The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind Developer Interview

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with The Elder Scrolls Online creative director Rich Lambert and lead PvP designer Brian Wheeler to discuss the upcoming Morrowind expansion. Here are a few things that you can expect in terms of new content, Battlegrounds, balance and the Warden class.

What was the thought process behind introducing 4v4v4 PvP Battlegrounds?

Brian: Honestly it came several years ago. We had some internal testing when I first got hired of “can I even make PvP with what we have?” I made a very basic CTF match using the tools that we had; no UI but we got it to work. That was before we had three-sided battles in the first place. Then when we got Cyrodiil and actually started doing the larger fights. That just gave it more credence in the fact that three sides in a battle is always much more entertaining than just two because two can be a stalemate so fast. Then when we actually got the zones built, 4v4v4 worked out really well.

Three sides plays out so much more fun because the side that may be losing has to look at the side that’s winning and the side that’s in second and figure out who they want to pick on. Whereas the guys in the middle, they’re trying to figure out do they kill the lower guys to get their score higher or kill the bigger guys to keep their score from going up. The team in first is just worried about everybody, essentially. It lends different tactics depending on the position you’re in; much more so than just two sides.

What is the target demographic for battlegrounds?

Brian: It’s a fun activity for anybody to do that has maybe 15 to 20 minutes. At most, we’ve had eight matches in an hour, which is a lot of matches to get done. It’s for pickup and play people. Whether that be a streamer, somebody that just sits down for lunch real quick or wants to do an 8-hour session of battlegrounds. We knew that there was not, in our current PvP, a means of just hit a button and play a quick session. So this is definitely for that crowd, as well as the hardcore guys that just want to play it all day.

Is there going to be a Ranked mode or a form of leaderboard?

Brian: There will be leaderboards, which are broken down depending on the game type. It’s difficult to say for launch because we’re only launching with three game modes. When we add in more game modes later you’re going to queue into a gaming bucket. So you’ll queue for mobile flag games, which would include games like CTF or murderball, or other games where you pick up something and run around with it. Then there’s stationary flag games, which will be domination or king of the hill where it’s a location where you need to go and hold it. You would queue for a bucket and then get put into a random map, but the points earned, depending upon the game mode, would go to a leaderboard of one of three types: mobile flag games, static flag games or deathmatch.

Does this mean that players will not be able to queue for specific game modes in the future?

Brian: Yes. We are well aware of queue manipulation, as well as players not queuing for specific modes. We’re keenly aware the systems we provide for players can sometimes be manipulated. So we’re being pretty broad base at first with our queues then we’ll start to narrow them down later on. That being said, we do plan to offer a 10 to 49 queue to start, as well as a 10 to 50. That 10 to 50 may also have a non-champion point variant. We’re still figuring those out as we go.

Will there be any PvP specific rewards?

Brian: Yeah, you’ll only get certain sets from battlegrounds. It’ll be full sets: weapons, jewelry, and armor. We may let them go into our Rewards for the Worthy bags. We’re still nailing down the itemization if it’s only from battlegrounds or if we’ll let some go through Cyrodiil. The only problem with doing that is the case of Cyrodiil being the base game, and if we put expansion stuff in the base game bags that’s sort of a way to get around purchasing the expansion.

How will the Warden fit in with all of ESO’s current classes?

Rich: We are definitely mindful of balance and how all of the classes interact with each other. So one of our top priorities is to look at that and make sure this class fits in with all of our others and isn’t way overpowered.

Do you plan on adding any new skills, passive abilities or weapon types for the existing classes?

Rich: No. We have the Warden and the Warden is enough panic. I mean that in an endearing way. It’s not a trivial thing to add a new class.

Is there any chance we’ll see Spellcrafting, or other new professions, in the expansion? How about housing?

Rich: It [Spellcrafting] is not coming for Morrowind. There will be houses and new furnishings in Morrowind.

Will Warden players be required to keep their bear summon ability on both skill bars?

Rich: You have to double bar it [Warden ultimate] to keep it up all the time because then you could have two ultimates active at all times. So we’re balancing the bear so that it feels like an ultimate. A lot of the other abilities, like the Netch, are just a short-term buff so you can back bar it, hit it, and then switch back to your front bar.

What roles do you intend the Warden to fill in group content?

Rich: I think where it’s really going to shine is either off-healer / off-tank in small scale group encounters. I think it’s going to be a juggernaut in PvP just because it has a lot of utility, but there are a lot of different buffs, debuff and support roles that it can fill, and I think that’s where it’s really going to shine. Solo players will also have access to a lot of different things that will make their lives easier.

I’m really looking forward to people making a dedicated bow DPS build out of this class because we don’t really have that right now. You can kind of do bow, but you can’t really; there aren’t a lot of skills that synergize with that. With the Warden, especially with the animal companion line, there are a lot of really cool, stamina-based ranged abilities that you could use with the bow.

Can we expect the Warden to be competitive in a DPS role?

Rich: We’re still working on those numbers but they can’t be bottom of the barrel. We want this class to be competitive with the other ones. They might be a little bit weaker because they’re kind of a jack of all trades, but we’re still working on those numbers. It should be viable to use one in a dungeon or a trial.

ESO Morrowind

Will there be Silt Striders in Morrowind?

Rich: Silt Striders are present and you can actually use them to fast travel within the zone.

In comparison to the base game, how much content will be in the expansion?

Rich: So this is 30+ hours of quest content. It’s the largest PvE zone we’ve ever built. It’s 30 to 40 percent larger than Orsinium. One of the things that we tried to do was spread things out so there’s more room for exploration. So you could feel like you’re walking around in the wilderness and stumble upon areas that didn’t necessarily have a quest but still had a neat little story that you could figure out while you were there.

Will there be open world content similar to the base game?

Rich: There will be public dungeons, delves, world bosses, all of those things.

What will the public dungeons focus on?

Rich: One of them is focused more around the Sixth House and the initial formations of it. The other is this huge Dwemer ruin.

What incentives, or types of progression, will Morrowind bring for achievement-oriented players?

Rich: There’s tons of new gear coming in. We’ll increase the Champion Point cap so they can build through that. Players do get more powerful, but they don’t have to re-grind all their gear again. We have a ton of new achievements that they can work towards.


The MMOGames team would like to thank Brian and Rich for taking the time to discuss Morrowind with us, and I personally can’t wait to get my hands on the upcoming expansion.

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About Nick Shively

Nick is an eSports and RPG enthusiast. He can normally be found in the deepest parts of a dungeon or in the arena slaying opponents. Nick has been a gamer since an early age and involved in the industry since 2011. He obtained a degree in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2015.