Gameplay of The Elder Scrolls series
The Elder Scrolls are a series of role-playing video games developed by Bethesda Softworks. The following article illustrates the gameplay techniques used in the series of games, from The Elder Scrolls: Arena to the most recent The Elder Scrolls Online.
- 1 The Elder Scrolls: Arena
- 2 The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
- 3 An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire
- 4 The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard
- 5 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
- 6 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- 7 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- 8 The Elder Scrolls Online
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
The Elder Scrolls: Arena
Arena began its development as a gladiator-style arena combat game. Had this concept been followed through to the eventual release, it would have consisted predominantly of the player character voyaging about the land of Tamriel with a band of fighters, fighting your way through local competitions on to regional ones, and eventually on through to the grand championship in the Imperial City. As development progressed, this initial vision was lost, as RPG elements were attached in increasing number to the initial arena combat substructure. The player was allowed to meander about the towns he visited, and later still to raid dungeons with team. Eventually the entire conceptual underpinnings of the game were overhauled, and the game became a full-fledged RPG. Arena combat game never ended up being coded, and only fragments of text remain from the initial conceptualizing stages of the game. In the end, Arena was shipped without any arena combat at all.
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The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
Daggerfall begins with a menu. The player first chooses a race, sex, next a class, next special abilities, next a face, and a name. From this point the player chooses their own biography, either through a series of questions, a randomized fast start, or a series of dice rolls. Each choice, random value, or assigned dice role, could possibly affect the value of the player character's starting skill levels, attributes, inventory, reputation, affiliation, special abilities, or weaknesses. From this point on, the player is dropped unconscious into the game world, to be awoken in the secluded cave of Privateer's Hold.
Daggerfall uses a "more or less" mouse-based interface and offers fully customizable hotkeys. The game offers the player both a 3D and 2D automap; the 3D offering full rotational freedom of movement, the 2D offering merely a topdown view. In contrast to Morrowind, the game offers the player the chance to annotate the map.
Attacks may be made and controlled in Daggerfall solely through the use of a mouse. A variety of possible attacks are handled through a combination of the device's directional and depressionary movements. There are four possible combinations in all, with the choices offering tradeoffs between hit chance and hit damage.
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An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire
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The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard
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The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Like previous entries in the series, Morrowind is primarily a first-person role-playing video game, playing from a character's eye view in a 3D environment. Third-person perspective is also included, but has been called "next to impossible" to use for any length of time. The player controls one character, though various NPCs may join the character temporarily, and in the expansions the main character can hire mercenaries as followers.
The decision was made early on in the development of Morrowind to scrap most of Daggerfall 's fast-travel system, where players were capable of instantly traveling great distances, to encourage travel by foot. However, Morrowind retains aspects of Daggerfall 's system by way of Silt Striders, great insectlike beasts who provide instantaneous fast-travel between the major towns of Vvardenfell for a fee, depending on where the player wishes to travel, teleportation spells, the propylon chambers and various minor ferrymen.
Morrowind begins with the player imprisoned, though in the midst of being set free. A well-received tutorial following the release moves the player through the process of character creation. The player is successively asked questions by a fellow prisoner, an officer, and a bureaucrat as the player is registered as a free citizen; choosing, in the process, the player character's name, sex, race, birthsign, and class. These affect the player's starting attributes, skills, and abilities. In a throwback to the Ultima series, the player has a chance to answer a series of moral questions to determine their class. To accommodate the successive menus and ease the player into the game, the opening sequence uses extensive scripting, and is one of the few parts of the game to do so.
The player character's proficiency with a skill is increased either by practice or training. Practice involves performing the specific actions associated with a given trait. Training, a much smaller portion of the game, involves exchanging cash with select NPCs in exchange for skills. To become better with using armor or a type of weapon, the character must be involved in combat using the armor or the weapon. To become better with using magic spells, the character must learn spells and practice casting them. As the player character's skill level increases those actions tied to that skill improve. Weaponry skills (viz. Short Sword, Long Sword, Axe, etc.) are tied to those weapons' chance to hit. Armor skills (viz. Heavy Armor, Light Armor, Unarmored, etc.) are tied to those armor classes defensive strength.
