The Elder Scrolls Online: Bethesda say being an Imperial is "not an overall gameplay advantage"
Humans are pretty boring, especially in a fantasy setting. When Bethesda announced that The Elder Scrolls Online was restricting the Imperial race to its more expensive Digital Imperial Edition, I assumed they'd done it knowing that very few people would care, far preferring to indulge in the high fantasy of being a reptile, or a cat, or a Norwegian. Actually, it turns out that they're pretty popular - with fans left disappointed that not only would they not get the option, but fearful that those that did would be gaining a significant bonus. In a new post on the Elder Scrolls Online blog, Bethesda have responded to those fears.
"Imperials do not begin the game in a unique starting location or via a separate quest," writes the mind behind The Elder Scrolls Online blog, "but they can start in any alliance as befits their status as un-aligned outcasts of their own Province. Being an Imperial includes a racial skill line that offers unique gameplay opportunities, but there is not an overall gameplay advantage. It is an opportunity to set yourself visually apart in the lands of Tamriel."
"Gameplay benefits within this edition have been designed to avoid bestowing unfair advantages over players who do not purchase this special edition," the development hive mind continues. "This is cool content designed for some of our biggest fans who wish to have something different from other collector’s editions in the market. The only other alternative would have been to offer a collector’s edition that offers no in-game items whatsoever."
Personally, at this point, I'm shouting "yes, do that" at the screen. I've been burned by ridiculous and unbalancing in-game marketing bonuses before. I do understand the appeal, but, given the price players are being asked to pay - even before their subscription - restricting content that affects the game, however minutely, seems a bit mean-spirited.
Later in the Q&A, the devs clarify the language surrounding the Imperial's mount, stating that it will be the same speed as other mounts in the game. It does seem that the Imperials will be mostly balanced, and while Standard Edition buyers might miss the option to select them, they shouldn't be missing out on anything significantly advantageous.