Traditional Third Person Gameplay, Stylised Graphics
Yesterday's sensational announcement of The Elder Scrolls Online knocked us for six, and got us good and excited for Game Informer's June preview. However, this article has seemingly made its way into the internet via a lengthy PDF file and scans, revealing a host of potential new details about the upcoming MMO.
If this new intel is correct, The Elder Scrolls Online will be a much more traditional MMO than we were expecting, featuring a familiar third-person perspective, no real-time combat and stylised cartoon-esque visuals. Mind you, it's also going to be big.
The Elder Scrolls Online is set 1000 years before Skyrim, chronicling the devastation wrought by Daedric price Molag Bal and the corrupted Empire, led by the Tharn family and Mannimarco, the King Of Worms . Players will join one of three factions: the Ebonheart Pact (Argonians, Nords and Dark Elves), Aldmeri Dominion (High Elves, Wood Elves and Khajit) or the Daggerfall Covenant (Redguards, Bretons and Orcs), each of which will vie for control of the Imperial throne in the province of Cyrodiil. Imperials will act as enemies to all three factions. 100 vs 100 battles have been promised as players fight over mines, farms and fortresses, with the most valuable player on the winning side being automatically crowned as emperor - and hence ripe for subsequent dethroning. Apparently more traditional instanced PvP arenas will also make an appearance.
Naturally, most of the world of Tamriel will be available to explore, from the deserts of Elsweyr to Summerset Isle, Morrowind and Skyrim. However, many of these provinces won't be mapped out in full detail at launch - for example, Windhelm will be fully featured but Winterhold and the Mage's College won't be included - in order to provide expansion content down the line.
In gameplay terms, 250-strong Zenimax Online studio have opted to concentrate on providing a lag-free experience, and one that uses familiar World Of Warcraft-style mechanics. "It needs to be comfortable for people who are coming in from a typical massively multiplayer game that has the same control mechanisms, but it also has to appeal to Skyrim players," states the preview, meaning that real-time first person combat is out. Instead, a more traditional third-person perspective has been chosen for TESO, complete with hotkeyed chargeable skills and an abilities bar. Stamina will govern all combat skills, including blocking, sprinting and special attacks. Unlike most Elder Scrolls games, players won't have the option to excel in all fields, needing instead to specialise in various classes and builds, though the use of Stamina promises to slightly shake up the tank/healer/DPS trinity.
Intriguingly, The Elder Scrolls Online will feature a 'hubless' design, with the experience focusing on exploration rather than traditional MMO questing. NPCs will tell you about dungeons and interesting events throughout the world, with rewards being dished out on completion within the dungeons themselves. The Dark Brotherhood, Thieves Guild, Fighters Guild and Mages Guild will be available to join depending on your reputation, offering rewards and abilities. Sadly, Vampires and Werewolves won't feature as anything other than enemies.
Visually, The Elder Scrolls Online will reportedly adopt a slightly cartoony art style, in line with Rift, Everquest or Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning - but not to the same extent as World Of Warcraft. As well as potentially improving performance, this new look has likely been taken to distance the game from the Elder Scrolls series proper, as well as to ensure that it ages gracefully.
We're not willing to link to the PDF or host the GI scans, but you can read a summation over at NeoGAF. Consider these details courtesy of Game Informer.
It's early days, and we're not entirely sure what to make of this new intelligence. Can The Elder Scrolls Online hope to separate itself from the pack? Will the lack of first-person combat deter Elder Scrolls fans from getting involved? We'll have to wait and see.