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Elder Scrolls Online Previews: Stuff We Didn't Play - PVP and Social Integration

By William Murphy on October 22, 2012

Once our day of playing Elder Scrolls Online was over, the Zenimax Online Studios folks pulled us back into the presentation room to over some of the many things we didn’t get to see for ourselves, as well as answer a smattering of our questions about all we’ve seen and played.  From high level multi-player dungeons to AVA, the social experience, to crafting, morality, and max-level progression… well, we got an earful.  Read on for more and leave us your thoughts in the comments below.

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Nick Konkle took the stage to show us some high level PVE content.  This focused on how players and mobs can work together in unique ways with ability synergies.  We saw an Ember Mage and a Foot Soldier worth together.  The Footie dropped a bunch of tar on the ground to slow my movement, and then the Ember Mage shot a stream of flame at it until the pitch became a pit of fire.  The Dwemer constructs in the game do the same sort of things.  Only when a construct steps out of combat to charge up a sphere of electricity, you’d better kill the other dwemer objects around because if you don’t they’ll go into the sphere and supercharge themselves. 

Nick then showed us one of the game’s more powerful foes: a Lich. He summoned pits of undead that clawed up from the ground and damaged Nick as they held him in place while the Lich drained him of his health.  But that’s when Nick was joined by another staffer playing as a Sorcerer (one of many classes we didn’t get to play).  The sorcerer can place a lightning splash on the ground as an AOE damage effect, and ally players (partied or not, it doesn’t matter) can run in and set off another charge of electricity as “conduits” of that spell.  It’s really pretty damned awesome.  The Dragonknight also get an Ultimate skill later on in the game called “Chosen Ground”.  Essentially a battle-flag, all players that hang near it long enough will get a massive power buff.  This also would work well for Dragonknights to call areas of combat out, while serving to power folks up at the same time.

Next Matt Firor took the stage again to tell us about how ESO will be the most socially connected MMO ever.  Facebook, Twitter, Google+… they’ll all be seamlessly integrated into the game from the start.  You can import all your friends, circles, followers into the game directly.  You can even make a Guild Page on Facebook prior to launch, have your friends join it, have guild members join it, and then import it directly into ESO.  Boom, instant guild.  Matt claims they ZOS knows that people now have friends everywhere, from every walk of life.  They don’t want to make you manage yet another social network.  Instead they believe that Elder Scrolls will benefit by making itself as socially connected to the existing networks as possible. 

He then went on about how the shard system of servers is dying in MMOs.  Friends can be scattered, players can be left out in the cold when their server’s population dwindles.  Not in Elder Scrolls Online.  The game will use a Megaserver system that will eliminate server full messages, queue times, and ghost servers.  It knows to put you in zones where your friends are.  It knows who you’ve played with and will put you with them it when it can.  It watches your friends list, guilds, and puts you with people you might actually care to see.  You can track what friends have been up to and comment on their achievements.  Or, if you’re the loner type the game will let you stay private and do your own thing.  There’s even going to be a survey in game that will let you choose what type of player you are and then it will group you with like-minded folks in the game’s many areas. 

Next was a brief look at the Alliance War or “AVA” system.  The three factions of the game (Daggerfall, Ebonheart, and Aldmeri) are at war over who should control Cyrodiil now that the emperor is dead.  There is no one ruling the entirety of the kingdoms, and these three alliances each have their own designs as to who the next ruler should be.  The game map has each alliance owning one massive corner of the world, while Cyrodiil (the massive AVA zone) sits contested in the middle.  Your alliance will fight over keeps, control points, towers, and tons of other objectives.  The goal of the Cyrodiil experience is to give solo players, small groups, and even massive guilds each something to work towards in a giant competitive territory.  Hundreds of players can and will compete over a keep at once, and even in Pre-Alpha this is already working. 

We saw a video taken internally as the entire studio got together to fight over a keep.  We watched as siege weaponry fired at a solid stone wall and broke it down slowly but surely.  It wasn’t just knocked down all at once.  At first it began to crumble, and with repeated attacks, it was eventually rendered useless.  Then the fight moved to the middle of the keep.  Hundreds of players were fighting over control, and as one side began to win the controlling alliance’s flag burned away as the attackers’ took over. 

Lastly we were told there’s even more coming that we haven’t heard much of.  Like meaningful and useful crafting, perks, werewolves, vampires, combat pets, the Thieves Guild, the Fighters Guild, the Mages Guild, and even down the road… the Dark Brotherhood. 

We then began a Q&A session, and to make it easy to read, I’ll use handy bullet points.  Everyone loves bulletpoints!

  • Three distinct 1-50 experiences (one for each Alliance)
  • Lower level players are bolstered to play in Cyrodiil’s AVA
  • Dark Anchors are randomly spawning dynamic events for everyone in the area to partake in.
  • Dark Anchors and Daedric artifacts tie into the Fighters Guild
  • The Mages Guild involves collecting valuable old books and lore.
  • Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood are coming, likely soon after launch.
  • The Emperor can be crowned in AVA. He’s the top of the leaderboards, gets a special outfit, perks, and so forth.  Expected to switch frequently.
  • No “safe period” when defending keeps. Must defend right after take over.
  • Adventure Zones are areas that will open up beyond level 50 to give high level PVE’ers something to play with. Massive open PVE-oriented areas.
  • Player crafting is expected to be a huge part of the economy.
  • Weapon upgrades, armor upgrades, potions, and so forth like in other TES games.
  • There will be a trading house for selling items.
  • Benefits to armor types. Might be magic bonuses on light armor, stamina on medium, and defense on heavy.
  • Crafters can and will dabble in all schools, and anyone can collect any resource.
  • Morality and criminality is expected to be added after launch.
  • Level 50, still advance your un-maxed skills, weapons, and armor.
  • Role-player emotes, flags for the Megaserver to group you by all coming before launch.
  • No announcement to make for monetization just yet. Exploring options.
 

And with that, our Q&A ended as we needed to head out and take a tour of the studio.  I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who spent much of the tour thinking about the game and just how much fun it had been. There’s a lot more to learn when it comes to Elder Scrolls Online, but it’s certainly looking good so far.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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