Morrowind, unlike its predecessor Daggerfall, makes a distinction between "abilities" and "skills"; skills being those individual proficiencies in particular schools of magic or with particular armor classes, and abilities (attributes, as in the game) being broader proficiencies, such as "strength" and "endurance", which are either tied to important features unconnected to any skill, (viz. Health, Magicka, evasion chance, etc.) or improve the efficiency of a wide variety of skills. Strength, for example, improves the damage of any physical blow dealt by the player character. Abilities, however, are improved only when the player levels up.
The player levels up their character as a whole by leveling up individual skills from their major and minor skill lists — a set determined by their choice of class — a total of ten times. Each time the player levels up their character, they select three attributes to augment as well. The player is better able to augment abilities related to their skill set, as each level gained in a particular skill adds to the multiplier by which the ability is augmented.
This mildly complex reciprocal system was generally praised, with some few exceptions. IGN, though finding the manual's description of the system unclear, found the classes well balanced and well designed for all play styles, and GameSpot found the system clear and sensible. PC Gamer, by contrast, found the system unbalanced, with combat privileged over other features. Computer Gaming World felt the system's privileging of combinations of single-handed combat weapons and shields over double-handed weapons unnecessarily exploitable, but appreciated the freedom offered by the broad skillset and action-dependent leveling. GameSpy gave strong commendation to the system, stating that "The advancement system makes so much sense that it makes other games, even games set in the D&D world such as Baldur's Gate, look silly by comparison". One critic felt that Morrowinds system showed signs of inspiration from RuneQuest. Imbalances between Morrowind 's 21 character classes have been noted as well, with mage and thief classes found to be at a disadvantage to fighter classes.
Inventory, local maps, usable spells, and player abilities are accessed and manipulated by way of 4 resizeable windows. The player is able to converse with NPCs using similar resizeable menus containing a main body of text and a sidebar to the right with selectable conversation topics. Words in the main body of text are hyperlinked to related topics, a system that has been commended for its intuitiveness. The text-heavy nature of dialogue was a minor complaint for reviewers of the Xbox version of the game, finding the text more suitable for a PC resolution than an NTSC one. Game developer Todd Howard has described the game as "very object oriented" and "object heavy"; most of the common objects the player encounters, "books, candles, knives, forks", may be rearranged about the gamespace and added to the inventory by the player, and items, once placed, never move or vanish. Bethesda Softworks, in the interest of furthering game realism, employed what Todd Howard termed "clutter monkeys" for the express purpose of littering the game world with these items.
The player has a journal which is automatically updated with information from time to time following conversations with NPCs and important developments in the plot, each new entry following all those previous. Though IGN and GamePro commended the general interface for its relative ease of use, the journal was almost universally reviled. The journal was found to quickly become a "muddled mess", "hundreds of pages long", without any useful method of organization by quest title or completion level. Computer Gaming World simply called the feature an "anal-retentive nightmare of confusion", listing it as one of the game's greatest shortcomings. The system was overhauled in Morrowind 's expansion pack Tribunal, allowing the player to sort quests individually and by completion, much to the pleasure of critics.
In Morrowind, the simplest attack, a chop, is performed with a left click. The somewhat more complex slash and thrust attacks are performed by a combination of that same generic click with different tappings of the keyboard's directional keys. Reviewers found little value in choosing amongst the three melee attacks, since each attack variant always gives the same damage value, and an option is available to always use the best attack, an option reviews and strategy guides tended to recommend.
Each weapon possesses a rating determining its strength in each of these areas. A combination of hidden arithmetic modifiers upon each combatant's skills determines whether or not the attack hits. In the original, the player was given no indication of the amount of health left in their enemies, and no indication of the strength of their attacks. Reviewers took the absence badly, wishing for a more developed visible response system. Bethesda eventually added enemy health bars in patch 1.1.0605, released one month after Morrowind 's initial publication, and the patch came packaged with Morrowind 's expansions and Game of the Year editions.
