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Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: Building the best DPS class in The Elder Scrolls Online

Fantasy, Classes, New Titles, PvE, Opinion, Guides, The Elder Scrolls Online, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: Building the best DPS class for ESO‚Äč
Commenters and gamers around the internet have wondered aloud whether it's really true that any class can play any role in the Elder Scrolls Online. Developers have said that with a simple weapon swap, we can instantly change the group dynamic. Being a hard-nosed MMOer, I admit I thought that was a stretch. We've seen the pseudo-roleswaps in Guild Wars 2, but based on the videos that I've seen of both GW2 and ESO, the latter defines the roles even more stringently. If you're a tank in ESO, you will take the brunt of the damage and you will keep aggro off other players. As a healer, you'll find your job will be to keep others' health points from reaching zero. And DPS will be required to drop enemy health points to zero as fast as possible. That's the reality.

So is it actually possible for any class to play any role, as the developers claim?

I might enjoy talking about builds and what works for different playstyles, but math is far from fun for me. Fortunately, I have friends for whom theorycrafting is their calling. I wrestled down Calls1gn, a top-tier raider formerly of Memories of Xendor. I sat him in front of a skill calculator for ESO and made him create some amazing, yet viable, builds in some obscure classes to prove once and for all whether the class system is as flexible as ZeniMax claims.

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Tamriel Infinium: Roleplaying in spite of The Elder Scrolls Online

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Culture, Game Mechanics, Lore, New Titles, Opinion, Roleplaying, The Elder Scrolls Online, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: Roleplaying in spite of The Elder Scrolls Online
From the moment I stepped into my first MMORPG ever, I was interested in playing a character, not just some avatar of myself on the screen. I followed the Ultima universe enough to create a believable character in that world, though I didn't play as long as I would have liked. However, my second MMO, Star Wars Galaxies, made roleplay really easy. With a bushel of emotes, character animations, and activities not directly based on combat, Sony's Star Wars MMO solidified my definition of what it meant to play an MMO. Of course, after that, the new MMOs -- with too few exceptions -- stopped lending themselves to quality roleplay thanks to the World of Warcraft design model.

The change in scenery didn't stop roleplayers from forming amazing communities. In spite of mechanical issues and linear questlines, the Lord of the Rings Online roleplay community thrives. Rumor has it that WoW's roleplay community actually does something besides dancing on mailboxes in Goldshire. I don't think I have to tell you how difficult it is to roleplay in Star Wars: The Old Republic, but I do it anyway. My friends and I are considering jumping into The Elder Scrolls Online not just to play the game but to attempt to roleplay in it as well. It makes us wonder whether we'll be encouraged by the game to roleplay the way we like to or will have to roleplay in spite of the game.

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Tamriel Infinium: The missing parts of Elder Scrolls Online impressions

Betas, Fantasy, Screenshots, New Titles, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: The missing parts of ESO impressions
Usually Massively doesn't write second impressions, as it were. We sometimes take older games and play them again. Or we might play a game because it's fun to be led by the hand of our audience. However, once the first impressions are done, they're done. Of course, some games, like The Elder Scrolls Online, are fortunate enough to have a weekly column written about them, and ZeniMax gave the press a second weekend to play the game. Of course, we were supposed to look at PvP, which I did, but I also took this opportunity to play more of the main game, up to level 15.

Although I didn't come away agreeing with my colleague Eliot Lefebvre that the beta is nothing special, I didn't come away with an overwhelmingly positive opinion of the front of the game, either.

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Tamriel Infinium: Story and character in The Elder Scrolls Online

Fantasy, Classes, Lore, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: Impressions of Elder Scrolls Online
This past weekend, ZeniMax invited the press to play its addition to the Elder Scrolls franchise: The Elder Scrolls Online. We were allowed to play any faction or race that we wanted, with the exception of the newly introduced Imperial race. We took video and screenshots. We truly wanted to see whether this game lived up to our expectations for the series, and most of all, we wanted to know why this game has hidden behind an NDA for much longer than its closest competitors.

