A bunch of you have been waiting for more details on this one but you’d better strap yourselves in because this is going to take a while. The amount of info the guys from Zenimax Online were able to cram into a half-hour presentation. The team working on The Elder Scrolls Online are hoping to make this MMO “the most socially connected MMO ever” and they’re not talking about Facebook integration (or at least we didn’t see any sign of that).
There will be three factions warring over Cyrodil, encompassing the whole of Tamriel, in a storyline that takes place 1000 years before Skyrim. The factions are: The Ebonheart Pact, the Daggerfall Covenant and the Aldmeri Dominion. Each of these are made up of regional alliances that are vying for control of the continent. But there is a single overarching quest line that players will experience that carries them into the heart of these events, called the Hero Story. Some bugger has stolen your soul and you’re out to get it back, saving the world in the process. We’re not sure how exactly and Zenimax wouldn’t tell us because… that would spoil the game.
The humanoid enemies that will be encountered within TES Online are all based off of possible player builds, making NPCs an assortment of the type of foes you can expect in PvP. These enemies will stack with each other so, if a group has complimentary abilities they will use them the way that they should, forcing players to take on foes in a tactical rather than first-come-first-served manner. By the look of things controlling your toon will owe little to the World of Warcraft model of hotbars and cooldowns and will function more in line with the Bethesda single-player adventures, albeit from a third person perspective. The HUD is very clean, looking more like GTA for the most part (mini-map) than anything else that has been encountered in MMOs.
Combat will be using what the devs call a ‘finesse system’. Briefly it means, the better you fight, the better your loot is. All of the NPCs in TES Online will be fully-voiced and exploring the world will offer endless (or nearly so) distraction from the quest at hand. Completing these incidental quests or encounters before hitting your main objective might help or hinder the ultimate goal but, going by the time-travelling ghost/werewolf/magician quest we were shown, you won’t be sorry you wandered off the beaten path either way. There are no quest hubs, players will pick up and complete quests almost anywhere in the world. Sounds like a nice change of pace.
Then there is the PvP, which will apparently feature hundreds of players at a time, in skirmish and siege scenarios. There looks to be some world destruction elements included as well.
The only other thing we can tell you is that TES Online is expected in 2013, for Mac and PC. As far as system specs go, any PC from the last five years should be able to run it but there is nothing finalised yet. If you want the smooth visuals (not quite Skyrim but we’ll take it) seen in the presentation though, a GPU upgrade might be a good idea.