As we continue our weekly column on The Elder Scrolls Online there is a lot of information out there to work through. Gameplay, combat, and even some classes all made an appearance at our trip to Zenimax Studios. However, the world of Elder Scrolls is really a sprawling piece of fantasy. More dark than most worlds and very gritty, Tamriel offers an amazing canvas for players to build their characters upon. This is not some anime world of cute monsters and sexy characters; this is a dark fantasy where you'd better bring your axe.
With Skyrim being on everyone’s mind for the last year, I thought it would be cool to focus on the three factions (or alliances) in the game. Let's look at the Ebonheart Pact first. Why? Well, because of Skyrim. Now, years ago if someone told me there would be a fantasy game setting where Vikings, Dark Elves, and Lizardmen would form a playable alliance that would compete against other races my jaw would have dropped. The Ebonheart Faction will be one of the more popular ones in the game solely based on Skyrim’s recent success. At least that's my guess.
Let’s look at the story. Ebonheart is by far the oddest pairing in the game. It is even described as such on the website. But damn, is it cool. All three races have good reason to hate each other from the start, but the alliance is said to be formed when the lands were attacked by Akaviri slavers. For those who don’t know, Akaviri is the Elder Scrolls version of Asia. In order to fight off the invaders, the races allied in a pressed situation. So the pact is clearly out of desperation, which immediately makes it exciting. Other factions may be driven by greed or expansion, but the Ebonheart formed for survival.
Keep in mind that the timeline for Elder Scrolls Online is long before the events of Oblivion and Skyrim, so there is some room to breathe in terms of story. The three races make up an interesting trinity that seems to be among all the alliances. While any race can play any class there are some reasons that you would see these alliances form: the Nords being the warriors of the faction, the Argonians being the scouts, and the Dark Elves representing the magical force in the trio.
In terms of PvP I think this pact will be very strong. Here is why: players who are drawn to the dark races will immediately choose this faction. If you go back in terms of games like Dark Age of Camelot you saw the Midgard realm as one of the strongest in PvP. I think you will see the same with Ebonheart. Players who want that Nord experience to explore Skyrim will join up. The Dark Elves will be hugely popular as well, by fantasy default. It is the popularity of the Argonians that may be lower in this group. That is okay though. With the AvA system in place, no one race stands out beyond the others.
I am still deciding on which faction to play. I have to say that it comes down to the Ebonheart and the Daggerfall Convenant for me (only because I love the Orcs). I definitely think the story behind this particular faction is exciting and the zones we saw were fantastic (Morrowing in particular looked great). Also, coming off of the success of Skyrim players may be drawn to this land first. There is a huge game being built though and how they fare against the popularity of Elves and Redguard will be interesting to watch. If I had to make an early prediction, I think Ebonheart and the Aldmeri will be the leaders in PvP with the Daggerfall Convenant coming in third place. What Alliance is striking your fancy early on, especially with Cyrodiil up for grabs? Let us know what Alliance you will chose and more importantly... why?