Cyrodiil shatters illusions
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 22 March 2013, 6:55 am
There are quite a lot of people, Keen among them, upset about The Elder Scrolls Online's PvP zone Cyrodiil. The problem, as stated by the people who complain, is that TESO only has one mega-server, and thus Cyrodiil will exist in several mirrored copies. Thus if you are losing badly on Cyrodiil copy number 4, you can just switch over to Cyrodiil copy number 7, where your side is winning. Some people live under the illusion that PvP somehow "matters", and thus see TESO "ruining" 3-faction PvP.

The harsh truth is that playing only ever on the winning side has been possible in every PvP MMORPG ever made. It just used to be more complicated, requiring you to make several characters or other hoops to jump through. But by design territorial PvP, whatever the number of factions, is always and has always been an un-winnable war. Permanent territorial gains for any faction are impossible. With rewards usually being handed out for conquering, while defending is under-rewarded and boring, battles are in eternal flux.

Furthermore in large scale PvP the actions and performance of any single player matter very little. Thus the prevalent tactic in most of these games is the Zerg rush, where most of the players of one side form an unruly mob rushing towards some position of the enemy, while many other parts of the battlefield are completely deserted. Frequently you get silly merry-go-rounds, where each side has a zerg rush mob on the battlefield, all carefully avoiding to meet each other, but each attacking undefended targets.

In short: PvP as designed for MMORPGs never really matters. If it wasn't for fortresses where door hold up the attacking zerg for a bit, while a few defenders pointlessly shoot at them from the battlements, there wouldn't even be any combat in a battle-zone.

And that is not just due to bad design or anything, but due to some inherent unsolvable problems: Players get to choose on which side they play, they play only some hours during the day, and they prefer winning over losing. None of these core problems are likely to ever change. And thus PvP combat will never matter, because you can't force people to lose. As the losing side just logs off or switches server, they leave the winning side with a hollow victory against a fortress door or an undefended flag. TESO maybe makes this easier than other games, but the core problem has always been there.
Tobold's Blog

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