Combat in Morrowind was generally found to be simple, one reviewer describing it as a "purely hack-and-slash affair", with others expressing similar feelings. Questioned for a comparison combat system during the game's development, developer Pete Hines likened Morrowind 's system to that of Jedi Knight. The combat system was poorly received in most quarters, with GameSpot characterizing it as one of the game's major weak points, and GameSpy devoting the majority of its minor complaints to it. Electronic Gaming Monthly's Kathleen Sanders saw Morrowind 's combat system as one "universally regarded as boring". On a more favourable note, IGN found tactical tricks emerging from within the game's workings, as particular skills, spells and abilities lent themselves to certain strategies. As an example, IGN noted that a levitating character was well suited to kill melee-capable beasties upon the ground from afar, their numbers being too stupid and enraged to flee from the onslaught.
Morrowind, following the tradition established by its predecessors in The Elder Scrolls series, attempts to establish a completely free-form world, with no constricting boundaries on the player's actions. From the beginning of the game, the player is put in a world where they are left to roam, steal, quest and explore, without necessarily following the main quest. Lead Designer Ken Rolston, asked prior to Morrowind 's release what he thought were the "core, untouchable design elements" of the Elder Scrolls series which "set them apart from other games", responded immediately: "Free-form experience." In Rolston's view, the game's central plot is a chance to introduce the player to a cross-current of conflicting factions, background themes, and to the characters of the game, rather than the primary focus of the player's experience. "Every TES game has to let you create the kind of character you want, and then do the things you want. We would never have a TES RPG force you to be a certain character or go down a certain path."
To allow for this behavior, Morrowind, in addition to creating an extensive main quest, provides detailed discursive quests for a variety of factions, including various guilds, religious organizations and aristocratic houses, in addition to side-quests found by mere exploration. Even the main plot itself may be attacked in a number of directions. There is, in critic Craig Lindey's words, "a very specific set of central plot points within this main plot. But the plot points are partially ordered: seven high level tasks must be completed, but their constituent sub-tasks...can be accomplished in any order, and this is repeated for the sub-tasks involved in those sub-tasks." The choices the player makes in their performance of these tasks thus become methods of character interpretation; a set of dramatic tools establishing the player's newly created self-identity.
The dialogue of the NPCs was given many possible outcomes, dependent on the player character's experience of the world. Designer Steve Dalin uses a hypothetical farmer Bob as an example. "if you talk to farmer Bob early in the game, you may have 5 things that you mutually know about, but if you come back later in the game, the number of things might expand as your knowledge has grown and you now have more things in common to discuss – hence more dialogue options with farmer Bob" This results in a game "text" that can be arranged not only in a variety of orders, but also in response to the actions of the player. The implementation of these goals was not without its share of suffering. "...Letting the player kill anyone he likes meant we had to handle MANY different possible alive/dead states for characters encountered in quests," notes developer Ken Rolston. "For example, if you have to deliver a cup of spit of Fred, and Fred is dead, we had to write extra dialog to handle that. Given nearly 3000 characters, and given that some quests involved many individuals, that turned out to be a soul-crushing labor."
According to Gamasutra's Matt Barton, some have argued that these changes put Morrowind closer in spirit to the original D&D tabletop game, where players take a more creative role in their play, and where players are left to decide for themselves the "right" action. This is a view paralleled by Rolston, who has stated that "The goal of every TES game is to create something that resembles a pen and paper RPG on the computer." Critic Robert L. Turner uses Morrowind as an early example of what he calls a "reader-driven text", such as that of the hypothesized "Primer" of Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age. While not a "text" in a traditional sense, he states, it possesses some of the basic components of a speculative "ideal open text": "it is simultaneously open and narrative driven; that is, there is a goal towards which the player must work, and a progression of the story and difficulty of the game. Yet, at the same time, the means to accomplish the goal, and to a degree, the goal itself are mutable and the player can effectively decide how to reach the proposed goals according to his/her own preferences, rather than following a tightly scripted role." A key element of this design, states Turner, is that it has no ideal players; it accepts all. The result is nothing short of "groundbreaking flexibility". "The world can be visited in a wide variety of orders...and the interactions with the diverse personalities can also play out in a wide variety of ways." Nonetheless, the central plot of Morrowind is still limited to the thematic and structural archetype of "the quest of the hero across a land filled with many dangers to defeat evil forces and conquer a desirable object." The only differences in this instance are but that "the hero can lose, and that the adventure never ends." Ultimately, the game "cannot recreate itself; it can only adjust to the circumstances created by the player."
