If there's one thing that always intimidates me about player vs player (PvP) game modes in an MMORPG, it's generally the other players.
Now, I usually enjoy the challenge of healing in a combat zone while there's a very clear target on my back and flashing neon arrows pointing straight at me, and whenever death occurs, I tend to accept my fate because I know I'm usually the primary target. However, due to some horrific experiences in PvP from people on my own side in other games, it tends to be a game mode that I simultaneously enjoy and dread.
As a result, when I discovered there were events such as Whitestrake's Mayhem in The Elder Scrolls Online that required me to spend time in Cyrodiil (aka the Alliance War) if I wanted to get my hands on event tickets to obtain things from the Impresario, I was concerned, especially as someone who tries to focus on PvE content. The community in ESO is generally pretty friendly, but so are a lot of other MMORPG communities until you get them in specific environments. I had no idea if that nice and friendly vibe was going to extend in there.
As it turns out, though, I had nothing to worry about. It's entirely possible to do your PvP repeatable quests in Cyrodiil without encountering other players at all!
So if you're a new player who also enjoys PvE content and might be nervous about checking out Cyrodiil for the first time, allow me to try to put those fears to rest.
The Alliance War and You
If you're wondering what exactly I'm talking about when I mention Cyrodiil and the Alliance War, allow me to explain.
Like many MMORPGs out there, each character in Elder Scrolls Online is a member of one of three factions (or alliances as they're called in ESO). Whichever alliance you're part of is typically determined by your character's race although it's entirely possible to change your alliance at character creation providing you're willing to spend real-world money for the appropriate perk in the Crown Store. (If you have the aforementioned perk, you can change your alliance later, although you'll need to spend more real-world money for the relevant tokens in the Crown Store.)
Upon your character achieving level 10, you're capable of entering the Alliance War in which you and fellow members of your alliance fight over the entire province of Cyrodiil and try to claim as much of it as you can for your alliance. After a set number of days, everything resets and the battle starts all over again.
Which campaign you join is up to you. If you're a lower-level player, there's a Below 50 campaign where all your abilities are buffed to put everyone on the same level, and a couple of campaigns for all levels that have champion point passives either enabled or disabled. I loved seeing that the first time I started investigating the Alliance War because it let me choose the game mode I was most comfortable with.
Now, if you look at Cyrodiil on your map and think to yourself that it looks pretty big, you are not wrong. Cyrodiil is easily the largest PvP zone I have ever seen in any MMORPG. The zone contains a large assortment of keeps and control points, and siege weapons to take them all with. There are Elder Scrolls you need to prevent other alliances from acquiring and moving around or you can join a group of other players to take the scrolls possessed by enemy alliances and move those to a point that your alliance controls. There's even PvE content in here.
I'm firmly convinced the zone needs to be this big to fit all this content in it.
And it is glorious.
Did you say siege weapons?
You have a good eye! I did, in fact, say siege weapons.
Each faction has an assortment of keeps, forts, and castles that can be fought over and claimed. If your alliance controls one of these and it comes under attack, you need to try to keep it from being taken over. If another alliance controls it, however, you can try to claim it (or reclaim it, depending on the circumstances) for your own along with whatever resources may support it.
In order to get into an enemy keep, you utilize the siege weapons to destroy the walls while you and other members of your alliance take out the guards defending the keep. Sometimes, the guards are just NPCs, but generally, there will also be players defending the keeps, too. PC defenders can even repair the damages done in the process of combat.
Yes, it's just as epic as it sounds. If you can think of a siege weapon, it likely exists and it's waiting to help you and your alliance lay claim to an enemy fortress to make it yours.
If that sounds like something you're interested in, keep an eye on zone chat when you're in Cyrodiil because there's almost always someone talking about grouping up to either claim a point you might not yet control or to reclaim one that had been taken. Barring that, points under attack are very clearly indicated on your in-game map by a bright yellow burst around the point in question, so if you want to head out that way on your own, you can.
I will warn you now that participating in these battles means you're in for a potentially chaotic time, but it's a lot of fun and very hard to resist helping out whenever you see a point on your map is being fought over.
How do I get to these epic battles quickly, though, if the zone's so big?
I'm glad you asked, especially since it came as a shock to me that Cyrodiil is largely devoid of wayshrines. You'll find one wayshrine in each of your alliance's base camps, but they don't really exist outside of the base camps. You cannot teleport to the wayshrines from random points inside Cyrodiil, either, but you can definitely use them to get to points outside of the zone!
