ESO: Will Combat Rewards Be Balanced?

Player vs player combat will be a large part of Elder Scrolls Online. After all, the plot does set the three playable factions against each other. This is not unique, but what is less common is the fact that you can capture cities and important locations in ESO.

This allows players to contribute in a meaningful way to their factions through their engagements with the enemy. By capturing different strategic points players actually move their faction towards dominance and gaining real benefits.

This is a great concept, but there is a problem that other games that tried the same thing have ran up against. Many games only rewarded players for killing enemies. Or rather rewards for killing enemy players were much greater than the rewards for capturing locations, defending and progressing their faction’s interests.

ESO and Player’s Interest

The problem of course is that the player’s interest and the faction’s interest are not necessarily aligned. How can that be? How can killing enemies not be in the interest of a player’s faction?

Consider this common scenario. A capturable location is flanked by two equally valuable locations. A battle erupts in the middle ESO combatlocation and rages for hours. Control of the location never changes because there are such large numbers of players fighting around it. This location is usually a hot area for combat.

The two flanking locations are just as important, but generally have small, brief battles. Capturing these other cities reduces the resources available to defenders at the center location making it easier to capture. Since players get more points for kills rather than capturing locations, many will choose to fight in the center location, knowing no progress will be made. In fact, it is in their interest that the center location not be captured.

These players need concentrated, constant battle to score as many kills as possible. This may not seem like a big deal, but consider the implications common in other games. If ESO does not have the rewards balanced, players will have less sense of community in the faction. Unbalanced rewards promotes a self focused mentality instead of a faction focused mentality.

Why heal or assist allies outside of your group/guild? They are really just competition for kills if killing enemies is much more rewarding than meeting faction goals.

This is even more of an issue when you consider that players can become the Emperor. Do you want an emperor that only cares about his own guild’s score? What about an emperor that lead assaults on a variety of locations and was an integral part of conquering Tamriel?

Hopefully, ESO will be balanced so that progressing your faction’s interest is equally or more rewarding than killing as many enemies as possible. Hopefully, if you play for two hours and kill 30 enemies that will be less rewarding than playing for two hours and capturing two locations. What do you think? Am I completely wrong or does this make sense?

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3 Responses to “ESO: Will Combat Rewards Be Balanced?”

  1. nez April 9, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    I think it is even worse when capturing locations is even more important than killing players. This happened in Warhammer Online, where separate armies of players would intentionally ignore each other so they could trade keep ownership back and forth. Obviously we don’t want either scenario to happen. One way to prevent what you mentioned is to not have WOW-style spawning. If players are given a proper set back by being defeated, you won’t have battles that go and on without a winner. Then the winning side will focus on the nearby keeps.

    • Aerirprown April 9, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

      That is a very good point Nez. The system could certainly be abused either way.

  2. Ailabel April 10, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

    You make a good point, but from my experience in WoW I can definitely say that PvP in that game was rewarding in either ways.

    For example, killing players awarded Honor, the currency used to buy PvP gear, and skirmishes along with bloody battles were rewarding for both sides. BUT, the purpose behind that bloody combat was to get to your objective, which in the end won you the game. Now that worked well in the battleground PvP style of WoW, but what happens when you bring it in an open world?

    My idea is that capturing and killing should be akin to how WoW did things. Killing awarded honor, but winning the game (Capturing objectives) awarded even MORE honor, defending locations also awarded more honor for kills that normal, which encouraged players to defend rather than rush head-to-head with each other.

    What ESO can do in my opinion is award Alliance Points for killing people, but award more and maybe give other benefits (aside from territorial dominance) for capturing and holding a location. Holding a keep could very well in turn give substantially greater rewards the longer an alliance holds it. That means that the enemy will not want you to keep that keep forever, but the defenders won’t want to lose it since it will be quite beneficial to their team and losing and recapturing it would mean that the bonuses would reset and they would have to wait all over again for them to gear up.

    In theory this is easy but making this real is surely harder. The rewards will have to be such that trading territory would be more hurtful rather than beneficial Alliance Points wise. Maybe diminishing returns? Like, losing a location too many times will make the NPCs there less trusting on your Alliance and the quests they give will be unavailable for some time? There are lots of ways to go about this, all we can hope for is that Zenimax does a good job on keeping them balanced rather than finding them =)

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