Elder Scrolls Online PvP

Elder Scrolls Online PvP


PvP is a major part of multiple MMORPGs. Many players prefer farming, exploring the world or engaging in the endgame PvE content. That being said, there’s a special thrill of emotion associated with outplaying your enemy, when you know that you’re facing another player. Almost all the MMORPG veterans have some fond related to PvP. No matter if it’s playing some structured PvP with a group of friends, winning a 1v1 against an annoying player, fighting over a lucrative farming spot in the open world or engaging in some mass combat between guilds.

Elder Scrolls Online features two types of PvP: Battlegrounds and the Alliance War.


Battlegrounds are small-scale, structured fights, where three teams of four players face each other in a 4v4v4 combat. They take place in closed arena-like locations that allow the players to get an advantage not only from mechanical outplays but also from strategy and positioning. The first team to reach 500 points wins the match – it usually happens in around 10-12 minutes. If no team reaches that threshold in 15 minutes, the game ends and the side with the highest number of points claims victory.

When you’re entering the queue for a Battlegrounds match, you can choose which modes you’re interested in. You can choose Team Deathmatch, Flag Games (Capture the Relic and Chaosball) or Land Grab (Domination and Crazy King). There’s also a possibility of choosing a random game mode. In that case, you might be drawn to any of the five match types. You can always buy ESO gold that will help you fight stronger opponents.

Battlegrounds have nothing to do with the factions – players from all three alliances can team up together or get drawn to a single team by the matchmaking system. The minimum character level required to enter Battlegrounds is 10. There are two queues – one for levels 10-49 (the level cap is 50, so it only excludes the max level characters) and the other for levels 10-50 (mostly occupied by the maxed out players with strong gear).

Theoretically, the level 10-49 queue is easier to play. It’s supposed to be suitable for inexperienced players who need a possibility to learn this game mode without having to compete with really good players. It does work like that partially, but the “new player experience” is often more difficult due to smurfs – people who create new characters specifically to play the lower level queue. These players are not only much more proficient at the game, but they also often have a huge gear advantage over the actual beginners. Sadly, there’s not much to do about it, besides gradually getting better at the game and collecting more powerful equipment. With enough practice and determination, you’ll eventually reach a similar level. It’s important to note that Champion Points are not enabled in Battlegrounds. Theoretically, all the 50 level characters are equal (with the exception for gear differences).

The three Battlegrounds teams are: Fire Drakes (orange), Pit Daemons (green) and Storm Lords (purple). You can’t control which side you’ll be assigned to, it’s random. However, if you queue up with a premade group, you will of course all play together. The matches take place on one of the eight maps: Ald Carac, Arcane University, Ularra, Foyada Quarry, Mor Khazgur, Deeping Drome, Istirus Outpost, and Eld Angavar. These locations have different themes and slightly different structures, but for the most part, they don’t affect the gameplay that much. Isistris Outpost is an exception to that rule, since it’s the only one that allows for using mounts.  

Battlegrounds rewards include: Alliance Points (stacking for Rewards of the Worthy), the daily rewards for finishing in top 2 (only available in the random queue) as well as the Battlegrounds-themed equipment and motifs.

Not every Battlegrounds match has the same objectives - there are five different Battleground game modes: Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Domination, Chaosball, and Crazy Kings.

Battlegrounds match types

Team Deathmatch is the simplest and most traditional way of team-based combat. Getting kills, gives your team points and the team with the highest amount of points at the end wins. If you die, you respawn and go right back to get your revenge. There are no additional rules and no other ways of gaining points. It’s an exciting game mode that’s also relatively easy to grasp (new players are unlikely to succeed against people with more experience, but at least they will understand the rules).