The sheer number of quest possibilities, combined with what developer Ken Rolston identified as a lack of "narrative urgency", left many critics dissatisfied with Morrowind 's main plot. Rolston, in an interview conducted after the release of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, felt some regret for that lack. Oblivion, he noted, had given drama and force to the plot without sacrificing player freedom. "I only wish," he stated, "we'd presented Morrowind 's main narrative with the same obtrusive urgency." Turner quotes from one of Rolston's communications to him, explaining the popular disapproval of nonlinear narrative methods. In it, Rolston states that "most people are more comfortable with more linear entertainments – perhaps because they are familiar like books and movies, perhaps because humans are most comfortable with experiences with simple, linear structures." Noting the struggle involved in the creation and use of the game, Turner concludes that Morrowind is of a marginal breed. "These types of texts, if they are ever fully realized, will probably exist in roughly the same proportion to mainstream texts as previously revolutionary works have existed....There certainly is space for this type of reader driven narrative, but I suspect we are a long way from it becoming the norm."
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
The fast-travel system returned in Oblivion, to modest praise. In Oblivion, if a player visits a location, it appears as an icon on their map. The icon may then be clicked to visit that location, with time elapsing in the interim. In an interview with RPGamer, producer Gavin Carter stated that the return of the system came in response to the Elder Scrolls fan community's suggestions, as something that "the fan community has requested again and again." Oblivion also introduced ridable horses while removing Morrowind 's transportation options, such as Mages' Guild teleporters, silt striders and teleporting spells. The game also removed all levitation spells and items, as the cities in Oblivion are separate cells from the rest of the world and thus must be entered and exited through the town gate to avoid glitches. Unlike those of Morrowind, Oblivion's non-player characters may enter and exit areas at will, and will do so quite often, following the Radiant AI's commands.
Oblivion generally follows Morrowind 's character creation schema, and was equally praised for its design. The player begins choosing their desired race within the Races of The Elder Scrolls, gender, and facial expressions and appearances, but rather than being left completely free to roam from the moment the character is created, Oblivion gives the player some time to choose their own play style, and recommends certain character classes in accordance with that choice. The recommendations system was called "clever" by GameSpot. The character creation system also allowed greater depth of visual specification than Morrowind, offering the ability to customize skin tone, facial structure, hair styles, eye color, and various other features individually, rather than choosing a set combination of textures and meshes, as was the case in Morrowind. As such, the system was lauded for providing a depth of specification unattainable by other contemporary games.
Oblivion's skill system is essentially the same as Morrowind 's, with skills increasing by use. The only differences are the removal of some skills from Morrowind (Spear, Enchant, Unarmored, Medium Armor), the consolidation of others (Axe and Blunt become Blunt; Short Blade and Long Blade become Blade), and instead of five major and minor skills, there are now seven major. During Oblivion's brief tutorial, the game observes the gamer's playstyle and suggests an appropriate class choice during a conversation with the guard, Baurus. The player may accept Baurus's suggestion, choose a different pre-made class, or create a custom class from scratch by selecting skills and attributes. Each class in Oblivion is represented by an appropriate image that portrays a typical member of that class: a bearded Mage, armored Knight, enraged Barbarian, and so forth.
Replacing Morrowind 's resizeable windows, Oblivion developed a system of nested menus of fixed proportion. The interface was marked out as seemingly influenced to an excess by the needs of the Xbox 360, affording little opportunity for the free exercise of the mouse and keyboard. In contrast to Morrowind 's PC-sized font, Oblivion was said to have "enormous 36-point text font", a feature most unappealing to PC reviewers. Oblivion contains a hotkey system, though one that was seen by some reviewers as insufficiently large, and limited in scope. IGN complained about the lack of a simple hotkey-switching system, wherein a player could have a "hotkey set for magic, one for combat, one for fighting undead, one for marksman, etc.". Owing to the proliferation of items, spells, weapons, and armor, which were numbered in the hundreds, Oblivion's limit of 8 hotkey assignments was seen as constraining. The lack of the system meant, to IGN, that the player would have to continuously switch hotkey assignments to match the current circumstances, making the game "more of a hassle than it should be." GameSpy's PC review complained that certain interface menus were not assignable to certain keys. Singling out a particular issue, GameSpy found the journal and inventory not assignable to "J" or "I". Amongst GameSpot's few complaints was one regarding a slight lack of streamlining in the inventory.
