The Elder Scrolls Online Imperial City DLC came with a host of changes, including the PvP upgrades and balance that many had been hoping for for some time. Cyrodiil is a place where many players do go to enjoy themselves, and Zenimax has stated before that its goal was to create a zone that would attract different kinds of players. So what is Imperial City like for a player like myself who often plays solo and is more of a PvE-oriented RPG player?
The developers have stated all along that they want Cyrodiil to feel like an integrated part of the experience, and that initially, PvE-oriented players might have been staying away more. Yet, the goal was to make the zone retain its sense of risk and danger, but at the same time, offer enough to be inviting to those who might not normally be inclined to enter an open PvP zone. More often than not, when playing a game, I like to be able to do what I want in my limited playtime than have others potentially ruin it for me. Avoiding PvP servers and contested areas is one of the ways to do that. But every time I am in Cyrodiil, I’m still impressed how pretty it is. Even amidst the picture of decay and warfare, the area looks like an extension of the rest of the game, and its vastness does offer PvErs a lot of space in which to roam. Cyrodiil gave me expectations for Imperial City, since when you do manage to get me in there, I always wonder why I’m not in there more often. Cyrodiil is necessarily disconnected from the rest of the world, and it’s easy for me to skip over PvP instances unless in a very specific mood. But Imperial City adds not just a new zone to play in, it also adds value to both holding keeps in Cyrodiil and the connected element that the place was missing.
Imperial City does take some careful navigation to get to. Luckily, we held all of the base keeps, so travel to the entrance was simple. As someone not looking to get caught up in fights when I’m not in the mood for or ready for them, and someone who mostly plays a burst class that’s also a bit squishy at times, seeing mostly scattered players and just one real large skirmish over a keep by the entrance made things calm. Still, I had a good ride around Cyrodiil when it wasn’t lagged up. The lag situation is better, though it did get as bad as to log me out completely once. I use a non-VR campaign because I prefer dipping a toe into PvP areas without maxed characters. It’s more casual and isn’t loaded with all of the expectations of achievements, builds, and gear of the VR tiers. It makes for a more relaxed PvE experience. I brought one of my Nightblades into those sewers and into the districts.
After some time spent within the sewer tunnels, thankful that while virtual reality headsets seem to be on their way, we don’t have a system yet to deliver the smells of game environments. The tunnels house safe zones, but are also connected via paths that also have some gnarly enemies, as well as adventurous players who might be running around seeking a challenge.
Picking the creatures in the tunnels off is easier, but with so much scenery to behold, why would you want to sneak around like rats in a tunnel? Imperial City’s six districts are brand new and the detailing involved in making them all feel individual is done right. The Temple District, with its dilapidated bookshelves, once ornate places of worship, and narrow, organized streets, might be a favorite of mine. With Molag Bal’s chapter of the ESO story coming to an end, each of these districts feels broken, corrupted, and as if there is a real sense of history in them. The main game in ESO also shares that detailing in making parts of the world feel grounded and realistic.
Unfortunately, as mentioned, it was a bit underpopulated the other night when grabbing screens, and having pockets of multiple enemies with a pretty traditionally set up dual-wield Nightblade doesn’t always work so well alone. When there are players represented on multiple sides though, the more contained environments are good for the smaller scale PvP if it’s going to happen. In the closer quarters, especially if people are in the tunnels or narrower parts of the districts (and not launching magic or arrows at you from above), it makes for a more fun PvP game since the smaller areas make it so some of us less skilled aren’t always picked off as easily.
Still, I was skeptical about how much value might be in Imperial City for those not overly interested in PvP. One of the biggest problems with MMORPGs for PvE-oriented players is having enough content. With ESO, it feels like the team looks out for all its players, including the segment that came from the single player Elder Scrolls games. VR and Champion systems give some options to players, sure, but Imperial City is fresh and feels like a good place to run around, take out new enemies, do new dungeons, get new items, and complete the more than a dozen new quests that lead you all around and into the final confrontation. With the vastness of Imperial City and its accessibility and content, as someone who is only into the most casual PvP, I would say yes, it is worth having access to Imperial City. If an update like this could both make the world feel more connected and provide satisfying new content, it just makes me look forward to even more story content in the next DLC.