But now that you know that, you may be wondering how exactly you can get around.
Well, in Cyrodiil, there's something in place called the Transitus Network. This connects your alliance's base camps to the various points around Cyrodiil that your alliance controls providing there's a clear path to the point in question.
However, some routes may be disrupted depending on what's going on in the zone, and all of this is very clearly indicated on your map. Locked routes display a little lock icon on them, although the controlled point will still display your alliance's primary color providing it hasn't been claimed by another alliance yet. You may still have to ride the rest of the way to the point you want to get to, but at least the network will get you there a little bit faster.
Okay, but I have to do a PvP daily quest for an event and I'm terrified of PvP.
You are not alone, my friend. I, too, was terrified of just such a thing, but the good news is that you do not have to murder other players if you don't want to if you're in Cyrodiil for an event. Just because you have to do a PvP daily does not mean you need to go and hunt down other players if that's not your thing.
When PvP dailies are on the menu for an event, I personally elect to do a scouting mission. In my opinion, these are the easiest to pick up and complete if you're all by your lonesome.
A scouting mission will require you to go out into enemy territory to scout out whatever location the quest directs you to, "write a report," and then bring that report back to base camp.
To start, you need to go pick up the quest! And to do that, you first need to go to your alliance's base camp and visit the notice boards to see what you've got lined up for the day. You'll want to specifically hunt for the scouting board amongst them and then pick up that particular daily quest.
Next, you need to figure out where the heck you're going, so open up your map, find the quest marker, and then see what point, if any, your alliance has captured that's closest to it.
This may also be the most frustrating element of the entire venture. Some days, you may find your alliance has claimed a point close to where you need to go. Other days, the closest point your alliance has requires a good few minutes ride. And worse still, there may be days when you need to ride all the way from your base camp to the point in question.
I've had the last happen to me a few times as Cyrodiil rarely seems to be stacked in my alliance's favor. While it is a bit terrifying to load in and see only the tiniest amount of your alliance's color on it, do not panic! You can still get it done and you may not run into another player at all. And even if you do, they might not notice you whatsoever.
Regardless of your situation, you're better off avoiding the main roads as much as you possibly can and abusing whatever stealth mechanics you have available to you to minimize the chances you'll be seen by enemy alliance members. Fortunately, it's pretty easy to spot them as they all have shields displayed over their head with their alliance's symbol and primary color (blue for the Daggerfall Covenant, yellow for the Aldmeri Dominion, and red for the Ebonheart Pact). Unfortunately, though, if you're close enough to see theirs, that means they're close enough to see yours, so be wary.
(Yes, you and your fellow alliance members have a shield over your heads, too. You just can't see them. It makes it a bit easier to see who's on your side in the chaos of combat.)
If you have a mount with bits that glow, I personally wouldn't recommend you use that particular mount in Cyrodiil, especially if you want to minimize your chances of being noticed in enemy territory and you're not a huge fan of PvP. The goal is to make it harder to be seen, so if your favorite mount glows, I'd suggest using another one if you can.
Mount sound may also be an issue. Senche and wolves tend to be the quietest mounts when running, especially when not on main roads, so if you have one of them, I'd recommend choosing to ride one of them to wherever you're going. However, if you don't have either of those, the horse you get at level 15 is also a very good choice.
Once you've swapped out your mount and you have your location, you're ready to hit up the transitus network to get to the closest point you can to your scouting target! Ride out until you're just at the perimeter of where you need to be so the object interaction prompt "Write your report" appears on your screen. Interact, write that report, then get out of there.
If you're in a situation where it's a very long journey between your location and the closest accessible transitus point or you want to get back to base quickly for whatever reason, I'd recommend making a beeline for the Imperial City (the island at the center of the map). You can't enter the city without the appropriate DLC, but you don't need to go into the city. No, you want the moat around the city.
Why? Well, the water surrounding the city is full of slaughterfish. They'll start biting you pretty much the second you make contact with the water and will keep biting until you die, providing you don't swim back to shore first.
Death does let you respawn at your alliance's base camp where you'll be safe and you can easily turn the quest in, so it might be the safest and quickest way for you to get back there. You'll need to decide what's best for you at the time.
And that's it! It certainly seems scary, especially if you've never done it before, but I promise you it's not nearly as terrifying as you may make it out to be, especially now that you know the basics!
So go on out there, my friends, and enjoy yourself in the epic glory that is Cyrodiil!
This article was originally published on Medium on February 12, 2022.
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