Elder Scrolls Online, the New MMO on the Block
Elder Scrolls Online
For almost 20 years Elder Scrolls has been a wonderful game that is in tons of game collections. Though I was only 5 when the first game of the series was released I would like to believe that I found the series as quickly as I could. The first game I invested hundreds of hours on in the series was Morrowind. I beat that game more times than I can count. Finding Sunder and Keening was always the best part of the game for me. I just loved it when you finally received Wraithguard and you were able to run around killing people with the ridiculous weapons. Next of course was how you could create your own spells. I will truly miss that aspect of the game. After years of playing that game they released the fourth installment, Oblivion. I never really got into Oblivion like I did in Morrowind. The game was very entertaining and it was leaps and bounds ahead of Morrowind when it comes to graphics but I just always liked the storyline and playability of Morrowind better. Finally at last we come to Skyrim. At this point in my life I can’t say I have logged more time on it than Morrowind but I definitely am getting pretty close.
Including all of the games with their expansion packs we have been able to set foot on each of the nine different sections or countries of Tamriel. But never before have we been able to walk freely around on all the islands, before now. All of the prior Elder Scroll games took place in a certain area of Tamriel, based in a certain era that was prominent to the Elder Scroll universe. Zenimax Online Studios is finally creating the dream of Elder Scroll fans all over the world. Released for 2013 Elder Scrolls online will be the first game in the series that unifies Tamriel and allows everyone to freely roam between each country. For the sake of their finances (I assume) or maybe because they want more time to work on each of the areas, they will be keeping a few of the areas of Tamriel from us in the initial launch, but after a few expansions we will be able to fully roam all of Tamriel.
In this article I will cover a series of topics. The first section will cover the aspects of the game that will move over from the series side (the prior 5 Elder Scroll games). The second section will cover what will be moving over from other MMO games (WoW, Rift, and KoToR). The third section will cover the playability side of the game and what has been confirmed for the game. The fourth part will cover the different races in the game. The fifth section will cover the different regions of Tamriel and who controls each region. And the last part will cover the story for Elder Scrolls Online. I hope you have a cold beverage next to you because this might take a little bit of your time.
What's Staying from Skyrim
Through Elder Scrolls transition to the MMO world their main concern is with keeping their fans happy. They are changing a lot of concepts with the game, and about the only concept that is really staying the same for Elder Scroll fans is the storyline. We get to keep that but everything else is at least getting a minor tweak from the MMO world, which is to be expected if they want to compete with some of the bigger MMOs. Anything in the world of Elder Scrolls that involved just you (aside from the story line) will be removed since it has no place in the MMO world (for instance you can’t buy houses anymore and don’t leave your precious items in that chest and expect them to be there later). For the sake of keeping it simple after this, when I am comparing the changes of the games against each other, I will reference Skyrim for the past Elder Scroll games and MMO as the new Elder Scrolls Online. That makes it easier on me. Let’s do this in a bullet format to keep an easier separation of each point.
· The general feel of the MMO will be like Skyrim in the sense that the gameplay will be exactly like Skyrim. You will travel from city to city, exploring as you please and taking on quests from guilds and random citizens in the streets. The actual graphics of the game will have more of an MMO feel though, more similar to WoW or Diablo.
· The level progression is of course something that is standard in MMOs and Skyrim, but from what has been released it will be more similar to Skyrim with increasing skills each time you gain level. It is rumored that it will take you at least 120 hours to reach the max level.
· As in Skyrim, your stamina bar will be very important to you in battle. If you decide to be a magic user it will have a smaller effect on you, but it still applies to you in a few ways. Every action you do will take stamina (or magic if you’re casting spells) and if you’re out of stamina it will be impossible for you to defend yourself or attack. Maintaining a high stamina will be a pivoting point in PvP.
· All of the guilds will be returning. The Fighters Guild will heavily concentrate on removing giant “hooks” from Tamriel that were sent there by Molag Bal (more on that in the story section). The Mages Guild will concentrate on having you collect “lore books” randomly spread throughout Tamriel. The Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood have been confirmed but the only news we have on them so far is that each guild will heavily concentrate on “set pieces”. This might be something like the Stones of Barenziah in Skyrim.
· The last point that stays the same in the MMO is that all the dungeons and abandoned complexes you loved will still be there. You feel like spending 3 hours of your life exploring a Dwarven complex? Well Zenimax is not taking that joy from you.
Massive Multiplayer Online
Elder Scrolls Online (ESO for this part) will be Skyrim at heart but the game can no longer be considered a real part of the 5 part series. It has changed, in a good way, and has become an amazing piece of work that I believe will survive in the MMO world. Zenimax is definitely trying to bring in a few of its own ideas for the game but it is definitely apparent that they are taking most of their ideas from other MMOs. All in all this isn’t that big of a problem. When you create a game in a certain field of games you have to take ideas from other games to know what is good and bad in that field and to give your game the best chance for success. ESO has taken slices from some of the biggest games in the MMO world and here are a few of the examples (I really do love bullets).
