Tamriel Infinium: The year before launching the Elder Scrolls Online

Tamriel Infinium: The year before launching the Elder Scrolls Online
Based on the comments for this column a couple of weeks ago, it became apparent to me that many readers have very little idea about what to expect when the Elder Scrolls Online launches. And I guess with the big push of information about PvP, it would seem that that is all ESO has to offer. In some people's minds, that might still hold true. I admit that I believe PvP might be the thrust of the max-level game, but ESO will offer different things to do as you level up as well as when you hit max level.

Today, for my year-end review of ESO, I will attempt to paint a picture of the Elder Scrolls Online game based on what we know so far. I think you'll find that the game does have more to offer than PvP, but ultimately, I'll let you decide if it's enough.

Character creator
It wouldn't be an MMO if it didn't include some sort of character creator. This year, ZeniMax gave us a video showing off some of the primary features of ESO's character. We saw all nine different races and some of the possible variations of each. Of course, the creator allowed for major adjustments, like the character height and weight, but as Art Director Jared Carr explained, the character creator team also allowed for minor adjustments, too, like shoulder width or hand size.

I find the level of detail in the character creator to be similar to Skyrim's, but at the same time, the texture maps were much improved. Characters have smoother skin and much cleaner facial structures. Although everything was still that dull grey-green color, at least it seems you can look at your character without any kind of modifications to make him prettier. That's not to say you can't make an ugly or pudgy character, but at least the face doesn't have to look as if it's been run over with a heavy-grain pumice stone.

Coldharbour
Based on what has been revealed so far, I'd venture to say that the Daedric Prince Molag Bal is the central character in the primary storyline of ESO. Of course, like all Elder Scrolls games, we will run into side quests and adventures that take us away from the overarching storyline, but we do know that this particular Daedra at least plays a peripheral role in the starting zone and the endgame. That tells me that we will likely be dealing with the fallout of whatever he's done through the main storyline.

We know through the ZeniMax reveals that every player starts in the Oblivion plane of Molag Bal called Coldharbour. According to lore, Coldharbour is a harsher, colder version of Tamriel. Followers of the Daedric Prince have been sacrificing people to the would-be god at his request. You find yourself as a victim of one of those sacrifices, waking up in this plane of ultimate suffering. Although the details are not revealed yet, we know that you end up back on Tamriel but without a soul.

The three factions
I could go into extensive detail about the three different factions, how they came to be, and their overall interests in winning the Imperial seat in Cyrodiil, but that would be an insane tangent. Instead, I'll give you an overview of what we know about the gameplay during the level-up process.

Obviously, your primary faction is chosen is based on your race. We know that each faction acts independently, and you will not be able to cross into another faction's realms as you level up. If you take a gander at the interactive map ZeniMax released about a month ago, you will notice that each faction has five zones. Likely, this means the game is designed to give you approximately 10 levels per zone. We assume that the center PvP zone of Cyrodiil can be entered at anytime after you've hit Tamriel proper.

One thing I noticed when they released this map is that you will not be able to just go wherever you'd like. That's not to say that there isn't freedom to explore, but for instance, if you were hoping to revisit Morrowind again, you are likely out of luck because that zone does not seem available. But you will be able to access areas you have not seen before in any game. It looks as if we will step into part of the Black Marsh, for instance. Perhaps it's a bit much to expect ZeniMax to create every single zone just because it's there on the map.

Level-50 gameplay
Although as you're leveling up, you will not be able to visit other factions. However, once you've hit max level, you will be able to visit the other zones and play out those storyline at level 50. All the content will be scaled up to fit your level, and the only other people you might see during this will be other level 50s of your faction.

Besides being able to experience other content without having to roll another character, playing in the other faction zones will give you an opportunity to gain more skills. Although the number of skills you can have on your bar at a given time is limited, we know that pool of skills you can draw from is numerous. Each class, weapon, armor, and race has its own set of skills you can gain. Playing the other factions' story is one of the ways to continue to gain those skills.

Cyrodiil, selling wares, and becoming emperor
There are dungeons that you can complete as you're leveling or visiting other factions, but I am unsure whether there are dungeons or other group PvE content geared specifically for endgame. The rest appears to be PvP-oriented, including the selling of crafted items.

The open-world PvP zone of Cyrodiil expands over the entire center of the Tamriel map. If your guild conquers a keep in the PvP zone, you will be able to set up vendors for anyone to use. And if your guild is lucky enough to capture the Imperial City, which lies in the center of the PvP zone, you will be able to declare yourself emperor, granting your faction rewards.

Over the next few weeks, I will detail more of the things we actually know about this game as well as my expectations for when the game launches. Have a wonderful week, and I will see you next year.

Tamriel Infinium Stepping into the world of The Elder Scrolls OnlineEach week, traverse the treacherous terrain of Tamriel with Larry Everett as he records his journey through The Elder Scrolls Online, an MMORPG from ZeniMax. Comments are welcome below, or send a message to larry@massively.com. He promises to keep the arrow-to-the-knee jokes to a minimum.

This article was originally published on Massively.