your Light and Heavy Attacks to restore Health instead of Magicka or Stamina. Increased the duration of this ability and its morphs to 20 seconds from 15 seconds. Reduced the cost of this ability and its morphs by approximately 50%. Recasting this ability or its morphs early will now always trigger the ending resource restore. The value of this restore is based on the length of time the abilities were active, similar to Rally’s heal. Each Light or Heavy Attack from this ability or its morphs will now restore less resources, but the final burst at the end will restore more resources. The total resources restored by this ability will remain roughly the same. This is a MAJOR nerf for Nightblades and all but kills their sustain.
- Crystal Fragments (Crystal Shard morph): Reduced the damage bonus of this morph’s instant-cast proc to 10% from 20%. This will further reduce the burst damage of Magicka Sorcs, which is currently the highest in the game. It is yet to be seen if this along with the new Champion Passive that reduces direct damage will once again put Sorcs at the bottom of the barrel, but time will tell.
- Dark Exchange: This ability and its morphs now have 0.2 seconds of animation blending time at the end of their cast. Increased the cast time of this ability and its morphs to 1.2 seconds from 1 second. This shouldn’t be a huge game changer, but it is nice to see a bit of a nerf here.
- Blazing Shield (Sun Shield morph): Reduced the amount of damage done by this morph to 33/36/39/42% of the damage absorbed by the shield, down from 50/51/52/53%. This will probably not dissuade too many Blazeplars from playing their build, given that they generally man siege or stand in doorways taking fire more than killing anything in Cyrodiil, but it I’m sure they will be unhappy nonetheless.
- Piercing Javelin: Increased the knockback range of this ability and its morphs to 8 meters from 5 meters. This should make this ability even more annoying for players to deal with in PvP even more than it already is, and I for one planning slotting it again in order to do just that. Gravity deaths here we come!
- Spear Shards: The synergy from this ability and its morphs now restore Stamina or Magicka, whichever pool is larger. The amount restored is now based on your character level instead of your Max Resource. The synergy also has a shared cooldown with the Necrotic Orb synergy. This ability and the Luminous Shard morph no longer disorient an enemy. It also now deals moderate additional damage over time after the spear lands. This is a major nerf to Trial sustainability now that is shares a cooldown with Necrotic Orb, but is also a buff with the removal of the disorient and the addition of the DoT. You won’t, however, see anyone happy about this change…
- Repentance (Restoring Aura morph): This morph now restores Health and Stamina based on your character level instead of your Max Resource. It also only restores Stamina to the casting Templar, but continues to restore Health to the casting Templar and his allies. HUGE nerf to this very unique ability that makes it effectively useless in a group setting. Stamplars in PvP will probably complain, but keep using it because it is too strong of an ability for the solo player not to slot it.
- Rushed Ceremony: This ability and its morphs now heal friendly targets in a 180 degree cone in front of you, instead of all targets in a radius around you. This is both a blessing and a curse. In PvE, being able to heal players you cannot see often can save your group, but in PvP you often heal people you don’t wish or intend to. I fully expect PvE healers to complain while PvPers will mostly be ok with it.
- Sacred Ground: This passive ability now grants Minor Mending instead of Major Mending when you are standing in your Cleansing Ritual, Rune Focus, or Rite of Passage areas of effect. This change is the largest nerf to the Templar class, probably to date. Templars can no longer gain Major Mending via their own Class abilities, despite being one of two classes that has a dedicated healing line (of which the other has the capability). Many players have shelved or threatened to shelf their Templars because of this change, and it is probably the most controversial of the entire expansion. I myself play a Templar and I must say I feel like I was pooped on…feelsbadman.
- Evocation: This is now a 2-point passive, originally 3-points. It now reduces the cost of your Magicka abilities by 1/2% per piece of Light Armor, down from 1/2/3%.
- Recovery: This is now a 3-point passive, originally 2-points. It now increases your Magicka Recovery by 2/3/4% per piece of Light Armor, instead of 2/4%.
- Wind Walker: This passive ability now reduces the cost of your Stamina abilities by 1/2% per piece of Medium Armor, down from 2/3%.
- Constitution: Reduced the Magicka and Stamina restored by this passive ability by approximately 42%.
- Vigor: Increased the cost of this ability and its morphs by approximately 30%. This is a huge nerf to the sustainability of Stamina builds, and will reduce their damage in both PvE and PvP by forcing them to focus more on sustain.
- Caltrops: Multiple player characters can now stack this ability and its morphs in the same area and damage the same target. Reduced the size of this ability and its morphs to 8 meters from 12 meters. Reduced the duration of this ability and its morphs to 12 seconds from 30 seconds. Reduced the cost of this ability and its morphs by approximately 50%. Increased the damage of this ability and its morphs by approximately 75%. This is an effective nerf for PvE players as it will cost more for the same damage in the long run, but is somewhat of a buff for PvPers as they tend to move around a bit more and recasting the ability will not break their bank with this previously highest Stamina cost in the game ability.
All of these changes further reduce the effectiveness of sustain from wearing each armor type, again with the focus on making players choose between sustain and burst or somewhere in the middle. The Constitution reduction all but makes Heavy Armor impossible to PvP in without making a pure tank build or using the Black Rose Set.
Added to the UI will be a debuff and buff tracker so that you can see when both of these effects expire, which is something that was only previously accomplished on PC via plugins and was not possible on console. Since most hardcore players on PC already had some sort of tracking plugins, this will not be a vital change to them, but this is a fantastic quality of life upgrade for console players. I can’t wait!
A new tab to your Collections is being included with this Update called “Stories”. In this section will be included any DLC or “Chapters” you may have purchased. Yes you read that right: Chapters. Morrowind is considered a chapter in your log, so this would lead one to believe there will be more “Chapters” in the future! Please insert theories here..
The name of the game with this Update is sustainability. Whether you purchase the expansion or not, these changes are coming and they will affect all players. Hopefully you’ve been watching the coverage of the expansion on the Public Test Server and were aware of this weeks ago, but if not you might want to spend your last few days before the patch collecting some sustain sets like Lich, Vestments of the Warlock, Bone Pirate etc, because you are going to need them. In all, the changes are probably a step in the right direction for Elder Scrolls Online, albeit a small one. It does honestly feel like Zenimax is trying the shotgun approach to some of the game’s problems. Instead of adjusting a few things at a time and seeing how it effects the game, they are going for broke and trying to hit them all at once. While this is certainly a way to make change happen, it may cause more harm than good in the long run. We’ll reserve judgement until we get some extensive time with the game on the live server, as always, but being a Templar I’m a little more salty than your average player.
What are your thoughts on the major changes coming with Morrowind? Too much? Too little? Just right? Be sure to sound off in the comments and make sure you’re checking back with us often, both on the wiki, blog and our YouTube channel for the best Elder Scrolls Online coverage out there.
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