Why I Don’t Like the Imperial City

Why I Don’t Like the Imperial City

This Thursday (August 26, 2021) marks the start of The Elder Scrolls Online‘s Year One Celebration. It’s an event that’s meant to encourage players to revisit zones and DLC content that was released in the first year of ESO‘s operation, specifically Wrothgar, Craglorn, and Imperial City. During this event, players can acquire an abundance of resources, style pages, and, of course, event tickets that can be exchanged for a variety of goods from our beloved Impresario.

By itself, all of that would be wonderful, but there’s just one wrinkle to the event tickets for me. We can acquire two event tickets a day during this event. The first coming from a completed daily in either Craglorn or Wrothgar. The second comes from Imperial City.

And yes, as the title of this post may have indicated, it’s the Imperial City part of the whole event ticket thing that I’m not particularly thrilled about.

Why? Well, let me tell you…

What is the Imperial City?

For anyone who has never played The Elder Scrolls Online before, the Imperial City is a DLC for the game that came out in 2015 that finally gave us the capital city of Cyrodiil to explore. It consisted of two dungeons, an assortment of PvE quests, and the city itself: a combination PvE and PvP zone.

The bulk of play in this particular DLC takes place in the city itself and consists of two levels for players to explore and engage with. These are a maze network of sewer tunnels below the city where each alliance has claimed a small portion of as a base and the upper city, which is divided into six districts for players to fight over and claim. Both areas as also full of daedric NPC mobs for you to attack and bosses to kill.

PvP is very much a part of both levels of the area as players can be attacked by other players at any time regardless of where they are in the zone.

PvE, as previously mentioned is also prevalent as Imperial City is the conclusion to the Planemeld arc that began in the base game. Molag Bal, as it turns out, had a Plan B, and the Imperial City is his attempt at engaging it. Players need to fight their way through the city and put a stop to it. (This is a more simplified version of the overall plot in an attempt to avoid spoiling the storyline for anyone who may want to complete it themselves.)

How Does a Combination of PvE and PvP Work?

The short answer to this question is honestly “not very well.”

As someone who enjoys a good story, I personally found completing the PvE storyline in Imperial City to be incredibly challenging. This isn’t because of the content itself, as the storyline is fairly standard Elder Scrolls fare. What made it challenging was the other players.

Picture this: you’re playing a character that isn’t equipped for PvP, but you’re engaging in the PvE content in a zone. You’re running through the city minding your own business, completing quest objectives, and murdering daedra only to find another player surging towards you. Before you really process what happened, your character is dead.

Not a problem, right? You just need to respawn.

However, because the zone is a PvP zone, the only safe place for you to do that is at a location your alliance has laid claim to. Your alliance doesn’t have a claim on any of the zones of the upper city, so you’re forced to respawn back in your base in the sewers, emerge above in your alliance’s designated location in whatever district you were in before, and fight your way through the district again only to be murdered by another player.


Rinse and repeat this several times over until you’ve hit your maximum threshold for this sort of thing, decide to give up, and vow to never touch the zone again.

This, as you may have guessed, was my experience in Imperial City.

No, I did not have fun and I dread every event that makes us go back in there.

My Thoughts

As someone who primarily engages in TESO for PvE content, completing Imperial City is a frustrating experience. Everyone in the zone has a target on their backs whether they want it or not. Some people just want to engage in the story and not have to worry about getting murdered by another player every five steps.

This is not an experience you get in Imperial City. In Imperial City, PvE players sometimes wind up with multiple unexpected deaths. Sometimes several times in a row.

Personally, I think the zone itself could be improved if there were either an instanced version of Imperial City without the PvP elements or if ESO took a hint from PvP servers in World of Warcraft and gave you some sort of in-game flag that rendered players who toggle it on unavailable for PvP. However, as I’m not a game developer, I genuinely do not know how difficult something like that would be to implement. For all I know, maybe this is incompatible with how ESO has their PvP zones set up.

Because of the frustrating experiences I’ve had with the zones, I tend to avoid the Imperial City. If I’m frustrated, I’m not having fun, and I’m not going to spend time in an area that I’m not having fun in.

However, really, my thoughts on the zone could be summed up in about five seconds:

And yes. I’ll probably be avoiding the zone during this event.

One thought on “Why I Don’t Like the Imperial City

  1. One of the hardest lessons I had to teach myself was that it’s OK to just ignore stuff like Imperial City & this event. Younger me would be “Oh, there’s an event in a zone I hate but I gotta get the rewards so I gotta do it!” And then I’d try to do it, and usually what would happen is I’d get so frustrated I’d just stop playing the game completely. I dunno what wires were crossed in my brain to make me do that, but EVENTUALLY I got those wires sorted so now I can say “Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll just skip this event.”

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