Elder Scrolls Online was inevitable. Every fantasy RPG franchise has had its MMORPG spin-off pencilled in at some point - SWTOR was long-rumoured, ‘Neverwinter’ was supposed to be an MMO, Kingdoms of Amalur was a single-player WoW clone and even Baldur’s Gate was supposed to be an MMO originally called Battleground Infinity. So it’s no surprise that the Elder Scrolls would receive similar treatment. The only surprise is that it beat out the inevitable Fallout MMO (which will be 2014’s big reveal, bet money on it.) We’ve rounded up all the Elder Scrolls Online information we can, so click more to find out, um, more.
Era: The end of the Second Era, a thousand years before Oblivion. There is no Emperor at this time, so the dragonfires are extinguished and the Daedra are able to enter Tamriel at will. The previous Emperor - Emperor Reman Cyrodiil III - was most likely assassinated by his Tsaesci advisor from Akavir, who himself ruled for nearly 330 years before being himself assassinated. It was restored over 500 years later, until first Cuhlecain (who recaptured the long-abandoned capital city) and then Talos - a god to the nords, but Tiber Septim to the Imperials.
Plot: Chaos reigns in Nirn (the world of the Elder Scrolls) without an emperor. War rages across Tamriel and the capital city is in ruins, the Empire collapsed. tTking advantage of this, the powerful Tharn family (whose descendant, Jagar Tharn, was the main enemy of The Elder Scrolls: Arena) have made a pact with Mannimarco, the King of Worms (killed by the hero in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion) to keep the Imperial forces extent through necromancy - raising them when they fall.
Secretly, though, Mannimarco is plotting with the Daedra to seize Tamriel for himself. With no emperor, the Daedra led by Molag Bal are invading Tamriel, dropping giant anchors from the sky, and attempting to pull Tamriel into Bal’s realm of ‘Coldharbour’. It resembles a copy of Nirn, including the Imperial Palace, but ruined, with a sludgy ground, burning sky and freezing air. Not a place for a summer holiday then.
Molag Bal himself is the Daedric Prince of domination, corruption, vampirism and enslavement, and takes the form of a great bipedal monkey-snake thing. He has other pleasant names like “The King of Rape.” He’s apparently the progenitor of a race of degenerates living in the Molag Amur region of Morrowind.
The reason you can’t die in game is that Molag Baal has taken your soul, allowing you to return to life at every death.
Play style: expect third person, hotbar-based combat - not Elder Scrolls style first-person, realtime combat. It will have a similar, if tighter, interface, with a similar quest system and the on-screen compass. The developers’ aim is to avoid the traditional Tank/Healer/DPS team system - though they haven’t specified how.
Project development: the team (now 250) has been working on this for several years.
Engine: Shadowlocked’s Michael Glavin says it’s common knowledge that ESO will will use the Hero Engine, the same engine used for SWTOR. That’s fair bet, given the depth of familiarity there must be in the team.
Visuals: TES Online looks to be following World of Warcraft and SWTOR in going for cartoony graphics, unlike any of the original games (which were more earthy natural colours). This may well be a reskinned, recrafted SWTOR for the fantasy audience.
PvP: You can be join in the major battles between the factions. The limit looks to be 200 participants at present. The battles revealed so far will take place in Cyrodiil, over the Imperial City.
Territories: It sounds like the game will be bigger than Skyrim or Morrowind, but smaller than Arena. “We wanted to put parts of all the provinces in the game”, says Firor, “ so you can explore just a little of every province. That drew the boundaries.” Given that they were setting the game in areas already explored by players, they’ve been careful to include the same style of areas as those games; so the Daedric and Dwemer ruins of Morrowind will return. Similarly, they’ve tried to make sure that the height-map in Cyrodiil (the Imperial province) is the same as Oblivion, so players will feel familiar with the land they’re running across. Caves, ruins, cities will appear in the same places and the art is the same.
Factions: There are three playable factions. The Aldmeri Dominion, consisting of Altmer, Bosmer, and Khajiit, control Alinor, Elsweyr and Valenwood. The Daggerfall Covenant, consisting of Orcs, Bretons, and Redguards, control High Rock and Hammerfell. And the Ebonheart Pact, consisting of Dunmer, Argonians, and Nords, control Skyrim, Morrowind and Black Marsh.
Races: Altmer (High Elves)Argonians (Lizardmen)Bosmer (Wood Elves)Bretons (FrenchDunmer (Dark Elves)Khajiit (Cat-folk)Nords (Vikings)Orcs (Orcs!)Redguards (Middle-Eastern)
Crafting: Included, but the mechanics are TBC.
Guilds: Player guilds are yet to be confirmed. However, the Thieves Guild, Fighters Guild, Dark Brotherhood and Mages Guild are all in the game. To join the Fighters Guild, you’ll have to destroy Molag Bal’s anchors. To get into the Mages Guild, you’ll need to search for Lore Books throughout your travels. There is also a (presumed NPC) faction of Werewolves in High Rock.
Bethesda Involvement: Todd Howard has approved the basic design and continues to be involved. But the game itself is being built by a separate studio, "just down the road" from Bethesda studios.
Some exciting trivia!There will be time-travel.There will be undead werewolves.The game was originally called “The Elder Scrolls: Origins”. Other considered names were Tamriel and Empires.