AvA Q&A Breakdown

Today, we were given some details regarding the Alliance vs. Alliance systems that are going to play a huge part of Elder Scrolls Online. While some of the information that was released today are bits and pieces that we have heard earlier, there are a couple of nice nuggets of information that are buried within the Ask Us Anything article.  I will be responding to each point with my thoughts and analysis in this article.


Siege weapons (battering rams) in Dark Age of Camelot.

How are siege weapons constructed? Do you need special resources? Are siege weapons mobile or stationary? – By Eric Aholou

Siege weapons can be obtained and constructed by anyone that has the Alliance Points to purchase them. You won’t need any other resources to buy them and deploy them all on your own. As for mobility: rams are mobile, and ballistae, catapults, and trebuchets can be packed up after they’re deployed so that they can be repositioned.

As the screenshot above shows, siege weapons are not a new concept in MMOs.  In fact, I don’t think that I am alone in saying that I’m not surprised that they are coming out and ‘confirming’ siege weapons for AvA.  Since the game was first announced, it seemed obvious to me that this game would take a lot of inspiration from Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC), especially with someone like Matt Firor being at the helm of the project.  The part of this question that did surprise me was the announcement that Alliance Points would be a type of currency used to purchase siege weapons.  My original thoughts were that Alliance Points would be a lot like Realm Points in DAoC, a type of experience that you acquired in Realm vs. Realm (RvR) play that allowed you to gain Realm Ranks and unlock new skills and abilities.  Thanks to a later question, we know that there are Alliance Ranks, but it will be interesting to see how exactly these ranks are going to be obtained.

A group of four people is a rather small force in PvP with major PvP guilds having 20+ players online simultaneously. Will there be an alternative group size? – By Eric Aholou

Yes, there will be groups of larger sizes than four. We’ll have more details for you about that later.

The group size being four people was something discussed in an earlier Ask Us Anything, but we are given a small tidbit that there are going to be larger groups, or raids. I’m not sure that this is something that is surprising to anyone who has played an MMORPG in the past. Expecting AvA content to consist of four-man groups would be a bad design decision insofar as it would make coordinating the sieging or defending of keeps, or other important objectives far more chaotic.

Allowing for more players to be a part of the same raid, allows for more organized play on a larger level, and allows for players that enjoy that type of play style to have their fun. This also doesn’t stop a player from getting a couple of friends together in a small group and try to pick fights with other small groups. 8V8 fights in DAoC were quite popular at one time, and still remain a popular pastime for players who still play the game. Whether ESO can recreate that same feeling with their 4v4 structure is still up for debate, but I hope that they can achieve something close to it.

As a serious roleplayer from multiple games and guilds/communities, I find it essential for immersion to have places to chat and roleplay with my friends and strangers such as taverns and unique open-spaced and furnished buildings. Will there be open-spaced buildings in the major cities and outside them? – By Ryan Houghton

There are lots of taverns in the game, and many places for large gatherings of people.

This question really surprised me, as I don’t think it has anything to do with AvA. I think someone just needed to fit in one more question to round out the AUA, but I think it could’ve been saved to have a larger RP-oriented AUA to cater to that population. That being said, it’s already been mentioned previously that players can go into houses, so having taverns isn’t a big surprise. At the very least, it should provide players who wish to engage in roleplaying a number of areas to enjoy that type of play.

It has been mentioned multiple times that players can invade areas surrounding enemy keeps in order to starve them of resources. What kinds of resources are these, and how will they affect gameplay? – By Eric Duey

The three resources around a keep (lumber mills, farms, and mines) fuel its upgrade process. Lumber mills help make keep doors stronger and allow them to repair themselves automatically. Farms make keep guards tougher and stronger, and mines help reinforce the walls, making them harder to destroy and allowing them to repair themselves over time as well. Taking control of resources around keeps also shuts off various patrols in the vicinity, so it’s always advantageous to take resources before laying siege to the keep itself.

I thought that this was a really cool, and it shows me that they are trying to have a more tactical approach to keep sieging than other MMOs, such as Warhammer Online. It looks like it will be vital for an Alliance to maintain their resources for as long as possible in order to have their keeps remain at full strength (making it harder for the other Alliances to siege them). I’m curious if these resources can be invested in in some way to add guards, or to make them tougher to capture.


Realm War bonuses in DAoC.

The biggest incentives for capturing and holding keeps are the benefits and perks that players will receive from ownership of that territory. Can you elaborate at this time what these will be? – By Eric Duey

While we aren’t ready to reveal the specifics yet, you and your Alliance will receive benefits which last only so long as your Alliance retains ownership of the territory.

