AoE Target Caps in The Elder Scrolls Online

kingscrest-siegeThere has been a substantial commotion during the past 24 hours on Reddit and on the Elder Scrolls Online official forums regarding the role of AoE abilities in ESO and certain changes that ZeniMax have made to specific abilities in the latest patch which has just hit the PTS.

Today the new patch for ESO’s first adventure zone, Craglorn, was released on the public test server. You can read the full patch notes on the Tamriel Foundry forums. A lot of the changes in this patch (1.1) are exciting, particularly the addition of Craglorn itself. However, there is at least one issue in this patch that is a massive disappointment for serious PvPers and organized groups.

Within this patch ZeniMax has made a massive change to the structure and mechanics of the game. They tried to slip this change in under the radar in the following bullet point:

Fixed an issue with several area-of-effect abilities where they could erroneously hit an unlimited number of targets.

Before I analyze the effects of this change, allow me to translate this into plain English so everyone understands the issue.

Added target caps to area-of-effect abilities to limit the number of enemies which they can affect.

What this means is that abilities like Impulse, Whirlwind, Lightning Splash, Volley, as well as ultimates like Nova and Dragonknight Standard are capped at affecting a maximum of 6 targets. I’ll start with the TL;DR of this change for people who don’t want to suffer through walls of text. I’ll then go into each point in-depth.

  1. This cripples the ability of coordinated players to fight larger groups of players when outnumbered.
  2. This will greatly increase the “safety of the zerg”, further promoting zerging as the default tactic in PvP.
  3. This increases the relative effectiveness of siege weapons, pushing Cyrodiil further towards siege vs. siege rather than player vs. player gameplay.
  4. This change damages immersion, seeing AoE attacks inexplicably failing to damage enemies which surround the player.

In short, I believe that target caps are very bad for the game. If you are already convinced that target caps are damaging for the game, please let ZeniMax know why you don’t support these changes. If you don’t believe me yet, please read on for mode in-depth discussion.

Important Edit (4/26) – It has been confirmed that certain abilities already had an AoE cap in the live game. This change has therefore affected a more limited number of abilities than was previously assumed. It seems that the most significant abilities affected will be certain AoEs and ultimate abilities which previously had no cap. ZeniMax has offered to provide a list of the exact changes (which arguably should have been in the patch notes to begin with). I believe the arguments against AoE caps presented in this post are still valid and relevant for PvP in ESO.

 

1. This will cripple the ability of coordinated players to fight larger groups of players when outnumbered.

It was clearly expressed throughout development of ESO by numerous core developers, most notably Brian Wheeler, that a primary goal was to give organized groups of players the tools they need to fight against larger groups if they are well coordinated and use positioning and terrain effectively. This change flies directly in the face of this intention. If your group’s abilities can only affect at most 6 enemies, this permanently limits the possibility of fighting when outnumbered.

 

2. This will greatly increase the “safety of the zerg”, further promoting zerging as the default tactic in PvP.

If you are fighting with a group of 7 allies, at least someone in your group becomes immune to significant sources of damage. If you continue adding allies in the same place the effect is magnified, greatly enhancing the safety of the zerg. Before this change, even a large zerg was vulnerable if they were outplayed by a rival group. Given this change, ESO is in serious risk of becoming nothing but a numbers game with the side possessing greater numbers always winning regardless of player skill or group coordination.

 

3. This increases the relative effectiveness of siege weapons, pushing Cyrodiil further towards siege vs. siege rather than player vs. player gameplay.

There is already a serious issue in ESO PvP of players looking towards siege as the optimal way to fight against players. At times, Cyrodiil feels more like “siege vs. siege” than “player vs. player”. The overuse of ballistae, oil pots, and more was already an issue prior to this change. If siege engines remain unchanged, but player activated AoE abilities being capped at 6 targets maximum, this will push players even more to resort to constant use of siege weapons rather than seeking to use their own character’s skill-set.

 

4. This change damages immersion, seeing AoE attacks inexplicably failing to damage enemies which surround the player.

For a game in which immersion the typical reason cited for cornerstone gameplay philosophies, this change stands out as violating that same tenet. Being surrounded by a pack of 8 wolves, but seeing two enemies mysteriously and inexplicably immune to damage renders your character impotent and detracts from the intuitive nature of existing AoE mechanics.

 

In Conclusion

One year ago, ZeniMax developers themselves joined us in celebrating the in-game event of “The Chalamo”, an epic keep defense in which a small group of Daggerfall players fended off a massive horde of Aldmeri and Ebonheart attackers at DC’s last bastion of Chalman Keep. In fact, ZOS were so enthused by this valiant last stand that they commemorated it with an in-game poem which is readable in Cyrodiil. The subtext of this mechanical change to ESO is that ZeniMax never wants to see another keep defense like that again. The Chalman defenders would not have been able to hold the keep for 5 minutes if all our abilities were limited to 6 players.

