Do you make a habit of walking blindly into strange and dangerous places? Then I have good news, my adventurous friends, for the fourth update to The Elder Scrolls Online is now live.
Zenimax Online Studios
Just five months after The Elder Scrolls Online MMO went live, developer ZeniMax Online Studios has laid off an unspecified number of employees.
The Elder Scrolls Online should get a bit more Elder Scrollsy further down the line, but in the short term, here's a free pet. Starting September, Zenimax will be rewarding long-term subscribers with various tokens of gratitude. The first, for three months' good service, is a "High Hrothgar Wraith vanity pet", while the gift for six months' subscription time will be revealed "soon".
I don't play The Elder Scrolls Online so I'm in no position to judge the worthiness of the third major content update that recently went live. But I do find it interesting, and possibly telling, that the number-one entry on the list of "Big Changes/Updates/New Features" is the addition of dyes that players can use to change the color of their armor—provided they've unlocked the desired color with the appropriate achievement, that is. That's not meant to belittle the importance of looking good in the Argonian hood, I'm just surprised that it's given such prominence, although I suppose it could be seen as a good sign. After all, if this is the most pressing thing a game has to worry about, then it probably doesn't have much to worry about at all.
ZeniMax Online Studios took to Twitter today to announce that The Elder Scrolls Online is now available on Steam, and if you're not already in on the action, you can pick it up until the end of the weekend for half price.
In any MMO, a sense of commonality can develop among its players. It's a genre that encourages you to expend significant time and, occasionally, money, and so which MMO you choose can say a lot about the type of experiences you prefer. Of course, that kinship doesn't stop you from then further splitting into smaller groups for the purpose of more micro-conflict. Hence guilds, the focus of The Elder Scrolls Online's third major post-launch update.
Reaching the peak of your power in The Elder Scrolls Online is a tale of heroism worthy of a bard's song, but less gallant are the rather abbreviated set of end-game activities for the month-old MMO. The sprawling PvP zone of Cyrodiil has been the go-to destination for some Emperor roulette, but outside of the Imperial heartland, there wasn't much to do beyond running through the same dungeons and boss camps. Thankfully, ZeniMax wants content releases quick and regular, and we're getting the first new chunk of Tamriel today with a huge patch opening up the lands of Craglorn with group- and raid-sized challenges for max-level players.
If it's good to be the king, then being emperor must be a pretty nice gig, too. The Elder Scrolls Online's first player-emperor goes by the name "Morkulth." He has his own battle cry and a horse named Moonbeam. In a new interview at the official ESO website, Morkulth says he relied on his guildmates, early access to the game, and a lot of trail mix to make it to the top.
The first month of existence for the sprawling lands of The Elder Scrolls Online is fast approaching. By the Tamriel calendar, that day falls this Sundas of Second Seed. (No, I'm not crazy: The Elder Scrolls series has a full calendar system.) For many adventurers, it'll simply be another turn of the sun to foil Molag Bal's plots, steal various food items off tables, and fend off swarms of mudcrabs. But for ZeniMax, it's the beginning of its update guideline for the upcoming Craglorn adventure zone and beyond as explained in a post by game director Matt Firor.
Inside the social economy of The Elder Scrolls Online, almost everything is up for sale—even vampirism. But House Annunaki, an Ebonheart Pact vampire guild in TESO, wants to turn that economy on its head by offering the precious vampire bites for free beginning May 1, according to the most recent issue of developer Zenimax Online's Tamriel Chronicle.
While heroes across Tamriel journey to reclaim their souls from that jerk Molag Bal in The Elder Scrolls Online, the MMO's devs have kept to their own quest to vanquish lingering glitches and loopholes such as a pretty serious duping exploit and the dreaded Spell of Disappearing Bank Items. In a message posted today on the official forums, director Matt Firor addressed these issues and other problems in a general evaluation of TESO's current state and the studio's plans for improving it.
