“Let them come! Come on! Come on!”

That’s from Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, and the full speech is probably a mighty strong contender for Most Uninspiring Pre-Battle Pep Talk in film history – made even worse by the fact that it’s Orlando Bloom delivering.

I couldn’t resist using it to title this post. Because all I could think of was the movie’s depiction of the Siege of Jerusalem, the first time I found myself in the midst of this.

Violette Vienele and the trebuchets

There was no pretty-boy leader giving speeches, but even so, my maiden Cyrodiil jaunt proved, thankfully, much less uninspiring.

I’m not sure if it’s shone through strongly enough in my posts on this space, but PvP and I aren’t on the best of terms. Coming from a benchwarmer background in competitive FPS, and the freakshow that was The Lord of the Rings Online‘s Monster Play, I took my Breton Nightblade into the Alliance War proper with no expectations whatsoever. Beyond getting two-shotted ten feet outside the safe zone – if I was lucky.

The reason for even being there was simple. I don’t have the Imperial City DLC, but when a high-level acquaintance beckoned, I figured I wouldn’t mind just seeing its walls again for some TES4 nostalgia. Happily, she managed to pull in a couple of equally high-level friends, and off we went like veterans breaking in a privileged new recruit.

As is the way of things, we got waylaid – but by the wealth of things to do, instead of any two-shot nonsense.

Violette Vienele entertaining the troops

The first thing that struck me about Cyrodiil was that it was, as I should have expected, a giant rogues’ gallery. Memories of my time in Defiance‘s Shadow War came rushing back. There, it was ‘all cloaked swordsmen and imba DoT guns’, as I saw one disgruntled player put it. Here, it was Nightblades, Nightblades everywhere!

As my 4-man posse went about its leisurely business seeking Skyshards, destroying Dark Anchors and clearing Delves, the sneaks began to show up, attempting to sully the PvE and kill-steal us from the mobs. One unlucky Khajiit lost no less than three of his nine lives to us, in three different places, that evening – prompting me to dub our group the Dogs of War.

It was tremendous fun, and more so when we raced to join the Covenant warfighters converging on this or that keep. But with the realization that one is never truly safe in the Imperial Province came a second: I wanted to enjoy said Province, but couldn’t.

It hit me as I rode into Chorrol for the first time. I found myself, unwisely, slowing my gallop to look at the town in flyby, trying to connect it with the Chorrol I knew from TES4 – mysteriously weightless Honorblade and all. Perhaps it was the speed at which we were moving, or the distraction of constant high alert, but no such connection came. Likewise when our trip took us through the nearby Weynon Priory, that endearingly familiar first stop (yes, I used fast travel back in the day. Have at me) after emerging from the Imperial City’s dungeons.

The names from TES4 had become simply that – names. Decorative pieces on a map that now served an entirely different – and some would say, contrary – purpose.

Violette Vienele seeing the light in the Crypt of Hearts

But as I had learned to remind myself from the beginning, this is not Skyrim Online. Nor is it Oblivion Online. Hence, when the sieges began, I took them for what they were worth: transient collaborations between players who wouldn’t bother with each other otherwise.

That wasn’t a condemnation. It’s no different from any other truism – like there are no compacts between lions and men; wolves and sheep have no accord. Everyone knew what they had signed up for, and acted according to their interests within the common interest. Like any real-world war that wasn’t the American Civil War. My own interests were learning more, and experiencing more – and I got what I was after. I’ll be back as long as there are collaborations to lend a hand to.

And perhaps, somewhere between all the cross-country mobilizing and frantic dancing with cloaked swordsmen, I’ll rediscover the Cyrodiil that I seem to have lost.


2 Responses to ““Let them come! Come on! Come on!””

  1. Cyrodiil in TESO is a sad husk of its Oblivion counterpart, and the only thing that redeems it for me is the Alliance War. For someone like yourself who is not a big PvPer I imagine that it would come as a tremendous disappointment. I know how you feel though – there are passing similarities between the Dunmer lands of TESO/Morrowind, and the Nord lands of TESO/Skyrim, but in Cyrodiil there is only a very superficial connection to Oblivion. I didn’t even realise that the daily quest hub in Weynon Priory was supposed to be the same place you go to after escaping the dungeons in Oblivion.

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