Capture the Flag (or Capture the Relic) requires a bit more team play, strategic thinking and the awareness of different win conditions. The teams have to keep their own relics safe, while also trying to steal the enemy ones. You receive a point for taking hold of an enemy relic, but in order to do so, you have to make sure that yours is secure inside the base. As you can see, this mode is significantly more complex than Deathmatch, especially if you take into account the fact that it’s a 4v4v4. To succeed, you’re going to have to communicate with your teammates and keep track of all eight enemies.

Chaosball is a unique game mode where all three teams fight over a single artifact. Holding onto the Chaosball is the only way of getting points, even though the majority of players trying to kill each other might suggest otherwise. There’s one more catch – if a single character has the artifact for too long, it will start to deal damage to the holder and their nearby teammates. This match type has a simple win condition, but many players simply ignore it (or don’t understand the rules). If you play with a coordinated team that can manage to grab the Chaosball, and then protect the holder, you’ll have the potential to win a lot of matches.

Domination is another strategic match type. Instead of capturing a relic, the objective is to take control of certain points on the map and hold them as long as possible – this way you’ll generate points necessary to claim victory. When a player is in range of one of the points, they’ll start slowly capturing it. The more players, the quicker it goes (as long as they’re in the same team). The situation is similar when you’re taking over a point that belongs to one of the opposing teams. Once again, a certain level of coordination and map awareness is required to do well.

Crazy King works somewhat similarly to Domination, but it’s a bit more dynamic. Instead of being located in the same place for the whole game, the capture points will despawn and respawn in different parts of the map. Moreover, at the beginning, there’s only one point to challenge for and the new ones will start appearing throughout the game. Beyond that, it works similarly to Domination.

The Alliance War

The second ESO PvP mode takes place in Cyrodiil. It’s a massive zone located at the center of the continent (the heart of Tamriel). Players can fight each other in the whole Cyrodiil – it’s the only open-world PvP zone in the entire game. Almost always, some people are playing as gankers, staying relatively far away from the main action, just roaming around the map and killing off stragglers. That’s why you should never run around Cyrodill all by yourself.

The sides of the conflict are the three game’s factions: Aldmeri Dominion, Daggerfall Covenant, and Ebonheart Pact. Each player will fight for their alliance, so if you have friends in other factions, you won’t be able to team up with them. There’s no way to change your character’s alliance, but you can always make a new one and play with your friends. Cyrodiil is available from level 10 and it has level scaling – all the characters below 50 receive a power boost that puts them on par with the max level ones. However, it doesn’t account for skills, passives, Champion Points and equipment.  

Cyrodiil Campaigns

The Alliance War (also called the Three Banners War) works in a campaign system. To enter Cyrodiil and PvP, each player has to choose a campaign. The campaigns last either 7 or 30 days – during that time, all the members of your factions that enrolled in the campaign can score points through capturing and holding onto the strategic objectives. You can play a campaign with Champion Points enabled or disabled. You can choose up to two campaigns at the same time – one as the Home Campaign and the other as Guest Campaign. When they end, you will receive rewards based on your faction’s position.

Each campaign takes place in a separate instance of Cyrodiil – you can only meet and interact with other players who also are playing this campaign. Switching from Home to Guest campaign will transfer you to another version of the location.   

Alliance War Gameplay

The first time that you enter Cyrodiil, you’ll receive a quest called Welcome to Cyrodiil. It has an optional part that explains how to use siege weapons. They’re an important part of the Alliance War, so we recommend checking it out if you have no experience with Cyrodiil.

As we already mentioned, players score points for their faction, by taking control of the Outposts, Keeps and Elder Scrolls. When one of the sides manages to take control of all six central keeps that surround the Imperial City, they receive the right to the Ruby Throne. The player who has the highest amount of Alliance Points within that campaign and faction becomes crowned Emperor. After the coronation, the player receives a special title, costume and skill line.

You can get the Alliance Points (AP) for completing the repeatable quests in Cyrodiil, capturing objectives and fighting other factions. Every time you collect 20,000 AP, you will receive the Rewards for the Worthy. This progress also allows you to reach higher Alliance Rank – there are 50 of them and every time you advance, the game grants you a Skill Point.

