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ESO Guides: PVP (An Introduction)

People of Riften, heed my words! This week I want to provide some basic information about PVP in Elder Scrolls Online. Right now we are in the middle of the Midyear Mayhem event, so you will receive double rewards for all PVP activity (2x Alliance Points generation, this is the main PVP currency in the game and earning it also increases your PVP rank and unlocks various skills) through Feb 3 at 10am. That is true for Cyrodiil PVP, Battlegrounds and Imperial City. A great time to learn!

I will add some pics and decorations to this post later, I want to get some info out now.

How To Get To Cyrodiil: When your reach level 10 on a character, you'll get a message inviting you to Cyrodiil. At any time, hit "L" to get to the PVP Campaign menu; you'll see several campaigns you can join. Pick one, right click and select "Enter Campaign." That's it! Because of the event there may be queues to get into various campaigns but they move fairly quickly. (They will be long in prime time.)

How To Get Into Imperial City: Same method, same screen.

How To Get Into Battlegrounds: Go to the Group Screen (hit "P"), choose Battlegrounds and queue up. You can queue up as a group with friends or by yourself. Be prepared to get wrecked if you are new! It's all in good fun and you get decent AP even if you lose horribly.

How To Get the Double AP Bonus: You need to go to one of the Cyrodiil campaigns; at one of the two base camps for your faction, you will find a quest giver (Predicant Maera). Do her "quest" (it takes five seconds) and you get the XP scroll for the event. Read it every 2 hours or more frequently to keep the buff going. 100% AP bonus.


The rest of this post will focus on open world Cyrodiil, which is what I know pretty well. It's fun. The Zenimax servers are notoriously crappy, but AFAIK there is no other game that offers the kind of insane warfare that we see in Cyrodiil. Also, the trolls in our zone chat are amazing.

How To....99% of the stuff that is important: READ THIS ENTIRE POST ON THE ESO FORUMS. Like read the whole thing. I know Joy Division, he is a true expert in the game. It provides a comprehensive intro to PVP for new players---advice on armor sets, statistics you should shoot for in character builds, how to find the action on the map, suggestions on which campaigns to really covers a huge amount of stuff that I would want to tell you, but since it's already been written there is no point in me duplcating his work! 

Did you read it? Read it.

Great. Have you read it? Read it. 

Thanks. Please read it.

Welcome back! Did you enjoy the read? Yes? No? You're completely confused? That's OK. Even if you didn't understand any of that and PVP still seems alien and you don't know how to gear up and make your character effective yet, you can STILL help in PVP and get good rewards. 


If you are in Cyrodiil and have no idea how to fight, you are a ZERGLING. (Zerg is a term for a horde of people/monsters that comes from Starcraft) That means you run around with the crowd--"zerg surfing"--and help as you can when the zerg hits a keep or an outpost, you fire your skills as best you can into the enemy zerg in front of you and get some credit for some kills.

There is no shame in being a zergling. Everyone needs to learn and the only way to learn is practice, familiarity and experience. I will offer some tips for success as a zergling below; I am kind of a wiseass so if I sound arrogant or condescending it is all in good fun. It's just facts; if you don't know what you're doing yet, here's some stuff you can do while you learn, so you can be marginally helpful to your team. As time goes on, you'll meet people, get advice, learn to fight, get better gear, and before you know it you'll be the vet giving advice.

HOW TO GET IN THE ZERG: You can always look for groups that are advertising in zone chat and sign up with them; depending on the group, there may be group voice chat and you will generally be getting a sense of what to do by seeing where your team is on the map, reading/listening to the lead's instructions, etc. If you don't want to join a group, you can still follow the crowd. Just look at the map, you will see crossed swords where there has been recent fighting, keeps flagged (you can scroll over and see how much siege is up to get a sense of the size of the battle), and you can figure out where the battlefronts are at any given moment.

You can also read zone chat; in between the nonsense being spewed by the loons who play this game, you will see things like "20 DC at Alessia FD, flagging fast, get here now losers"--that means there are 20 or more Covenant players at the front door of Castle Alessia, the door is being hit and going down quickly, and you should get there to help defend, you loser. ;) These callouts in zone chat vary in accuracy and detail but can generally give you ideas on where to find action.