ZeniMax didn’t have a problem with AoE then, they celebrated it when players were using it well. Now, suddenly that hordes of new players are dying if they position themselves poorly and stack in an indefensible position the solution is to neuter AoE abilities to the point that the group of players with the largest numbers is always guaranteed to win.

As I’ve said twice before, but will reiterate for clarity, this is damaging to the game. ZeniMax, please carefully consider the consequences or target caps and revert this change before the patch goes live. Don’t damage the PvP mechanics of your own way in a game that risks turning it into the second coming of Guild Wars 2.

More thoughts to come later,
Atropos

198 responses to “AoE Target Caps in The Elder Scrolls Online”

  1. Member Avatar
    okunhardt

    Expert

    Total Posts: 321

    Dunmer Dragonknight

    Target caps for AoE abilities will ruin ESO.

  2. Profile Photo
    Wyldberry

    Journeyman

    Total Posts: 61

    Imperial Templar

    Entropy Rising

    /facepalm ZOS

     

    ”He he he… Crazy? Cicero? He he he he! That’s… madness…”

                                                                                                                                   ―Cicero

  3. Profile Photo
    Morkulth

    Expert

    Total Posts: 425

    Altmer Sorcerer

    Entropy Rising

    Strike 3. (API, Customer Support and this)

  4. Profile Photo
    StriderRoshin

    Expert

    Total Posts: 266

    Nord Nightblade

    That is ridiculous! Where can we direct our complaints?

    ” For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!” -Ezekiel 18:32

  5. Profile Photo
    Fisk

    Scamp

    Total Posts: 1

    Dunmer Dragonknight

    I used to play Guild Wars 2 until they introduced AoE caps of 5 targets, it totally ruined the game for me and a lot of other people! This is gonna kill ESO for a ton of people, ZOS you should be smart enough to not go that route… The problem here is not all AoE effects but a small number that needs tweaking!

  6. Profile Photo
    ExiledUK

    Adept

    Total Posts: 120

    Bosmer Nightblade

    Mystical Awakening

    It might be wise to add “On PTS” to the title….. I realise the argument of, well its on PTS its going live! maybe valid. It still ISN’T on live and that is a somewhat misleading title. I am in no way saying you are lying so please do not think that but do you have any numbers, video or proof to boost up your post?

    Exiled LurikeenVR12 Nightblade (Tank/DPS

    EU

    UO – AC – DAoC – EQ – FFXI – EVE – Linage2 -  EQ2 – Darkfall – Aion – WAR – WoW – Shadowbane – AoC – Tabula Rasa – LoTRO – MO – Rift – SWToR – GW2 – TSW – FFXIV – ESO

    Yep, I get bored

  7. Member Avatar
    RamzaBehoulve

    Expert

    Total Posts: 280

    Kind of stupid to nerf all AoE like that just because a few are too powerful.

  8. Profile Photo
    Ebslike

    Novice

    Total Posts: 20

    Altmer Dragonknight

    Mystical Awakening

    Yes this  change does limit the effectiveness of small organized groups against zergs. This also prevents 2 DKs with Standard of Might from wiping a large group without much skill involved, which is what I think this change is aimed against. There are pro’s and con’s and I’m not sure which weigh heavier.

    The way Zenimax worded the ‘intended’ part of this change is strange but in their defence, healing skills already only effect 6 people. This change not only makes AOE weaker, it also makes healing stronger which I think will result in longer more tacticle fights and that is a good thing.

    Fights between smaller organized groups become more interesting, farming the zerg becomes less interesting. Honestly there isn’t that much skill involved in dropping 10 ultimates on a zerg, however big.

  9. Profile Photo
    ExiledUK

    Adept

    Total Posts: 120

    Bosmer Nightblade

    Mystical Awakening

    Lets not forget, they did this before they released their large PvE competitive content. Which in my opinion would have seen the rewards go to the guild who kited all the mobs to an area and AoE’ed them down in a few seconds….Thus making the “Challenge” obsolete.

     

    /Edit – Also, Ebs why arent you my friend you slag.