Veterans of DAoC will remember that their as their realm acquired more and more keeps, their realm was awarded with a variety of bonuses that had an effect on every member of the realm. The realm owning relics also provided serious benefits to realm members, if their realm owned the relic of another realm. It seems that Zenimax is trying to dig into the old magic of DAoC here, and encourage realms to push for keeps in order to get more and more buffs.

While, Zenimax isn’t telling us what exactly is being offered in terms of strength, I think that we can make an educated guess that the bonuses in ESO won’t be too far off the mark from what DAoC provides.  Do I believe that they will award an XP or Coin Drop bonus for realms that own a certain number of keeps?  It’s an easy and immediate bonus for everyone in the realm, especially those who are leveling up in Cyrodiil through RvR.  The critical hit percentage bonuses might be more than Zenimax is willing to do, but we shall see.

I’m just really excited to see that they are going this route.  Give us reasons to take and hold more and more keeps.  Having tangible benefits to hold keeps rather than making them the loot pinatas that Warhammer Online had is a great decision, and something that should ensure that AvA in Cyrodiil remains interesting for a lengthy period of time.

Will there be a PvP ranking system? If so, will it grant titles, gear, skills, or additional stats? – By Kevin Kent

Yes, there will be a ranking system. You can earn Alliance Ranks, which grant titles and let you purchase weapons and armor. There’s also a PvP skill line that you can get new abilities from—we’ll have more details about that later.


Will I be able to level from 10 to 50 in Cyrodiil at a comparable pace to someone who levels doing PvE? – By Micah Hood

Leveling speed in PvP is not as consistent as leveling through PvE due to the nature of enemy player population. However, there are lots of activities in Cyrodiil that can supplement PvP combat, like questing and exploring. You can encounter players from the enemy Alliances throughout Cyrodiil, so there’s always potential for conflicts.

I’m combining both of these questions into a single response, primarily because both questions are things that we already knew, or had strong suspicions about. However, I do think it is important to point out that their answer to the second question is very important, and something everyone in the community needs to be aware of. Yes, you can level in Cyrodiil, but no, it won’t be as efficient as questing. This is probably going to be a sore point for some players, and while I can’t blame them, I can’t really sympathize either.

In my experiences in MMOs, it is very rare for PvP to be better experience than PvE questing, though the PvP path tends to be far more entertaining (especially Warhammer Online). The only game that I know of in recent history where this was not the case was in Star Wars: The Old Republic, and that was due to several bugs, and poorly tuned content, that was fixed very quickly after launch.


A stealther’s best friend.

How will stealth/sneak be implemented into PvP and how will players detect a sneaking opponent? – By Cameron Neilson

There are a few different ways you can detect sneaking opponents. For example, a player who’s sneaking is revealed upon taking damage. There are spells that can detect opponents who are trying to sneak around. It’s also important to remember that sneaking uses stamina, and you really don’t want to be out of stamina going into a battle.

The thing that really stood out for me in this response is how Sneaking is going to drain the player of Stamina. I think that this is an excellent design decision. Oh sure, it was fun going around in stealth everywhere in Skyrim, or in other MMOs that don’t really limit how long you can spend in stealth, but it creates quite an imbalance in PvP. What Zenimax is doing here is forcing players to use their abilities in a more tactical desire. Yes, you can stealth whenever you want, but there are times when it will be far more beneficial to your team and times when you are simply wasting stamina.

Want to hit that Light Armor-wearing Templar who is healing all of his buddies? Blow your stealth and try to sneak half-way across the battlefield? Or do you use your groupmates to help ferry you closer, toggle stealth and beeline to the target? Both options could work, but one might have a far higher chance of success than the other. This seems like yet another decision by ZOS to really add a more tactical approach to AvA, and frankly, I welcome it.

In Cyrodiil, will NPC towns be hostile? I know the Cyrodiil government is corrupt and evil, but will the people reflect the rulers, or will you be able to travel peacefully? – By Shane Ford

Villages are Alliance-neutral. However, guards will patrol a town if your Alliance has captured the nearby keep. This makes it safer for your Alliance to do quests in that town, but you won’t be 100% safe, obviously. NPC towns and villages will not be hostile, but there are NPCs in the wild that are definitely not your friends.

This is another thing that I am excited about. I am curious to see if they are going to go as far as making quests in a particular village only available to the Alliance that owns the nearby keep. I hope they do, because it opens up the ability for the other Alliances to go into these villages and slaughter the NPCs in order to cock-block the other Alliance from completing quests, as well as creating more points of conflict within the entire region.

While this week’s Ask Us Anything hasn’t been as exciting as previous installments, I hope that I’ve pointed out a few things that will give us all more food for thought when it comes to the exciting Alliance vs. Alliance content that Zenimax is providing us.