Not everyone is going to love The Elder Scrolls Online. Many of the things you find in ESO coordinate with existing MMOs, but it also has its own twists on certain aspects of the genre. Although I didn't find every moment a thrilling dive into the world of Tamriel, I did enjoy myself, and I can certainly see myself playing this game for a while.

For the next few minutes, I would like to put aside the marketing strategy and the issues I have with the payment model and preorder bonuses. Let's examine just the story and the characters in the game and take the measure of their worth.

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Tamriel Infinium: Fleecing Elder Scrolls Online fans with preorders

Fantasy, Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, New Titles, Races, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: Fleecing Elder Scrolls Online fans with the preorders
Are you as excited as I am about the Imperial Edition of the Elder Scrolls Online? When I introduced the announcement to my friends, I said something closer to, "Welp, this is a thing." Don't get me wrong; I am looking forward to the launch, and I will likely get the Imperial Edition because I want to play an Imperial. I played one in Skyrim and Oblivion; I want to play one in ESO, too. Some players are upset that if you get this collector's edition, the Imperial race is open to any faction. Even some of my friends are annoyed.

Another issue that struck them hard -- probably harder than the Imperial race addition -- was the preorder bonuses. And I'm not talking about the five-day early access. No, the hate swelled over the preorder ability to play any race in any faction. I'm sure that some of them would say that I am being obtuse, but I really can't wrap my head around why they seemed more upset about this bonus more than previous bonuses given for MMORPG preorders.

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Tamriel Infinium: Look! A video not about Elder Scrolls Online PvP

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Classes, Game Mechanics, New Titles, PvE, Dungeons, The Elder Scrolls Online, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: Look! A video not about Elder Scrolls Online PvP
I know that I've been hypercritical of The Elder Scrolls Online marketing strategy. For the longest time it's felt as if we have been hearing about PvP and nothing but PvP. From the launch announcement trailer to the Emperor skill line, most of advertising for the game has seemed like one big PvP push. Maybe it was. In the first Tamriel Infinium of the year, I predicted that we would see a greater push for PvE content in future ESO advertising, but then all we heard about after that was news about the sub model and more PvP. I wasn't crying in a corner, but I admit that I was disappointed. (OK, maybe I was crying in a corner.)

Because I've been critical of ZeniMax's marketing, I should praise the studio when it does something right. And the video the team released on Wednesday was amazing. Don't get the wrong impression when I say amazing. I wasn't knocked out of my chair, but I did find myself completely engaged with the video. That, I think, is more important than feeling a rush of adrenaline following the destruction of a huge keep or the explosion of a Daedric beast. Although a rush might make someone artificially excited about the game, an informative and engaging video will make people want to stick to the game for the long haul. Let me break down this video for you.

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Tamriel Infinium: What to do in The Elder Scrolls Online besides PvP

Fantasy, New Titles, PvE, Opinion, Dungeons, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: What to do in ESO besides PvP
As a part of my series of articles that explain some of the core features of The Elder Scrolls Online, I want to talk about what most people would consider obvious activities in the MMOs, but because of the way ZeniMax has advertised the game up to this point, many casual followers have come to believe that ESO will not have much in the way of PvE activities. Of course, players will level up via PvE, but beyond that, is there anything to do? What about group activities while you're leveling up? Are there endgame group activities? Is there raiding?

Although I like PvP, much of my focus in MMOs is PvE-related. I enjoy story, exploration, and group activities. Save for the group activities, that's what The Elder Scrolls is to me. Exploring every ruin and cave or finding a hidden cult or hearing the NPCs talk about how they each took arrows to their knees defines the series for me. I don't think I could call a game Elder Scrolls without attaching defining PvE moments. I believe the developers at ZeniMax understand this, which is why they have hired some amazing voice actors to the game and why much of the website advertising revolves around the lore of the game. But is it enough to tell us what the game is about, and will ZeniMax finally show us?

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Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online combat 101

Fantasy, Classes, Opinion, Guides, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online Combat 101
As I had mentioned in previous articles, it's become apparent that readers don't have a clear picture of The Elder Scrolls Online. I can certainly understand where this comes from; the advertisers have held back a lot of specific information about ESO. Although we have had one trailer that included in-game footage, it didn't really give us a good taste of what it feels like to play the game. It certainly didn't show what the game has to offer beyond PvP. Although PvP will likely be a lot of fun in ESO, I know that not everyone will pick up or wants to pick up the game strictly for that reason.

