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The Elder Scrolls Online trailer released, game details leaked

Following yesterday's unexpected unveiling of The Elder Scrolls Online, Bethesda has released the official "announcement" trailer.

In development by the 250-strong ZeniMax Online Studios, this MMO is the first Elder Scrolls game to allow players to explore the series' universe with others.  Although Bethesda Game Studios, the maker of the singleplayer Elder Scrolls is collaborating "extensively" on lore and geography, the high-level design decisions are being made by ZeniMax Online Studios.

According to what appears to be a leaked preview, The Elder Scrolls Online looks different and plays differently to a single-player Elder Scrolls game.  In TES Online, you will join one of three factions, each with three playable races: There's the north eastern Ebonheart Pact (nords, dark elves, argonians); the southerly Aldmeri Dominion (high elves, wood elves, khajiit); and the north westerly Daggerfall Covenant (bretons, redguards, orcs).  Each faction has their own leveling content.

The combat model will follow traditional MMOs.  It will have a hotbar to activate skills.  There will be a limited number of skills you can use at any time, and change them whenever you're out of combat.  ZeniMax wants to make it "comfortable for people who are coming in from a typical massively multiplayer game that has the same control mechanisms."  It will have MMORPG standards like classes, experience, and other progression mechanics.  Hitting the level cap is said to take about 120 hours.

With that being said, there are some differences from standard MMOs.  Combat seems to be primarily based around a stamina bar.  It controls blocking, sprinting, interrupting, and removing crowd control effects (snares, roots, stuns, etc.).  Meaning your stamina will be key when in combat along with the varying blocking abilities of the different classes and weapon types.  It sounds like combat will be quick, but according to the preview, it won't be in real-time due to latency.

ZeniMax is hoping this stamina mechanic will help the game break away from the healer/tank/damage MMO trinity, although it still sounds as if classes are intact.  With that being said, healing is still a big part of the game due to the fact that there is no aggro mechanic in the game.  It'll be interesting to see how the enemy chooses it's targets.

They are hoping for intelligent AI, so instead of enemies sitting around in a dungeon waiting to be pulled, you will be attacked by the entire room.  The NPCs will work together and use player-like behavior when fighting you.

Players will have their own strategies to fight off the enemies.  Groups, made up of five players, and classes can combine abilities.  For instance, a rogue may oil the ground and a mage ignite it.  A mage may create a firestorm and a fighter spin within it, creating a cyclone.

In addition to instanced PvP arenas, most fighting will take place in Tamriel's central province of Cyrodiil, where keeps, forts, mines, and farms will be fought over by as many as 100vs100 people - siege weapons included.  The ultimate goal is to take the Imperial City and crown your faction's emperor - determined in an automated process that takes the person who tops a "contribution leaderboard".  Being emperor doesn't offer much power, aside from bragging rights.

Skyrim, Morrowind, Summerset Isle, and Elsewyr were all mentioned as places open to explore.  However, certain regions, like Skyrim, won't be as complete as in The Elder Scrolls V.  This allows for expansion content.

Here are a few more details (via):

  • Third-person perspective
  • Fully voice acted (like SWTOR)
  • "Most likely" won't be dragons
  • Sneaking will be in the game, but it's implementation is not yet decided
  • No talk of pets right now
  • No player housing
  • No NPC romances or marriage
  • Not all quests have NPCs indicating where they are
  • You can't be a werewolf or vampire
  • Crafting, alchemy, and soul stones will exist in an unrevealed form
  • There will be mounts, but no flying mounts
  • Fast travel exists in the game in the form of wayshrines, which are also your ressurection point, and you can teleport from one wayshrine to any other wayshrine you have already visited
  • The Fighters, Mages, Thieves and Dark Brotherhood guilds are all available to join. They're reputation-based factions that offer abilities and rewards for your hard work.

Overall, it looks like ZeniMax is promising some pretty impressive details.  I'm a little disappointed with the decision to not have real-time combat.  In my opinion, the traditional MMO combat is getting stale.  The stamina system is a interesting concept which I can't wait to see more of.  With a 2013 release estimate, expect more details throughout the year - hopefully more at E3.

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Matt Liebl You can follow Senior News Editor Matt Liebl on Twitter @Matt_GZ. He likes games, sports, musicals, and his adorable dog, Wrigley. And his wife.
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Games: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Tags: The Elder Scrolls Online

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