by Anna Roberts
Yesterday’s announcement of The Elder Scrolls Online by Zenimax Online gave the gaming community more questions than answers, but some leaked magazine scans provide some of the answers Elder Scrolls fans had been looking for.
Game Informer’s exclusive cover story appears to have been leaked online in its 19-page entirety. The article’s focus is on the difficulties of marrying MMO gameplay with the concepts and ideas that have made the Elder Scrolls series so successful.
From the information provided in the scans, The Elder Scrolls Online appears to be a hotkey-based MMO with classes and levels. The world will cover all the provinces of Tamriel, but some regions will be inaccessible and reserved for expansion content.
The game takes place a thousand years before the events of Skyrim, where a great war between three factions drives the weakened Imperials to turn to necromancy in order to hold their ground. The Altmer necromancer in question, Mannimarco, is actually working with Molag Bal, Daedric prince of domination, who seeks to gain control of the mortal world. Players’ characters have already had their souls stolen by Molag Bal, providing a lore explanation for the countless resurrections that are part of most MMOs combat systems.
The three factions are as follows:
- The Ebonheart Pact forged an alliance between the Nords, Dunmer, and Argonians. These races control the north and east areas of Tamriel.
- The Aldmeri Dominion: Altmer, Bosmer and Khajiit who control the south and southwest.
- The Daggerfall Covenant is made up of Bretons, Redguards and Orcs in the northwest of the continent.
Questing in TES:O follows a “hubless” system. Quests will be found all over the world and players will not have to return to towns to receive their rewards. As well as the standard instanced dungeons, Zenimax Online hope to encourage organic grouping through public dungeons, which are situated in the regular game world.
Each faction has unique levelling content, and Zenimax Online estimate that it will take players 120 hours to reach the level cap.
Vampires and werewolves will feature in the game, but players will not be able to join their ranks. Mounts will be present, but only where they fit the lore. Players can fast travel between discovered ‘wayshrines’, which also act as resurrection points. There will be no player housing.
The combat system revolves around stamina, a resource which plays consume when blocking, sprinting, interrupting or breaking stuns. A skillful player will judge when to block, and thus consume stamina, and when not to. Burning through stamina quickly will leave characters more vulnerable as combat progresses.
The grip of the MMO ‘holy trinity’ (tank, healer, DPS) will be reduced in TES:O because players will not be able to manipulate the aggro system. Zenimax Online state in the leaked article that five skilled players of any class should be able to clear most content.
The first two slots on the hotbar will be determined by weapon – a light and a heavy attack. In the next few spaces, players can slot class-specific abilities. A final slot is for an ‘ultimate’ skill, which can only be used when the player has generated enough “finesse.”
Finesse accumulates through skilful play – interrupting and blocking powerful abilities or comboing with other players, for example.
The open world, endgame PvP in TES:O will take place in Cyrodil. The three factions will fight to take control of the Imperial City, and the player that contributes the most to their side’s victory will be crowned emperor.
The landscape of Cyrodil province is mapped from Oblivion’s topography, but is reduced in size. Battles will be as large as 100 vs 100 players and siege weapons can be used to destroy enemy fortresses.
Overall, it appears that Zenimax Online are making a traditional MMO with several tweaks, such as the addition of stamina. Are you pleased with the path they’ve gone down? Is there anything you’re disappointed with? Make sure to check out the full scans before they get taken down.
Update: Zenimax has released the announcement trailer.