Clear your calendars and ready your passport for a trip to Tamriel. June 9 is right around the corner, marking Xbox One and PlayStation 4 owners’ first opportunity to explore the vast, epic, continent-spanning, positively enormous world of The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited. As a massively multiplayer role-playing game, ESOTU is something of a rare beast on consoles. So for you newcomers and MMO-curious, here are seven things you need to know about the console version of The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited.
1. You Can Live Here, Basically
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited is a full-fledged virtual world, loaded with stuff to do, places to see, people to meet, and nasty beasties to slay with gleeful abandon. You can guide a character (or several!) of your own design through an epic, world-shaking story…or hone your provisioning skill to make a really great stew. You can delve into treacherous Ayleid ruins in search of prime gear…or build up your woodworking, blacksmithing, or clothier skills in order to craft your own. You can go head-to-head with armies of other players…or group up with friends to clear out a nearby dungeon.
In other words, ESOTU takes the spirit of the previous Elder Scrolls games and expands it. A lot. Not only can you interact with thousands of other players, you can explore all nine massive provinces in Tamriel. Doing so, however, will take a lot of time. How much? Well, since the game launched on PC and Mac, players have logged more than 173 million hours of playtime. That’s almost twenty thousand years.
There’s a lot to do, is what we’re saying.
2. You Can Make Friends (and Kill Enemies)
ESOTU is, after all, a massively multiplayer online RPG. That means that when you start playing, you’re not just entering your own world; you’re entering an experience shared by thousands of others.
Now, to be clear, you don’t have to interact with anyone else if you don’t want to. You can experience the vast majority of this immense game even if you elect to adventure solo. But for those looking to get a little social, ESO offers all kinds of features to support it. There are group dungeons: areas where the enemy counts and the difficulty are tuned specifically to support multiple players working together. But the social element goes way beyond that. The guild system, for example, allows you to group up with hundreds of other like-minded players, sharing resources and communication quickly and easily. Guilds can also set up their own stores, allowing individuals to sell unneeded items to other players. (Players can also trade privately through an easy-to-use gold-on-delivery system that works with ESO’s messaging interface.)
And, of course, if your interest in other players is more, ah, adversarial, you can pop over to Cyrodiil for some player-vs.-player combat. The PvP system offers a variety of different competitive options, from running solo missions on behalf of your own Alliance to grouping up to lay siege to enemy keeps.
3. It’s a Trip Back in Time
In terms of its story, ESOTU is the earliest of all the Elder Scrolls games, taking place about 800 years before the events of Morrowind and Oblivion – which means right around 1000 years before Skyrim. Without spoiling too much, we can tell you that the story involves an attempt by the Daedric Prince Molag Bal to merge the whole Elder Scrolls universe with his own plane of Oblivion. Which might not be quite so bad if it weren’t for the fact that the whole of Tamriel is basically at war, divided up into three Alliances vying for control of the Ruby Throne in Imperial City. And each of those Alliances has its own set of main quests, side-quests, faction quests, and so on.
Why go so far back for this story? “The Second Era – specifically the Interregnum – was the perfect choice for us for two reasons,” says Lead Content Designer Richard Lambert. “First, it hadn’t been fleshed out as well as the Third Era [the setting of all the other Elder Scrolls games except The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard]. So we had a lot more freedom to explore the lore and fill in the gaps. Second, it was a time of constant strife and warring. There were tons of false pretenders to the throne during this period, which fit nicely with our plans to allow players at the top of the leaderboard to become Emperor when their Alliance conquered Cyrodiil.”
Oh yeah, did we mention that? You can become Emperor yourself. If you’re very, very good.
4. My, How It’s Grown
Growth is a part of any online game, and ESO is no different. The game first hit PCs in April 2014, which means it’s had more than a year to flourish. It’s added two entirely new gameplay zones: Craglorn and Dragonstar Arena. It’s gained a variety of new gameplay features, like a justice system to punish criminals and a whole new skill line to go along with it. And it’s layered in a ton of new upgrades to the visuals, the interface and more.
