The Elder Scrolls Online: Crafting the Perfect MMO

The Escapist Staff | 14 Feb 2014 10:00
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PvP (Paul Goodman, Escapist Video editor)

The primary goal of PVP in The Elder Scrolls Online is to capture and secure the various keeps that dot the map in Cyrodiil, a triangular shaped region in the middle of the playable world. Surprisingly, there's a good deal of strategy involved in conquering or defending a keep beyond just capturing a flag or control point. All of the keeps are surrounded by three additional locations; a lumber mill, a farm, and a mining site, each of which provide bonuses based on how long they've been under your (or your enemy's) control. If you're on the offensive trying to capture a castle, it's an important strategy to capture these areas first to deprive the enemy of bonuses or reinforcements.

Taking on castles themselves is a long and involved process that requires a great deal of effort from the players involved, and can actually be a dull experience - at least at first. To even get in the castle, you have to break down one of its gates or walls, and this is where player-operated siege weapons play an important role. Taking the form of trebuchets, ballistas and battering rams, you can purchase siege weapons and equipment from special merchants located in each friendly keep, costing you either gold or the currency you earn from competing in PVP. All of the siege gear acts like a consumable (that you can thankfully pick back up if you need to move), and there's a handy indicator that appears on the ground to show where you can deploy them. Using any of the siege weapons is surprisingly easy, as you can simply use your mouse to aim and there's guidelines that show where your projectile will land. But at the same time, it's not terribly engaging to click on a target, fire, and then wait for your catapult to reload over and over.

Unfortunately, whittling down doors can take a long time, and if you're not manning siege weapon or trying to snipe enemy players with ranged attacks, it's not the most adrenaline pumping experiencing. Once the doors are down, however, then the pacing of the game can pick up, as melee-based characters can get the opportunity to get into combat with any enemy defenders inside.

The PVP events I participated in were limited - I only encountered about a dozen enemy players throughout my several hours of play, and the group of friendly players I joined up with only numbered around 30 or so. Despite being a mixed bag of waiting long stretches of time followed frantic close quarters combat, I did enjoy some of my time in combat with other players and conquering keeps, but I probably would've had more fun if the game had scaled my character up to a level on par with the NPCs. Regardless of its current state, however, you can definitely see the potential ESO has for some really enjoyable PvP action once there are hundreds of players all vying for control of Cyrodiil and battling each other in large scale battles. If the idea of fantasy battles on a massive scale piques your interest, you'll probably want to keep an eye out to see how TESO's PvP evolves once the game hits launch.

Greg says: In closing, many people have written about the blandness of the first few hours of Elder Scrolls Online, John Walker of Rock, Paper Shotgun being the most notable, but I don't really agree with that criticism. Yes, some of the writing and voice acting falls flat, but there are also memorable characters and stories being told. I enjoyed the engaging stories you don't really get from MMOs, and the pure game-making craft of the game can't be denied. Not every part of the game is perfect by any means, but ESO does feel like an incredibly polished experience. I still don't know if playing it is worth the $15/month subscription fee, but it's definitely a CRPG experience you don't want to miss.

Walker is right though, John Cleese is wasted as voice talent with his little bit in the opening sequence. Pretend he's not there.

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