The Alliance War has a few interesting features. Some of the most important parts of this game mode will require siege equipment. You can buy it at a Siege Merchant in every Keep and Outpost. The types of available siege weapons are: ballista, catapult, trebuchet and battering ram. If you’re intending to protect an objective from enemy attack, you can also buy flaming oil that you can pour down onto your targets. Moreover, Repair Kits can be used to fix broken walls, doors or siege equipment.

Capturing and holding Keeps is one of the main objectives of the Alliance War. In order to do so, you will need the aforementioned siege equipment to “make” an entrance. The capturing process requires taking control of two flags that are inside every Keep, you just have to push away or kill the nearby opponents and stand next to the flag to claim it. Moreover, Keeps are surrounded by Resources that play an important part in the game.    

In Cyrodiil, there’s a fast travel system called Transitus Network – it allows the players to travel between Keeps and Outposts. However, by taking away the resources, you can break one of the Transitus lines, making it impossible to fast travel. It can give your alliance a massive advantage, by making it harder for enemies to reposition. Moreover, players can cut off their opponents by destroying bridges and milegates.

There’s also plenty of PvE content in Cyrodiil, but remember that it’s a PvP zone, so as long as you’re in the open world, you can get attacked by members of opposing factions.

Best Builds for PvP

We have already covered all the match types and other technical aspects of Battlegrounds and the Alliance War. Now, let’s talk about how to build for Battlegrounds and Cyrodiil in ESO. Even though these modes are significantly different, they both favor similar builds. Meta can change at any time, but some things seem to remain incredibly beneficial over the course of multiple patches.

Mobility – even though Battlegrounds take place in relatively small spaces, the ability to quickly reposition during combat is really valuable. It applies to melee fighters who want to reach the enemy backline and to the ranged players who are trying to kite and keep dealing damage as they move away from the threats. Stamina builds will always have an advantage in that regard. They have more mobility skills to choose from and a higher Stamina pool allows for more dodge rolls.

Penetration – spell and physical penetration are really important stats for damage-focused builds. Of course, if your penetration is higher than your target’s resistances, the surplus of that stat goes to waste. That being said, it’s not so easy to reach that high numbers. It’s important to remember that penetration only applies to damage – if you have any defensive or healing skills that scale off of Stamina or Magicka, penetration won’t do anything for them. Still, it’s a great stat in PvP, especially against tanky opponents.

PvP Gear

There’s a lot of diversity among the Elder Scrolls Online builds for PvP. Depending on your playstyle and personal preferences, you’re going to use different sets, traits, and enchantments. However, some choices are staples of the meta and you should go with them basically all the time.

The item sets in Elder Scrolls Online are not limited to specific classes. You can play any combination of race, class, and gear that you want (some of them might be stronger than the others though). This is why different class builds often use the same (or at least similar) armor sets. Regular gear sets in ESO require five elements to give you the full bonuses, but there are 2-piece monster sets as well (helmet + shoulders).

Each character has access to 12 equipment slots: 7 for armor, three for jewelry and two for a weapon (a two-handed weapon counts as two pieces of a set). It allows the players to utilize two full regular sets and a single monster set at the same time. Moreover, each build uses two different weapons and two skill bars (front bar and back bar). If you want to make use of the set bonuses at all times, you can consider using two weapons from the same set. There also are some special PvP sets – some of them need only three pieces.

Stamina DPS

Stamina setups can choose between medium and heavy armor (or a combination of both). Medium is better for glass cannon builds, focused more on mobility and quickly killing off your targets. Heavy armor provides a bit more tankiness - it’s generally better for players who want to get right into the action and sustain through the incoming damage.