All these upgrades will be present and accounted for in the console version – plus a lot more. “Tamriel Unlimited on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 offers an experience that’s custom-tailored to these consoles,” says Lead Gameplay Designer Chris Strasz. “These versions leverage many of the unique features of each console, including new achievements, built-in voice chat, integration with Xbox Live and PSN, and an all-new interface and control scheme built from the ground up to take advantage of controllers.”
Speaking of which…
5. It Has a Completely Redesigned Interface for Consoles
This point bears repeating: The UI and controller interface for the console version of ESOTU was designed from the ground up for consoles. That means that the team didn’t have to awkwardly pare down a keyboard-and-mouse control scheme to fit a controller; they built a whole new system.
While Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim were great examples of console interfaces in Elder Scrolls games, ESO presented its own challenges. The always-active nature of MMOs, for example, necessitated giving players the ability to trigger abilities instantly, which led to an intuitive system of slotted abilities – which translated easily into controller play. And of course, no MMO would be complete without the ability to express emotion (often via interpretive dance), so ESOTU gained another radial menu with customizable /emote slots. Which means you can shake your booty at the touch of a button.
6. No Subscription Is Required
When ESO first launched on PC and Mac, it used a subscription model similar to how MMOs have been doing things since – well, since there was such a thing as an MMO. But with Tamriel Unlimited, players no longer have to pay month-to-month for the privilege of exploring this vast continent. Once you buy the game, it’s yours to play, as long as your Xbox Live or PlayStation Plus subscription is active.
That said, ESO does offer an optional membership. It’s called ESO Plus, and it’s a great deal for players looking to get the most out of their time in Tamriel. For as low as $12.99/€10.99/£6.99 a month (depending on the length of your membership), you get a 10% bonus to pretty much all of your character progression: XP, gold, crafting research, and crafting inspiration. Plus you get 1500 Crowns per month of subscription (paid in advance) that you can spend in the Crown Store – that’s enough for 150 level-scaling health potions. Finally, you get access to all DLC game packs for the length of your membership at no extra charge.
7. This Isn’t Even Its Final Form
As big as ESOTU is, it’s only going to get bigger. Like we noted above, the game has already expanded in the year-and-change since it first hit PC, and that expansion won’t be stopping anytime soon. Just as an example: “We announced the new zones of Orsinium and Imperial City last year,” Lambert says, “and are getting close to finishing them up.” (Orsinium will be a new zone to explore set in the ancestral homeland of the Orcs, whereas the Imperial City will add new gameplay, including PvP areas.)
And even this is only the beginning. “After that, we have plans for more content and new systems,” Lambert says. “We want to support and continually update ESO for years to come.”
– By Joe Rybicki
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited
Prepare for Your Voyage with the Explorer’s Pack
Tamriel is a huge place, packed with people to meet, places to go – and enemies to slay. Why not get a headstart with the Explorer’s Pack, a special bonus for anyone who pre-orders the game. With the Explorer’s Pack you get the following:
All races playable in any alliance.>Maybe you fancy being an Orc but want to fight alongside the Ebonheart Pact. Or perhaps you want your Nord to join up with the Aldmeri Dominion. In ESOTU, each faction is composed of three unique races. With the Explorer’s pack, you can pick any of the nine total races and align with any of the three factions, giving you even greater freedom to play the game however you like!
A precious pet. Fondly known as Warty, the Scuttler is a vanity pet you can only get through the Explorer’s Pack. Be the envy of your friends when you show up with this scaly rapscallion scampering around your heels! (Don’t worry, you can change Warty’s name.)
Treasure maps. Everyone likes loot. Get a leg up with a collection of maps that’ll lead you to hidden chests stuffed with treasure.
For more info about purchasing the game – including links to retailers – head to: http://www.elderscrollsonline.com