The Elder Scrolls Online: Is There Any Hope for PvP?

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The remarkable single player series of Elder Scrolls is finally reaching and connecting players all over the world through its MMO structure. In the Elder Scrolls Online (TESO), players will finally be able to experience the true essence of massive online wars. Player-versus-player features are one of the main attractions of TESO, although expectations can easily be crushed. The on-going TESO beta reveals that PvP is not only casual; it’s also uncompetitive and unchallenging. With alliance wars as the only option to face human enemies, TESO’s PvP seems to be nothing but a huge letdown. It’s true that we’re in the age of masses but when it comes to MMOs, is there any hope for PvP, when the only option is massive wars without any type of regulation or balancing?

The Elder Scrolls Online PvPCyrodiil: The PvP Core of TESO

In TESO there’s only one form of PvP and it all happens in one single map, Cyrodiil. This means that players have no other options when it comes to fight other human players. Battlegrounds, arenas, frontlines… they’re all inexistent in TESO. Cyrodiil features an alliance war system (AvAvA), where the three factions in game battle for glory, influence and territory. This map seems to have a vast history background and it’s as huge as it used to be in the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. But that’s not everything. Cyrodiil also offers innumerous quests, dark anchors, exploration points and dungeons. So, in the end this is not an exclusive PvP zone, it’s a hybrid map with multiple options for both, PvE and PvP players.

Alliance Wars: The Age of the Masses

Large scale battles are quite usual in current-gen MMOs. But being common doesn’t stand for being good or superior. It’s indeed a feature MMO players tend to enjoy due to its casual particularity. The age of the masses goes where it pleases and quantity wins over quality, no matter what. TESO’s alliance wars will follow this principle of masses – without much effort or skill, large amounts of players can simply take over objectives and feel happy about it. In this type of PvP structure players’ performance and individual skills are pretty much disregarded, since they can hardly make a difference in the middle of so many competitors. Eventually, the top geared players will be able to easily crush weaker opponents but this doesn’t involve skill, strategy or war techniques once again.

The Elder Scrolls Online PvPCompetitive: Where’s the Fair-Play?  

Fair-play is a rare mechanic in large scale battle systems, which means competitive and balanced fights are unlikely to happen in TESO. But it gets worse. Dominance over Cyrodill’s territories will provide bonuses to all faction members of a certain alliance. So, even if you manage to find even numbers to fight, your enemies will either have superior or inferior attributes compared to your squad. Amusing right? Furthermore, if one faction gets too strong, the other two can join forces to take it down – the enemy of my enemy is my friend, I suppose? I wonder what the Elder Scrolls lore has to say about this.

Casual PvP Mechanics: Zerging

How can you win objectives in Cyrodiil? You surely need tactics but they’re all so casual and basic that I’d rather call it common sense than war strategy. Leaders are still required but all they have to do is gathering players together and distribute them among close objectives, other than that, it’s pretty much about numbers, levels and gear. The main strategy is the obvious – gang the enemy and zerg the hell out of them. A scattered opponent is a dead opponent, no matter how strong and brave they are.

Back to my original question, I don’t think there’s any hope for PvP in TESO. Unless ZeniMax develops other forms of PvP, this single method will only work for casual devotees. Anyone who enjoys PvP, challenging group fights and war tactics will quickly move on to another MMO simply because Cyrodiil’s structure doesn’t proportionate any means for fair-play and competitive PvP. It’s all about player numbers and conquering objectives for extra faction bonuses. It surely can be fun at very peculiar situations but if you think rationally, there’s nothing fun about winning when you have all the advantages at your side.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Previewing the Magnitude of the Disaster

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The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) is definitely one of the most anticipated games of 2014. Even though the hype is currently global, the Elder Scrolls fever is particularly more visible amongst MMO communities due to its upcoming multiplayer-based gameplay. But what’s this hype all about? At first it was just about a popular single player game coming to life in the multiplayer sense but now, the hype has become general. Players all over the world want to put their hands on The Elder Scrolls Online but that’s probably due to the overrated hype that is currently going on. The Elder Scrolls Online appears to be just another game in the MMO industry and it has been previewed as an upcoming disaster by several media sites, including Forbes. I also think this game won’t be able to escape its inevitable destiny to become an utterly disappointment. There are just too many flaws for a game that hasn’t been released yet. From the lack of original content to undeveloped social and UI systems, TESO exposes serious symptoms of nothing more than just another ordinary MMO. And honestly, not even the huge Elder Scrolls fan base will be able to cover the lack of quality and creative content once the game goes live. But the list goes on:

