Understanding Cyrodiil

Recently ZeniMax Online released a video in which they heavily showcase Cyrodiil and the player vs.  player aspect of The Elder Scrolls Online. As most of you may know, Cyrodiil is the central province of Tamriel and in ESO this will provide the backdrop for the “Alliance vs. Alliance (AvA)”  combat which is a primary component of ESOs endgame. The objective players face in Cyrodiil is for you and your faction to conquer the province, claim the ruby throne, and rule all of Tamriel by crowning an Emperor. In order to fully control Cyrodiil, an alliance must conquer and control all of the keeps which surround the Imperial City. This article attempts to clarify some misconceptions regarding what to expect in Cyrodiil. I also want to address the general strategy in attacking and defending fortresses from your enemies. Lastly I’ll touch on some of the game-mechanics that have been announced regarding the Alliance War.

The Scale of Cyrodiil

Described in the beautiful song written by Miracle of Sound, Cyrodiil will host a three-way war in a massive open-world environment. Many are expected to answer the call. This comes as no surprise, considering that ZeniMax has always made clear their intention of offering players large-scale content. According to Brian Wheeler (ESO’s lead PvP designer) these battles often feature over to two-hundred concurrent players on screen. In fact, the engine and technology which powers ESO was specifically designed with this size of battle as a required benchmark. Marvelous as this may sound, it can also be incredibly overwhelming for players who are not used to MMOs or group-based content. It would be quite understandable for some less-experienced players to find themselves lost, confused, and feeling unimportant in the midst of such a huge battle.

Cyrodiil's large battles may seem overwhelming at first

Cyrodiil’s large battles may seem overwhelming at first

The terrain and geography of Cyrodiil has a huge impact on the way battles are played. Between bridges, outposts and the very topography of the map itself there is a lot to consider. Having the higher ground or being able to bottleneck your enemies in a natural chokepoint is always important. Take this scenario as an example: you are heavily outnumbered and are forced to fall back, if you retreat to a bridge it would provide the tactical opportunity to position your group on the opposite end and force your enemies to cross it, narrowing down their numbers as they pass beneath the archways. By intelligently coordinating the usage of area of effect abilities and crowd control you may even decimate the enemy vanguard right away.

While these tactics sound like they are drawn from a military playbook, don’t expect to belong to a huge and well-drilled army. It is unlikely that your faction will organize themselves into a major force cleansing the land at every step, nor will most players cooperate with the strategy you suggest. There will always be countless players who want to act like a general, and it can become difficult to know whose advice to pay attention to, and how to make a constructive contribution with your own group. It is crucial to know how to distribute objectives between larger (12+ players) and smaller groups (2-6 players). Since the number of concurrent players from your Alliance that can be active within Cyrodiil is limited at the campaign level, carefully coordinating multiple groups of players will always lead to a more effective war effort. While it is useful to have a massive group capturing major objectives, it is equally (if not more)  important to have smaller groups supporting by capturing outlying objectives, defending owned  keeps, patrolling for enemy reinforcements, and applying pressure to the flanks of enemy sieges.

Remember that there are three alliances at war with each other. Taking advantage of situations in which both opposing factions are fighting each other yields the opportunity to greatly advance your own position.

Cyrodiil Battle

The only way to win is for both your enemies to lose!

Sieges and Alliance Points

Ultimately, everything will come down to control of keeps, castles, and resources. Regardless if you are on the offensive front lines or struggling to defend your own territory, you will require siege equipment. These weapons and resources will be key to any effective attack or defense. The attacking force won’t be able to break down a keep’s door or wall without heavy weaponry and will have a much harder time claiming the keep itself without having first secured all the resources surrounding the keep. Likewise, as a defender, employing counter-siege equipment like boiling oil and ballistae buys you time needed to reinforce and hold an objective. It will also be crucial to maintain control of the resource network which surround each keep. Not only do resources gate access to travel links between keeps, they also help determine how strongly that keep is defended. The act of disrupting a transit route or bringing in some extra weaponry may help turn the tide of battle in your favor.

Never underestimate the old saying “the best offense is a good defense”. In Cyrodiil your attacks and their effectiveness will be limited by your available resources, and thus it is extremely important to safely control as much territory as possible. Heavily disputed territory becomes a resource-sink (yes, I am trying to start a trend here). When all the ground you own is contested ground you cannot hope to ever truly best another. The ability for player guilds to claim keeps and outposts will easily provide incentives to hold on to what territory you own.

