Quakecon: Elder Scrolls Online's first DLC playable next week

The Elder Scrolls Online

During the Elder Scrolls Online presentation at QuakeCon, it was revealed that the first named DLC for the Elder Scrolls MMO, recently relaunched as Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, will be live on public test servers next week. The Imperial City DLC will follow the story of Molag Bal's last-ditch effort to invade Tamriel. The new content includes new PvE and PvP dungeons set in the narrow, cobbled streets of the Imperial City first seen in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

"First and foremost, we wanted to make sure that we expanded on the PvP offering in Elder Scrolls Online," creative director Rich Lambert said. "For Imperial City, we wanted to make sure the focus was on close-quarters combat with a smaller scale." Instead of huge open fields and siege weapons, Imperial City combat will take place in cramped quarters with a lot of overlap between environmental hazards and aggressive enemy players. The hybrid PvE and PvP play areas will offer plenty of opportunities for players to attack other players opportunistically, crashing the party while their targets are occupied with a nest of angry daedra.

And you are really going to want to backstab other players. A new currency called Tel Var stones is being introduced in Imperial City. In addition to being valuable as a currency, some special gear sets will only be purchasable with Tel Var stones. To spice up the PvP areas, any player that kills another player will be rewarded with all of that player's hard-earned Tel Var stones. As players venture deeper into the massive three-level sewer dungeons, they'll be carrying more and more stones with them, ripe for a mugging.

"This is what is bringing back that sense of adrenaline," lead PvP designer Brad Wheeler said. "You want to look over your shoulder because other players will be trying to hunt you down... This is what gives you the fear. This is hunting season."

For those who aren't into PvP, the team is making other areas of the game more rewarding. All of the best new equipment and gear can be acquired by crafting and PvE dungeons as quickly as it can be earned in PvP competition. "Some players like to craft and some players like to fight and quest," executive director Matt Firor said. "And we need to make sure we're rewarding both styles of play."

All of the new spaces in the Imperial City DLC will be recognizable to players who spent time in Cyrodil's capital, including sprawling playable areas set in the Temple District, the Memorial District, and the Arboretum District. Molag Bal's daedra are particularly interested in burning books—possibly as a defensive measure against ancient magic that might put an end to their latest attack. One way or another, the Molag Bal story line will wrap up with the events of Imperial City DLC, clearing the way for new stories.

Since ESO dropped its subscription requirement and launched on consoles, the influx of new players has been "bananas," according to Firor. To support the new population, the team at Zenimax has been pushing out constant updates and formalizing its plans for new DLC.

A new named DLC pack will be added every four months. After Imperial City is Orsinium, which will explore the homeland of the Orcs. Early next year, more DLC will be formally announced that will feature Thieves Guild and the Dark Brotherhood storylines, two fan-favorite factions that haven't gotten a lot of screen time in this MMO edition of the Elder Scrolls world.

Hungry for more news? Keep an eye on all of our coverage from QuakeCon for more.