Impressions: ‘The Elder Scrolls Online’ Beta PvP

So two weeks ago I played the PvE section which you can check here, but over the last weekend of the second The Elder Scrolls Online beta, ZeniMax opened up the PvP section for players to experience. It is an aspect of MMORPGs that can make or break the game, so a lot of players will be very critical and magnify its problems. However, I can’t see much wrong with it at the moment besides a few minor problems that can be fixed.

Placed in the middle of the massive Tamriel is Cyrodiil, the highly contested battlezone between the three alliances joinable in The Elder Scrolls Online. It is also the only area where you can fight other players. It takes place in Cyrodiil simply because it is where the Ruby Throne is situated. Whoever owns the Throne, rules Tamriel. Upon your first entry into Cyrodiil you are taken through a quick tutorial of the type of siege equipment you can use, how to repair it and some general knowledge about the battlefield. It also gives you some story about the Elder Scroll that each faction has to protect in their bases.

However the tutorial highlights the main problem you experience in Cyrodiil. It is a huge map, and unfortunately it is very sparse. It makes sense on paper since there are three big alliances fighting each other; however running nearly 5 minutes from the keep back to where you were fighting is a huge buzz-kill. It really damages the immersion that ZeniMax have obviously worked so hard to create. Because in general, the PvP itself is an immensely fun experience.

If you are attacking a keep with a large group of people you can attempt to take down any enemy keep, but this relies heavily on players abilities to listen and co-operate. If players run around like headless chickens, it is a very long and frustrating experience. But if you have a group that is working for each other, there is so much joy to be taken away from it.

To help give you the advantage you earn alliance points that you accumulate as you kill more enemy players and assault keeps. You can use alliance points to buy siege equipment, tents to resurrect 20 players wherever you like, wall repairs and various other items. When you purchase siege equipment you obviously have more chance of destroying and conquering the keep. The same goes for defending, to also aid defending you can use hot oil to pour over attackers who are using a battle ram.

There are a few different types of siege weapons: the Trebuchet, the Catapult, the Battering-Ram and the Ballista. Each of the siege equipment’s can have variations of their ammunition. For instance, the trebuchet can throw normal rocks or it can throw fire balls, or the ballista can shoot electric arrows, fire arrows and normal arrows. It really adds another layer of entertainment to the experience and makes it feel like you are really sieging a castle.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the PvP is just how smooth it runs. Even when it became a huge cluster as we took down the center of the keep, with NPC’s everywhere and countless amounts of players, never once did it lag. Even when I ran it on ultra-settings there was no drop in performance. However, on a less powerful computer obviously you’d want to turn the graphics down or risk killing your computer. But for server stability, it is top quality. I did notice some people complain about lots of lag or drops in frame rate but that was most likely their own computer/network issues. Hopefully the PvP can keep that level of performance for when the game releases, because it might completely change things if it doesn’t.

Now one of the most annoying things about the PvP is that there is no scaling of levels for lower level players unlike Guild Wars 2. People fight with whatever level they are, so you could have an end game player battling a level 10. I was level 15 when I first started PvP, and was absolutely dominated by some of the higher level players. I didn’t really feel like I was making a meaningful contribution to the siege, which is something that can really defer people from playing until they are higher levels.

I just ran in with everyone, helped take down a few people with what contribution I could and then got killed. It became very rinse and repeat, run in, die, run back, run in, die run back. Although between the levels of 20-50 you fall under “battle-levels” which essentially temporarily enhances their attributes. But the downside to that is basically a “battle-level” is not as strong as a real level. So basically to bring the best benefit to your team, you have to be the highest level. It is perhaps a bit confusing in the early stages, and I feel there could a better alternative to the system.

There definitely needs to be some changes to really give this the best possible experience, because there really is a huge potential for this. Whether it is done through closer respawns or sectioning off areas for different levels when the game gains a bigger population.

To add another layer of content for players, there are also additional missions you can take part in to help your character progress. It allows you to level up while still PvP’ing without worrying about wasting time not leveling.

Now from what I believe, if one faction becomes too powerful by obviously conquering lots of keeps, the other two factions can team up. It theoretically works to help counteract a certain faction completely controlling the battlefield at all times. Whether that works efficiently enough to still allow a faction to win the Alliance War will be seen once players get more time with it.

Overall, the PvP is a really enjoyable experience. Obviously it will take time to really get the best possible experience because it is still very early in development simply because it’s an MMORPG. It will take time, but for what we can experience at the moment it is a very good start.