Does the Elder Scrolls Online beta trailer foreshadow gameplay?

You watch the Elder Scrolls Online beta trailer and just see a bunch of dudes fighting.

I watch it and see a good deal more — or at least the potential for more.

We know that these kind of trailers rarely are perfectly accurate representations of what we’ll be seeing in the games themselves. Typically, characters and situations are similar to what we’ll see in the final product, but specific gameplay actions are usually exaggerated for the sake of making a cool video.

There’s a lot going on in the Elder Scrolls Online beta trailer, but how much of it will carry over into the game? Or can we just “ooh” and “aah” over the glitzy presentation?

The trailer has three separate and distinct parts, each highlighting the three factions in the game: the Daggerfall Covenant, the Aldmeri Dominion, and the Ebonheart Pact.

mmorpg elder scrolls online mmorpg     Dissecting The Elder Scrolls Online Beta Trailer

Ebonheart Pact: With Fire & Sword

We start with a party of four — by the looks of it, a Nord warrior, two Dark Elves, and an Argonian. The Dark Elf mage points his staff down the hallway and lets loose with an illuminating fireball.

I’ve always thought staves a bit strange in TES games. The kind of character you most associate with them — mages — tend to need them the least, as they typically have bountiful mana pools and don’t need implements like this to achieve their ends.

But in TESO, weapons will determine what skills you can use, to some extent. So I’d fully expect that a character — any character, mind you — who wants to shoot a fireball will need to equip a staff to do so. A mage-type character might be better at it — more damage, quicker cooldown, whatever — but even that nord warrior could at least serve the role of “party flashlight.”

In what looks like a typical dungeon crawl, the group takes on a pack of what appears to be werewolves. As we know, players won’t be able to become werewolves, so they’ll likely serve simply as antagonists. I don’t think we can take anything in particular away from the combat, which is a typical blend of spell and weapon effects. But hey, they look pretty.

That covers the most obvious PvE portion of the video. Which brings us to…

mmorpg elder scrolls online mmorpg     Dissecting The Elder Scrolls Online Beta Trailer

Aldmeri Dominion: Scaling the Walls

Now this is a fortress siege I could get into! Climbing up rappel lines, dodging fiery explosions, arrows, boulders… all right!

Now raise your hand if you think we’ll actually see any of this. Yeah, didn’t think so.

Hey, it’s a cinematic trailer, I wouldn’t expect we’ll see things that are exact analogs of what we’ll experience in game. But I’d like to think there’s a chance we’ll get a little more from our three-faction PvP than just the same “bash down the gates for 10 minutes” action we’re currently getting from games like Guild Wars 2.

If you’ve played as many Total War games as I have, you know that sieges can be intense and the action can be directed across multiple fronts. Some troops are bashing in a gate here, some are scaling the walls there, and others are even undermining the walls or tunneling in from below. Why can’t that be the case in an MMO?

Dark Age of Camelot brought realm-vs.-realm fighting to the forefront in MMORPGs, and with Matt Firor in charge of things, could we see further innovation? I hope so.

mmorpg elder scrolls online mmorpg     Dissecting The Elder Scrolls Online Beta Trailer

Daggerfall Covenant: A Bridge Too Far

Speaking of crazy siege mechanics, the Daggerfall Covenant portion of our video seems to have it in spades. The “ballista bridges” would fit my earlier request of different access points to a T, especially if they could be — as seen in the video — destroyed by the defenders, sending the assaulting forces to plummet to their doom.

But I really can’t believe you’ll be able to “zipline” down to the tower like our intrepid Breton ninja.

After he takes down multiple opponents at once with an array of butt-kicking moves — because he’s a ninja — we cut back to the High Elf woman, who mixes swordplay with magic, again emphasizing the freedom in character design that looks to be a hallmark of the game, before concluding with the epic three-way standoff between representatives of the three factions.

Who will win? My septims on the Nord. He’s probably a mage in disguise.

Other tidbits:

Those guys in the tower? Clearly Imperials in the three-faction PvP province of Cyrodiil. You can see the White-Gold Tower clearly in the distance at 2:26.

Check out the Aldmeri lady’s backup. Three characters with human-ish faces in tribal-looking armor are probably Wood Elves. But at 5:00, you get a very blurry look at the third, whose face appears to be that of a Khajiit.

Does the Nord coming out of his dungeon encounter with the werewolf signify that there will be PvE dungeons in close proximity to the PvP area, as we’ve seen in other games? Or is it just dramatic license?

For even more information on The Elder Scrolls Online check out Richie’s roundup of the state of the game information.