The Elder Scrolls Online's latest patch takes aim at a list of frustrating quest bugs that have surfaced since the game launched earlier this month. Although flat-out broken quests weren't highlighted as an issue in our recent review of ESO, if you've spent any time in-game during the last two weeks, it's likely you've run into a few buggy roadblocks.
Every modern Elder Scrolls game has had a moment near the beginning where you step out into a new landscape and think I've never been somewhere like this before. In Morrowind it hit as you left Seyda Neen and realised that the road ahead went in two directions, and that you could follow either of them, and that each direction would take you on an entirely different journey through the world. In Oblivion it occurred when you escaped out onto the edge of Lake Rumare and saw the hills rise ahead of you along the road to Bruma. In Skyrim you emerged onto a mountainside with the Throat of the World on one side, the valley of Falkreath on the other, and a dragon in the skies above.
I have spent thirty hours playing The Elder Scrolls Online and I'm still waiting for that moment. I'm waiting for anything like that moment. I'm waiting for the point when this MMO sits up and makes a claim to be anything but familiar. This isn't simply about whether The Elder Scrolls Online works as an Elder Scrolls game in its own right—it doesn't, let's put paid to that notion now—but whether it can justify being one of the most expensive games on PC. Those 'stepping into the light' moments weren't just about showing off fancy new tech; they were a promise. You are going to have an adventure. This is going to be worth your time. It does not seem unjust or unrealistic to hold The Elder Scrolls Online to account along similar lines.
Have you finished The Elder Scrolls Online yet? No!? Seriously, what's taking you so long? For most people, the announcement of new content for a massively massively MMO probably won't have much impact. But, for those who are on a mad dash to the end, Zenimax Online have announced that a new zone will be introduced at the end of the month. Called Craglorn, it'll be the game's first adventure zone, and is dedicated to group questing.
The Elder Scrolls Online launched last Friday. Chris' review of the game will be published following at least a week of play on the game's live servers. This 'review in progress' will document his experiences with the game as they happen. Find the first part below, check out page 2 for Saturday's update, and page 3 for the third part. The final part is available here.
My time in the live version of TESO begins a few hours later than I'd hoped. The PC that I use to test games in the office has a hard drive failure before I can start playing, so I rush home to play the game there. By the time I begin, it's midday on the day of the game's launch. If there were ever going to be a time when an MMO wasn't going to work properly, it'd be now—but to TESO's credit, I experience no problems getting connected.
The Elder Scrolls Online is currently live for those who preordered, and what better way to celebrate than with ridiculous screenshots from the Large Pixel Collider? We took a trip through Tamriel that spanned three 1440p monitors, using the LPC's four Nvidia GTX Titans to take some gorgeous panorama shots from the game. Here are some of our favorites.
When will you be able play The Elder Scrolls Online? Really, that depends on a couple of factors. The most important is if you're planning to buy it, because, if not, there's a pretty easy answer to the question. Assuming that you are, things are a little more complicated. During a Reddit AMA for ESO, Bethesda posted times and dates for when they plan to fling open the gates to the online Tamriel.
Modding Elder Scrolls games is a PC gaming tradition, and ZeniMax's Elder Scrolls Online will allow adventuring wizards and warriors to travel Tamriel with combat and questing UI addons when it launches on April 4. However, the latest beta update has locked down tracking of incoming damage and ability sources, a change that has many in the ESO community upset at the reduced effectiveness of addons.
Update: we have 500 more unique keys to give away. Come and get 'em!
Hail, adventurer! Will you take up your sword in the name of Tamriel and join the grand struggle to — AHEM — sorry, I was momentarily possessed by the spirit of a passing fantasy RPG NPC there. An occasional occurrence in PCG towers. I meant to say "would you like to play The Elder Scrolls Online this weekend?" If [yes] then [proceed to rest of article]. There you will find instructions for grabbing one of the thousand keys we have to giveaway for this weekend's beta test. First come, first served!