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Elder Scrolls Online outlines plans to address plaguing performance issues

Nice™

elder scrolls online elseweyr expansion with dragons
Image: ZeniMax

I’ve recently spent some time back in the world of Tamriel and Elder Scrolls Online and have been loving my time with it (as usual). Even so, something I’ve noticed in my approximately six-month absence is that the game continues to struggle sometimes. At first, I thought it was just me, but as it seems, this is a much bigger problem.

ESO’s Creative Director Rich Lambert has outlined plans for what the team plans to do to address these issues that are present across all platforms, but especially tough for original Xbox One and PlayStation 4 players.

Elder Scrolls Online roadmap for performance changes and other enhancements

elder scrolls online performance issues

Image: ZeniMax

We’ll outline all of the changes from the blog post below, but the main thing here is that the developers, ZeniMax, are looking to improve the experience for all players in the Elder Scrolls Online universe, while updating code and systems that have been in place for over 5 years – no small task.

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)

Q2 2020: UPDATE 26

  • Account Database “Cold Storage”
    • There are millions of accounts in our database. The goal of this task is to split the character database into “active” and “inactive” shards to remove the need to pool all the character records for all logins
    • User Experience: Faster account login and character loads
    • NOTE: Players logging in for the first time after being inactive for a few years will notice an initial longer load while their account is transferred from inactive to active
  • Frame rate improvements phase 2
    • The team has time built into Update 26 to identify more areas for frame rate improvements. Please note that this takes place after the frame rate improvements in Update 25, so this will piggy-back on those
    • User Experience: Better, smoother frame rate
  • Additional bug fixes and other updates
    • The NPC and monster “pathing” system will be overhauled to result in fewer movement bugs
    • NOTE: We are always working on identifying outstanding bugs and fixing them. If any rise to the level of needing to be included in this regularly updated post, we will do so here

Elder Scrolls Online is arguably one of the biggest and best MMORPG experiences available right now and its good to see these updates being outlined. Even with my high-end PC, lag and random ping issues have definitely hindered my experience, I can’t imagine what it is like for OG PS4 and Xbox One users.

What do you think? Glad to see ZeniMax addressing performance issues with ESO? Do you still play? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Senior Editor with a focus on all things tech and gaming. Life Adventurer. You can keep up with me on Twitter: @Josiah_Motley

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