When it came back up, the first thing I did was load into Doshia's Lair outside Daggerfall with a pickup group that intended to finish a Fighter's Guild quest called Anchors From the Harbour. Unfortunately none of us could see the others' avatars inside the instance, so after several attempts at reloading and relogging, we abandoned ship [Ed. note: Yes it's a solo quest, which wasn't in any way made clear to the group trying to enter it!].
While additional data like this has caused me to reassess my earlier observations about ESO's smooth (pre-)launch, it hasn't affected my overall enjoyment of the game. In fact, ESO would need quite a few more bugs and several more days of downtime to qualify as a "bad" launch. If you disagree, well, I question how many MMO launches you've actually experienced.
When I say preparing myself, what I mean is pressing L to bring up the Alliance War menu, clicking the rightmost campaign button, and selecting a home campaign, which as I understand it is basically an instance of the gigantic Cyrodiil PvP battlefield. Right-clicking my home campaign and selecting Enter then whisked me away from Daggerfall to a training camp well inside friendly faction lines.
From there I picked up a tutorial quest line and made use of the Transitus Shrine (i.e., the fast travel network between keeps, outposts, and gates). Fortunately for me, the Daggerfall Covenant was currently dominating Cyrodiil, so I could teleport to most areas of the map unmolested. It's telling that Cyrodiil has its own fast travel system, too, because the zone is absolutely ginormous. I ventured outside the safety of my faction stronghold a few times just to explore, and I was blown away by the enormity of the place.
I guess it has to be big given the fact that ZeniMax says it can support 2,000 simultaneous users with 200 of them onscreen at any given moment. But I still wasn't prepared for exactly how big it is until I looked at the zone map and spent some time traversing it on horseback.
As you'll discover when you arrive at the firing range portion of the newb quest, there are four types of siege weapons: trebuchets, catapults, ballistae, and battering rams. Each has its own unique abilities and situational usefulness. Catapults are great for taking out enemy troops, and they can even hurl boiling oil or nasty looking disease balls. Trebuchets, on the other hand, are ideal for pummeling keep walls. ZeniMax deserves quite a few kudos here, as watching the siege machinery in action is fun all by itself, even when you're just firing it on the practice range.
The catapults clank noisily through their motions, and the impact effects of boiling oil are pretty spectacular. You can also dump said oil off of ledges and into the path of onrushing enemy players. And of course all of these siege engines take damage, so you'll need to use repair kits that can be quick-slotted and key-pressed in the thick of battle.
So what's the point of all this destructive machinery? In a nutshell you want to help your faction capture keeps, farms, lumber mills, mines, and even Elder Scrolls themselves, which buff your faction's players after they're yoinked and controlled. ZeniMax has also placed a variety of repeatable quests in Cyrodiil that range from scouting sorties to kill-20-players to resource-capturing battle missions and keep-capturing warfront missions.
I won't pretend to have the full measure of ESO's PvP at this point, as so far I've simply engaged in a few cat-and-mouse games with enemy players who've ventured close to the borders of DC-controlled territory.
I traveled to Cyrodiil as soon as I hit level 10, and while every low-level PvP participant receives the buffs required to make them useful throughout the zone, I'm still at a disadvantage compared to higher level combatants who have access to more class, race, weapon, guild, and other assorted skills.
I can tell you that I'm very much looking forward to delving into Alliance Wars as I continue to play ESO over the next few weeks. And given my history of PvP apathy, that's definitely a feather in this game's cap.
- Massively's ESO launch week diary, Day One
- Massively's ESO launch week diary, Day Two
- Massively's ESO launch week diary, Day Three
- Massively's ESO launch week diary, Day Five