Updated with more information 5/5/2012
The Elder Scrolls Online has just been officially announced at gameinformer.
Updated with game's announcement trailer:
For full text see spoiler:
+ Show Spoiler +
Long rumored and much anticipated, The Elder Scrolls Online is finally being unveiled in the June issue of Game Informer. In this month's cover story we journey across the entire land of Tamriel, from Elsweyr to Skyrim and everywhere in between.
Developed by the team at Zenimax Online Studios, The Elder Scrolls Online merges the unmatched exploration of rich worlds that the franchise is known for with the scale and social aspects of a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Players will discover an entirely new chapter of Elder Scrolls history in this ambitious world, set a millennium before the events of Skyrim as the daedric prince Molag Bal tries to pull all of Tamriel into his demonic realm.
"It will be extremely rewarding finally to unveil what we have been developing the last several years," said game director and MMO veteran Matt Firor, whose previous work includes Mythic's well-received Dark Age of Camelot. "The entire team is committed to creating the best MMO ever made – and one that is worthy of The Elder Scrolls franchise."
An in-depth look at everything from solo questing to public dungeons awaits in our enormous July cover story – as well as a peek at the player-driven PvP conflict that pits the three player factions against each other in open-world warfare over the province of Cyrodiil and the Emperor's throne itself.
Come back tomorrow morning for a brief teaser trailer from Zenimax Online and Bethesda Softworks, and later on in the afternoon for the first screenshot of the game. Over the course of the month, be sure to visit our Elder Scrolls Online hub, which will feature new exclusive content multiple times each week. You'll meet the three player factions, see video interviews with the creative leads, and much more.
The Elder Scrolls Online is scheduled to come out in 2013 for both PC and Macintosh.
Some extra information on the game from kedo's post on somethingawful and news off of the gameinformer website:
+ Show Spoiler +
The Elder Scrolls Online is a game currently being developed by ZeniMax Online Studios, which is not Bethesda, but is part of the same conglomerate. Bethesda is most probably still involved, but it's unclear to what extent. The dev team is headed up by Matt Firor, of DAOC fame. The timeline and plot summed up in one sentence: "Players will discover an entirely new chapter of Elder Scrolls history in this ambitious world, set a millennium before the events of Skyrim as the daedric prince Molag Bal tries to pull all of Tamriel into his demonic realm." The game has been under development for "several years."
• 2013 release date for both PC and Mac.
• The game takes place about a millenium before the events in Skyrim, which puts this pretty squarely in the Second Era. Technically right around 2E 366, but that's just me doing some quick math and isn't backed up by anything in the article.
• While the game tries hard to stick to the tried and tested formula of previous TES games, it sounds like quite a lot has changed due to the restrictions and limitations inherent in MMOs. Let me ruin your evening right off the bat: there's no real time combat (more on this later) This is unfortunate and we're all kinda bummed out about it, but lets try not to dwell on it, eh?
• The entire world is supposedly in the game, however certain areas will not be present or reachable at launch. "For instance the Nord stronghold at Windhelm is fully implemented, but Winterhold and the mages' college won't be in at launch."
• Classes and experience points are confirmed, so no skill based leveling for you. Specific classes are unknown, but the Game Informer article makes several mentions of rogue / mage / warrior type characters.
• You play a character whose soul has been stolen by Molag Bal (dick), the main antagonist in the game. You may or may not start in a prison, however I can almost guarantee you there will be handcuffs involved somehow.
• Like any TES game, exploration plays a very large role. While you'll see icons for dungeons and bandit camps pop up on your compass, and while you'll get sent to certain dungeons for quests, the article talks a lot about little hidden gems you won't find unless you spend time poking around. This means unmapped dungeons, caves, etc., along with random encounters.
• Endgame content will include heroic dungeons, large-scale raids and, of course, PVP.
• The game will feature both public and instanced dungeons. For you MMO newbies, a public dungeon is exactly what it sounds like.
• Towns include: the Imperial City, Windhelm, Daggerfall, Sentinel, Mournhold, Ebonheart, Elden Root, Shornhelm, Evermore, Riften + more.
• Mounts exist, but they're restricted by lore, ie. no flying mounts (ain't no dragons yo)
• Fast travel is restricted to Wayshrines, which also serve as resurrection points. You can't just open your map and click on a location to go there.
• No player housing or romance or marriage options with NPC's, at least at launch.
• Full voice acting.
• The average player will reach the level cap in 120 hours.
• Mundus stones = basically the same thing as guardian stones and give you a "powerful permanent buff"
• Fighter's Guild, Thieves Guild and the Dark Brotherhood are confirmed in game. Dark Brotherhood should be pretty drat interesting, as they may be in their infancy (according to TES lore, they were first mentioned around 2E 358, which is right around the time when the game is set)
• No mention of mods, but considering its a MMO I think we can safely assume there will be none. Hopefully they'll allow UI addons and whatnot though!
Races: Nords, Dunmer (dark elves), Argonians
"Their ancestral hatreds still burn - particularly in the opressed argonians - but each warlike race recognizes the threats posed by their unified eniemies."
