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Elder Scrolls Online Column: The Longevity of PvP in ESO

By Ryan Getchell on March 19, 2014

Let’s face it, an MMORPG that has a leveling cap, the end game is where the game itself should shine. As much as the leveling experience needs to be great to keep the player playing, it is nothing compared to the time we spend at end game. We’ve all played them, MMORPGs with leveling caps, WoW, SWTOR, DAoC, GW2, I can go on for a while listing them but you get my drift. How much play time was during the leveling experience? Very little, right? Most of your time playing was at “end game” or level cap. This week I want to take a step back from all the hype of the Elder Scrolls Online launch and talk about something that might be over looked, the longevity of PvP in ESO.

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We know that a lot of the developers that have worked on The Elder Scrolls Online came from Dark Age of Camelot. A game that, in a way revolutionized the MMORPG genre.  It showed that PvP can be more than just a 1v1, 2v2, etc, type of system. Massive scale battles are possible. If you talk to anyone who played DAoC during its prime, they’ll tell you that they had one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable PvP experiences that no other game has been able to repeat. With the developers of ESO being the ones who created such a ground breaking game, it would be safe to say that ESO will be able to repeat the success that DAoC has, right?

As it stands right now, I don’t think we can expect anything similar to DAoC’s success. Stay with me here, I have valid reasons. A lot of you are thinking I’m completely wrong and the PvP in ESO is the best part and will be the feature that makes ESO a successful MMO. That opinion is based off the few beta tests you’ve had the opportunity to play in. A state of mind I like to call the honeymoon period. Everything is great at the start but once it is over you start to see that once perfect, beautiful game in a whole new light. You start to see all the imperfections, this is how I am seeing ESO PvP right now.

DAoC still has thousands of people playing, and paying the subscription fee, but what does it have that ESO doesn’t? A near endless progression system. Dark Age has Realm Ranks. When you kill people, take a keep, or a relic, you’d earn Realm Points. Now these Realm Points (or RPs) are the same thing as Alliance Points in ESO, but they differ in how they are used. In Dark Age, these points were used as a type of leveling system. Realm Rank 13 being the highest which required 66,181,501 Realm Points. Not exactly something you can earn in a week or month. Each Realm Rank consisted of 9 mini levels within it. An example would be someone who is RR8L4, meaning they are Realm Rank 8, 4 levels into it. Each level earned you one Realm skill point that you could use on new abilities. As you progressed through the realm abilities, they became more and more expensive forcing you to save those precious points. There was always something for you to spend your Realm points on. Either a new ability or passive or an upgrade on an existing one, which cost additional points on top of its previous cost.

As complicated as this system sounds, it really wasn’t hard to understand.  But this system is what kept people engaged in PvP, if you spent one hour or 11 hours in PvP you felt like your time in the game was rewarded. This system made it so players didn’t ever feel like they completed the game, something a lot of MMOs don’t offer.

ESO doesn’t have this feature, sure it has Alliance Points, but it doesn’t have the near endless progression that DAoC uses. The Alliance Points in ESO aren’t connected to any form of progression they are solely used as a currency to purchase gear (which is not any better than the best PvE gear), potions, and Siege weapons. In my eyes the Alliance Points are just added fluffy currency.

Of course there is the prestige title of becoming Emperor.  But honestly, only the people who dedicate the most time in PvP will be on the top of the charts and have a chance at the title. Perhaps months down the road when PvP has calmed down a bit we can see a few casual PvPers claiming the title but not anytime soon. However, for the sake of argument, let us say we earned the title. We now have a new skill tree that we can put our skill points into and level it up. If you’ve been in the beta, one thing you might have noticed is it doesn’t take a long time to level skills to the point where we can morph them. Perhaps you’re a very casual player and it takes you a week to do it. After that week, then what?

Once you’ve earned the title of Emperor, what other goals are there within ESO PvP that are in place to keep players wanting to go into Cyrodiil. MMORPGs should feel endless, and sadly ESO’s PvP feels as if it ends. Worst of all, it doesn’t take much time to get there.

So does ESO have longevity in its PvP? No, least not as it stands right now. If the system stays as it is right now I foresee a large portion of the PvP fans losing interest in ESO PvP and going back to their previous game. Zenimax needs to develop a progression system.  It doesn’t have to be like DAoC’s (it’d be awesome if it was though), but it does need to make the player feel like they have something to work towards.

I hope I was able to shed some light on a big concern of mine and I hope that Zenimax releases something that will make Alliance Points more valuable to the player than just a simple currency. 

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