With the Whitestrake’s Mayhem PVP event running from February 17th to March 1st, you’ve likely already played some Battlegrounds to get event tickets and test out PVP. The PVP in Elder Scrolls Online has an entirely different feeling than its PVE experience, so a lot of players may not be familiar with it.

Whether you’re new to ESO and trying out Battlegrounds for the first time, or a veteran player who’s already dabbled in PVP, we’re here to help. This ESO Battlegrounds guide will cover the essentials and a few extra tips. We’ll walk you through everything you’ll experience in Battlegrounds and offer advice to help you succeed.

Let’s get started!

What’s the Big Deal with Battlegrounds?

The hub of all PVP in ESO is in Cyrodiil, where you can find yourself fighting with hundreds of other players all at once. Both Cyrodiil and Imperial City have you side with your chosen alliance against the other two in massive, large-scale battles. While loads of fun, there can be lag spikes from all the players fighting at the same time.

Battlegrounds is different. You fight in a team of four against two other teams of four, allowing you to learn PVP in a more controlled environment. The reduced player count makes the games run more smoothly, and avoids you getting vaporized by the other team before you get a chance to do anything.

ESO Battlegrounds Guide: Types

Battlegrounds randomly places you into one of three groups — Fire Drakes, Pit Daemons, or Storm Lords. Whichever team reaches 500 points first (or has the most points after fifteen minutes) wins the game.

Battlegrounds Queue Screenshot
Image: ZeniMax Online Studios via HGG / Angus Green

There are currently five different types of Battlegrounds games — Capture the Relic, Chaosball, Crazy King, Death Match, and Domination. Here’s what to expect from each:

Team Deathmatch 

As the name implies, Team Deathmatch is a cut-and-dry bloodbath. You kill enemies to get points. Getting the kill earns you the most points, but you also get awarded on assists. Try to stick with your teammates for more coordinated play.

Because there are no other objectives, some players will run off on their own to claim all the glory. This can potentially lead to feeding the other team. You can sometimes 1v4 the enemy and come out unscathed, but you’ll most likely get overwhelmed quickly and sabotage your team.

Capture the Relic

Capture the Relic plays similarly to Capture the Flag in other games. Protect your own relic and capture the enemy teams’. The catch is that you cannot score a point unless you have your relic safely in place before you bring the stolen relic to it. You’ll need solid runners to break through the enemies’ defense and bring back the relic in one piece.

You’ll also need equally dependable defense to prevent enemies from taking your relic. Securing the relic takes a couple of seconds, and players can be interrupted during this time. Capture the most or prevent other teams from securing more than you and your team will win.

Domination

Domination is like King of the Hill with multiple capture points. There are four flag points to secure and guard over the course of the match. The team who holds control of the most flags for the longest amount of time wins. This requires both solid defense and offense to clear the other areas so you can secure the point. 

Secure capture points with 2–4 members of your team, then have the tankiest person stay back to hold the point. Players frequently lose these matches by getting distracted and leaving their points open to be stolen by the other teams.

Chaosball

Chaosball is an interesting Battlegrounds mode that works like hot potato with the addition of hot-blooded murder. This game favors characters with higher health pools and skills that can regenerate their health. Once a player picks up the ball, they’ll gain points for how long they hold onto it. The catch is they will simultaneously take constant damage from the ball. Add in the fact that picking up the ball basically paints a target on your back, and you see why it’s difficult to stay alive for long.

Coordinating your team to have the tankiest member hold the ball while a healer accompanies them is important for success here. The other two members need to focus on taking down enemy players who get too close to the ball. Keep in mind that once your teammate drops the ball (by dying, as you can’t set it down), any player can pick it up. Stick close an ally who’s about to drop the ball and pick it up to get some extra points in before the enemy team snags it.

Crazy King 

Crazy King is like playing king-of-the-hill if the hill kept changing places. Guard the flag for long enough that your team claims it, then head to the next spawn site. The team with the most members guarding the flag is the one who earns the claim, so work to push away and take down enemies.

The game starts with only one flag in play, but eventually summons more. Your team will eventually need to separate to claim the most possible points.

This Battleground has you constantly reevaluate the battlefield and make decisions on how to split your team up enough to get the most resources but not too thin to risk it all. This takes some coordination and quick decision making, so it can be difficult to accomplish with a random group. 

General Battlegrounds Tips

PVE vs PVP

PVE in ESO generally focuses on building all of your armor sets and skills into a singular focus, whether it’s DPS, healing, or tanking. In PVP, you need to cover all these bases. You need enough damage to take down enemies, but enough defense and healing to survive attacks coming your way. Slot a shield, heals, and carefully manage your resources while dealing damage so you do not run out of steam halfway through a fight.

This is something that most exclusively PVE players find jarring when first starting out in PVP. You may have some of the best gear in the game for taking down veteran dungeons, but in PVP, these sets become worthless.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

This feels kind of funny to write, but I’ve seen enough Battlegrounds go sour due to teammates not working together.

When you’re playing Battlegrounds, you’ll find a range of teams that either all run around to do their own thing or work as a coordinated front to mow through their enemies. Nine times out of ten, the challenge isn’t a godlike player who cleaves through the competition, it’s a group that sticks close to each other, works as a unit, and covers their weaknesses through the power of friendship.

