Zenimax have just released an interactive map of Tamriel showing the various zones of the 3 factions of Elder Scrolls Online. This article will examine some of these areas and how I think they may be implemented in the game. Information contained here may be speculative.
[ Aldmeri Dominion ]
Khenarthi’s Roost will be the starting location for Aldmeri Dominion players. Situated off the south coast of the province of Elsweyr, the island is known for its tropical forests and pleasant beaches. There are also many moon sugar plantations here. Hidden caves and grottos are the perfect hiding place for cultists and pirates, and the Maormer (Sea Elves) have a strong presence nearby.
So what does this mean for the gameplay of Elder Scrolls Online? Khenarthi’s Roost, as an isolated starting location, will allow players to get to grips with the controls for movement, combat, skills and so forth before they are let loose upon the rest of the continent. Due to an ancient treaty, which the Maormer claim gives them ownership of the island; the Sea Elves will probably be the zone’s antagonists, together with sea-cultists that also have control of the sea. There looks to be caves and underground areas as well as jungle to explore, as well the opportunity for the much desired romantic activity “long walks along the beach” (if you’re into that sort of thing.)
There is also the question of moon sugar: will players be able to harvest it, and use it in their alchemy? Hopefully, and if so, what effects will it have on the player? I’m thinking the drug will cause a positive buff, but may also have negative side effects, thus reflecting the background lore. Also, I hope the effects of moon sugar when mixed with other ingredients in the Provisioner profession, will be fully implemented, causing anyone eating meals created by the player to experience the same buff (and debuff.) I doubt my favourite substance (Skooma) will be available, but maybe post-launch when Zenimax adds a crime system to the game.
Senche-tigers are also mentioned. While they probably won’t be available as mounts on launch, I’m hoping they will be available later on, and to all Aldmeri Dominion players, not just Khajiit, to reflect that all three Dominion races are meant to be in an alliance. In addition, I hardly think it is lore-friendly for most Khajiiti to ride horses.
Elsewhere in the Aldmeri Dominion zones is the city of Elden Root. Hopefully this will be a multi-levelled city; however the problem with these is navigation. While World of Warcraft fails miserably with its poor quality maps, Guild Wars 2 did slightly better with its excellent map of The Grove, in the Sylvari zone. However I still found it slightly confusing, sometimes not knowing how to reach a certain place because I wasn’t sure which level it was on. Let it now be said that a very important factor for Elder Scrolls Online’s success is its maps; each level of the city must be obvious, and the entrances/exits to each level must be clearly labelled.
The Temple of Y’ffre picture details offerings given to the temple. I’m curious as to if this will be implemented in gameplay; will players be able to make offerings such as the ones mentioned, and will there be any result for doing so? Perhaps in return for making an offering to the temple, the player could receive a temporary buff, increasing damage with bows or health regen or similar.
[ Ebonheart Pact ]
I’m not sure why there are two starting locations marked for the Ebonheart Pact, but they are Bleakrock Isle, a frozen island off the north east coast of Skyrim, and Bal Foyen, a coastal Morrowind city. Maybe the Nords start in Bleakrock, whilst the Dunmer and Argonians begin their journey in Bal Foyen. In the Bleakrock Isle section of the map, wolves are mentioned; these will most certainly be hostile creature types in the game. Let’s just pray there aren’t any quests that involve killing X amount of them or collecting X amount of wolf hides.
I think food will be an important part of Elder Scrolls Online. Not only is Provisioner one of the professions players will be allowed to take on, but already there are recipes being detailed. The Guargut Muddle is one such example: will players be able to create this food in the game? I would be disappointed if this is not the case. We already know that the Kwama, insectoid creatures will feature, so hopefully their eggs can be used in provisioning to cook decent meals for adventurers.
One thing that we can be certain will be in Elder Scrolls Online, and in particular, will exist in the Shadowfen zone in the Ebonheart Pact territory, is the Wamasu, a monstrous lizard that will be hostile to players. There is no doubt that the Wamasu, with its fearsome lightning abilities, is a dangerous and vicious monster, perhaps taking two or three average levelled players to take down.