This week, I would like to dive into a bit of the combat basics. Creative Director Paul Sage and his crew have given multiple demos showing the combat of ESO, and even a few of our own reporters have hopped onto a demo PC at a convention or two to experience the game firsthand. I certainly suggest you read those write-ups if you're looking for the overall experience because today I'm talking about combat specifically. How does it work, and more importantly, what will it feel like?

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Tamriel Infinium: The Elder Scrolls Online predictions for 2014

Fantasy, Economy, Lore, New Titles, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Crafting, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: The Elder Scrolls Online predictions for 2014
Normally, in an article like this I would attempt to predict when a given game will actually launch, but ZeniMax has already told us that The Elder Scrolls Online will release on April 4th, 2014. I guess the next question is whether I believe that it will actually launch on that date. I do because it's far too perfect from a marketing standpoint, and if history tells us anything, ZeniMax is not afraid to launch a buggy title.

However, the June release date for the console version of the game might be a bit more flexible. It's possible that it will take two to three months to convert the game from the PC/Mac version to the console version, but I think it's more likely that the PC/Mac launch will serve as a testing ground for the console release. If the PC/Mac launch works out well, then we will certainly see an early June launch for consoles, but if there are issues, don't be surprised when that release date shifts to July. Still, I do think that July would be a hard stop; anything later would likely cost ZeniMax far too much money.

I enjoy making predictions. I'm not always right, but that doesn't mean it's not fun giving it a shot. Just remember, my predictions are my personal opinions reflective of information released by ZeniMax regarding ESO. I do not have super-sight nor a dev in my pocket, so your guess could be as good as mine. In fact, after I make my predictions, I'd like to read yours in the comments.

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Tamriel Infinium: The year before launching the Elder Scrolls Online

Fantasy, New Titles, Previews, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Races, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: The year before launching the Elder Scrolls Online
Based on the comments for this column a couple of weeks ago, it became apparent to me that many readers have very little idea about what to expect when the Elder Scrolls Online launches. And I guess with the big push of information about PvP, it would seem that that is all ESO has to offer. In some people's minds, that might still hold true. I admit that I believe PvP might be the thrust of the max-level game, but ESO will offer different things to do as you level up as well as when you hit max level.

Today, for my year-end review of ESO, I will attempt to paint a picture of the Elder Scrolls Online game based on what we know so far. I think you'll find that the game does have more to offer than PvP, but ultimately, I'll let you decide if it's enough.

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Tamriel Infinium: Marketing, modeling, and modding the Elder Scrolls Online

Fantasy, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Elder Scrolls Online, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: Marketing, modelling, and modding the Elder Scrolls Online
I knew Massively readers would have a lot to say regarding the release date for the Elder Scrolls Online and how it measures up against other upcoming MMOs, but I had no idea about the breadth of topics that would come up.

We heard the old standard, that nothing will ever beat the two-ton gorilla, World of Warcraft. Other readers argued that other games releasing about the same time are so much better. But what I'm most interested in is in the deeper discussions about why one franchise would choose one date while another would choose to wait. And because I included the launch-day-announcement video, readers had an opportunity to give their input on the aesthetics of the game as well as the overall expected performance. These topics also sparked discussion on modding for ESO.

I love all these topics and frankly couldn't settle on one to talk about this week. So I'm just going to hit on them all: marketing, modeling, and modding.

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Tamriel Infinium: The Elder Scrolls Online is no April Fools' joke

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: The Elder Scrolls Online is no April Fool's joke
Usually for this Elder Scrolls Online column, I bury the weekly question somewhere in the middle of the article or tag it at the end, but this week, I want to begin with the question. What do you think of the ESO release date? For those of you who missed Wednesday's announcement, here it is again: ZeniMax set the release date for April 4th, 2014 (4-4-14, isn't that quaint?). The date is smack-dab in the middle of the spring sales season, not the mid-June definition of spring many gamers feared.

