Fictional loyalty in Elder Scrolls Online

Tamriel Infinium Fictional loyalty

On many occasions, my guild members have talked about different aspects of MMOs, MMO culture, and of course, what makes our guild work as well as it does. The simple answer to the last question boils down to common bonds and shared interests, just as with any group of friends, I’d imagine. And when we seriously decided to take this guild we made beyond the borders of just one game, we discovered new hurdles to overcome. Although the roots of my guild extend far beyond one MMO, it kicked off seriously only in Star Wars: The Old Republic and has since extended to Guild Wars 2 and Neverwinter.

Many of my friends have expressed more than a fleeting interest in The Elder Scrolls Online, but faction selection could pose a problem for us. I always liked Imperials in the other Elder Scrolls games. One member wants to relive his Skyrim adventures and play a Nord. And of course, we have that hold-out who will play nothing but elves (or the closest approximation) in whatever game she’s playing. Although I very much want these players to play whichever race they will have the most fun playing, it places the guild as a whole in an interesting position: With so many conflicting loyalties, which direction does the guild head?

The Elder Scrolls Online created a solution within its guilding system. Does the ESO system encourage loyalty to a faction or is factional loyalty just fictional loyalty?

Tamriel Infinium Fictional loyalty

In a recent interview with, Creative Director Paul Sage gave two pieces of seemingly conflicting information. Near the beginning of the interview, he explained that factional loyalty is important to the design of ESO. The game will cut off communication between the three factions, even when level 50 players visit the other realms to experience the quest in an opposing faction area. It has also been explained that a player will be able to create a second (or more) character of an opposing faction from the first. If factional loyalty is important to the feel of the game, then why did he later say that guilds are account-wide and are not limited by faction?

Mind you, I am in favor of accounts being bound to the guild and not individual characters. Although I can’t say that I’ve always been in favor this style of guild creation, I have come to appreciate that guilds are an out-of-character bond between players and not something built on some loose in-character lore or storyline. He mentioned that each account will be able to join up to five different guilds. I’m reminded of the Guild Wars 2 system; I can only assume that in ESO you will be able to represent a given guild at will.

However, if guilds are not bound by faction, then why is communication? Perhaps a player will be able to communicate to his guild no matter which faction he’s currently playing. (If not, then this game has other issues.) Basically, I will be able to visit the territory of The Aldmeri Dominion, but my guildie who is playing a Bosmer will not be able to assist me in any way. What’s the point of the guild being cross faction? I am confused. Maybe you can help me figure it out.

Tamriel Infinium Fictional loyalty

The Imperial Library houses extensive Tamriel lore. Just about anything you’d like to know about the lore of the Elder Scrolls can be found there. This week, the cartography sections caught my eye. The creators of this site have gathered nearly every map imaginable. Above all the others, I was extremely interested in the zone that will be a PvP zone in ESO: Cyrodiil itself.

If the game design works the way it’s been explained, Cyrodiil stands to be the only place you can meet your cross-faction guildies to show off your latest outfit. I can see it now: I’m showing off my latest Nord viking-like look to my Bosmer guildie, who is also showing off the leafy wood elf fashion, then we are suddenly attacked by a group from the Daggerfall Covenant. But we just wanted to compare clothing!

At any rate, beyond the maps, The Imperial Library details each of the major cities in Cyrodiil from the Imperial City to Leyawiin. Each city description is complete with screenshots and descriptions of what you will find where. “Above ground, the gleaming Imperial City is clearly seen from miles. The city is walled in circle shape. Inside the city there are seven districts, Green Emperor Way or the Palace District, Market District, Arena, Arboretum, Talos Plaza, Elven Gardens and Temple District. There are two other smaller walled districts outside the city, Arcane University in the southeast and the Imperial Legion in the northeast. The last district is the harbor, the Imperial Waterfront, in the southwest.” As I read through descriptions like that, I can’t help but wonder how things will be different when it’s a war-torn area. What are your thoughts?

Tamriel Infinium Fictional loyalty

Last week, I asked who will be attracted to the action-style combat that ESO will have. Personally, I enjoy this style. I like Neverwinter for this reason, and those who have followed me for a while know that I love DC Universe Online. Reader Coreymj78 enjoys that type of combat for the same reasons I do. He compared ESO’s combat to Neverwinter’s, saying, “It is truly fun dodging, sprinting, flipping, blocking, teleporting, and also being able to slot certain abilities for specific types of fights. You have many abilities, but can only slot 8 at a time, including your two dailies.”

I agree that getting an immediate, visceral reaction to my mouse clicks and keyboard mashing has its appeal. But at the same time, I can’t discount the other side of the coin. Another reader, Murzerker, wrote last week, “I think in a lite action based game it is fine. However, I do feel that (for me) it is detrimental to my ability to suspend reality. I can’t help but feel like I am playing a game. So for a real MMORPG, I feel that action combat is truly out of place, plus for me it’s exhausting. I feel worn out after playing for an afternoon, yet I can’t remember anything truly exciting about anything I’d done.”

Reader Madrox30 asked a couple of interesting questions regarding a combination of the two systems. “Is there no middle ground to be had? Or is managing a rotation, being mindful of situational CDs, positioning, and dodge mechanics just too much to ask from the skillful PvPer? Just as there was such a thing as too much, there can also be too little, and I fear the industry has too readily embraced the latter.” Maybe he’s right. Why does everything have to be to one extreme or the other? Good food for thought.

This week, I want to know your thoughts about the guild system in ESO. Do you think this will create conflicted loyalties? Maybe communication between factions isn’t necessary because of how your guild plays MMOs. Is this going to be an issue for you and your guild?

This has been a problem I’ve been concerned about. I don’t mind having my characters in two different factions, but I want to be able to group with friends from other factions when in a PvE environment. I don’t see why we have to be cut off from each other.

There has to be a way for them to make it lore friendly and convenient for the players to play as they want. The IP has always been about what the player wants to do without lore stopping them, else my Argonian in Morrowind would be some dunmer’s slave or kept impoverished.


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