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The Elder Scrolls Online Preview

Developer: Zenimax Online Studios | Publisher: Bethesda
Players: 1+ Player Game | Genre: MMO

Release Date: TBA

Matt Firor, the head of Zenimax Online Studios, founder of Mythic Online, and creator of Dark Age of Camelot, sat down with me and a group of journalists today for a closer look at the upcoming MMO: The Elder Scrolls Online. Over the years, Firor and his Development teams always were big fans of The Elder Scrolls and always thought the universe would be one of the richest worlds to create a Massively Multiplayer Online Game in. Who would have guessed that he would finally have a chance to make this dream come true. He made sure to let us know that they want to make awesome online games. And to be working on one of their favorite franchises provides them the inspiration to work even harder at this title. The team is super passionate and excited to share with you a glimpse into Make awesome online games. Focussed on MMOs and big fans of the Elder Scrolls. They are super excited about making this game.

Firor and his team are working to make The Elder Scrolls Online the most socially connected MMO ever seen. He admits that the only reason he can get into a MMO is when it is easy to find his friends, group with them, and communicate with others in the world. They are trying to make all of this so easy that any MMO without these social features will feel old and outdated.

To help matters in the social department, The Elder Scrolls Online will encourage you to help other players. When you see another player, you can cast spells on them or begin attacking the enemies around them. Doing this gives all players around you a boost in stats. Also, you all will get EXP and loot for helping out. There isn't a need to form up a party for this either. This is the Elder Scrolls you all know and love but now with friends.

Animations in The Elder Scrolls Online are very fluid. Much more so than in Skyrim. We will also find that the same classic Action/RPG gameplay will be included in ESO. Firor tells us that this isn't a hit a Hotbar Key and wait for the Cooldown, rinse, and repeat game. But from what little was shown, it seems like that is what they were doing. Since this part of the demo wasn't very fleshed out, and no questions were being taken, I will reserve judgment on this for now. If what Frior says is true, the combat system is based all around what the enemies are doing. Perhaps this is when cooldowns take place?

As you go through combat, you may find yourself earning an ultimate ability. These are given to you for fighting well. This means you are blocking and countering well. You are also given special loot when you get an Ultimate Ability.

From the Dark Age of Camelot background, and with that being arguably still the best online PVP in a MMO, it is no surprise that The Elder Scrolls Online will share heavily from that formula. There are three factions at war with each other:
Ebonheart Pact
Daggerfall Covenant
Aldmeri Dominion

These groups will be fighting over an area in the center of the world known as the Cyroldiil. The Cyroldill have sought the aid of the undead and this will play a large part in your character's story. Learning more about the setup of the main story, your soul has been stolen and you have to get it back by going through the main storyline. The main story quest can be played through completely solo. Though it wasn't specifically confirmed, we are assuming this means by all classes.

Besides the main story, there are a few different dungeon types. An instance type with heroic layers to play with friends if you are seeking a bit more of a challenge. There are also in-game raiding so groups of groups can have a fun dungeon run. Public dungeons are another type that they hope to bring back in a big way. You will probably find people in there that are in trouble or you find yourself in trouble. As we mentioned before, when you help someone, you all get rewarded. To help players in these dungeon areas, all character builds can fill one to two roles so nobody is excluded.

Looking at the interface of The Elder Scrolls Online, it is very minimal. Your health, magic, and stamina, along with your hotbar, all appear when they are needed. Another way The Elder Scrolls Online is hoping to change up the gameplay and interface is with the quest system. You will not find a quest hub in the game. In its place you will hear of rumors and NPC's talking. This will put quests on your map or when you wander into an area, specific quests will be mentioned. All NPC's are fully voice acted. No exclamation points over heads. All NPC's that have something for you will glow.

In the final portion of the demo, you go back in time, wearing special armor, in a quest. During this time, you have a choice to save a NPC in the game. By saving her in the past, she gives you a quest in the present and also gives you a tip to defeat a werewolf boss. He is invincible to all of your attacks until you get him to stand by the fire. Once this happens, he returns to human form and you can kill him.  Upon his death, you have changed history and return to the present. A very interesting quest.

Additional details will be revealed over the coming months. Hopefully we might learn more at Quakecon. Until then, we  were left looking at an extremely well polished build with no slowdown. The Elder Scrolls Online will be available by the end of 2013 for both Mac and PC. The game is expected to run on any device made in the last 5 years that has a 3D card of some kind.

We are very excited to see what is revealed and can't wait to get our hands on more of this game!

By Kaleb Rutherford - 06/06/12

Screenshots for The Elder Scrolls Online Preview

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