How Skyrim and Oblivion influenced The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online

So, we've put dozens and dozens of hours into Skyrim, and we'll put in many more. The Dawnguard expansion is coming up and the Steam workshop is turning up new places to explore every few weeks. Why would we want to hop into The Elder Scrolls Online? For studio general manager, Matt Firor, the answer is simple. It's Tamriel. "It's a world you've always wanted to explore with friends, and now you can."

Zenimax Online Studios haven't had to sit down and draft an entire world from scratch. 18 years of Elder Scrolls games and expansions have poured oodles of detail into the lore of that world. From Morrowind to Oblivion and Skyrim, each game has sketched more detail onto that grand world map. The Elder Scrolls Online will let us wander those lands and discover new ones. "You've been able to explore parts of each province before, but now you get much more of the world," says Firor.

Zenimax are taking steps to ensure that The Elder Scrolls Online delivers an accurate rendition of Tamriel. They're modelling Cyrodiil using Oblivion's height map to ensure it feels right, and they're basing much of the northern lands on Bethesda's vision of Skyrim.

"With the height map for Cyrodiil, which was our PVP zone, we took the height map pretty much right out of the game Oblivion just to make it feel familiar to other players," Firor explains. "That's mostly because it's such a huge area, we wanted to put in the towns and villages that people were familiar with.

"For our Skyrim province we're a thousand years in the past remember so we have a little leeway on what we can do. But yeah you still find Winterhold, you still find Riften, the topography is very similar, the rivers are in the same place and so forth but we have different stories to tell in that time period."

He also said that the world designers "held up our version of the Skyrim province until Skyrim had shipped and everyone knew what it looked like."

The Elder Scrolls Online is set in the second era, much earlier than the other Elder Scrolls games. During that period, the Daedric lord Molag Bal tries to conquer the world, the mage guild is still young and the Dark Brotherhood is in the process of being formed. Zenimax have already told us a bit about how combat will work in The Elder Scrolls Online , for more, here's everything you need to know about The Elder Scrolls Online .

Tom Senior

Part of the UK team, Tom was with PC Gamer at the very beginning of the website's launch—first as a news writer, and then as online editor until his departure in 2020. His specialties are strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.