Something that has to be discussed is the Eastmarch and The Rift zones: will they bear any resemblance to the areas that we have explored so thoroughly in Skyrim? Judging by the artwork and screenshots, as well as the information provided from the interactive map, I would say yes, they are definitely reminiscent of Skyrim. Naturally, you shouldn’t go into Elder Scrolls Online thinking it’s going to be a carbon copy of previous TES games; it’s a different game so it’s not possible to make it exactly the same in every way. But with the details of mammoths and mead, frost trolls and feasting, I think it gives the right feel of Skyrim already.
Speaking of resemblance to past incarnations of the provinces, from the details of this map, it is clear that fans of Morrowind may be pleased to know that many of the features of that game will be returning. There are details about the Alit and Kagouti creatures, which will no doubt be monsters wandering in the wilderness areas, and I’m hoping that drinks such as Matze and Sujamma will be available to create, purchase and drink, giving buffs equivalent to their previous incarnations. I am also hoping that NPCs at the Tribunal Temple will be carrying out the lectures and services advertised; this would be great for roleplaying for those characters who are religiously inclined.
[ Daggerfall Covenant ]
Once again I’m unsure as to why there are two separate starting locations for the Covenant. However the island of Stros M’Kai is immediately attractive: even though I will be primarily on the Aldmeri Dominion and Ebonheart Pact myself, as a player of thieves and treasure hunters I love collecting ancient artefacts and relic retrieval, and it looks to me that there may be some of that going on in Stros M’Kai. The other starting location is Betnikh: another island with high cliffs and lush pastures. I imagine the enemies for this area could be flying insects and undead creatures.
Perhaps one of the most lucrative and enjoyable areas will be the Alik’r Desert. Many ancient ruins, hidden treasures and dangerous monsters lie in wait beneath the hot sands. Hopefully this will mean plenty of battles and adventure whilst investigating (and looting) lost cities and tombs. Detailed on the map is the duneripper; maybe adventurers will be able to fight these monstrous creatures and take crafting materials from its corpse. I actually wonder also if Zenimax have devised any debilitating effects for sandstorms or hot weather if the player hasn’t got appropriate gear equipped? This would add immensely to the immersion and force players to not run around naked.
Other details feature the Lion Guard. Will players be able to join up? Perhaps there may be a questline involved, in which the player must carry out a series of missions, and be of a certain high level of martial superiority. Once again this would be solid gold for the role-players out there: part of your own personal story could be that you joined up with the glorious Lion Guard, becoming a highly decorated officer. One thing for Zenimax to be careful of is indeed neglecting the RPG part of MMORPG. This should be a roleplaying game, a multiplayer game but a roleplaying game none-the-less. Not catering to the TES fanbase, who are themselves largely role-players, could hurt the success of Elder Scrolls Online. But the developers have already taken this onboard; I have faith that the game will satisfy both TES fans and MMO fans alike.
There is no doubt that the term “Bloodfiend” is a word for a vampire: will there be a substance that players can buy to stop being bitten by a vampire and therefore contracting Sanguinare Vampiris? And if players can purchase it, will it be available to create with alchemy? Becoming a vampire and gaining access to a unique skill line will be in the game, as it will be with werewolves. However not all players will want their character, especially role-players to become such a beast. Including a salve or potion that provides temporary immunity to being infected could be a life-saver, and prevent the tiresome trip to the temple in order to get the disease cured.
The interactive map is full of detail and lore about the rich culture of the diverse races living in Tamriel, and hints at some of the gameplay in Elder Scrolls Online. You can check it out here:
[ Further Reading ]
The Story of Elder Scrolls Online
TES Lore: The Daedric Princes Part 1
10 Reasons Why Elder Scrolls Online Will Rock
Andy Lex Bain is a 31 year old writer who resides in Tasmania. He enjoys writing, reading, writing video game reviews, gaming, writing fiendish campaigns for his roleplaying club "The Blades of Valour", cosplaying, bushwalking and watching movies, DVDs and anime. He aspires to be a full-time published author and basically spends his days slaving away at his computer, ShadowLord.