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Elder Scrolls Online Hands-On Rundown

Written by Jeremy Shane on Tuesday, March 19 2013 and posted in News with Benefits

Elder Scrolls Online Hands-On Rundown

Everything we found out so far about the hands-on experience journalists got with the ESO game last week.

First Person Play available for Launch

   The big news for a lot of Skyrim, and prior Elder Scrolls games, fans is the change to making first person playstyle more functional.  Where before your hands, weapon, shield, etc would not be seen in first person view and players would be almost forced to play third-person has now been changed.

   You can read more in detail about this change here.


Explore All of Tamriel

    Another concern for Elder Scrolls fans has been the news that players will not be able to cross into other alliance's territories to explore everywhere.  Now though, when reaching level fifty, part of the "end-game" content is allowing you to adventure through the questlines of the other alliances.

   You can read more in detail about this here.


   ESO is reported to have the most minimalistic UI on the screen of any MMO.  Taking the lead from their Elder Scrolls games, much of the info like your health, stamina, magicka, hotbar, etc will only appear when you are in combat.  As you move about the world normally, you'll see only a crosshair, a minimap and quest tracker.

   Interaction with NPC's is fully voiced, though it does bring up a a dialogue menu as well.


The Hotbar

   The Hotbar is a big MMO feature, but ESO has tried to make it as minimal as possible.  You will have five slots for abilities and later a sixth slot, called an 'ultimate skill'.  When you use an ability there is no "cool-down" period, you can spam with your own judgement because they will instead use up your stamina, health and magicka.  You'll have to balance use with other aspects of combat as dodging, sprinting, blocking, etc. will use stamina as well.

   When you use spells, you do not need to unequip a weapon and then 'arm' your spell, you just select it from the hotbar and it will cast.  Only when you desire to use a magical staff in one hand would you have to do something like unquip a two handed weapon.



   Crafting is still not fully revealed, but we know more now than we did a couple weeks ago.  There are five professions to dive into: Provisioner, Enchanter, Weaponsmith, Armorsmith and Alchemy.  It will be an important part of the game, offering players a chance to create weapons as powerful as any they would find on raids and also create items worth trading.  Additives to your work will offer you the chance to create even more unique and specialized weapons.

   Read more about Crafting here.


Fourth Class Revealed

    We've heard about the Dragon Knight, Templar and Sorcerer classes so far, but Zenimax dropped the name of a fourth class at the hands-on event: The Nightblade.

   They didn't offer much in way of details, but prior ES games offer a hint about the class.  A Dark Brotherhood like group of Bretons that mix thievery, swordplay and magic to do their work.



   Stealth is available to anyone to use, improving as you use it and spend points in it.  You enter sneak mode in a similar manner to Elder Scrolls games, with the curser turning into an eye to alert you to how well you are sneaking.  Sneaking will use stamina and be based on line of site, so sneaking your way through the world will be a much more challenging option than it was in a game like Skyrim.


Character Progression

   The classes in ESO will offer you the chance to mix and match your skills.  Even if you choose to become a warrior, you will still have the option of vearing your knowledge into the realm of magic and/or thievery.  Leveling up is very similar to Skyrim where you can choose to raise your Health, Stamina or Magicka with every level-up and you receive a point to spend on a skill tree.

   Skills points will open up passive and active skills, with active skills increasing as you use them. When your character reaches level 15, they will get a 'weapon swap' ability offering you a chance to level up a variant skill bar with a new weapon.  Ultimately it offers you a chance to have ten skills on your hotbar as you swap out one set of five for another set.

   Zenimax hopes to offer players much more variety than a typical MMO would.  Though it seems like the 'holy trinity' of tank, healer and mage will still be a cornerstone to a good raiding group, a player isn't forced into one of the roles in order to be useful.



   The Fighters' Guild and Mages' Guilds will be in the game at launch.  The Thieves' Guild and Dark Brotherhood will be added into the game at a later date.

   Unique skills, spells and abilities will be available to those that join guilds.  You will also receive additional adventures assigned form the guilds you wouldn't normally come across if you skipped them.


Some further notes from the site:  Elder Realms

  • First-Person Combat mode will include hand, weapon and spell animations at launch.
  • You can't manipulate real world objects.
  • The UI is minimal, but a more in-depth one can easily be chosen.
  • Questing is narrative-driven and dynamic. There is no grinding like in previous MMO's.
  • Skills such as stealth bonuses and rapid weapon swapping are unlockable perks.
  • Dark Anchors, the ties to Molag Bal's realm of Coldharbour, will present a unique challenge and are defended by daedric 'Titans'.
  • Territories are faction-locked, but only up until Level 50. After that any race can visit any playable area in the whole of Tamriel.
  • When a skill progression tree is maxed out it can be combined with one or more other skill progression trees and morph into something else.
  • Two or more mobs can group up and attack in different ways, e.g. a Spriggan can use the surrounding foliage to hurt you instead of rushing in.
  • The Hammerfell Island of Stros M'kai will be the starting area for the Daggerfall Covenant.
  • Spells do not need to be equipped to be used, but instead fire instantly.
  • Disguises can be used to walk around enemy camps, as long as you don't get too close!
  • Looting enemy corpses will not award you with the exact items they were wearing.
  • Leveling up will grant a boost to either Health, Magicka or Stamina.
  • There four known classes to choose from; Templar, Sorcerer, Dragonknight and Nightblade.
  • The Fighter's Guild will be tasked mainly with fighting daedra, whereas The Mage's Guild will move against the Necromancers.
  • PvP Fortresses will correspond with ruins encountered during Oblivion.
  • There will be five crafting professions; Armorsmith, Weaponsmith, Enchanter, Alchemist and Provisioner (cook), though players will only be able to master one of these.
  • Crafting can involve reverse-engineering as well as choices in particular styles and the addition of extra ingredients to base items which add perks.
  • As well as Race and Guild skill trees, there will also be Vampirism and Lycanthropy skill trees.
  • Each character wakes up in Molag Bal's realm of Oblivion known as Coldharbour at the beginning of the game.
  • Zenimax have stated that controller support is a possibility for combat, though it won't be there for launch.
  • Wayshrines will be usable from any point on the map, but will cost much more.
  • Equipping items and putting skills into your hotbar enables them to increase in level. The experience you earn splits among all the active elements.



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About the Author - Jeremy Shane

Jeremy was born in a small mountain village of a strange foreign land called Weystvurginea.  Banishment for liberal views saw him spend years wondering the east coast until he decided to bike to California.  When he saw how long a trip it was, he drove instead.  Now he's living it up in a low humidity climate, sometimes working on his photography and when not, he writes for us covering books (by way of his blog: Reading Realms), gaming, tv, movies, comics, conventions in the SoCal area, and creates a weekly webcomic: A Journey Through Skyrim.  If you look for him offline, start in the L.A. area; online start at: for his profile and all the social networks he's on... or just follow him on twitter, he seems to be on there a lot: @jeremyshane.


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