There was some minor disagreement between reviewers regarding the ease on the PC controls as compared to the controls on the Xbox. GameSpot, in its PC review, felt them to be equally suited to the Xbox and the PC, while GamePro felt the PC controls somewhat better as regards response, menu selection, and ranged combat. Elsewhere, GameSpot was of a different mind. In a feature comparing Oblivion on the Xbox 360 and PC, GameSpot concluded that the game felt more natural on the Xbox 360. Menus were easier to flip through using the shoulder buttons rather than mousing over them, and the rumble pack made controlling the Xbox more tactile. The ability of remapping controls on the PC was also noted by GameSpot as a relevant feature, but, in the last analysis, it was deemed to fall on the player's relative tolerance of PC and Xbox controls.
One major focus during Oblivion's development was correcting Morrowind 's imbalance between stealth, combat and magic skill sets. The skills system is similar to Morrowind 's, though the number of skills is decreased, with the medium armor and unarmored skill removed altogether, and the short blade and long blade skills condensed into a single blade skill. The game also introduced "mastery levels," which give skill-specific bonuses when the player reaches a certain level in that skill. The combat system was also revamped, with the addition of "power attacks", generally given by mastery levels, and the removal of the separate styles of melee attacks present in Morrowind. Ranged attacks were also changed, so that the determination of a hit is based solely on whether the arrow struck the target in-game, rather than the character's skill level. Spears, throwing weapons, and crossbows were removed as well, while staves no longer counted as weapons, but are only used for casting spells. The choice came from a desire to focus all development efforts in ranged weapons on bows specifically, to "get the feel of those as close to perfect as possible", as perfect as the Havok physics engine allowed the team to do. Morrowind 's passive Block skill became an active feature in Oblivion, activated by a button press. When, in the new system, an enemy is successfully blocked, they now recoil, offering an opening for attack. Still, Oblivion's combat system offered few, if any, tactical pretensions ; the fights were repetitive as they mostly consisted in a series of alternative slashes/blocks and as the power attacks, the only specific ones, were strongly limited in quantity and use (available on highest levels only). The low enemy AI didn't help the experience.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The fast travel system was also incorporated into Skyrim, with a few minor changes. Unlike in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the player must first have discovered a location by manually arriving there. Horses are also a large part of travel in Skyrim. The horses available in the game are not as fast as those in Oblivion, but they are sturdier and are able to survive more attacks from enemies while traveling. Horse-drawn carriages are also available for use outside most major cities. These require payment from the player, but function just as a fast travel does (although the player does not have to have previously visited a location before using a horse-drawn carriage). The player can buy a horse for 1000 septims outside most hold capitals, or can earn one in the Dark Brotherhood questline. The player may also conjure a horse from the Soul Cairn (Dawnguard D.L.C.)
At the beginning of the game, the player character is in custody at the Imperial stronghold of Helgen, about to be executed for illegally entering Skyrim. The player is then given a choice of race. These follow the original Races of The Elder Scrolls. Also, choices in gender, facial preferences, skin tone, and hair are given. Some new choices were incorporated into Skyrim including scars, war paint, and a plethora of new hair styles. Character creation continues to be an important part of the gameplay process and has an impact on combat and reception by non-player characters later in the game. With the release of the Dawnguard DLC, players can visit the ratways in Riften to change their appearance.
Unlike in previous Elder Scrolls games, Skyrim lacks a formal class system. There are no longer major and minor skills, because all skills contribute to leveling up the character and progressing with gameplay. This provides an advantage in that a player can change their character's style any time they want. Some of the skills the character develops have been rearranged from their orientation in Oblivion. For example, the Archery skill (formerly known as Marksman) has been moved into the combat category from the stealth category. Also, characters can now create their own armor (Smithing), which is considered a combat skill, and enchant weapons (Enchanting), which is classified as a magic skill. This can be done wherever an Arcane Enchanter can be found, instead of simply in the Mage's Guild, which is now the College of Winterhold.
