In the upcoming MMORPG The Elder Scrolls Online, there have been many features that people, like myself, have really wanted to see from The Elder Scrolls series that originally were not going to be present in the game at launch until fan uproar persuaded the developers otherwise. One of these features is the view of hands in the first person view. While this is something that is a small detail for many people, especially in a setting such as a MMORPG, it was important to a few of us who really wanted them to stick true to their word of creating an Elder Scrolls game.
Now, I bring to your attention a feature that needs to be added that is not from the realm of Elder Scrolls lore as much as it is from the MMORPG genre: dueling. As of right now, dueling within one’s own faction is not something that will be implemented into the game. The Elder Scrolls Online is focusing heavily on PvP to attract people to the game. From the hybrid class system that is being touted by the developers for changing how the holy trinity is viewed to the campaign to become the Emperor of Cyrodiil, the focus for end game content is clearly PvP. For dueling within your own faction to be missing as a feature is an interesting move by the development team.
In a recent Question and Answer session on MMORPG.com’s forums, The Elder Scrolls Online Creative Director Paul Sage had the following to say about dueling in The Elder Scrolls Online:
“Question: Will there be some kind of arena (like that in Oblivion) where I can challenge other players or at least NPCs to a duel, with perhaps the option of staking?”
Paul Sage’s Response: “All dueling and PvP activity currently takes place in Cyrodiil. We don’t have an arena for it in the PvE areas.” (source)
This response came after many players asked if there would be a feature where someone could duel someone of their own faction, whether they be in the same guild or not. Some people believe that this will not be a big deal in the slightest while others believe that dueling within your own faction is a very important element within an MMORPG that looks to be successful in today’s market. Many of the MMOs that are out there right now that do not offer dueling are not being praised as a very good MMO, with the exception of Perfect World’s Neverwinter.
Let’s take a look at just a couple of different elements as to why this would be beneficial to have within the game’s mechanics starting at launch. The Elder Scrolls Online encourages you to experiment with everything from crafting to creating your own character builds. While the means to experiment with crafting are already present within the games mechanics, the game will be lacking in a way to truly experiment with character builds without a dueling system. For instance, with a system that is as diverse and customizable as the skill and class system within The Elder Scrolls Online, there will be no telling whether a build will work until you experiment with it against other players. Once you reach level ten, you are able to fight against the opposing faction, but you are never given an option to spar against your allies. There are a few options within most major MMOs that allow you to test a build, whether that be dueling a friend or someone outside of a major city, such as Stormwind in World of Warcraft. This allows for you to test your build, learn your class, and do so without actually dying or having the durability of the gear be lessened. Without a system such as this, the only way to experiment with a PvP build within The Elder Scrolls Online will be to jump straight into Cyrodiil and hope that you do not become cannon fodder.
In terms of how immersive the game is, when you walk through the guilds in other Elder Scrolls games, you see the members of the guilds dueling each other in order to stay strong and to become better at their weapon’s skill set. If we join that group, but do not have the ability to duel our human counterparts within these guilds, it takes a lot away from feeling like you are actually earning your way. An argument could also be made that there may not be a tiered challenge mode such as what was presented in the Arena in Oblivion which really helped players to gear up and learn how to better use their characters, depending on how you read Mr. Sage’s answers. It would be confusing if the game had us walk through towns or join something such as the Fighter’s Guild without being able to fight other players (and possibly NPCs) who are on the same journey as you.
Another element of player dueling that is being overlooked by the development team at Zenimax is the depth that dueling brings to the game for guilds and other players looking to roleplay. Imagine that you are travelling through a forest and you come upon a treasure chest. Another player walks to the same area at the same time and there is a rush to the chest to be the first one to grab the loot. Instead of arguing back and forth over who could claim the chest, the two players draw swords and engage in a duel that offers no consequences other than a bruised ego and a loss of loot.
Guilds would also stand to gain from having the ability to duel one another outside of Cyrodiil. One of the greatest functions of dueling is the ability to create a tournament or challenge within a guild. The fondest memory that I have of Star Wars: The Old Republic was of a PvP tournament that our guild hosted. I stunk it up the entire tournament and lost every round with the exception of my duels against one person. That person happened to be the person leading the tournament at the time of our fights. I remember clear as day saying “I WILL BREAK YOU!” like Ivan Drago did to Rocky Balboa and beating him to keep him from winning the tournament. The memories of an event such as this stick with your guild throughout time whether you still play the game or not.
Taking away the ability to duel one another, even in a relaxed manner such as this, is taking away from the immersion of a game that is supposed to be bringing us into a universe of an incredible lore based around battles of pride and hubris that brought a fatal end to many people within The Elder Scrolls universe. One such duel took place as a major story point within Skyrim, an event that took place before the start of the game and actually explains how you start out the game in the same cart as this “criminal.” Ulfric Stormcloak challenged High King Torygg to a duel in order to throw the king out from power and defeated him, albeit in a manner that many deemed as cheating. This duel, whether cleanly fought or not, shaped the Skyrim landscape.
So I write this article in hopes that someone from Zenimax will see it, not because I want to be known for writing something and complaining about a feature that will be missing come launch, but because I want to be able to fully experience what the Elder Scrolls lore has to offer. From the ability to hone our skills and work on learning the mechanics of the game better to creating memories of defeating the best your guild has to offer when the odds are against you, dueling is something that should be allowed within our own factions. For the sake of the stories, for the sake of being able to practice, and for the sake of desiring that this game be successful, let us have duels!