Altmer (high elves), Bosmer (wood elves) and Khajiit
"A nascent empire that rules its holdings with an iron fist."
The Daggerfall Covenant
Breton, Redguard, Orcs
"An egalitarian democratic association... uses its military might to secure lucrative trade routes to and from its northwestern dominions."
This will probably be the biggest bummer for most die-hard TES fans: combat is not real-time. Why? Because network latency and a massive number of players makes it difficult if not impossible. This is probably why you've never seen it in a MMO before (though frankly, why the gently caress has no one figured this out yet?)
What does this mean? Well you're probably not going to be swinging swords and casting spells with just your trusty L/R mouse buttons. Instead you'll have hotbars filled with skills. That being said, it sounds like they're trying hard to match it as best they can to TES within the bounds of their technical limitations. I highly encourage you to read the full article for more information, as the abstracted version below doesn't get into nearly as much detail as the article itself does. As the Game Informer pointed out, combat "diverge[s] dramatically from the system we loved in Skyrim," but lets be honest – it's impossible to know how good or bad it'll be until we at least see some gameplay videos.
Before you get all about combat being different, make sure you read this little bit from the article. While it's not exactly Skyrim-style combat, it does sound different from games like WoW / LOTRO / etc. People have compared it to GW2, and to me it sounds a little more action-ey, maybe a bit like AoC or even Torchlight to a certain extent. WHO KNOWS?!
Game Informer Article posted:
"Players have a small standard MMO hotbar on which they slot a handful of skills freely outside of combat. The limitation on the number of skills available at one time mostly does away with the concept of skill 'rotations' that much of the class design of an MMO like World of Warcraft is built on... The currently equipped weapon determines the light and heavy attacks that take up the first two slots, players choose another few class abilities they've unlocked, and the final slot is taken up by an ultimate ability that can be activated only after building up 'finess.'"
• Combat skills are still heavily stamina / mana based. Sprinting, blocking and interrupts are in the game, and seem to function much the same way they do in other TES games (though of course you'll probably activate these skills differently)
• Blocking plays a large role, and sounds relatively robust. Different kind of blocking for different weapons (eg. block with a shield, parry with a 2h, force field for magic users), and has similar mechanics to Skyrim. If you block an attack you'll still take a little damage, but it's greatly reduced. Blocking an enemy's power attack can potentially throw them off balance and open them up for retaliation.
• Traditional aggro mechanics are gone. Zenimax is promising AI that's more player-like in its actions. Thus, the tank/healer/damage trinity you need in most MMO's is a thing of the past because you don't need one person to hold aggro. Group play requires that players focus a bit more on healing and protecting themselves, however you'll still have the ability to shield / heal other players. This is still kind of vague at this point, but sounds like it could be a refreshing break from what we're all used to.
• AI is also said to act differently than we're used to in MMO's. If you enter a room in a dungeon and it's full of mobs, you won't find yourself manipulating the AI by, say, pulling individual packs. The article mentions all the NPC's reacting and doing what they logically should (tanks charging, ranged backing up and dpsing, healers backing up and healing, etc).
• "Finess" system allows you to build up finess points (I suppose) in order to execute an ultimate skill. Finess is built up by being effective in battle. It's described as a method to encourage players to "develop skillful tactics," so one would assume that spamming a heavy attack over and over would generate less finess than using multiple skills.
• One way to build finess is to perform combos with your party mates, eg. a rogue character drops an oil slick, and a mage sets it on fire.
• Questing is said to be "hubless," meaning there won't be little towns filled to the brim with quest givers like in WoW. It seems to be a bit more TES-like, in that it "allows players to enjoy whatever piques their interest as they wander the world, so long as you are appropriately leveled."
• Phasing is in the game, and sounds like it's mostly used for quest purposes (like WoW)
• It's confirmed that you'll be seeing some "Bring me 10 bear buttes" fetch quests, but they shouldn't be the majority.
This is probably one of the most exciting bits – three faction PVP much like DAOC.
• Instanced PVP arenas for you eAthletes, but who gives a gently caress.
• Open world, free-form PVP. This sounds a lot like DAOC with some twists, which is not surprising considering the dev team is headed by Matt Firor of DAOC fame.
• "The majority of the central province of Cyrodiil is the battleground for endgame PVP, with the eventual goal being conquering the Imperial City and crowning the most accomplished player in your faction emperor."
• PVP will hopefully support 100v100 player battles, which is the maximum the engine can support (though they don't say which engine that is)
• Siege weapons and destructible terrain.
• While the ultimate goal is capturing the Imperial City, there are a whole slew of other targets you can attack including forts, farms, mines, castles, etc.
• There's a lot of talk about "player-politics" and relations to games like DAOC and UO.
• "Some kind of system will be in place to facilitate responding to your holdings being attacked, so players can organically defend their turf without the game enforcing scheduled assaults."
• Little to no info yet. However soul stones and alchemy are in the game (and it'd be hard to imagine a mmo / TES game without some form of smithing)
Images from gameinformer article:
Any thoughts, TL?