Cyrodiil, the cosmopolitan heartland of the Empire is in disarray. The inter regnum has thrown the once powerful province into a state of all out war as the three factions vie for their chance to shape the course of Tamriel forever. At the heart of this province is the Imperial City and the White-Gold Tower built by the Elves long before. The way in which you attack this province will shape how your faction fares in securing the throne for their own!
While the ESOTR crew was at PAX East this past weekend, they were able to catch up with Brian Wheeler, ESO’s lead PVP Desginer, and asked some questions regarding PVP in the Elder Scrolls Online.
It has been known since the initial reports started to come out last May that Cyrodiil, the province showcased in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion will be the PVP zone in the online game. The team asked some questions regarding the actual strategy involved with taking Cyrodiil. In most MMOs, PVP is about controlling the map for your faction, as well as battling live opponents in the field. ESO will be no different. According to Brian, Cyrodiil will be sectioned off with each faction controlling a slice of the province. Within each section will be a number of “home fortresses” for your faction to hold. All the fortresses are linked via a transit line, though there is no set order in which you need to hit first. You can attack any fortress at any time, or disrupt resources along the transit line to the other keeps. He didn’t really expound upon what this does to the effected keeps, but more information will start to trickle out as the game develops.
There will be advantages to controlling linked fortresses, such as chaining keeps from your territory to keeps in enemy territory, effectively unlocking a “teleport” to those keeps. Otherwise, you can attack any keep at any time. You are not forced to attack the keeps in a line throughout the province. Eventually the goal is to crown your faction as the rulers of Cyrodiil, thus making one of your players Emperor. While Brian would not elaborate on how this happens or how long your player is emperor, or how to dethrone the emperor, he did mention it is up to the alliance around him to keep that player as emperor. More information regarding this mechanic will be reported here once it’s available.
Bottle-necking Your Opponent
As stated before, the land of Cyrodiil is split up into individual home areas, though the province is still just one zone. These areas are separated by bottle-necks such as bridges. Bottle-necking your opponent is a great tactic in most MMOs PVPs. One of the ways this really works is if there is player collision in a game. Lou uses the example of a doorway to a keep being guarded by heavily armored tank players with ranged DPS behind them, essentially picking off their opponents as they try to get past the guards in the doorway. Brian confirmed there will be no player collision in the game, but that doesn’t mean battle lines are not getting drawn. According to Brian, beta testers who have experienced the PVP have resorted to using ground target abilities, as well as siege weaponry to break enemy lines and get behind their foes to their goal. So even though there is no collision, tactics and real life strategies are still organically being employed while fighting in Cyrodiil.
Maintaining a Proper Balance
Let’s face it, if you’ve played any MMOs you know that the overall balance between PVP and PVE is a source of great contention. Inevitably down the road there is a “nerf” update coming, aimed at creating a balance between the two play styles. One side always gets the raw end of the deal however, which usually causes one group of fans to complain. This question was brought up by Dave “Dienforce” Adams, and the answer by Brian didn’t dissappoint.
We do PVE testing and PVP testing weekly. Um, there are things that we find in PVE that we don’t find in PVP and vice versa, and Nick’s gang goes through and balances all that stuff out accordingly. We don’t want you to have an ability that kicks ass in PVP and doesn’t do crap in PVE. Everything can be used everywhere.
From the start, the developers over at Zenimax Online Studios seemed determined to make the game we will end up playing feel less like a MMO and more like the traditional Elder Scrolls game. Limiting updates that nerf abilities is one way to keep your player-base happy. As the date for the game’s launch approaches (whenever that is), and BETA data from players come piling in over the next few months, hopefully the mantra set here that “everything can be used everywhere” will never be compromised. The proper balance between PVE and PVP is critical to game success. If you start to make one seem more important than the other, you risk infuriating a portion of your player base. We can assume that in the coming months skills will be tweaked and played with, and even after launch, with a game of this magnitude things are bound to change. One thing seems clear: the amount of player feedback will directly influence the direction the Devs go post-launch.
Rankings, Arena, and Other Such Things
One final note topic of note is the inclusion of a Ranking and Title system in PVP. Some examples were given as possible Ranks in the game such as “General, Grand Warlord, and the lowly Volunteer.” As you rise through the ranks you will also unlock titles for your characters. One thing that is interesting is the exclusion of Faction Specific Rank names. Instead of having different names for the ranks in the three factions, all of the ranks will be uniform. This is done for two reasons. First, this type of system is more convenient for the players to understand. Less time is taken trying to memorize different faction titles and ranks and how they correspond to your faction’s heirarchy. Also, according to Brian’s conversations with Lawrence the “Lore-Guy,” a uniform system fits more cohesively with the Lore of Tamiriel. So a player who has the rank of Grand Warlord in the Aldmeri Dominion will be known by that same title in the Ebonheart Pact and so on.
Also released was the news regarding PVP skills. While no specifics were given as to what the skills would be, as they are still in development at this time, it was released that there will be a full PVP skill line. How these skills will be used, and whether they are PVP only skills, or if they overlap with PVE remains to be seen.
Finally, the question was asked whether there will be an Arena style system in PVP. Seeing as how the PVP area is set in Cyrodiil, which houses it’s own massive arena, naturally this is something we’d expect to see in the game. However, that is not the case. At this time there are no plans to include an Arena style battle system in the game, but that doesn’t mean the devs will not be receptive to adding one if that’s what the player feedback tells the team:
The good thing about being a MMO is that if players want it, we can add it in later on. So if we do add an Arena system, that would be something purely by demand, because we want everybody to investing in Cyrodiil following the launch of the game.
Another example of the developers being open to feedback to create content for their game. As the game develops, don’t be surprised if we start to see content added to the game that the fans have been pining for. This studio seems to be highly receptive and open to all sorts of feedback, and is willing to act on it!
Overall Thoughts from a MMO Vet
Overall, I think that the PVP system in ESO is coming along nicely. Everything we’ve heard and seen seems to work smoothly, and that which doesn’t the Devs are highly motivated to fix it before the game launches. I cannot tell you how excited I am to finally get my hands on a character and march into Cyrodiil, disrupting as many enemy fortress chains as I can. I want to get my hands on a catapult and send my opponents into Oblivion. Hopefully more information comes out soon regarding the PVP skill line as well as any information they can give us once your faction seizes the Imperial City for themselves. You can be sure that when that news breaks, you will be reading it here first!
Make sure you check out our special PAX East episode of ESOTR, which features this interview in it’s entirety, as well as interviews with Nick Konkle and Paul Sage! We’d also like to hear your thoughts below! Let us know if this news is good, or whether you’d like to see something different done, and why!