As in all Elder Scrolls games, combat is one of the key components of Skyrim's gameplay. Combat can be performed in a variety of styles since Skyrim introduced the concept of assigning weapons/shields/spells in your right and left hand. Certain weapons such as greatswords, battleaxes, bows, and warhammers are considered "two-handed" and, when they are equipped, nothing else can be in your hands. Skyrim keeps the Light Armor/Heavy Armor distinction; however, armor does not hinder spellcasting like in Oblivion. Some classes used in combat have been added or edited to make the gameplay experience more enjoyable and easier to use. These include the introduction of One-Handed and Two-Handed weapon skills as opposed to Blade, Blunt, and Hand to Hand. One-Handed includes daggers, swords, axes, and maces and Two-Handed includes greatswords, battleaxes, and warhammers. The magic school of Mysticism was eliminated from the game and the spells in that class were incorporated into the Conjuration and Illusion schools. Restoration spells called Wards were added as a defense against magical attacks. Athletics and Acrobatics were eliminated as upgradable skills.
As opposed to previous Elder Scrolls Games, Elder Scrolls: Skyrim introduced a crafting system allowing you to create your own weapons, armor, potions etc. Though there were crafting elements in previous Elder Scrolls Games, they were not a bona fide system such as the one that is in the game today. To get the some of the best equipment, you must craft. This is shown with all of the dragonbone and dragonscale armor which aren't available unless you level your smithing up all the way.
Skyrim's interface uses a heads-up display (HUD) containing a magicka bar in the bottom left corner of the screen, a health bar centered along the bottom of the screen, a stamina bar in the bottom right corner of the screen, and a compass/map at the top of the page, centered in the middle. Switching between first-person and third-person modes is still a feature. The Hotkey menu is located just above the magicka bar and contains a box with all of the players hotkeyed items in an alphabetical list. On the console, the Start button brings up the Quest Log, which also contains the settings menu and the Save/Load menu. The Quest Log contains the Main Quest, and Side Quests currently active, and a Side Quest labeled "Miscellaneous" which contains all the Miscellaneous Quests. Miscellaneous Quests are considered any quests that are not the Main Quest or a Side Quest. Most Miscellaneous Quests only require one action by the player where Side Quest are usually more than one part. The "O" button on PlayStation and "B" button on Xbox brings up the inventory menu. This menu is divided between Skills, Magic, Items, and the Map. Selecting Skills will show all upgradeable skills in their respective category (Combat, Magic, Stealth) and any unlocked upgrades activated by the player at a level up. Unlike most Elder Scrolls games, where the maximum level is 100, the maximum level in Skyrim is 81 because at that point, all upgrades can be unlocked. Selecting Magic will bring up a list of all spells categorized into their type. They are separated into Destruction, Alteration, Illusion, Conjuration, and Restoration spells. Also in the Magic menu is a list of Active Effects on the player, Shouts (Thu'ums), and Powers (ex. beast mode). Selecting Items will bring up all items carried by the player categorized into weapons, apparel (armor, robes, necklaces, rings), food, potions, ingredients (used for Alchemy), and miscellaneous (dragon bones, dragon scales, cups, bowls). Selecting Map will bring up the interactive World Map.
The Elder Scrolls Online
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Unlike most Massively Multiplayer Online games (MMOs), The Elder Scrolls Online will allow a first person perspective to be used, though the traditional third person is an option once again. A returning feature from Skyrim is the ability to dual wield weapons, but little else is known about the combat.
This time around, there will be, in addition to a fast travel system between towns, waypoints located throughout Tamriel. Bethesda has stated that they want to emphasize exploration, and that "If you see something in the horizon and want to travel to it, you should be able to". In a Quakecon demo on August 8, 2013, horses were seen to be appearing out of nowhere, but it is unknown at this time whether that was just a modification to the developer's game or an in-game spell.
As the name suggests, TESO is an Online game, and as such, will allow groups to join each other and go on quests. In the aforementioned demo at Quakecon, the player joined a group of three and entered a dungeon. It can be assumed that this qualifies to the open world as well, though this is unknown for sure. Soul Gems, which had been used for enchanting items in previous games, are now used to revive fallen teammates, and loot (items found during exploration), is dispersed the same for anyone in the party; this means that, if one player finds X-number of gold coins, the others get the same amount.
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