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Interviews: Brian Wheeler Talks PvP and 'Darkness Falls'

By Michael Bitton on February 18, 2014

MMORPG: From what I understand, the Imperial City itself cannot be entered at this time. Is this intentional? Or will players be able to enter the Imperial City at some point?

Brian Wheeler:  It’s intentional that you can’t enter the Imperial City at this time. That’s all I’ll say about it right now.

MMORPG: Are you looking to add more in-game tools for players to use in organizing forces in AvA?

Brian Wheeler: We have a very simple version of it right now where you can set waypoints as the group leader. You can click on the map and set a waypoint for everyone else in your group to see. Beyond that, we haven’t explored too much just yet.

It is something that we’re aware of that players have been asking for and while we want to add it, there are obviously many, many other features we need to get into the game as well. But there is at least some minimal waypoint placing for the time being within a group. We’re starting with that and then we’re going to go from there.

MMORPG: Can we ever expect something like Darkness Falls in ESO?

Brian Wheeler: Everybody always asks me that and all I can say is that, if we’ve given you everything you want so far for PvP massive scale feedback, just, you know, stay tuned.  We’ll have more information on something that people have been asking for for a long time and I’m working on things that will try to give that same sense. Right now we have the caves, where you can go into them and kill people, but obviously people want things that are a lot more involved, like you guys said, like Darkness Falls.

In case anyone doesn’t understand what Darkness Falls is, the easiest way to describe it to people is a single PvE space that only one alliance has access to at a time. People have been asking for that for a long time. It’s stuff that’s on the radar, but I can’t go too much into when or how it will come into the game.

MMORPG:  One thing that stood out to me in AvA is that I sometimes had trouble telling if I was hitting someone with my bow. Do you have any plans for a sort of hit indicator or something like that?

Brian Wheeler: Yeah, there’s actually some things we’re looking at internally right now, where we’re trying to give hitting both players and NPCs a little bit more impact. We have in there right now, if you show the health bars, it’ll do a little bit of a flash when you hit a target, but feedback has been asking for some more of that, especially for melee impact, so we’re looking at that right now. For the time being, if you turn on health bars, it’ll do a small little flash when you hit them to help out. It is tough to tell when you’re dealing with 40 or 50 people in front of you that are all enemies, but like I said, we’re trying to figure out some things for that now.

MMORPG: Can you explain how small groups make an impact in AvA?

Brian Wheeler: When we open up betas with people getting into PvP, their first initial tactics are stick with friends, go in numbers; that’s how you’re safe. What usually happens, this has happened the last three or four betas we’ve had where Cyrodiil has been active, is around the 24 to 36 hour mark, people start to break away from that mentality, they start to go, “You know, the zerg is cool and all, it’s safe, but I want to do some other things.” And that’s where the small group combat starts to kick in, and that’s where you start to see things like resources just getting flipped and nobody knew how that happened, nobody knew who did it, except that you see a message in zone chat going, “Ah ha! We got it!” Those small resources to take are great for small groups. They’re built for four players.

As betas have progressed, people have started to develop those tactics, where they break away from the zerg, they go over to these small objectives and capture them and then they actually can shut off transit for an entire keep if you take all three around a keep. So small groups can have a huge impact. There’s also the good ‘ol economic warfare, where small groups can go and Swiss cheese a keep. They don’t care about taking it over, because they know they can’t. They just want to blow up all the walls to make you spend all your Alliance Points on repair kits. There’s not just the direct taking over something you own, but a small group can have a huge economic impact on an enemy by blowing up all the walls on a keep, but never actually taking it over, because then they actually need to repair it.

And lastly, some of the other tactics I’ve seen, speaking of small groups, what’s famous now in one of the original Cyrodiil betas was something called the Chalamo. Chalman Keep was one of the Ebonheart keeps where a small group of defenders held off wave after wave after wave of enemy attackers. So, a small group can not only take objectives, but also defend a keep against larger groups, too.

MMORPG: Can you talk about PvE in Cyrodiil? For example, the various towns you can find strewn around the map.

Brian Wheeler:  There’s five of those towns out there, Bruma, Cheydinhal, Chorrol, Cropsford and Vlastarus. All right out of Oblivion. One of the funny things that I get asked about all the time is how is it possible that some of those towns existed back then but don’t exist now. If you look at the landmarks in Oblivion, we actually took a lot of them and made them either full-fledged keeps during our timeframe or made them towns that have still been thriving, they’re just smaller versions of them.

But those towns, they have repeatable PvE quests to do and if you want to go try and gank some people, that’s another place to go to kill them.  You don’t have to go to keep, you don’t have to go to a resource or to a bottleneck, you can head to those towns and look for people to kill. Or, if nobody is there, you can go and get some quests done and get some experience. 

MMORPG: Can you comment on the Cyrodiil level scaling concerns raised in Isarii’s Tamriel Foundry piece?

Brian Wheeler:  The level scaling functions to adjust player stats up to that of around level 45-50 in average green gear with points spread between Magicka, Stamina and Health evenly. We are well aware of the issues with it and working on resolving them.

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined as the site's Community Manager.