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The Elder Scrolls Online NPCs to be murdered and mugged by players after Christmas

The Elder Scrolls Online

Our Nick catalogued the many launch faults of Zenimax’s more-deserving debut in his Elder Scrolls Online review. But its biggest problem, to my mind, was the pervading sense of impermanence so at odds with Skyrim. Any mark you made on Tamriel was soon buffed out – preemptively reset for the next hero to come along.

A new year will bring far-reaching “freedom and sandbox-style elements” to the MMO, however. The long-talked-about justice system will touch down on test servers in January – and the blessed lives NPCs have been living will come to an end.

The justice system will be phased in across a couple of updates. The first will introduce Skyrim-style PvE mechanics – the ability to steal from vendors, pickpocket and murder NPCs, and have a sense of right and wrong bludgeoned into you by nearby guards.

That update will be rolled out to the PTS in January, and involve “huge updates to the very fundamentals of the game”. It sounds like proper Elder Scrolls is the model – townspeople will be considered neutral and attackable, and items previously taken for free will be marked as already-owned and need to be stolen.

Fences throughout the world will take stolen goods off your hands – but bounties will follow you around, so you’ll have to dodge the authorities to sell on your ill-gotten stuff.

PvP bounty-collecting will come at a later date, when Zenimax are convinced they’ve laid the concrete right.

“As most of you know, PvP is by its very nature extremely difficult to predict,” said game director Matt Firor. “We want to have a stable system in place to build on before we add more unpredictable elements.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun, and we just need to make sure that we phase it in carefully to ensure the best experience for everyone.”

Update 6 will also incorporate the finished version of ESO’s post-level 50 Champion progression system. The Imperial City’s PvP area has been postponed in the meantime.

In the same blog post, Firor lists everything Zenimax have added and rewritten in The Elder Scrolls Online since release.

“This is the way online games like this work: the game you launch is a starting point that inevitably evolves over time,” he said. “We’ve done so much since launch, in fact, that we’ve sometimes run the risk of doing too much and disrupting your play routines or character builds with the frequent changes.”

Any of you lot pottering about Tamriel atm? How’s the place holding up?