As all of you long time players know, we have never been shy about evolving ESO over time by introducing new concepts, new designs, and doing what we need to do to make sure that ESO remains awesome and relevant. So, in 2017, we are going to make a major addition to the way content is delivered to you.
In the past, we’ve released four major updates per year, most with an associated DLC. This has produced great DLC like Orsinium, Thieves Guild, and Dark Brotherhood for players in a regular cadence, and has been the perfect way to update the game with larger changes like One Tamriel. This cadence is perfect for smaller additions, but we’ve found that this approach is so aggressive that it hamstrings us a bit when it comes to introducing updates larger than DLC – that is, updates that include new content as well as features like system changes, new abilities, and new classes. This is why we are evolving to deliver some updates as “Chapters,” with the target of having one Chapter per year.
In any other game of this type, these would be called “expansions” – but ESO is a game unlike any other. Because ESO is not level-based, Chapters don’t fit the general definition of an “expansion,” which typically, in MMO-speak, means it is aimed only at existing (and usually high level) players. Chapters in ESO are different. Each ESO Chapter will feature a self-contained story and zone that can be experienced by itself without needing to travel out to the main game. Our content is never level-gated, which means you can play Chapters with an existing character, or a completely new one.
Expect ESO Chapters to introduce things like new game systems, new classes, and a ton of new content. For example, our new Chapter, ESO: Morrowind, contains a new class (the Warden), small-scale PvP Battlegrounds, and of course, a completely new zone to explore.
Each Chapter will be available at retail complete with new box art and packaging. It will contain the Chapter and will include the original game. All standard DLC will still be purchased from the Crown Store or be available to ESO Plus members as part of the subscription, but new Chapter content is available only via retail (including digital retail) game or upgrade purchase if you already own ESO.
A new content Cadence
Because we will be regularly introducing Chapters to ESO, we are going to make a small revision to our content delivery cadence, starting this year. We will continue to ship quarterly updates to the game – each with a base patch that has all the balance, quality of life, and bug fixes that you have come to expect. Additionally, we’ll have a DLC in the first quarter of each year, a Chapter in the second quarter, a dungeon-based DLC in the third quarter, and a DLC in the 4th quarter.
Morrowind: ESO’s next Chapter
As you can tell from the announcement, ESO: Morrowind is a big deal. It is our first retail launch in a while, it contains a LOT of content, and has two major new additions to the game: the Warden class, and small-group PvP Battlegrounds.
Because Elder Scrolls Online is not level-gated, it gives us the chance to do something different from any other online game of this type. Chapters are for more than just long-time or hardcore players of the game – Chapters are designed for ALL players of the game. As I’ve said many times before, we have a huge variety of players in Elder Scrolls Online. Many play every day and have invested thousands of hours in the game. Some play the game once a month, some play casually with their friends and families when they have time. And some just want to play through the storylines of the game as they would any other Elder Scrolls title and then wait for the next one. With our new Chapter content, all of these will be supported.
This means a new player will experience the Chapter as a 30-hour game, but with a hundreds-of-hours-of-content massive Online RPG to experience afterwards. To an existing player who hasn’t played in a while, it’s a new chance to upgrade to the current Chapter, log in and either create a new character to start fresh, or just play with an older character. For our many regular players of the game, you can just follow the quest to start the Chapter with your existing character (or create a new one) and go from there.