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Columns: ESO as an eSport?

By Ryan Getchell on September 10, 2014

ESO as an eSport?

The Elder Scrolls Online is a game that is very player centric. Zenimax, the company developing the game has always gone above and beyond to ensure its player base is able to play the game they’ve always wanted an Elder Scrolls online game to be. However, there is one aspect of ESO that players have been asking for even prior to launch with little to no word from Zenimax if it will ever be implemented into the live version of the game.


That being said, I believe Zenimax is testing the waters with a feature being shown only at conventions. Since E3, they’ve been demonstrating a 4v4v4 system where four players from each faction battle for ownership of a flag placed in the center of the map. This is exactly the type of small scale PvP players have been asking for, except it is lacking one key point, strategy. Whilst this is a great feature and it loads of fun, it is far from ready, at least in my eyes, and I will explain why.

Why it’s Not Ready

This “arena” for the lack of a better term, will require you control the flag in the center of the map. But you do not earn any points for owning it.  Whoever owns it when the timer expires is deemed the winner. Sure, the battles in the center can be fun and intense, but there is no true strategy required.

Once you’ve spawned you rush to the middle as a group and begin killing. The lack of a point system instills no fear into the player if they die, especially if there is plenty of time left on the clock. The only time that strategy would come into play would be the last 15-20 seconds of the match, to ensure you are the ones holding control of the flag for the final second. Everything prior to those seconds means nothing, you could actually AFK for the entire time and as long as you took the flag the last second you’d be the winner. Sounds exciting eh?

Why Would ZOS Show This off?

The reason Zenimax shows this off at conventions is to allow players to experience the fast paced PvP combat that is offered in the game. However it doesn’t do the game justice. Cyrodiil offers players so much more than a place for players to smash their faces on the keyboard and hope they kill someone.

Cyrodiil is a complex environment with many different objectives, which is what needs to be shown to players. Looking at Cyrodiil as a whole the entire zone seems to be designed around objective based combat. Everything you do has some form of impact to your faction’s progress in the zone. So why not have this type of stuff shown off in an arena style map?

Don’t get me wrong, going into a map and just killing people for no real purpose does have its draws but they will only last a short time. ESO needs something that will have people wanting to do it months, and even years after it’s been implemented.

QuakeCon Tournaments

Blizzard does a fantastic job at keeping its community competitive. They use their own convention in order to hype up a lot of features of the games they offer. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of attending BlizzCon, or even just purchased a virtual ticket, you’d have noticed all of the features we take for granted in Blizzard games become large cash money tournaments. BlizzCon offers tournaments for World of Warcraft’s Arena PvP, and even Raiding. Why can’t Zenimax offer the same type of stuff?

Getting the community more engaged with each other, having them build friendly rivalries against each other can create a uniqueness among the ESO community. Zenimax already has a very well established convention, which currently holds some tournaments but nothing compared to the scale of Blizzcon but it could be. A lot of people forget that QuakeCon is Bethesda/Zenimax equivalent to BlizzCon. It is a convention that is for everything Zenimax Media related. This includes companies such as, Bethesda Game Studios, ZeniMax Online Studios, id Software, Arkane Studios, Tango Gameworks, MachineGames, Battlecry Studios.  I could see Zenimax holding large scale seasons with a ladder board that would allow players to put their skills against other players for a chance to go head to head against the best of the that ladder in front of a large live audience as well as those watching it via a live stream.

We’ve seen how Zenimax listens to its player base, but it could go a step further not only with this style of arena but by putting the ladder system in the hands of the players. Guild Wars 2 ladder system allows players to host their own tournaments and allow them to go into spectator mode and live stream the events in a semi-professional manner.

I can definitely say that if this custom ladder feature was added to ESO and the arena style PvP is similar to what I suggest below, I would most definitely be setting up my own ladder system with some fantastic prizes and a cash prize for the winner. As a side note, I would also allow for in game currency betting via an addon. I have a slight gambling addiction when I play MMOs and having the ability to bet in game currency on my favourite PvP team or player would be outstanding.

How To Make ESO Arena PvP

As I mentioned above, the system has to display and utilize some of the features of Cyrodiil. The easiest way to do this is to adapt some of the MOBA (League of Legends / SMITE) style maps.

Let me explain what I have designed in my head.

As you can see each faction starts off in their own section, with a lane that leads to a center tower. This tower can be taken control of any of the three factions. If owned it will provide additional points to that faction, however owning it has its draw backs. By owning it you need to place at least one person inside it otherwise it reverts to a neutral ownership. This will leave your home defended by only three players instead of four. Within each home lane there are resources, which of course can be controlled by opposing factions.

Each home lane would have a side path which would lead to the opposing faction’s home lane. These paths allow you to sneak past the center tower and coming out near the other faction’s resource.

To take a resource it requires at least one person to be standing on the resource node. The capture process takes 30 seconds if only one person is on the node, for each additional ally on the node the timer is reduced by five seconds. If all four players are on a node at one take it would take 15 seconds to take control.  The same goes for reclaiming it as well.

With this system it would reflect what is possible in Cyrodiil, so you’d be able to use siege weaponry which means the center tower would be able to be completely destroyed and no one would be able to claim it for points, then it becomes a battle of the resources.

The scoring system would be updated every 10 seconds, a resource would equate to 5 points, while the center tower would equate to 12 points. First team to 500 points would win.  It would be possible for a team to become victorious if they kept control of their own resource as well as the center tower, however in order to do so they would only have 3 people able to defend their resource as you’re required to keep one person within the keep to control it.

A system like this would provide an excellent place for small scale, strategic combat. With all the features and mechanics of Cyrodiil, minus Emperorship, Elder Scroll raids, and the larger scale combat.

What do you think of a system like this, would you enjoy it? Would you take part in a ladder system, perhaps even put your team’s name into a cash prize tournament?

Ryan Getchell / Ryan is our resident Elder Scrolls nerd, and columnist for Zenimax's MMO. When he's not out killing things in Tamriel, he's working in IT professionally.