Elder Scrolls Online: Q&A on Progression

This Ask us Anything covers skill lines and ability progression.

Following its video preview on Character progression, Zenimax Online gave us more info on Elder Scrolls Online's skill progression by publishing a new "Ask us Anything" on the topic.

As pointed out in both the video and our last news on this topic, you'll gain skill points by exploring, doing quests and levelling. You can then spend those points in several skill lines in eight major categories: race, class, weapons, armors, guilds, PvP, world and tradeskilling. Those skills can be active or passive. Each level, you'll also gain a point that can be used in one of the three attributes (health, magicka, or stamina).

The questions asked gave answers on several points, as seen below.

Some additional information were given on attributes:

  • There is no maximum number of points that can be spent on a given attribute. You can spend all points in a single one if you want to, and supplement others with Mundus stones, food or gear buffs--but you might hit the overcharge (soft cap) for that stat and get diminishing benefits.
  • Putting points in Magicka, Stamina and Health will not just affect your pool of those attributes. It will also have repercussions on other stats. For example, more Magicka will allow you to cast more spells but will also make them more potent.
  • Having a lot of points in Magicka or Stamina will not allow you to cast and fight without stopping. Having a very high health value will not make you invulnerable either. Damage output is always balanced to be higher than health and in-combat health regeneration.

Several questions were asked about skill points and skill lines.

  • Skill points in a tree are not linked to the actual level of your character. A skill line will likely reach a higher level than your character level.
  • It is possible to re-allocate attribute or skill points by paying a gold fee to a shrine if you want to revamp your character.
  • Starting to play with a new type of armor or weapon will not put you at a disadvantage. You'll obviously want to unlock active and passive abilities to gain more benefits from them, but you'll be able to attack and defend normally.
  • Weapon requirements are based on character level and not skill level, so you can try any weapon if you stumble upon one you like even if you never used one of this type before.
  • Tradeskilling is not limited anymore to mastering two professions as this limit would have been bypassed through creating secondary characters. You'll be able to spend skill points in any of your tradeskilling skill lines, but those points will then not be used in advancing your adventure skill lines. It will be an investment in time and skill points.
  • There are two PvP skill lines designed to help you in killing other players or during siege. A third skill line exists for the Emperor. 
  • Choosing a race opens up the racial skill line tied to it and has an impact on character progression.
  • It will not be possible to acquire all the abilities for a given class and race at launch. As more skills and skill lines are added in the future, you might be able to max out, for example, the whole class and race lines on a single character at different times.
  • Passive abilities will also evolve. After putting one point in a passive ability, you'll be able to spend more points in it to improve it.

 The ability leveling was also tackled.

  • You'll be able to morph abilities in a skill line when the ability reaches a certain level. You'll have to use a skill point to unlock the morph of your choice.
  • Abilities can currently only be morphed once.

Some new information where given on the leveling process.

  • Class, worn weapon and worn armor skill lines advance in rank as you gain leveling experience by questing, discovering new areas, successfully lockpicking chests, etc. Those actions make you gain character levels and skill lines levels. The abilities slotted in your skill bar will gain levels faster.
    Other skill lines progress in different ways. Crafting abilities progress when you craft. Mages Guild and Fighters Guild abilities progress when you collect books or kill Daedras. Alliance War abilities progress through killing other players or gaining Alliance Points.
  • A character cannot advance all their skill lines through exploration of skyshards. You'll still need to gain experience, influence (for Mages and Fighters Guilds) or inspiration for crafting. Skyshards only help gain bonus points.
  • Questing and exploration will give the most XP. PvP and Dungeon crawl can give less, due to the varying number of opponents.

Finally, some questions where asked about the game direction.

  • There's a lot of buffs and passive abilities, so Zenimax is trying to balance them by using soft caps. After a stat reaches a given cap, it'll gain diminishing returns from additional buffs.
  • The class system was maintained because most players are more comfortable with it and already have an idea of what archetype they plan to play. Providing a class system gives the opportunity to start directly with more possibilities towards a defined playstyle. It allows to combine your character's core skill with others.
  • Even if there are skill points and skill line levels, having a character level helps understanding character growth and communicating your approximate power level to others.
  • New skill lines will be added dynamically in the future.

Guilhemette "Whilhelmina" Giacopazzi


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