The most significant issue plaguing MMO PvP is that it is rarely meaningful. Warhammer Online was one of the last MMOs to offer RvR as a core component of the game and make the consequences of winning an RvR campaign matter. Winning across the various campaign tiers, bringing the fight to the enemy faction’s capital city and winning there would result in serious consequences for the losing side.
Those defeated folks would be booted out of their capital city for a time, while enemy forces ransacked and looted the city, and could even lock out the inhabitants from doing PvE dungeon content in the capital while being able to do that same content themselves. Unfortunately, the player base didn’t react too well to having actual consequences for losing the campaign and Mythic eventually scrapped most of this over time. Personally, I’m all for this sort of thing, I want meaningful consequences for winning or losing, but if that isn’t going to work for the MMO gaming populace, then tangible rewards would be the next best thing.
Like WAR, Elder Scrolls Online will also feature RvR campaigns, though the entirety of the experience will be relegated to Cyrodiil, a single section of the map. You’ll be able to earn ranks and titles, gear, and even put points into an RvR-specific skill line. Fairly standard stuff, though the skill line does stand out a bit on its own. Still, there needs to be something more for people to actually care. ‘Realm Pride’ may have worked for Dark Age of Camelot, but it’s become increasingly obvious over the years that this sort of pride may not be the driving force for conflict that it used to be.
Zenimax Online seems to have recognized this a bit and so they’ve given players something tangible to aim for: becoming Emperor. Participating in an RvR campaign earns you Alliance points for player kills, capturing keeps, and other objectives. The side with the most Alliance points at the end of a given campaign, (controlling all six keeps in Cyrodiil) wins, and the player with the most Alliance points on the winning side is crowned Emperor. This isn’t just a glorified top-of-the-leaderboard title, either.
Being Emperor is a significant achievement somewhat similar to becoming ArchLord in Webzen’s eponymous title. As Emperor, your stats will be juiced up such that you are incredibly hard to kill and deal extra damage with your abilities. You’ll even get access to a special armor set that only the Emperor can wear. But most important of all, you’ll unlock a unique skill line that will stay with your character permanently. If you do lose your crown, the power of this skill line’s abilities will be diminished, but it’s still something you’ll have access to over other players.
It’s my feeling that the implementation of the Emperor feature may be the ‘special sauce’ that ESO’s RvR needs to keep players pounding away at keep doors and climbing over each other to reach the tops of the leaderboards. It also ensures that there is some semblance of consequence for losing a campaign, since the winning faction will have a much more powerful player on its side who may be able to make significant impact in ensuring that faction stays dominant. Sure, it’s no capital city siege, but it’s meaningful enough for players to want to care about winning and possibly enticing enough to keep players striving for that individual power.
How significant do you think the Emperor feature will be in driving RvR competition? Are you planning on aiming for the Ruby Throne yourself? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
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 MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB