The Elder Scrolls Online Alliance Wars Preview
The role of PVP in MMO’s has become almost, if not more, important than the dungeon crawling, raid forming basics of most MMO’s out there. While it often isn’t enough to make or break a game, doing it correctly can greatly increase its chance of success. World of Warcraft’s arena system is the sole purpose of playing for some people, and the same can be said for Guild Wars 2 with it’s larger RvR encounters and smaller instanced battlegrounds. From what we know now, The Elder Scrolls Online is aiming for the latter of the previous two games in what it calls The Alliance Wars. Join us as we go over TESO’s PVP system and learn how the battle over Cyrodiil will be fought.
The Alliance War
Right off that bat it should be noted that players can access PVP at level 10, and that the game does use a scaling system that will bump up your stats enough to jump in with higher levels. This won’t unlock higher-level skills but it will make the skills you do have hit like they are level 50. The higher ups may have more stuff to throw at you but at least you’ll avoid being one shot each time you join in.
With the server configuration planned for TESO (i.e. one giant one) there’s no way that all those players could compete over one battlefield. To solve this, upon reaching level 10 players will be placed in a Campaign. These campaigns can be thought of as separate servers but specifically for the Cyrodiil area. Each campaign is completely separate from others and cannot influence other campaigns in any way. As with any war there has to be an end and a victor, so campaigns will have a lifecycle that has not yet been confirmed (rumored at several months). At the end of a Campaign’s lifecycle a winner will be declared and it will start all over again. If you do get stuck in a campaign that you just have to transfer out of to be with your friends or other reasons, there will be a way, but of course that way has not yet been said. Whether or not the teams change when Campaigns end is also something that is still in the dark but could be a welcome change if you find yourself paired against a particularly dominate Alliance or just want a change of targets.
If you’ve played Dark Age of Camelot or most recently and most probably Guild Wars 2, you’ll be familiar with the style of PVP TESO is bringing to the table. That is, three factions vying for control over a large PVP map. In TESO’s case that map is the Imperial City of Cyrodiil, which is now up for grabs, and the target of three factions the Ebonheart Pact, Daggerfall Covenant, and Aldmeri Dominion. Each of these would love to be the sole owners of the city and proclaim a member as emperor.
The map itself is initially divided into three sections, one for each faction, with the Ruby Throne of Tamriel smack dab in the center of it all. Within each factions territories are a number of fortifications such as strongholds which are supported by smaller surrounding buildings including farms and lumber mills. All of these must be defended and can be captured by another faction’s forces. Strongholds that are captured yield more influence in the territory to the conquerors, while capturing lumberyards and farms reduces the supply to the nearby stronghold, leaving it more vulnerable. Capture enough territory and hold enough influence over the land and you’ll gain control of the Ruby Throne and can proclaim a king from one of your faction members. The specific length that control will last has not been stated yet but Zenimax has said it will be enough time to have a substantial impact.
It’s a Siege!
How will you go about capturing all these fortresses and lumber mills you may be asking? Luckily for you there will be a multitude of siege equipment lying around that can be captured and put to use battering down stronghold gates. For those trying to fend off the onslaught keeps come equipped with defenses like boiling oil, perfect for keeping would be usurpers at bay. Another neat feature of the siege equipment is that they can be operated as a team. While one or two people can operate a ram, having it fully manned will unleash it’s full power and bring the gate down even faster. Once inside the attackers will have to capture key points within the keep itself in order to claim the whole thing (i.e. courtyard, blacksmith). So if you’re gates are down don’t go running yet, there’s still a chance to hold.
Capturing a Stronghold will have the benefit of increasing your influence over and area and count towards your overall control of the map. Capturing strongholds that are connected by supply lines with your main keep can achieve another bonus very useful for those who hate walking. By accomplishing this players can “teleport” to any faction along the supply line, making getting back to the front lines a whole lot easier. Of course any keeps that are besieged will have lines of transport cut and cannot be teleported to.
Finally we have the Elder Scrolls themselves. These all-powerful relics of Tamriel can be captured and controlled by any alliance. In order to capture a scroll they must be carried all the way back to your alliance’s main keep. Once there they provide a buff for all of your fighting forces within the Campaign. Alliances can capture multiple scrolls but beware, enemies can break into your keep and steal these powerful items as their own so be sure to “keep” an eye out.
If all this sounds like a recipe for grand large scale battles with a ton of players doing battle, that’s because it is. Current hopes for the entire area of Cyrodiil are having 2000 active players at once, with around 200 on screen. If you’re worried about any culling going on, made famous by Guild Wars 2’s PVP, we’ve been assured that Zenimax has learned from GW2 and there will be no culling whatsoever (lag may be another story).
If you’re a fan of PVP it looks as though TESO’s plan for it has a little something for everyone. Large-scale “zergs” are possible and most likely the best way to take large keeps but alliances must also be aware of smaller groups that can take control of farms, lumbermills, and even steal scrolls making them a risky play. Lonewolves can choose to go it alone and capture smaller less defended objectives, but risk being caught alone by a larger enemy force. Either way the Alliance Wars look as though they’ll provide a welcome scratch to the PVP itch, that many an MMO gamer feels at one time or another.