During QuakeCon 2019, ZeniMax Online’s Rich Lambert confirmed some massive changes coming to The Elder Scrolls Online, the biggest starting later this year, focusing heavily on performance for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One users.
When I’m not writing, I’m working on reviews, when I’m doing neither, there’s a good chance you can find me on our Facebook page playing around during my streams for The Elder Scrolls Online. However, during my time after returning after a couple of months absence, I took notice of an issue that wasn’t plaguing just the PlayStation 4 version of the game, but also the PC version in itself: Performance.
During their annual QuakeCon panel for The Elder Scrolls Online, Lambert outlined ZoS’s plans to improve QoL for their smash-hit title, which includes performance changes, enhancements, but also a sting many may not be ready for: A mandatory reinstall of the game when the improvement updates get underway in 2020.
However, Lambert explained that getting to the point the game is at now has been “no small task” over the course of the past five years. They’ve already begun updating the code, systems, and backhauling many of the issues already hindering the game in its current state. That will change, however, starting later this year. The biggest take-away from the roadmap being the first part of behind-the-scenes improvement, which begins with Update2 4 in Quarter 4 of 2019.
Before we get too far in, let’s take a small peak at the infographic they gave us during QuakeCon 2019 to explain what the current roadmap looks like starting later this year.
Q4 2019 – UPDATE 24
- Memory management overhaul
- Fundamental changes to how we handle memory use in ESO to reduce memory fragmentation
- User Experience: Greatly improved stability (i.e., less crashing/dashboarding), especially on base consoles, as well as potential minor performance improvement
- Behind-the-scenes combat ability improvements phase 1
- This is the first of an ongoing initiative to rewrite some of the more consumptive combat abilities to lessen server load
- User Experience: This is the first of many behind-the-scenes combat optimizations and may not have a huge impact, but over time this will lessen the server load and allow smoother and more responsive combat with larger groups
- Complete re-write of the Looking for Group system
- Ground-up rewrite of how the system handles queues of people in both dungeons and battlegrounds—focused on reliability and speed, especially under load
- User Experience: The LFG systems work as expected, even under heavy load
Q1 2020: UPDATE 25
- Patching overhaul
- Big changes to the way ESO is downloaded, patched, and stored on local hard drives. We need to refresh ESO’s patching and file manifest data to remove duplicate files and older data that is no longer needed. This will result in a major reduction of space taken up by the client on the player’s local hard drive. Console players will see a significantly larger impact compared to PC, because of the way those patching systems work
- User Experience: Major improvement in load times, streaming of assets, and reliability of asset loads, especially on consoles
- NOTE: Every ESO player, on every platform, will have to re-download the game client when this change happens, probably with the launch of Update 25
- NOTE: After this change happens, patch size going forward should also be reduced
Faster-loading art fixtures and characters
As part of the client changes above, we will be moving to faster/newer/better compression libraries for art fixtures and character loading—these are two of the most “expensive” loading tasks
- User Experience: Better load times, fewer “shadow” player silhouettes
- Behind-the-scenes combat ability improvements phase 2
The next round of behind-the-scenes ability streamlining and optimizations
- User Experience: A smoother, more responsive experience in combat situations
- Frame rate improvements phase 1
- We have time built in the schedule here for general frame rate improvements; more details on this in future updates
- User Experience: Smoother, faster frame rates
- Server optimization & stability
- Server optimizations are being investigated and assessed, with the focus on CPU and bandwidth usage on the server—especially on the combat handler and messaging
- User Experience: A more responsive experience, especially in intense or high bandwidth situations (i.e., places where large groups of players are found)
This goes without stating that the focus of these updates is to improve the overall end-user experiences and bringing the game to modern standards, which have been hindered by an outdated file system. Luckily, that will be fixed, and it seems that ZoS addressing these issues will help their multi-million-copy selling MMORPG which has found the perfect balance between both a free-to-play and optional subscription-based goodies.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.