No matter which option you choose, you should always go with the Impenetrable trait on all your armor pieces for the reduction of received critical damage. The only exceptions are the builds that rely heavily on dodging (you can consider Well-Fitted on few items) or blocking (Sturdy is a decent choice here). In terms of enchantments, the most popular ones are Max Stamina and Prismatic (for all three resources). The weapon traits are usually Nirnhoned (for additional damage bonus) or Sharpened (for the physical pen).

The Bloodspawn monster set is really powerful since it generates Stamina and Ultimate as well as extra resistance and it’s considered the Best in Slot (BiS) in most of the Stamina builds. The tanky, heavy armor setups are often based around the Warrior’s Fury that excels in longer fights, when you take a lot of damage. It can be greatly supported by another set that provides even more survivability, like Ancient Dragonguard. The burst-focused, medium armor builds work much better with extra critical damage and even more max Stamina. For this playstyle, you might want to focus on sets like Hunding’s Rage, Titanborn Strength or Essence Thief. All the meta Stamina DPS builds utilize a two-handed weapon in one of the bars. The other is reserved for either 1H and shield or a Bow, depending on your playstyle and the rest of your gear.

Magicka DPS

As far as armor traits and enchantments go, the situation is relatively similar. Impenetrable is once again the optimal trait choice in pretty much every build. As for enchantments, go either with Prismatic (good balance of offense and defense) or Max Magicka (a glass cannon approach). For jewelry, we recommend Arcane and the Spell Power or Magicka Recovery enchant. The most common Magicka DPS armor setup is five light pieces, 1 medium and 1 heavy (to utilize the passives).

The main damage weapon for most Magicka DPS is a destruction staff, there are some melee Magicka builds, but they’re pretty rare. In the back bar, you can go with a restoration staff or a one-handed weapon and shield. The optimal trait on your main weapon will once again be Nirnhoned with a damage enchantment.

The choice of sets is a bit more complex for the Magicka setups. We strongly encourage you to test out a few different options and decide which one feels the best. Balorgh is a great Monster set if you want extra damage, but you can also go with Bloodspawn or Mighty Chudan for extra defense. As for the regular sets, Crafty Alfiq provides a ton of maximum Magicka which is always useful. You can also get a lot of that from the PvP set – Grace of the Ancients. We’re not going to list all the sets here. If you’re interested in a very specific playstyle, read about all the options and you’ll surely find something to complement it.


There are many similarities between healers and Magicka DPS characters –both of these roles are based on using spells and utilizing Magicka as their main resource. The main difference is – healers don’t need the Spell Penetration whatsoever. Instead, they need to survive and have a good Magicka sustain.

The armor traits and enchantments are almost identical to their DPS counterparts. Once again we’re going to prioritize the Impenetrable trait alongside the Magicka and Prismatic enchants. On jewelry, we recommend Arcane and Magicka Recovery. The Powered weapon trait is a no-brainer since it increases your healing power.

When choosing your sets, you should concentrate on survivability and Magicka regeneration. Earthgore is a great pick for a monster set, since it synergizes with healing spells extremely well. Then, you can go with the likes of Shacklebreaker, Hanu’s Compassion, Robes of Transmutation or Rattlecage for more spell power and Magicka recovery. If you feel like you need a bit more tankiness, you can also go for the PvP set – Impregnable Armor.  

PvP in ESO

As you can see, PvP in Elder Scrolls Online offers multiple different options and playstyles for different players. If you like grinding to later show off your power against other players, you can pick a Cyrodiil campaign with Champion Points enabled. If you want a mode where everyone is more or less on even footing, you can go with a no-CP campaign or Battlegrounds. It’s not difficult to get decent gear in ESO and as soon as you get it, the other players won’t have an advantage over you.

We hope that this guide helped you understand a thing or two about ESO PvP. Of course, the game requires a lot of mechanical skill, so knowing all the theory and creating the perfect build won’t be enough to win every fight. You’re going to need to practice, in order to really get good at the game. Good luck at finding and perfecting your favorite playstyle!

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