The economy of Cyrodiil is transacted in Alliance points, from keep-repairs to purchasing siege equipment itself. You can earn alliance points by capturing or defending objectives and killing enemy players. This means that your alliance can have a good income of alliance points just by owning and defending your own territory. Forcing enemies to make an advance can cause them to waste resources and leave themselves exposed to losing their own territory. In time,  players will learn how to react to enemy movements in a way to take advantage.

cyrodiil-siege

Attackers can use catapults and trebuchets to destroy keep walls

The Emperor and Elder Scrolls

Emperorship is granted to be granted to the player who sits atop the leaderboards when their alliance controls all six keeps which surround the Imperial City. ZeniMax has also mentioned that having an Emperor will award some pretty sweet armor, a unique skill line, and will bestow all the members of the ruling faction with passive bonuses. Clearly, any faction who can crown an emperor for a long time will maintain a significant advantage, further helping them progress in their war efforts. However, the other two alliances will have abundant motivation to attack and dethrone the ruling alliance, providing a constant and  shifting balancing mechanism to keep Cyrodiil competitive.

Lastly, each alliance will have Elder Scrolls to protect. Each alliance begins the campaign with two scrolls. While  controlled, these scrolls provide players bonuses to aid their PvP effort. The bonuses provided by these relics are certain to help your faction be more efficient. One must keep in mind, however, that the Elder Scrolls work as a double-edged sword. Taking an Elder Scroll from another alliance will make you a high-priority target for them, and make no mistake, they will do their best to take it back. With that on the table, it is likely that the dominating faction will find itself fighting the other two remaining factions simultaneously and therefore it must take advantage of the bonuses it has acquired.

Success in the Elder Scrolls Online, as a PvPer, will be determined by organization, preparation and intelligent use of tactics. If any one alliance can coordinate many groups  of players who can cooperate and work together effectively, they will have a strong chance of succeeding and, ultimately, prevailing as the conquerors of Cyrodiil.

173 responses to “Understanding Cyrodiil”

  1. Profile Photo
    Troubleshooter

    Apprentice

    Total Posts: 35

    Imperial Templar

    Daggerfall Authority

    Damn, they made it complex. But that makes it so much more real. Now we just need people to communicate!

     

    Troublshooter™

  2. Profile Photo
    Zairan Arainai

    Expert

    Total Posts: 438

    Altmer Templar

    AvA certainly sounds like it will be fun.  I’m sure that I’ll have to re-spec my character countless times until they are a solid build in both PvP and PvE.  I’m also curious to see what kinds of character builds will end up as emperor.

    Welcome to the end of your life, and I promise its going to hurt!

  3. Profile Photo
    Graprovia

    Apprentice

    Total Posts: 48

    Altmer Sorcerer

    Ayrenn Councillors

    Excellent article. It sheds a whole new light on things. it will indeed be overwhelming for players who are not used to MMOs or group-based content. They need to brace themselves for this onslaught!

    AC

     

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    Shield of Hope

    Adept

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    Imperial Templar

    great read

  5. Profile Photo
    MeadFiend

    Adept

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    Argonian Sorcerer

    Graprovia said on December 28, 2013 :

    Excellent article. It sheds a whole new light on things. it will indeed be overwhelming for players who are not used to MMOs or group-based content. They need to brace themselves for this onslaught!

    You’re damn right it’ll be overwhelming!  As an MMO virgin, the PVP stuff is something I’m really nervous about.  Still exciting though.  Am sure that after a few hundred deaths, I’ll get the hang of it.

    Thanks for the overview @Atropos

    Commencing bracing of oneself…

    ’Not the finest swordsman in the world…but the most enthuuuuuusiastic!’

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    Linni

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    Total Posts: 28

    Breton Nightblade

    Exciting stuff.

    -Linni Lindstrom φ

  7. Profile Photo
    Kotaro Atani

    Master

    Total Posts: 841

    Khajiit Nightblade

    Queen’s Hand

    This one thinks that they brought in a strategic tactical genius to help with this, waging war large scale.. Kotaro knows that communication is best with these types of things in the field..

     

     

     

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    Parsa2nd

    Adept

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    Altmer Sorcerer

    Ayrenn Councillors

    Communication, good command and control structure, clear objectives and freedom of action to the field commanders with regards to secondary or additional objectives are all part and parcel of this kind of warfare, it will come down to your structure, leadership and training.

