The Elder Scrolls Online Interview: Director Discusses Necrom, PS4 & Xbox One Support, PvP, & More

Published: September 9, 2023 12:18 PM /


The Elder Scrolls Online Interview Hero Showing an Arcanist on a Hill

With The Elder Scrolls VI still far away in the future, The Elder Scrolls Online is providing fans of the franchise with their Elder Scrolls fix. 

The game has been out for almost ten years (the tenth anniversary will happen in April next year), but it's still going very strong, with a large fanbase across five platforms.

To learn more about ZeniMax Online Studios' plans and the recently released Necrom expansion, TechRaptor had a chat with director Matt Firor at Gamescom in Cologne. 

Necrom's Reception and Feedback

Firor mentioned that the reception for Necrom expansion was "fantastic", becoming the ESO chapter with the highest Metacritic score. He believes the reason for that is that it's simply fun. It's a cool part of Tamriel, being Morrowind but a new part of it.

Another reason Firor believed it to be so liked is its focus on the Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora, a fan-favorite among players. On top of that, it has a great story and a new class. According to Firor when you put all of these elements together, you have a very compelling package. 

The Elder Scrolls Online - Meeting Hermaeus Mora

Elder Scrolls Online's development team received feedback from the community about the launch of previous chapters, which haven't always been as smooth as they hoped. With a lot of effort in developing both Necrom and the infrastructure to deliver a stable experience the launch of Necron was their best.

Firor added that there's always further feedback to address, and those who deliver it are usually the most engaged members of the community. Even if the feedback is, at times, delivered in not the nicest way, there's often some truth behind it. 

At this point, Elder Scrolls Online has been around nine and a half years and has 26 million lines of code.  Every year it gets bigger and the developers have to spend more and more time to make sure everything is tight. 

Holding the Elder Scrolls Fort

I asked Firor whether having to "hold the fort" while the single-player Elder Scrolls team works on The Elder Scrolls VI makes him feel some pressure, but he appeared unphased.

It's no more pressure than it was to launch ESO twenty months after SkyrimI think if we can deal with that pressure, we can deal with this. Skyrim is one of the greatest game of all time, and we made the next Elder Scrolls game afterward, so there was a ton of pressure and we're very much used to it.

Despite the recent release of Starfieldhe mentioned that the IP is likely too different to launch any collaboration between the two games. That being said, the two teams work very closely together and the ESO team can't wait to play the game like everyone else (editor's note: the interview was recorded a few days before Starfield's launch). 

The Elder Scrolls Online - Ansuul the Tormentor Trial

Asked whether these 26 million lines of code mean that we're getting close to a point in which ESO will need an overhaul perhaps even graphically, Firor mentioned that the team's philosophy is not to wait for a single big update to do that, but instead to continuously work on optimization and improvements. 

Two years ago they improved the graphics to launch the game on Xbox Series X|S and PS5, and on PC it still looks fantastic. Some areas may be a little more dated than others (but that's the nature of MMORPGs), but ultimately the development team prefers to keep making it better over time as opposed to doing it all at once. 

Players on PS4 and Xbox One can Rest Easy for Now

Firor explained that The Elder Scrolls Online is so big in terms of memory that the developers were about to encounter issues on Xbox One and PS4. They were worried that with the new animations and effects introduced by the Arcanist, things would get too big for the memory of old-gen consoles.

Over the last year, they spent a lot of time optimizing memory and making it much more efficient. As a result, they managed to clear enough headroom to add the Arcanist with no problem and maybe even more. Firor believes they managed to buy a few years of support for old-gen consoles.

While the time to drop support for PS4 and Xbox One will have to come, eventually, it's not anytime soon and people playing on these platforms should not worry about being left out for now. 

Of course, Xbox also has cloud streaming, so that kind of path might open for people using older hardware in the future. 

The Arcanist, PvP, and More

Speaking of the Arcanist, a vast majority of players who purchased Necrom have tried out the new class. Before the launch, many thought the Arcanist would be overpowered, but the post-launch feedback indicates that it's not overpowered, and instead simply fun.

This gave rise to voices mentioning that the developers should give the same treatment to all the other classes, but Firor mentioned that the same happened with the Sorcerer in 2014. The team can't really go back and redo every class every time there's a new one that is popular. He plays Templar and still has a lot of fun. 

The Elder Scrolls Online - Arcanist in Combat

Firor used to be the producer of Dark Age of Camelot (which remains one of my favorite MMORPGs of all time). Since its PvP (or RvR, as we called it, and some call it even in ESO) was one of the best and most engaging ever, I had to ask him if there was anything he'd like to do to improve the feature in The Elder Scrolls Online

He responded that the development team really needs to work on making Cyrodiil perform better. They have tried to chip at the problem in many different ways over the years, but it's never quite perfect. They'll continue to work on it and improve it. While right now it's "OK," it can always be better. 

Moving on to housing, which is very popular among players, Firor explained that in Update 39 the team included a couple of tweaks to make it easier to stack items and see previews before purchasing on the Crown Store. The plan is to continue doing things like that going forward.

Firor concluded the interview by thanking the community, as they are the core of the game, and without them, there would be no ESO

Our community is fantastic, we have the best community in gaming.

Elder Scrolls Online is currently available for PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, and PS4. 


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More Info About This Game
Learn more about The Elder Scrolls Online
Bethesda Softworks
PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date
April 4, 2014 (Calendar)
Purchase (Some links may be affiliated)