· Much like in Wow and KoToR they will have “public dungeons”. Zenimax wishes to bring back the days where you met new people through some old fashion skull bashing. There will no longer be any “tagging” though so you don’t need to worry. Of course this does bring some complications because that means someone can still take a kill from you but you both get experience. Yes you both get full experience, but it still lets people mooch off of other people.
· Open warfare is back. Zenimax’s servers will be able to hold up to 200 people in onscreen. How would you feel about 200 people doing open PvP on the open fields of Cyrodiil? When you go to this area for some PvP everyone is elevated to max stats so you don’t have to worry about someone being better than you (of course that takes away all your hard work and you’re pit against someone who just started, as equals, but we’ll just overlook that).
· They will be adding lock-on targeting and an MMO hotbar. Lock-on targeting will probably pose some problems with the gameplay but it seems like a good idea. The MMO hotbar will be a collection of slots (6 so far) that you can add skills outside of combat. This does away with skill rotation and how you build your hotbar will define who your character is.
· As in KoToR, ESO will be using “fully voiced videos”. They will include small cut scenes when you talk to people, I’m assuming similar to Oblivion where it zoomed in on their faces. I don’t know if this will be every time you talk to someone or if it is only for important parts. I guess we will have to wait and see.
· Another aspect of KoToR that will be brought into ESO is the effectiveness of how NPCs work together. You will see multiple enemies work together to take you down; one enemy might take you head on and distracts you, while another enemy flanks you, and the last enemy attacks you with long range combat.
Elder Scrolls Online is proving to be a great game so far. I personally love the way they are taking the game and as a diehard Elder Scrolls fan, I am very excited. The playability of this game will not let Elder Scroll fans down. The first thing that caught me off guard is that it will be a third person perspective throughout the game. Of course that is different from normal Elder Scroll games but it’s not different for the gaming world. Though I will miss the first person view, as far as from my past experiences with Elder Scrolls, I am very interested in how that will turn out. It works for Mass Effect, Gears of War and Dead Space; why not Elder Scrolls?
When accomplishing quests you will no longer be required to hit checkpoints along the way that restrict you from completing the quest. What? You mean you didn’t find the map before going to Riften to kill the thief? Well now you have to amble around for a few hours trying to get back on track before you can kill him and finish the quest! No more are those days. If you want to skip all the side parts of the quest, you can! If you know where that pesky thief is, you can go straight to him and kill him, finishing the quest.
The full expanse of Tamriel will be yours for the taking (once they release all the expansion packs at least). If you can see it, you can travel there. The only thing that will restrict you in the game is your personal level and skills. Some dungeons and areas of the games will have predominantly stronger NPCs to keep you from going there until you gain a higher level. The most prominent area you will see this is in Cyrodiil. The emperor’s castle will be off limits for most of the game because of the sheer number of forces in the city (and they will be very high in level). On the multiplayer side of the game this castle will be the pinnacle point of combat for each of the three factions in the game (mentioned in the Races section). Your goal in the multiplayer is to help your faction become the rulers of Cyrodiil. To accomplish this you must first capture cities and holds throughout Cyrodiil. Once you capture a city or hold you will be given points that go towards your faction. Then once everything is captured the faction with the most points will be given access to the capital of Cyrodiil where they can attack it and take the capital for their own. Once the faction takes control of capital they will have an emperor appointed over them. This person will not be chosen by the faction but will instead be chosen based on the number of points they earned for their faction (basically they captured and hold the most cities and holds).
The Three Factions
In ESO will be able to control one of nine races. The nine races of the game are split evenly into three separate factions. The time of this game is 1,000 years before Skyrim during the second era while Tamriel is without a ruler. ESO takes place long before the ascension of the Septim Dynasty during the third era. Each faction fights desperately to survive and keep their holdings all while trying to expand their borders. They not only have to defend their holdings from the other factions; the Imperials are constantly in battle with each of the three factions.
The first of the three factions is the Ebonheart Pack. This faction is formed roughly 50 years after an attack by the Akaviri (an island that borders Tamriel, it is not a playable part of the series and is only briefly mentioned in the games, if you like to pick up and read books). The attack greatly cripples the Dunmer and Nords, and realizing they were weak they created a pack with the Argonians. They are very weak and they only banded together to protect themselves from the Imperials and the other races of Tamriel. Of all the factions, this is the main one that concentrates on war, and they are more blood thirsty than the other two factions.