1. Subscription: Is TESO Worth Paying for Every Month?

The Elder Scrolls OnlineOne of the main controversies surrounding TESO is the $15 monthly fee. The monthly subscription method used to be quite popular a few years ago, especially among MMOs. But times have changed and this method is no longer reliable. Besides, what’s so special about TESO that makes it worth paying $60 per box copy and $180 per year? My answer: It’s simply not worth it. When players pay for a game, they’re actually buying the opportunity to experience its content. Therefore, the price should be correlated to the content’s quality. In this case, there’s absolutely no correlation between price and content quality. In the end, you’ll just be paying a fortune for a hyped game with poor features, basically zero innovation and a very casual orientation. I suppose this is the price for simply experiencing an online version of Elder Scrolls.

2. Multiple Platforms: Generalizing Audiences – Is It a Great Idea?

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The multiple platforms concept is certainly a great idea, it’s a huge success in the single player industry but it’s something rare in the MMO genre. However, what Bethesda/ZeniMax didn’t consider was the different types of audiences. Mixing console and PC players is a tremendous mistake because both gaming worlds have their own particularities. In most cases, a standard MMO player is used to pay for in-game items or regular fees. On the other hand, a console player spends superior amounts of money purchasing single player titles and he’s not willing to pay monthly subscriptions (mostly because this method is practically inexistent in the console world). It’s true that TESO will reach a much wider audience with this feature but does it mean it’ll get a much larger player base compared to most MMOs? Probably not.

3. Combat Mechanisms: Unique, But Just a Little

The typical class model from fantasy MMOs is evoked once again. TESO will feature four main classes: Dragon Knight (Warrior); Nightblade (Rogue); Sorcerer; Templar. Each class will have tree specialization trees containing very distinctive skills and roles. Until here, there’s absolutely nothing new, however it seems that the holy trinity of MMOs will suffer some major changes. TESO’s gear system will allow players of any class to wear all type of equipment. This will create a much wider variety of customization and personalized builds, as well as a role blending system (rogues who can tank, warriors who can heal, mages wearing swords). But once again, this feature can already be experienced in existing MMOs such as Rift, where every class can assume basically any role.

4. Leveling Up: Single Playing Still Works

The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls are known for its RPG phenomenal solo experience and apparently, the online version will still allow players to create their own journey without the need of others. There are several dungeons, named bosses and region events called Dark Anchors but none of these group grinding features seem to nullify the efficiency of a single player mindset. In fact, players can do most of their leveling through solo missions. A bit controversial for a next-generation MMO, I would say.

5. Social, Animation Systems & UI: Not Exactly What Intended

TESO’s social and animation systems are everything but modern. Since the game has to fit several platforms, the UI is rather alternative and the usability is not exactly the best. The character animation and combat movements are also very clunky and repetitive compared to recent MMOs like Guild Wars 2. Lacking proper interactive systems can affect players’ enthusiasm to keep playing once the narrative has been explored.

6. PvP: The Ascension of AvAvA

The Elder Scrolls Online

If player-versus-player is something you’re really looking forward to experience in TESO, then you should start looking for another game. TESO will feature an alliance war system, where the three alliances in game will strike for dominance (it resembles the WvWvW system from Guild Wars 2). PvP will only exist in one specific map, Cyrodiil, and that’s about it. There are no battlegrounds; no structured or open-world PvP and I haven’t seen anything about arenas either. So basically, you can only fight other players through massive encounters that include specific objectives and siege weapons. A huge disappointment, I would say but it’s no surprise.

7. Crafting: The Illusion of Something New

So, I thought TESO would have at least one original feature in the whole game but I soon realized that the upcoming crafting system will be a combination of individual features from other games. Supposedly, players will be able to craft unique items and apply exclusive bonuses. Though, that’s just an illusion. The recipe system is quite old already and the random enchantment mechanism exists in many MMOs like Age of Wushu/Age of Wulin. Also, the possibility to combine different ingredients in order to obtain new discoveries can be found in Guild Wars 2.

I honestly don’t understand all the hype around this game. There’s simply no logic background behind so much expectation. The game turns out to be just another MMO carrying out a popular series name. In the core, there’s absolutely nothing new or creative. The gameplay is extremely casual and competitive PvP will be inexistent. And the worst part, players must pay a quite high monthly subscription just to login. Is there any prompt to failure condition missing? As Forbes’ Paul Tassi stated, TESO is a prime candidate for a huge disaster:

We’ve seen a number of high profile online launch disasters recently, and The Elder Scrolls Online seems like a prime candidate for a similar meltdown.