That also means that we sit less than five months away from stepping foot into the online world of Tamriel. Are we ready for it? Is ZeniMax ready for it? I know people who are in the beta have claimed that the game needs to cook for another year, at least. True or not, that state seems to be far too popular for MMO players to say so that they can be "right" when the game "fails" three months after launch. Although I believe there is some merit to statements like that, there are always reasons companies pick specific dates for releases.

Today, let's talk about some of those reasons, and let's also examine the newly released trailer. What do these two things tell us about the game to come?

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Tamriel Infinium: The true meaning of The Elder Scrolls Online skill lines

Fantasy, Classes, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Opinion, Dungeons, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: The true meaning of The Elder Scrolls Online skill lines
I have always thought it presumptuous to declare that anyone can know the true meaning of anything. However, I believe that players might be led slightly astray by the latest Elder Scrolls Online video. I don't think that the ESO creators were lying because I do believe that it is distinctly possible to take on nearly any role no matter the class or race choice. However, as in every other MMO in existence, only certain combinations will reign supreme, and unfortunately, I also suspect that if you wish to fill a specific role, you will have to pick specific classes. Thanks to some of the data fan sites have gathered from convention playthroughs, we can guestimate which combinations will fill which roles the best.

In order to understand where I'm coming from, let's explore how the progression system works. The minimalistic user interface for ESO displays four components related to your skills. Your health bar depletes every time an enemy lands a hit. The magicka bar indicates the amount of spell-slinging power you have. The stamina bar depletes when you perform a physical action like dodging or swinging your axe. Then you also have the toolbar, which gives you five active ability slots and an ultimate slot. When you reach a certain level, you will be able to actively switch between two toolbars based on your weapon. Your weapon, armor, and skills determine which role you play in a group.

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Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online stories inside Elder Scrolls Online stories

Fantasy, Lore, New Titles, Opinion, Roleplaying, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Elder Scrolls Online stories inside Elder Scrolls Online stories
I admit it: I've spent hours in Skyrim and Oblivion doing nothing but reading the dusty books on the shelves of some dank dungeon. A lot of those stories repeat themselves, but I'm still amazed at the amount of time the writers put into the legends and lore of the series of games. For instance, if you'd like to know how Tamriel came to be, you can pick up The Annotated Anuad, the genesis story of Nirn, in Skyrim, Oblivion, or Morrowind. The book has little to do with any of those games, and the absolute truth of that book is suspect considering it's a "children's book." But it's a testament to how much time the writers put into developing the lore surrounding the Elder Scrolls.

We know that The Elder Scrolls Online will also contain its own share of books and lore-packed tomes. Maybe you even spent time reading some while you were in beta this past weekend. Unfortunately, we can't gab about that, but we did get a taste of some of the stories thanks to the interactive map on the official website. Over the last couple of days, I've read each piece in this map, and surprisingly, I found some completely new stuff. Let me tell you about my top six.

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Tamriel Infinium: Where does ESO fit in Elder Scrolls history?

Fantasy, Culture, Lore, New Titles, PvP, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: Where does ESO fit in Elder Scrolls history?
Where does the Elder Scrolls Online fit in the Elder Scrolls universe? I could tell you that it starts 2E 583, but in the grand scheme of things that really doesn't mean anything unless you're a huge Elder Scrolls lore nut. If I told you that it was 324 years before the start of the classic Elder Scrolls era, that might mean more to you. If I told you that it was 723 years before Arena or 757 years before Oblivion or 958 years before Skyrim, it might mean a bit more to you. But those dates are really distant and don't have any real relevance to your character. No one alive during ESO lives to see Skyrim's timeframe except the immortals.

MMOs with existing intellectual properties, like Lord of the Rings Online or Star Wars: The Old Republic, struggle with keeping the game engaging for those who are interested in the lore and keeping it from interfering with the established timeline. LotRO interweaves the MMO plot with the classic story of Frodo and the fellowship traveling to Mordor to destroy the One Ring. SWTOR takes a similar approach to ESO by setting the MMO far in a past that contains very little established lore.

However, unlike these other MMOs, Elder Scrolls Online actually plays a significant role in the history of Tamriel. To understand this significance, we have to talk about Tiber Septim and the eight Divines.

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