I was fortunate enough to see a screening that revealed details in the much anticipated upcoming MMORPG, The Elder Scrolls Online. The sneak peek showed some in-game combat, massive PVP battles, and lots of old ruins that were ripe for exploring. The factions and story behind the journey that the players will be involved in were spoken about in-depth as well.
Starting out, the story will take place about a thousand years before Skyrim, as three factions begin warring for control of Cyrodiil. Each faction will be pushing the player to become new Emperor. Each faction controls a certain area of the map, surrounding the unclaimed Cyodiil. The Ebonheart will control the north-east, the Daggerfall will control the north-west, and the Aldmer will control the far south. To make matters more complicated, the player’s soul has also been stolen by a Daedric Prince.
As far as the graphics are concerned of what I’ve seen so far, the art and modeling of both the world and the characters are much cleaner than previous games. To explain more clearly, an example would be that the faces are rounded at the edges instead of being square and blocky. There are fewer edges and sharp corners, making the game feel more organic.
The online version will try to stay faithful to the original series by including many dungeons, both instanced and open for groups or soloing. The instanced dungeons will be for four to six players and have a second part to their story for harder end-game content. They will not only have your typical mobs and enemies, but also traps and puzzles similar to the offline games.
Non-instanced dungeons will be about 1.5 times harder than the normal areas and can be done by yourself or with a group that doesn’t have to be with the typical make-up of a tank, healer, and two DPS. The interface is minimal, hiding certain bars like stamina or health meters until consumed or damaged. PVP battles will made up on giant open land brawls that include all three factions.
The most interesting feature about the upcoming MMO would how combat will allow for certain combinations between both allies and enemies. This is a feature that is also included in the original Elder Scroll games. For example, if someone dies, then a Necromancer will be able to raise the corpse to use as an ally. Another example would be if another player drops something like oil on the ground, then a Mage could cast a fireball to light up the area in an AOE blaze.
As far as I saw, the combat looked typical of an MMO. There were numbered hotkeys at the bottom of the screen which were set up with skills. Since the demonstration wasn’t hands-on, I couldn’t tell if the combat was truly point-and-click or more along the lines of the other offline games, however from the way combat was flowing, I would say that as of right now, you’ll be targeting enemies and using your hotkeys to attack like in most games.
What we do know is that the game will be fully voiced with dynamic questing. Certain quest will have an impact on the world around you. To show off this feature, the demo played a quest where you will speak to a female Orc NPC in order to starting figuring out why ghosts are attacking the area. After going back in time to right a few wrongs, you’ll come back to see that the world has now changed. The sun is out, birds are chirping, and there is a different NPC standing around instead of the one who gave you the quest in the first place. The release date for The Elder Scrolls Online is looking at somewhere in 2013 with support on both PC’s and laptops that are up to five years old. There’s a good chance that if you’re reading this preview, then you’ll be able to play it.