    Lets get this war started!

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    Kaien

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    Breton Sorcerer

    Malevolents of Xibalba

    Nice article!

  10. Profile Photo
    Kotaro Atani

    Master

    Total Posts: 841

    Khajiit Nightblade

    Queen’s Hand

    Parsa2nd said on December 28, 2013 :

    Communication, good command and control structure, clear objectives and freedom of action to the field commanders with regards to secondary or additional objectives are all part and parcel of this kind of warfare, it will come down to your structure, leadership and training.

    Lets get this war started!

    I stand with you Altmer..

     

     

     

  11. Profile Photo
    Yevon

    Grandmaster

    Total Posts: 1771

    Breton Nightblade

    AvA is going to be a blast! I think the way it’s set up magnifies the importance of well run guilds and strong guild alliances.

  12. Profile Photo
    Atropos

    Administrator

    Total Posts: 2985

    Imperial Sorcerer

    Entropy Rising

    MeadFiend said on December 28, 2013 :

    You’re damn right it’ll be overwhelming!  As an MMO virgin, the PVP stuff is something I’m really nervous about.  Still exciting though.  Am sure that after a few hundred deaths, I’ll get the hang of it.

    Thanks for the overview @Atropos

    Commencing bracing of oneself…

    I definitely think it will be entertaining to see some of the newer players looking lost at first, but it will be exciting to see everyone start to master the tactics involved in being successful in the AvA war. I should  also clarify that all credit for the article actually belongs to @Tholren, it’s hard work! In my haste to get it published I forgot to change the author tag.

    Founder, creator, and developer of Tamriel Foundry.

    Guildmaster of Entropy Rising.

    Occasional Twitch Streamer.

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    Silent Darkblades

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    Total Posts: 52

    Imperial Dragonknight

    Nice article!

  14. Profile Photo
    Mrdstar

    Hero

    Total Posts: 2658

    Breton Dragonknight

    The Iron Shield

    I am not new to MMOs. But i have never done PvP. i was alwas too nervous. this is making me very exited and nervous

    Dont Cry becuase its over.

    Smile becuase it happened.

    Dr. Seuss

  15. Profile Photo
    TwistedLogic

    Expert

    Total Posts: 318

    Bosmer

    Nice run-down for our info there, good job! Can’t wait to get into Cyrodiil and get in on the action.

    All warfare is based on deception – Sun Tzu (The art of war)

  16. Member Avatar
    Draethar

    Novice

    Total Posts: 18

    Altmer Dragonknight

    I am absolutely stoked for AvA! I want to get as Tanky as possible so I can be the Elder Scroll Runner for the Aldmeri Dominion!

  17. Profile Photo
    schnoffle

    Master

    Total Posts: 966

    Breton Sorcerer

    Cross

    Thanks @atropos for posting this and @tholren for putting it together.  Great look at AvA for anyone not up to date or confused on the idea of it. Even though I did rvr in daoc this will be a whole new experience :)

    Guild Signature

  18. Profile Photo
    ElvenHater123

    Adept

    Total Posts: 151

    Breton Sorcerer

    Exterminating Elves Everywhere

    Great article. Cleared up everything except one thing- what about peaceful guilds that are neutral in the faction war that have members in all 3 factions. Take the Order of Akatosh for example, how are they suppose to work effectively?

    Haters gonna Hate…

  19. Profile Photo
    Gorbo the Fist

    Apprentice

    Total Posts: 40

    Breton Sorcerer

    LOVE how ZOS is doing pvp, such great stuff! It reminds me of what GW2 tried to do with the huge battles for keeps etc, but in ESO it’s going to be one constant outcome, unlike the realm difference that was present in GW2. Looking forward to interrupting some supply lines :D

    ”A warrior marches on the gut.”

     

  20. Profile Photo
    Tholren

    Master

    Total Posts: 581

    Altmer Dragonknight

    Entropy Rising

    ElvenHater123 said on December 28, 2013 :

    Great article. Cleared up everything except one thing- what about peaceful guilds that are neutral in the faction war that have members in all 3 factions. Take the Order of Akatosh for example, how are they suppose to work effectively?

    That’s a bit tricky. You can never be truly neutral in just one campaign, you’re forced to pledge allegiance to a faction (sort of) once you go into a campaign. One option is having three different campaigns selected for each faction for the guild. That way you would have AD members on Campaign 1 and DC members on Campaign 2.

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