The Elder Scrolls Online launched nearly a month ago which means that it’s almost time for most players’ 30-day free starting trial to expire. As incentive to suck players into the $15 per month subscription fee, ZeniMax is planning to release a substantial content addition to players free of charge just after the game’s one-month anniversary. The release of Craglorn is just over the horizon and the free content addition has some big challenges in store for TESO’s most veteran players.
Craglorn will introduce the game’s first Adventure Zone, which includes a new storyline and a series of challenges designed for players who have already dominated the core game. The bulk of the content will be delivered via 4-player quests and 12-player Trials. TESO players are likely already familiar with the 4-player quests, but the 12-player Trials will offer a new, particularly challenging, way to test their skills.
In a lengthy blog post by ZeniMax, the developers gave insight into the creation of the Trials and revealed some details about what kind of challenges the 12-man raid-like experiences have in store for the heroes that are brave enough to enter them. ZeniMax made sure that it was clear that the Trials are not to be entered lightly…
“One of the first things you’ll notice about Trials is that they bring a new experience to ESO designed to test even the toughest veterans… You’ll need a group of 12 to take them on, but they’re not just dungeons that require a large group–we’re applying additional pressure. Your team will only have a limited number of resurrections available, and additional rewards will be granted to those who defeat the weekly challenge with one of the top times across the megaserver.”
One of the interesting components that will help Trials stand out from the typical difficult dungeons and raids found in other MMOs is the way that the challenges take advantage of the game’s flexible skill system. Certain fights may require the majority of the group to contribute high damage per second (more than usual), while the next fight may require more healing or an unusually high demand for crowd control. Similar strategies are required to deal with high level boss encounters in other MMOs, but the flexible nature of TESO’s skill-sets allows for the developers to really take the variety and difficulty up to eleven.
When the going gets tough, groups are inevitably going to face some wipes. To help players learn from their mistakes, a new Death Recap summary will offer feedback on the last sources of damage that your player took. The recap will also offer some advice on how you could have survived longer. The Death Recap summary will be available for review outside of Trials, as well.
Once groups have learned from their mistakes and mastered the strategies for each encounter, they are able to take on the challenge again and again. There are no lockouts on the Trials, but loot distribution is limited. It should only take one to two hours for an experienced group to run through any given Trial, but players can only receive the best loot once per week.
“You can earn the very best loot–special set pieces that only drop from the final bosses–once a week, and those with the top 100 completion times during the week can earn another piece of loot from the weekly Trial (selected at random from available Trials). It’s important to note that you won’t be required to finish the Trial within a time limit; you may run out of resurrections and have to start over, but your completion time only matters with regards to the leaderboard and bonus loot (the same kinds of loot you can receive once weekly for defeating the whole Trial).”
The Trials system seems to offer a reward structure that is unique and challenging enough to keep max level characters busy for at least a few weeks (and hopefully months). If ZeniMax is able to continue delivering add-on content (especially free add-on content) on a consistent basis, TESO fans should be able to get their money’s worth out of the subscription fee.
Do you plan to give Trials a chance or do you think that the majority of players will be too casual to handle the obstacles offered by the 12-man challenges?
The Elder Scrolls Online is currently available for PC and Mac, with Xbox One and PlayStation 4 ports set to debut in June. Craglorn will be available to subscribers later this month.
Follow Denny on Twitter @The_DFC.