Your goal is to find or join a large group of players, and stick with them for safety and effectiveness. Whether you join the group or not, here's how you can help (again, this is assuming you are still fairly clueless about PVP - if you are not, why are you reading this - get back on the field your king/queen needs you)

HAVE DECENT DEFENSES. Firstly, try to be not so squishy.Wear gear with the impenentrable trait. Consider running heavy armor while using sets that have higher regen statistics. If you are in light armor, run the annulment shield skill or one of its morphs; if you are in medium armor run the medium armor skill that gives you major evasion. Use your classes' defensive buff ability to increase your armor--rune focus for templars, ice fortress for wardens, etc. Self-preservation is helpful to your zerg, and obviously helpful to you - it's hard to generate AP when you are dead.

BE ABLE TO HEAL YOURSELF AND MAYBE OTHERS. If you are a magicka character, consider focusing on healing; on any class you can run a restoration staff, use the radiating regen skill and just spam that every second on everyone around you. Great heal over time and you will get AP when the people you heal kill bad guys. Templars and wardens are generally the "healer" classes but any magicka class can heal effectively. At minimum, have the ability to quickly heal yourself up.

If you are a stamina character, same goes. Run vigor (a PVP skill, it requires a few PVP ranks to get it), and choose the resolving morph (more heals for you) or echoing vigor morph (heals in a radius around you to hit other people). You can use the Rally skill to keep a great heal in reserve if you run a two-handed weapon. Stam characters, with a few exceptions, are mostly going to focus on healing themselves.

RESURRECT PEOPLE ON THE FIELD. During PVP, you will die. A lot. As does everyone. It is the way. You can't just pop up with a soul gem like in "normal" Tamriel, you either respawn at a keep that your faction owns, or at a forward camp...or someone can resurrect you on the field if they have a soul gem.

A chronic issue in Cyrodiil is people just running around with dead friends all around them, not resurrecting (or "rezzing") them. Don't be that guy. More people up and fighting means more AP for you. And if you are new, it is better for you to be rezzing someone, vs. a player with more experience who can do more damage, get more done offensively...and again, help your side to win so you get more AP. Be a Florence Nightingale, have a full stock of soul gems and rez people when you can.

BUY SIEGE, USE SIEGE. Running siege weapons is fun (at least at first when its a novelty) and is essential for your team to get stuff done. There are two types of siege, anti-structure siege and anti-personnel siege. 

  • ANTI-STRUCTURE: Used to knock down walls or doors. When you get to a keep with your zerg, it will usuallly run around like fools for a minute and eventually start putting siege down to breach the keep wall or door. The two main types of siege are Ballistas and Trebuchets. Some basic advice:
    • Use Ballistas, not Trebuchets, they are faster, easier to place and easier to aim.
    • Super important, you can only buy real wall/door siege (simply called "Dominion Ballista" or "Pact Ballista") with Alliance Points. With gold you can only buy things like Fire Ballistas. DO NOT USE FIRE BALLISTAS ON WALLS/DOORS. They do half damage to walls and doors, they are only for hitting people. When you use them on walls you bring shame on your family, but if you are literally on your first trip to Cyrodiil and have no Ballistas, it's OK. Any group you are in, most people will be happy to just give you a bunch of Ballistas if you ask nicely. If you are new, DEFINITELY ASK, we all have more AP than we know what to do with and we would be MUCH happier arming our faction with decent stuff they can use to help.
    • Also super important: If your gang is sieging a wall, HIT THE WALL THEY ARE HITTING, AND DO NOT AIM AT ANY DOOR IN THAT WALL. Hitting the small doors in walls does nothing. Hitting the wrong wall is dumb. Don't be that guy, be a good zergling.
  • ANTI-PERSONNEL. This is debatably the most useful thing you can do BY FAR if you are new, don't have good PVP gear and don't know how to fight very well. It is also a way to generate a LOT of kills if you select the right siege and place it well. There are multiple types of siege, but to keep it simple:
    • Buy Meatbag Catapults. They do tons of damage to people, reduce healing in the area affected by the splash, and generally make it hard for bad guys to traverse the spot you are hitting. Ideal usage: 1) Defending a keep, you will want to put it down so you can hit the breach in the wall or front door that the enemy is creating. You will see people doing this around you. 2) Attacking a keep, you will want to place this aiming into a hotly contested breach; you can help to clear the bad guys out of that breach so the faction can storm in. 
    • Buy Flaming Oils. These also do tons of damage, you place them on the edge of a ledge and pour them down on people. Ouch. Ideal usage is really only for defense: When the enemy is massed on a wall or door sieging it down, you will see spots where you can place an oil and pour it on them, either off the side of a wall or through a grate.  You can also try to place them on the ledges that hang over the flags that represent keep ownership; to take a keep, the enemy has to stack on those flags to "flip" them to their faction, and when they do you can pour oil on them. Good times.
    • If you are a zergling, I would recommend just sticking to those two options. With experience you can start thinking about other options for special situations, but usually these two are the most important.
    • Finally, if you get lucky and get a Cold-Fire Ballista at a dolmen in Cyrodiil or a rewards box - stick it in the bank and save it for when you have more experience. You are a young zergling, they are very valuable and you will probably lose it if you try to use it without experience.

