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The Elder Scrolls Online: When PvP Becomes Too Massive


The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) beta testing phase is over and Cyrodiil revealed to be exactly what I predicted last month – a lag feast of massive zerging. The promise of an epic PvP system based on choices and engaging experiences seems to be a mere utopia that is far from leaving the concept world. Regardless the lack of PvP options in ESO, the massive battling system could deliver something spectacular or rather unique. However, this is not the case. Cyrodiil appears to be a reproduction of Guild Wars 2 World-versus-World-versus-World system, where massive numbers of players from each faction battle for territory dominance. The only major innovation in the whole system is the Emperor title that crowns the player from the winning alliance with the most points (and all his/her followers) with a special bonuses tree. But even this feature has its own controversies, since it only takes one hit to earn alliance points and an assistance to earn an extra bonuses tree. But that’s no surprise, I suppose. In a system of masses, you can’t expect anything else but a massive and disperse reward.

Path of glory – follow the main army for supreme dominanace.

Cyrodiil: The Only Choice is Massive

Game director Matt Firor claimed that “ESO is about choice” but when it comes to PvP the only choice is Cyrodiil. I guess in this case, the only feasible option is to choose between entering Cyrodiil, the exclusive PvP map, or keep adventuring into solid environmental land.

It’s true that Cyrodiil is capable of proportionating different types of battles but in general, conflicts are always massive and colossal. Taking part of massive battles is inevitable and the chance to find a fair fight anywhere is close to zero. There’s too little space for strategy, tactics or skill for all that matter because the most crucial rule in massive combat is to follow the masses and hope for the best. Since the only way to stand a chance against a wave of enemies is to be among a wave of allies. Otherwise, the result is obvious – proficiency won’t bring salvation.

Massive Battles: The Pandemonium

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with massive combat systems. In fact, it can be really fun at times but that’s mostly because players spend more time watching the battlefield rather than fighting themselves. In the middle of so much chaos and disorder, there’s indeed nothing much to be done and that’s exactly when the insignificant sensation might rise up to destroy all the fun. After all, it’s not like one more arrow, fireball or sword hit will be able to change the outcome of the battle. And even if shooting a siege weapon might feel meaningful at times, it will eventually start to feel tedious for the mere fact that shooting at a wall is everything but amusing. But all this seems secondary when facing the real pandemonium. What to do when your screen is filled with enemy and allied players? Who to shoot first, where to take cover, what’s the main objective?


Combat:  Friend or Foe?

One thing I noticed while fighting in Cyrodiil was the fact that there’s no visual differentiation between players until your cursor passes by someone who’s enemy. This lack of distinction increases the chaos and confusion levels in the battlefield and in my opinion, it’s quite annoying. I know it’s a medieval game and ESO aims for realistic and immersive features; however this is far from being realistic. In medieval times, armies always carried some kind of distinction in their armors, such as colored plums. I find it quire miserable to be in the battlefield trying to realize who exactly your enemy is but well, at least there’s no friendly fire, else the entropy levels would reach unplayable standards.

The Elder Scrolls Online PvP
Finding enemy players is not as easy as it seems.

Strategy vs. Fun: The Indulgence of Easy-Mode

Nowadays, it seems like everything that is easy has become fun but does fun always stand for easy? In ESO’s logic the answer is yes. Isn’t it why the only PvP system implemented is based on quantity rather than quality? Bethesda/Zenimax could have made something very different or at least present a legitimate choice for PvPers but instead they’ve created a massive system, where all players can do is join forces in huge groups and conquer certain points. If this is not easy-mode then I don’t know what is. In fact, I don’t think they had any other option than to make the whole system quite simple and easy because the great challenge lays in finding your enemies and hitting them, else how are you supposed to farm alliance points and compete for the Emperor title? Indeed, it all fits together.


