New Elder Scrolls Online dev Q&A details faction battles and siege warfare

Patrick Carlson at

Elder Scrolls Online developers are counting, at least in part, on the power of underdog alliances to help balance faction battles in their upcoming MMO, according to a new Q&A with the team at ZeniMax Online Studios. An important part of the RPG's meta-game will involve conflicts between the three alliances for control of Cyrodiil, and the dev team maintains that a three-sided fight often has a way of balancing itself.

"If one side is over-populated, the other two sides usually gang up on that alliance," according to the developers. "That being said, there are alliance population caps per campaign to make sure one alliance doesn’t fill up a campaign entirely."

We've had a look at the different ESO alliances before, and it appears that any factions that fall behind in the larger game of resource and keep control will be given some incentives to keep fighting hard, according to the Q&A. Keep sieges in ESO are based around attacking specific resources and weapons which allow for the capture of two flags. When both flags are in the control of one alliance, the keep is in their possession.

"You’ll get more points by taking keeps and resources from the winning alliance and holding your own keeps, helping you catch up in the overall score," the developers said. "Lastly, keeps can be captured with smaller groups than you may expect, so even under-populated alliances have a real shot at claiming the throne."

But what's in store for you if like to roam the wilderness in order to hunt, explore, or maybe cause some trouble? It looks like even if you want to skulk off into the hills, there'll still be some faction politics at work.

"There will be lots of chance encounters and roaming players to kill in Cyrodiil," according to the Q&A. "Many of the quests from towns and from alliance entry locations are designed to send you into enemy territory. If you’re looking for a fight outside of large-scale keep battles, there’s a good chance you’ll run into enemies near Chorrol, Cheydinhal, Bruma, Cropsford, or Vlastarus."

The full Q&A covers a variety of specific topics and information about the current state of the game. Still in closed beta, the most recent round of invites hit inboxes on September 4. If you haven't managed to get an invite yet, you can always check out our hands-on with the game from earlier this year.