    Exiled LurikeenVR12 Nightblade (Tank/DPS

    EU

    UO – AC – DAoC – EQ – FFXI – EVE – Linage2 -  EQ2 – Darkfall – Aion – WAR – WoW – Shadowbane – AoC – Tabula Rasa – LoTRO – MO – Rift – SWToR – GW2 – TSW – FFXIV – ESO

    Yep, I get bored

  10. Profile Photo
    SoMuchMass

    Adept

    Total Posts: 209

    Orc Dragonknight

    It always has to do with technical and engine limitations, in terms of AoE caps. This is the reason it happened in GW2 and probably why it happened in ESO.  I don’t see any other reason they did it.

  11. Profile Photo
    Wyldberry

    Journeyman

    Total Posts: 61

    Imperial Templar

    Entropy Rising

    Kite to an area?…Pathing? Think before you post. And a large number of us were on the PTS before launch, They rarely listened to us, thus bolt escape being the retarded skill that it is.

     

    ”He he he… Crazy? Cicero? He he he he! That’s… madness…”

                                                                                                                                   ―Cicero

  12. Profile Photo
    Necro

    Novice

    Total Posts: 19

    Argonian

    You also have to look at this from a PvE point of view.

    Do you want AoE to be the ONLY way to go when running dungeons, cuz that’s how it is right now.

    AoE far out performs any single target players. People are doing 2000+ dps with only 6 targets as it is.

    IMO thier shouldn’t be target caps but rather diminishing returns so damage never gets out of hand.

  13. Member Avatar
    Exectus

    Novice

    Total Posts: 11

    Imperial Dragonknight

    So, zerg mobs cant’ be expected to learn to spread out so they don’t get wiped by a couple of players ultimate?

  14. Profile Photo
    Moonraker

    Expert

    Total Posts: 351

    Breton Sorcerer

    I think @Atropos makes some valid points relating to PvP. I do however agree with @Necro. This discussion needs to be split out into PvP & PVE because there are very valid reasons also why there is diminishing returns in existing MMOs in PVE game play especially group combat design.

  15. Profile Photo
    Altmer77

    Adept

    Total Posts: 101

    Altmer Sorcerer

    This is outrageous. Sure AoE abilities are good in this game, but there is absolutely no reason to limit the number of enemies they effect. I sincerely hope they revert this change, soon.

  16. Profile Photo
    Wyldberry

    Journeyman

    Total Posts: 61

    Imperial Templar

    Entropy Rising

    There are no diminishing return to AOE just a stone cold nerf. Also @Ebslike healing AOE was nerfed and healed more then 6.

     

    ”He he he… Crazy? Cicero? He he he he! That’s… madness…”

                                                                                                                                   ―Cicero

  17. Member Avatar
    SuperSweetrole

    Apprentice

    Total Posts: 40

    Imperial Dragonknight

    The Daggerfall Brovenant

    While this won’t ruin the game for me and anyway who says it will I believe is overreacting. I agree with everything you wrote here Atropos. I run a build off almost entirely single target abilities in PvP however I agree this is a poor idea at best. I’ve encountered several extremely organized guild groups including Entropy Rising and while I absolutely hate when they wipe a zerg twice their size it reminds me just how much skill and more so coordination matters in this game. I add my voice to the pot of players calling for returning this aoe cap to its natural state.

  18. Profile Photo
    Pollination-Technician

    Master

    Total Posts: 513

    Altmer Sorcerer

    First page and already references to nerfing Bolt Escape and qqing about the API. lol

    “ZeniMax didn’t have a problem with AoE then, they celebrated it when players were using it well. Now, suddenly that hordes of new players are dying if they position themselves poorly and stack in an indefensible position the solution is to neuter AoE abilities to the point that the group of players with the largest numbers is always guaranteed to win.”

    This is retardedness of Tortanic proportions

    Trust not the words of a poet, as he is born to seduce. Yet for poetry to seize the heart, it must ring with the chimes of truth.

    Contrary to popular belief, ESO pvp battles are not fought in Cyrodiil. They are fought on online forums by calling for any and everything that kills you to be nerfed.

     

    Subscription Canceled

  19. Profile Photo
    l3ucket

    Master

    Total Posts: 540

    Breton

    I knew when i read that nerf that a post would be made from ER. LOL.

    Have they even said what the number would be? So strategic positioning of the AoE is out of the question? Or we just going to QQ because you can’t just run in and throw down 3 nuketowns and call it a day.

    I enjoy the challenge, and think this could be a good thing for PvP and small groups.

     

    Of course, just like this discussion. It’s all speculation.

  20. Profile Photo
    dobfankris

    Journeyman

    Total Posts: 53

    Breton Sorcerer

    That’s just crap. Oh well, anyone for a game of rock, paper, scissors? Oh, wait…..

Comment On: “AoE Target Caps in The Elder Scrolls Online”

You are not currently logged in. You must log in before commenting.