  • The Manimal
    Posted March 23, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    Did you forget to turn on you alliance indicator? Do you want to be forced to wear a certain color? Have you tried scouting instead of zerging? Because you will find a fair fight if you pick wisely. lastly hardly any game launches perfect and you will usually get lag or sever log in issues and this was beta. in my opinion you are expecting to much out of a game in beta stability wise. You lack the ability to get creative and use new tactics something succeeded at. with a 8 man group we cut enemy reinforcements that trickled for keeps for hours and avoided the big “smart” groups. I have seen 20 men stuck in the middle of a bridge for an hour fighting both opposing factions without dying so no there are tactics involved. have fun being closed minded sir.

  • synakill
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 3:08 am

    Its sad that in this day and age people are to believe that no matter what there engaging in, there efforts wont matter. Its easy to tell that whoever wrote this article is used to being micro managed and instructed through there life. I for one believe that i can and will make a difference…good day

    • Marta Branco
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      That’s so off-topic. I do feel my actions matter when I play structure PvP in games like League of Legends or Guild Wars 2. However, when playing hardcore massive gaming modes where you’re just one among a hundred in the battlefield, then I’m sorry I can’t feel like my actions matter. Why? Well, because they really don’t. Specially when the numbers are not even as it happens most of the time. So what if you can kill your enemies when you got 20 allies against 5 enemies? Does that make you feel useful, powerful or any other meaningful word? :)

  • Greenedout
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 3:55 am

    Please stop spreading your foolish hate speech, this article is not accurate. Pvp is massive and there are many choices. This fool just chose to get zerged. Everyone should disregard the content of this article.

    • Marta Branco
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      There are many choices? Like massive or massive? Please, even free MMO’s have at least two or three PvP options. ESO has one and that’s about it.

  • Happy Orcy
    Posted March 24, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Indeed this is “WOW told me I was special, Lor’themar bowed for me personally rather than I for him. I opened the vale you know. Thrall said I was very attractive. Also PVP should not last longer than 15 minutes, I am so glad me and the rest of the whiners changed Alterac Valley just for that” personified.

    The day these little whiney arses got what they wanted, is the day I quit PVP in WOW. I didn’t mind losing on my ORc Warrior, as PVP in AV was BLOODY EPIC! Now it is 15 minutes of YAWN! WHere both sides don’t even bother with eachother anymore int he middle of the map. OH yes.. Arena… MORE YAWN! Where is the fun of Warsong Gulch where you could be creative and tease the Alliance crybaby with making the Match last very long if he was an arse and corpsecamped…. why does everything have to be bloody decided for me, and than I am being told that I’m “Easy mode” by these fe…. Man the average instance lasts 15 minutes in WOW these days, heck 5 minutes more often. SOO has 13 bosses… wooooow…. Old BRD had 19!

    Grow up and learn to strategize with your guild. Get Mumble and shout out orders to those nitwits as you smash the other faction into oblivion! Organize play smart and drive the mass of idiots in front of you as they retreat confused. Hit them where it hurt and like that darn Nelf (Belf are nothing better) warrior, he will retreat into the mass of players and leave his squishies unguarded… ready for you … to FEAST ON! FOR THE HORDE GODDAMNIT! ANd yes sometimes you are out of luck and there is that cursing super drunken super midget with a long beard, strength of a Tauren and a Napoleon complex the size of the mountain he lives in. Well than you just Pull his beard and hit him again!

    But considering Dwarves only make up 2% of the Playerbase, most of your opponents will be sissy Nelves anyway.

    But all joking aside :). Mass fighting also requires strategy, and if you do it well that warrior will retreat and you will win. It isn’t just massing up on something, and you will be able to beat numbers far greater than you if you plan it out properly. My goodness, how did we survive the Guild vs Guild battles in old WOW before they removed it ;).

  • Profane
    Posted March 25, 2014 at 2:21 am

    Can you write about archeage? I feel somewhat limited i wish i could get some world pvp and not just a zone, however the attack and block abilities are great and make each fight dynamic. This game has flaws but i love the look and it felt smooth as butter last beta. Also check out shroud of the avatar. Early in development but it will be rock solid middle age sandbox mmo. Ty4arty.

  • AnitaCris
    Posted March 25, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    ESO is terrible if you’re looking for PvP in a MMO… I guess they wanted to be loyal tot he singleplayer series and make a more pve-oriented MMO. There’s many options for PVE but PVP has only one and it’s boring… always so many people.

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