By no means do you have to play as a full time healer to win battlegrounds, but providing your team with a buff or helping stun an enemy off your teammate can make all the difference. 

Gear: Traits are Important

Battlegrounds Items Screenshot

Image: ZeniMax Online Studios via HGG / Angus Green

In Battlegrounds, you should be ideally wearing at least 3–4 of impenetrable gear, and 3–4 pieces of well-fitted gear. You can tweak this slightly to get more or less of these important traits, but none of the other traits are as useful in PVP. Reinforced chest armor can be useful to gain that big chunk of extra physical/spell resistance, though. You’ll notice a huge change in how well you can survive fights once you change up traits from say Invigorating to Impenetrable.

Impenetrable gear is of the highest importance in PVP because you can get burst down with a critical strike and die very quickly because of it. Impenetrable gives 127 critical resistance and makes armor lose durability 50% slower. You’ll take less damage from critical hits you do receive, helping you avoid getting bursted down.

Well-fitted is equally important, as it reduces the cost of roll dodging and sprinting by 6%. Mobility is key in PVP, so being able to dodge without draining your stamina and then having the ability to run around terrain or even away from bad situations is going to help a lot. 

Gear: What to Wear

Battlegrounds Toon Edit
Image: ZeniMax Online Studios via HGG / Angus Green

As far as what armor sets you use, this is entirely up to you. What makes PVP so interesting is the wide range of playstyles you can try. A general rule of thumb is that if the gear is BIS for PVE content, it will not be as useful in PVP. The PVP meta does shift, but having good damage and survivability will always be important. The most important things to consider for your armor sets are:

  1. Does it provide you with enough damage through weapon/spell damage or through proccing damaging effects to take down an enemy?
  2. Are you tanky enough to avoid getting one-shot by an enemy combo?

If you can answer yes to both of these, you’re probably in a good place.

Some people in Battlegrounds spec into a glass cannon or full-on tank playstyle, which is fine. Just make sure to play to your strengths. If you’re a glass cannon, you want to go in and out of fights and avoid extended brawls. As a tank, you’ll need to hold down points and outlast enemies by wearing down slowly.

Penetration 

Without a dedicated tank to use Pierce Armor on enemies, you’ll need to come up with your own physical or spell penetration. If you feel like you’re hitting enemies with a wet noodle, this is probably the reason why. You’ll definitely want upwards of net 5K penetration, and the more the better. Aiming for a net of 10K is a good goal.

ESO Mundus
Image: ZeniMax Online Studios via HGG / Angus Green

Having your own penetration with the help of skills that reduce an enemy’s armor, you’ll be in a good spot to actually deal some damage.

Some quick ways to get penetration are by using the Lover Mundus, having the Sharpened trait on weapons, and by slotting a skill that reduces enemy physical/spell resistances with Major or Minor Breach. Razor Caltrops is a great Stamina option for applying Major Breach to a wide range of enemies, and can be found in the alliance skill line. For Magicka, the Destruction Staff skill Weakness to the Elements will provide this same buff.

Consumables: Food and Potions

Sugar-Skulls- screen shot

Image: ZeniMax Online Studios via HGG / Angus Green

Food

If you want to succeed in Battlegrounds, every buff and bonus you can get counts. When it comes to food, you’ll want food that offers both health and your primary resource at the least (blue recipes). You can also go for tri-stat foods that give bonuses to each resource, although the bonuses will be slightly smaller (purple recipes). Do this only if you really need the extra sustain on your non-primary resource.

So, if you’re a stam character who doesn’t use many spells costing magicka, the extra magicka would be a waste. Sugar Skulls is my favorite for PVP, as it gives a bonus to all stats, and even extra health recovery. If you don’t have the recipe, see if you can buy the food from guild traders. 

Potions

Potions make a world of difference in Battlegrounds. Make sure you aren’t using a potion that provides one resource, like the essence of magicka you may collect from an enemy. Your potion should at least give one resource back (such as stamina), and then also provide you with a buff. Tri-stat potions are also great even though they don’t give you a buff other than resource recoveries, as they get you all of your resources back quickly.

Examples of useful potion benefits are:

  • Essence of Immovability. (Grants Unstoppable which prevents you from being knocked over)
  • Essence of Weapon Power. (More damage for stamina characters)
  • Essence of Spell Power. (More damage for Magicka characters)
  • Essence of Detection. (Reveals nearby stealthed enemies)

Use the Terrain to Your Advantage

You’ll probably experience this with players who are more experienced in PVP. A solo enemy will be facing four enemies all at once and still won’t die even after tanking an ultimate or two. How do they do it?

A lot of it is from positioning — using the terrain to block attacks, heal, and channel where they cannot be interrupted. Try gaining cover to pull enemies to you where you can set up combos without them expecting it. Move in and out of locations so they miss their spells and you are able to control the battlefield.

Join the High Ground

We hope these tips and information on battlegrounds PVP help you dominate your next match. If you have any Battlegrounds-specific tips we missed, please comment below! For more information on all of your favorite games and the latest in all things ESO, follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter.

Happy gaming!