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Long Overdue PvP Changes Are Finally Happening

Elder Scrolls Online Columns - By Christina Gonzalez on June 24, 2015

Long Overdue PvP Changes Are Finally Happening

The Elder Scrolls Online is now, despite a few typical launch hiccups, a multiplatform release. Other than a few console launch matters, it finally begins to feel like all of the game's audience is being addressed again. While some felt cast aside in part due to the console announcements and stalled changes over the past three months, we're finally at the point where new announcements can happen. Although E3 came and went with a prime time conference from Bethesda, and even an ESO Live episode, there have been no major announcements in terms of new content just yet. Yet one of the areas of the game that many see among the most neglected is PvP, and changes, they are coming.

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Many players have been disenchanted with Cyrodiil for some time now. Aside from making sure that your game presents fun mechanics and a sense of balance, a way for player skills to matter and make things feel fresh and even winnable is important in PvP. While Cyrodiil lets players enter early, and features PvE content within, as well as guild stores via keeps, for many, this is an endgame pursuit. Scaling does work for those who want to get in and enjoy the content, get into a few fights in the name of glory or defense, even just providing some bodies to stall down an opposing faction. There are options within the zone, but ultimately, as in a lot of competitive games or zones, the worst thing that can happen is other people.

Many of the upcoming PvP changes are meant to address players taking advantage of loose or nonexistent limits on things like campaign guesting or the jump to a friend option. With the latter option, players were able to effectively bypass some of the restrictions on campaign guest assignments. Speaking of guesting, the cooldown on requests will now be extended by one day, to four. The cost to switch your Home campaign will be increasing tenfold, but the cooldown will now only be 12 hours. Still, at a new cost of 150,000 AP, the numbers should not be so easily skewed.  Campaigns will be reset to zero, and the team is working on changes to things like abilities and items.

The long-lasting problem of Emperor trading will also be addressed. Instead of the Emperor scoring a permanent set of buffs, these buffs will now only last for as long as the person is actively Emperor. Players will still get the skill line but this won't cost points to invest into any longer. Emperor swapping among alliances has been a big joke, trivializing the whole Emperor role. With the changes, it seems Emperor will indeed keep being minimized for the good of PvP on the whole. The concept was interesting and fun, but sometimes other players can just run something promising right into the ground.

Forward Camps, which were removed because players were choking PvP by spamming the camps, leading to consistent respawns and dragging out battles way longer than they might have otherwise gone, are set to return in some form, and are being tested. While this might make some people fear their return, the team is promising they will be much smaller, and with a global cooldown. This will come in a future update as it still needs testing. It's smart to wait until the other changes happen and see how or if balance improves, performance is enhanced in Cyrodiil after all these months, or even if campaign population shifts happen. Forward Camps dragged out battles and made death in PvP so trivial, that Zenimax should take its time and make sure the old issues are solved before reimplementing them.

Since competitive PvP leaves some players looking for any advantage they can get, even if it's on the shady side. If it's exploitable, some will always do it, and then others will feel they have no choice but to do the same to remain competitive. Just look at something simple like animation canceling. There are no plans to address animation canceling, and the devs have all but considered it a part of the game and not an exploit to change. Animation canceling delivers advantages that some players don't know about and some might never be able to pull off. For some, it ruins the experience since skill with one's abilities doesn't matter as much as knowing how to cancel and exploit the gaps within those abilities and mix others in before the enemy sees you coming. Animation canceling should be addressed, but there many pressing issues in PvP and this seems accepted by the team to the point where it will likely never be changed.

It does seem only the beginning for some PvP overhauls and additions, with the Imperial City being promised in the most recent discussions. If this is coming, waiting until the game was out across all platforms was probably deemed necessary, since this may be some of the DLC on offer once PvP balance and structure are sorted out.

Yet, the fact that it has taken this long to address many of these PvP issues is nevertheless too little, too late for some players. It is encouraging that many PvP changes are coming in the very next major update. Yet, letting these issues linger for months on end with only small fixes, performance issues, and foot dragging on an answer as to when changes were coming didn't work. It is hard to argue with the depth of the changes, however, and how they address multiple community concerns. It has to be just the beginning if  PvP will remain fun and competitive, but these long overdue changes seem aimed to do just that, as well as point to the growth of Cyrodiil and beyond.

Christina Gonzalez / Christina is a freelancer and contributor to MMORPG.com, where she writes the community-focused Social Hub column.