The Elder Scrolls Online takes place in the chaotic and rapidly changing land of Tamriel, home of nine provinces fighting to take control of their fate. ESO takes place 1,000 years before the events of Skyrim during the evil deeds of Molag Bal and the power struggle between three warring factions. These factions: The Ebonheart Pact, The Aldmeri Dominion and The Daggerfall Covenant are made up of three races each:
The Ebonheart Pact – Nords, Dunmer and Argonians
The Aldmeri Dominion – Altmer, Bosmer and Khajiit
The Daggerfall Covenant – Bretons, Redguards and Orcs
The Imperials in ESO will be an unplayable race characters must battle against to take control of Cyrodiil which in turn grants the champion faction control of the empire.
The Lore of ESO
Tamriel is in dark times, as the Winters grow colder the lack of food and warmth create dire conditions for the races of Tamriel. Fear is growing in the hearts of many as the dead ravage villages and cities across the land. An Arcane Explosion in the Imperial City during 2E 579, four years before ESO, aptly named SoulBurst has doomed Tamriel.
SoulBurst ruptured the barriers protecting the mortal world from the evils of Daedra and Molag Bal threatening the existence of all of the races of Tamriel. With each death in Tamriel the barriers become weaker drawing the end nearer. Molag Bal’s followers now rule the Imperial City, the central power of all of Tamriel. The Mages Guild has been destroyed in the favor of the Worm Cult and Necromancy.
Unlikely alliances are being formed between the races of Men and Mer as the dead tread the mountains of the Northwest, the coastlines of the South and the marshes of the of East. These alliances have formed with one intent, to capture and control the Imperial City and the White-Gold Tower.
Players in The Elder Scrolls Online will have the option to choose between nine different races, these include: Alter, Bosmer, Dunmer, Orc, Nord, Khajiit, Breton, Argonian and Redguards. Although ESO is an MMO the developers at Zenimax Online have aimed to create the traditional Elder Scrolls feel in a persistent online world. At launch this world will contain only some of Tamriel including Skyrim, Morrowind, Summerset Isles, Elswyr, Hammerfell and Cyrodiil leaving room for future expansions.
Instead of the traditional combat system found in previous Elder Scrolls titles, Zenimax has implemented a new system developed specifically for online play. Players in ESO will have access to Block, Spring and Crouch depending on their character’s stamina shown on the stamina bar. Normal combat functions such as using a weapon or spells are controlled by a limited hotbar-like feature yet to be shown to the public.
Players will be able to work together to create more powerful attacks to take down their foes. There will no longer be the reliance on healing, crowd control or tank classes as each class has access to these skills. Players will be forced to become more self-reliant than in other MMOs, granting the player more of the single-player Elder Scrolls feel.
Travelling and Discovery
Keeping with the single player games players will have a compass pointing to specific features and towns that the player has previously discovered or has been told about by an NPC. This compass can be turned off at any time the player decides.
ESO will be filled with dozens of quests ranging from small chores to massive adventures. Quests have also been hidden throughout the world of Tamriel to promote world exploration.
Dungeons make up a big part of the players experience, dungeons are both public and instanced in ESO. Public dungeons were designed to promote organic grouping and to have players interact with their fellow adventurers. Instances are going to be much like those seen in past MMOs, designed to separate groups of players from the rest of the world as they complete story driven quests.
There are also rumors of fast-travel through the world of Tamriel with carriages. Silt Striders may make a return to the series.
Video: Interview with Paul Sage on the Gameplay and World of The Elder Scrolls Online hosted by G4.
Creatures of ESO
Many of the creatures that have appeared in past Elder Scrolls titles will appear in The Elder Scrolls Online, these include Dwemer Automatons, Daedra and even Mudcrabs. As Zenimax Online is attempting to strictly stick to the lore of the Elder Scrolls universe it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume players will have the chance to fight against almost all of the creatures already present in past ES titles.
Like players the NPCs and Creatures have the ability to work together to create more powerful attacks. An example given by Paul Sage was that an enemy can throw down a jar of oil which can be lit on fire by an ally’s fireball to create a deadly situation for the player.
Each class has the ability to use any of the available weapons in the game and these weapons determine the first skills on the player’s hotbar. Each class can unlock a multitude of skills, a system somewhat like that found in the past Elder Scrolls titles. Players will also have access to “Perk Trees” which may depend on the class chosen, it has yet to be determined how these work with classes.
Players will have the opportunity to join one of the many available guilds in the Elder Scrolls Online. As of now the guilds that have been confirmed to be in-game are The Fighters Guild, The Mages Guild, The Theives Guild and The Dark Brotherhood. As in the single player games players will have to prove themselves worthy of joining a guild.
Player vs. Player
ESO has many PvP features to give players and exciting online experience from public PvP to Public RvRvR to instanced arenas. PvP is mainly designed around the three warring factions players choose to join.
RvRvR is the main focus of the PvP experience, players in each faction will fight to gain control of the central province, Cyrodiil. Although Cyrodiil and the Imperial City are the main objectives in RvRvR players will also be able to capture small territories such as mines, villages and outposts.
Players not interested in dealing directly with PvP will have the option to create siege weapons, reinforce structures and upgrading guards to help improve their faction’s position.
Players can earn armor through PvP but must complete PvE aspects of the game to gain access to all of the available armor pieces.
Crafting, Gathering and Hunting are going to be large parts of ESO’s economic system. Alchemy, Blacksmithing and other skills will be used to create items for PvE and PvP purposes. Players will also be able to loot crates, chests and barrels throughout the world when searching for ingredients and resources.