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Elder Scrolls Online Column: 21 Things You Should Know About ESO

By William Murphy on November 02, 2012

There was a ton of info released over the past couple of weeks when it comes to Elder Scrolls Online.  Sorting through it all, and pulling out all of the colorful hyperbole we games enthusiast press tend to input, can be a real chore.  So with that in mind, we’re putting together a quick bullet-pointed reference list of a few things (both large and small) we think you should take away from the coverage so far that might otherwise be missed. This isn’t the end-all, be-all list of ESO info, just some tasty nuggets that we think are worth compiling into one list.  Dive in, digest, and comment! 

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  • Elder Scrolls Online is story-driven, especially at the solo level. The game has a “You are the hero” story that carries the narrative from level one to the cap of fifty.  We’re told it will different for everyone depending on choices you make through the process, but that we’ll have to wait and see for ourselves.
  • “Phasing” is also part of the story. Though we have some concerns over how this will split people apart during the leveling process into different “instances” of a map, ZOS assures us that players will be able to join anyone at any time regardless of phase.
  • There will be three distinct leveling paths. Members of the Ebonheart Pact will experience a different leveling experience than members of the Aldmeri, and so forth. Whether these “different” paths are copies remains to be seen, but on the map at least each Alliance has a different corner of Tamriel to roam about.
  • Soul Gems are back, and will take a significant role in the form of crafting and enhancing items.  They were usable in our build, but we were told they were still very much Work in Progress.
  • The Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guilds come after launch. The Fighters Guild and Mages Guild quest lines are both in for launch, but the other two more “shadowy” guilds will be added soon after the game goes live.
  • There will be mounts and a travel system, but neither is ready to show the public yet.

  • Classes are in, but they can be “free-formed”. Classes might throw off some TES purists, but the developers are taking care to make sure that each class can be played entirely to the specifications of each player.  Part of this relies on the ability of any class to wear any armor and use any weapon, and level up those skills accordingly.
  • Along those lines, the Trinity is in ESO, but how the class system and the open nature of forming characters fit into this remains to be seen.  From what we could gather, your role in group play will changed based on your chosen gear set and what skills you place on your hotbar.  It makes sense then that changing both can and will effectively change your roll within a class. The developers told us more info on how it will all work will come soon.
  • Crafting materials are everywhere and you’ll find them in barrels, shelves, boxes, and so forth just as you would in any TES game.  You can steal from homes, and possibly even NPCs.  Which leads us to…
  • The “Morality” system is targeted for launch, but might come after with the “Thieves Guild”.
  • Combat is very much akin to recent TES games (Oblivion, Morrowind). There are normal and power attacks, blocking, and you will need to aim at your target to hit them. 
  • There is also a “hotbar”. The hotbar can have six skills at any one time, leading players to tweak and change builds based on the situation.  This can only be done out of combat.
  • Each class has unique “Ultimate” skills. These skills are equipped to the “six” slot, and charge up through excelling at combat.  They are much more powerful than the normal skills/spells.

  • There is also one consumable slot on the hotbar, assigned to the letter “R” on your keyboard.  You can put potions and other consumable items here, leading us to believe that potions will be a key part of survival, as they were in other TES games.
  • You can assign your stats during leveling. While it’s not quite like say, Diablo, you will get a point to put in Health, Magic, or Stamina each level.  Each point increases the stat by an additional amount per level. So players looking to be excellent mages will obviously want to focus on Magic.  Each stat pool has its own bonuses for spending points in it as well.
  • Cyrodiil will boost players to max level. Beginning at level 10, players can start fighting for their Alliance in the massive open PVP region of Cyrodiil.  They won’t have the gear or skills of higher level players, but everyone who enters Cyrodiil will be scaled to level 50 so they can contribute.
  • Gear and weapon skills level up, and give bonuses. Every time you use a weapon, or every monster you fight while equipped with a type of armor, you gain experience for that item. Even beyond level 50, you’ll be able to continue working on your weapon and armor skill paths.  Every type of weapon and armor has its own leveling path complete with perks and skills for getting better at using them.
  • Skills level up too. On that same note, every class skill or spell has its own leveling path too, and gets better with use.  At a certain point you can choose between two “morphs” of that skill, effectively changing what it does.  And when you want to switch to the other form of a skill, you can as long as you’re out of combat.
  • Housing coming post-launch. It won’t make the release day, but the devs were sure to remind us that it will come after launch and is a priority of theirs.
  • ESO is going to be a theme-park. With a strong focus on story, dungeons, and the like, ESO can be called a theme-park definitively.
  • It’s PVP may be more “sandbox”. With a massive section of the game map (the entirety of Cyrodiil) being devoted to PVP with capture-able keeps, destructible walls, and towers, siege weapons, and so forth… the Alliance vs. Alliance system is more “sandbox”.  Players can even become Emperor, though perks for ruling are yet to be revealed. 

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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