Elder Scrolls Online PvP Q&A with Brian Wheeler

Keep in CyrodiilElitistJerks did an exclusive Q&A interview session in December with the Lead PvP Designer of Zenimax Studios, Brian Wheeler. This is not exactly fresh news but I think that the Q&A session has not been covered enough on the internet or social media for what kind of information it revealed. It brings up some very interesting bits of information on what we can expect from the Player vs. Player combat in The Elder Scrolls Online and the campaign system of Cyrodiil & the Alliance War. The size of Cyrodiil and some of the PvP rewards and incentives, for example, were revealed.

Here’s a selection of the most interesting questions and answers from the PvP Q&A session.

Combat, gear, ranks and rewards in PvP

Q: What’s going to stop the game from becoming a total CC fest?

A: Many a great concerns have been brought up about CC in many games and I’m happy to say that CC does have a role in combat for sure, but it’s not debilitating rendering you unable to fight back which is usually the big concern.  One of the primary reasons behind this is how you break out of CC by holding down left mouse and clicking right mouse to break out (if you have enough stamina to do so which usually is the case).  There also are Alliance War abilities that break out your entire group from being CC’d.  Lastly, CC duration’s are short in Elder Scrolls Online with only a few lasting long term, which are broken when you take damage immediately.


Q: Are you going to make sure that AOE skills will be strong enough to help small and coordinated groups fend off larger and less organized groups?

A: I can say that Siege weaponry and the like have been adjusted to help make this a possibility (and in fact was proven as a legitimate tactic at Chalman Keep during Beta), and we are always balancing our abilities across the board to find the right population and skill ratio so small groups and large groups are effective in the open field.  As Elder Scrolls Online will receive updates through out it’s lifetime, there will be many passes at skills, weapons, armor and abilities that will benefit everyone both small and large, open field or not, in PvE and PVP.


Q: Do you need PvP gear to be competitive in end game PvP?

A: Weapons, Armor and Jewelry attained from dungeons, questing, crafting and PVP will be useful in Cyrodiil to you in combat.  There will be sets available in PVP  that aren’t available elsewhere with a unique look to them and set bonuses, but they are not required to “win” in combat.


Q: What kind of PvP ranks can we expect in ESO?

A: Every other Alliance War Rank will confer a new rank Symbol to the player target frame to indicate what Rank that player is. The player him or herself will not visually be different or have an extended title attached to their nameplate other than the symbol.  There also are some very cool looking light, medium and heavy armor sets available in Cyrodiil that have an appearance that should be very familiar to Elder Scrolls players.


Q: What rewards will we get for killing other players, capturing an objective or winning a campaign entirely?

A: The PVP Currency is Alliance Points which you earn from killing players, capturing locations, defending locations and completing Alliance War Quests for scouting, capturing, and killing.  Also note that a large gold reward is granted at the end of a Campaign time period depending on how well your Alliance did as well as how well you did.  There are also rewards for placing high on the Leaderboards at the end of Campaigns as well as staying within your Campaign rewarding loyalty to not only your Alliance, but fellow Campaign members. You can buy gear with these Alliance points and you’ll get new titles as you rank up in the war.  Lastly, you get good old fashioned experience to level up by killing players and completing quests in Cyrodiil as well.

Battering Ram Elder Scrolls Online


Cyrodiil and campaigns

Q: How big is Cyrodiil?

A: Cyrodiil is very very large!  On foot it would take you roughly 20-30 minutes to cross it from north to south.


Q: Given the large size of Cyrodiil, what are you doing to make sure the whole map is interesting and has things to do?

A: Besides keeps and the resources that fuel them, there are specific choke points between the Alliance territories within Cyrodiil to look for small skirmish fights.  Also note that the towns of Cyrodiil offer PVE quests that are repeatable so if you’re looking to take a break from killing people, or even better, want to look for players taking a break and don’t expect to be killed, head to Bruma, Cheydinhal, Chorrol, Cropsford or Vlastarus!


Q: What types of PvE content can I do to help my alliance in Cyrodiil?

A: While there are no direct influences on the war in Cyrodiil via doing quests in Bruma, Cheydinhal, Chorrol, Cropsford, Vlastarus and the caves, there are tons of weapons, armor and gold to be found by aiding the citizens of Cyrodiil.  This gold and armor in return benefits your Alliance on a larger scale as you can buy weaponry to burn down the enemy or repair your own structures.

Cyrodiil is not simply about fighting over Keeps and killing the enemy.  It’s an economic war as well.  When a wall is destroyed, it has to be rebuilt, and rebuilding it costs gold and time.  Your hard earned gold and efforts come into play not only keeping your lands safe and establishing beach-heads in enemy territory, but also hitting the enemy in the wallet! Let’s say you’re a small group and not enough to take a keep over…you can setup some weapons and destroy wall sections that the enemy has to rebuild and spend gold or alliance points to do so!


Q: How does the population cap system work in a campaign?

A: Currently we have a cap per Alliance within Cyrodiil Campaigns but it does not dynamically scale.  We are aware of population and scoring imbalances and currently we offer a scoring imbalance benefit to the two “underdog” Alliances.  Simply put, if one Alliance has more Campaign points than the other two Alliances combined, the lower scoring Alliances get bonuses to their score against the higher scoring Alliance.  If Daggerfall and Aldmeri were losing to Ebonheart for example, both Daggerfall and Aldmeri will get more points when they capture keeps, resources and Elder Scrolls native to Ebonheart, but also more points for holding their natively owned keeps.


Q: How are you balancing Cyrodiil population to limit queues?

A: We intend to have many Campaigns available but not so many that population is sparse.  Our population reporting is very accurate and we’ll be able to tell if we need more or less campaigns available to players not only depending on concurrency of players online, but also over time. To give as much balance as we can per side we do have population caps per Alliance within Cyrodiil, but also offer Campaign Scoring differential bonuses which I noted in a post prior in these threads.


Q: How many campaigns will I be able to join, and can I switch between them at any time? 

A: We are still nailing down exactly how many Campaigns we will launch with, but you will be able to Switch your assigned campaign and Guest campaign status.  Note that switching your Home Campaign will cost you Alliance Points to do so after your first freeby switch we give all players. Also note you can join other players in their Campaigns if you’re in their group. Assigned or “Home” Campaigns will determine where you get bonuses from in Cyrodiil.

Cyrodiil Keep Walls

The Q&A session also revealed that players from opposing alliances will not be able to chat with each other in Cyrodiil. They are still able to use and understand emotes, but public messages or zone-wide chat will be for each alliance only.

Another interesting piece of information was that the emperor and alliance war skill lines will be usable and situationally useful in PvE zones outside of Cyrodiil. Some of the abilities prevent siege damage, for example, which obviously makes those abilities redundant in anywhere but Cyrodiil, where siege damage exists.

The full Q&A session can be found on ElitistJerks forums.