The second faction is the Admeri Dominion. This faction consists of the Bosmer, Altmer and Khajiit. They formed a faction together to take over the world. Their only concern is with killing everyone in their path to gain the crown of Tamriel. They don’t do it because they love war; they do it because they love power.
The third faction is the Daggerfell Covenant (named after Daggerfell, the capital of High Rock) and it is a pact between the Redguards, Breton and Orcs. There is a great amount of resentment between the three races in this faction. To begin the Orcs use to rule over Hammerfell before the armies of Redguards swept them from their homes. Without a home the Orcs were taken in by the Breton and given a place to stay among High Rock. Another bit of conflict is between the Breton and the Redguards who have been in constant battle for a very long time (needless to say the Redguards are some conquering fools, they are trying to take over the world). Through all of this the three races were able to form a democratic alliance with respect between each of the races.
To learn more about each Race follow the jump to my article on The Elder Scroll Races.
The Nine Regions of Tamriel
All nine regions of Tamriel are controlled by a different race in Elder Scrolls Online (High Rock is of course controlled by the Bretons and the Orismer live there with them).
Cyrodiil is not controlled by a playable race but during the game it is controlled by the daedra under the command of Molag Bal. I will explain how and why in the next section. The inevitable point of the game is to destroy Molag Bal and all of his forces in the capital city.
Under control of the Daggerfell Covenant you have Hammerfell and High Rock. Hammerfell, predominantly an urban and maritime province, consists of small farms in the center with larger cities spread out around the edges. It has been ruled by the Redguard ever since they defeated the Orsimer and ran them from their homes. High Rock, home to both the Breton and Orsimer, is a very fertile land on the upper most corner of Tamriel bordering Hammerfell and Skyrim.
Under control of the Ebonheart Pack you have Morrowind, Skyrim and Black Marsh. Morrowind, homeland of the Dunmer, is cut into two separate regions by The Sea of Ghosts. The northern region, Vvardenfell, is dominated by volcanoes and mountains and is constantly covered in ash. The southern region, Morrowind, is plagued with swampland caused by The Sea of Ghosts, and a giant mountain range that runs along the western border. Skyrim, home to the Nords, is a very cold but wealthy and powerful country. Black Marsh, also called Argonia because of its inhabitants the Argonians, is covered by expanses of marsh and rainforests. Virtually inhabitable, the land is teeming with poisonous plants and dangerous creatures (the Hist for example, a race of sentient trees, call the marsh land home).
Under control of the Aldmeri Dominion you have Valenwood, Elsweyr (pronounced elsewhere) and Summerset Isle. Valenwood, home to the Bosmer, is covered by rainforests. Gaining their widely used name of “Wood Elves” the Bosmer build their homes in the trees. One such city, Falinesti, is built in trees that once walked the land. Long ago, before the trees chose to stop moving, Falinesti would migrate south in the winter. Elsweyr, home to the Khajiit, is covered by forests and dry plains. The Khajiit (and their home world) is most notable for its export of the drug Moon Sugar which is turned into Skooma. Summerset Isle, home to the Altmer, is an unknown group of islands in the bottom corner of Tamriel. Not much is known about Summerset Isle because of the secrecy kept by the Altmer.
Elder Scrolls Online Story
ESO takes place 1,000 years before Skyrim. The Tharn Family - descendants of Jagar Tharn from Arena who cast Uriel Septim VII into Oblivion and ruled as him for 10 years before destroying the Imperial Battlespire - are supporters of bringing Tamriel under Imperial control. Forging a pact with The King of Worms, Mannimarco, they create a plot to bring Imperials back in control. Mannimarco, a necromancer, promises to fuel the Imperial battle with undead soldiers. Unknown to the Imperials, Mannimarco goes behind their backs and summons the Daedric Prince of Domination, Molag Bal. Creating an alliance with Molag Bal, Mannimarco begins helping the Dark Lord bring Tamriel under Daedric control. You begin the game as an adventurer who is already the control of Molag Bal. As an undead soldier you can die again and again, always being resurrected since you’re already dead. Your purpose is to save Tamriel from the control of Molag Bal and The King of Worms. (Honestly I don’t understand what the Tharn Family was thinking. He’s The King of Worms; did you really expect him not to betray you?) The story will be told as a 100 percent single player game. Only when you go to the multiplayer side of the game will you play with other people. Each quest you face in the story you will face alone.
If you would like to understand more of the history behind the Elder Scrolls series, follow the jump to my A History of Elder Scrolls Hub.
Honestly I am very excited for this game. I love the Elder Scrolls series and everything Bethesda has done with their games. This will be a game that I will wait outside of Gamestop to buy. And it’s definitely a game I will take off a week of work to play. I hope you enjoyed the article.