FINALLY...DON'T BE A DICK. This is not necessary for generating AP, but it is just my personal plea. Any PVP combat game has its sweaty basement types that love nothing more than making other people unhappy. They call out vicious insults at people in zone chat; whisper even worse things to players privately, mocking their ability; they teabag players after killing them. Not to be your mom or dad, but for the love of Mara, please don't be one of those people. And if you are being targeted verbally by one of those players or are just suffering because of their constant stream of BS in zone chat--the most powerful combo in Cyrodiil is "right click name, select ignore."

I hope this is enough to get people started. The most important thing is to have fun--so come on in, get over the jitters, get killed 10-15 times to get used to it, and start enjoying some of the best large-scale PVP combat on the market today.

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  • Good tips! I've never attempted PVP because of how different it is from PVE in terms of balancing, pace, systems, etc. Would you say there are any particular baseline skills or items to go for ASAP, for a super low level character trying to jump in? I know you mentioned a few defensive and heal options, but anything else? Or would you advise a new, low level player to mainly just stick to support and siege?

    Also, assuming I'm going to create a new character just for PVP, what class would you recommend?

    • I should do this as a separate post or update this one (probably will, but) it depends on class to some extent. I'll chat with you on discord but in general:

      A great crafted set for baseline Cyrodiil: Shacklebreaker is my #1 rec as a base set for a new PVP player. Excellent all-around stat boosts, it works for both magicka and stamina characters. Even if you play a magicka toon, you NEED stamina in Cyro to break free, block, sprint, etc.

      Other baseline sets for Cyro, these are all crafted our purchasable: HEALERS: Kagrenac's Hope, DPS: Spinner (Magic) or Spriggan's (Stam). Without getting too deep into theorycrafting (there are literally hundreds of armor sets in the game), you can be in good shape if you combine shacklebreaker with these sets. All armor traits should be impenetrable. Jewelry enchants, mix and match damage and recovery to a comfortable level. Armor enchants should mix and match to help you hit the targets below.

      Stats to aim for: AT LEAST 25k Health, better to be at 27-28k. AT LEAST 14-15K stam if you are a magicka player. All attribute points to your main damage stat, magic or stamina, get it at least to 33-35K if you can. Regen for your main attribute (magic or stam) should be at least 1700-1800 for a new player.

      Weapons: for magic players inferno staves are a great choice, lightning also. Frost staves are lame for damage, sadly. F0r stamina, right now two-handed is by far the strongest option for solo or small groups as your main damage, dual wield and bow can also work. REALLY helps to back sword and board for ANY character, its good to be able to tank up when shit comes in.

      REALLY IMPORTANT to get a skill for crowd control immunity and escape. Shuffle from medium armor, or Race Against Time (a Psijic Order skill), and/or immovable potions, all important. Crowd control and stuns are just disgusting and far too prevalent in this game, the way you usually die is from a stun or lockdown before getting hit.

      A few thoughts...


  • I've learned so much from reading this. Thank you for this invaluable wisdom, friend. 

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