Jason Winter has held several positions in the tabletop and video-gaming industry since 1996, including writer, editor, marketing coordinator, and game designer. He's the former editor of Beckett Massive Online Gamer and almost considers himself competent in PvP. In addition to his work with, he also blogs about video games at
  • Bear Powell

    In DAoC we did have classes capable of climbing walls to gain entry to Keeps so the climbing gear aspect isn’t too far fetched. Plus in DAoC/WAR you had multiple PvE dungeons located in PvP areas that were controlled by the winning faction (log out in the area and if you lost control you could log in to attack the new owners) or free-for-all where you could interrupt the other players there by taking their relics or even AJ’ing them in a Boss fight. Looking at DAoC, WAR, and GW2 we see examples of how various seige can work and how it can progress given proper testing and imagination (mobile bridges, ladders, etc not too far fetched). While I see the cinematic as mostly gamer porn I think with Matt Firor at the helm we do have a fighting chance of some innovative RvR style gameplay. It was 12 years ago when he helped innovate that very aspect in MMORPGs. I am giving them the benefit of the doubt for the moment.

  • Carlos Madrid

    Now this is how you make a cinematic trailer, I was pumped!

  • Melanie Dawn McGreevey

    I saw this trailer yesterday  before that, I had ZERO interest in TESO… that video is the best cinematic trailer I have ever seen…even better than swtor and the original WAR (although the later was pretty damned cool).

  • Benni Nord

    This looks bad ass.. but the thing is shit like that never happens.. no way I would ever traverse really tall towers, one shot npc soldiers with epic lightning and/or even have gear that look like normal but cool looking armor and at the same time feel powerful… Would be cool if this one jump a bit forward in the way of the mmorpg

  • Rick

    Damn, didn’t even notice the Argonian and Khajit!

  • SevenFold

    I have faith that Matt Frior won’t just give us gate pounding pvp and I wish the trailer showed or represented the races i’m actually interested in playing but all in all it has me pumped for 3 faction pvp.

  • Inkogni Alex

    WHERE IS MY BETA INVITE, want it badly. Did get a great marks on my profile so where is it.

  • Justin CdeBaca

    First 15 secs is kicking in a door, sold

  • Nathiest

    It says I have an “Excellent” chance. Ha! We’ll see about that. 

  • Robert Caliolo

    Ok so now everyone will want to play the Warrior because he looks so baddass…

    Wish this company would have done a Fallout Online instead though.Let’s let the cat out of the box… This is just like WoW. For all those that began their MMO experience with WoW , everything will be like WoW…and so what. It is 10+ years after WoW came onto the scene and this will be better and so what if it plays like WoW or GW2 or EQ or any of the MMO’s of the “PAST”…to me it gives the impression of Warhammer Online actually.The trailer is nice…maybe not as good as the SWTOR final trailer but as far as trailers go the bar has been raised in the past and this matches up.As for actually giving you an idea of the playstyle… I see none other then a Mage, an Assassin and a Warrior. Nothing truly shows what they are able to do other then magic, heavy weapons, arrows and daggers.This will be the typical MMO and there is nothing wrong at all with that. We all know when it is all said and done it comes down to replay ability and advancement on a regular basis…ie raiding, story not having an end, and some sort of progression. Oh and PvP that works. Not like SWTOR. More along the GW2 lines or DAoC.Only time will tell and who ever knows what would be a hit or miss

  • Joey Biggs

    we now know that Blizzard isn’t the only ones who can make bad ass cinematic trailers  

    • balen arenas

       Blur Studios has been making bad ass cinematics for years.

      • DoctorOverlord

        Very true, Blur Studios has made incredible trailers including (and not limited to) the Force Unleashed, Bioshock, Prototype, Warhammer Online, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, DCOnline, Planetside 2, Batman Arkham City, Dishonored, Wildstar and of course the SWTOR trailers which are often regarded as being better than all three prequels combined ;)  

        Edit – While checking on Blur’s titles, I sound that iTunes has A Gentleman’s Duel in their store! I’ve always wanted to have a good copy of that hilarious short. Must download now :)

  • Dularr

    MMOs today have wall climbing, so I hope to see it in TESO.   Will be interesting to see  the combat mechanics along a vertical surface.

  • theunwarshed

    actually Jason players can gain abilities to (at least) temporarily become werewolves.  watch their introduction video for info on it.

  • Joseph Gabrielli

    I wanna know who the ninja guy was. I know the Elf lady was the leader of the Aldmeri, and the Nord was the leader of Ebonheart, but I don’t know who the ninja guy is. I know for a fact that the leader of the Daggerfall is an old guy and definitely not a ninja so this is some new character I have yet to hear about. Anyone know who it is?

    • Matt C

      All i know is that it’s a Breton, probably an npc that will be revealed down the track

  • Deadalon

    Im gonna wait VERY long time before even trying ESO.  Its a bethesda game… Would be very surprising the those guys even remember to turn on the servers at launch :D  At least thats their history with all the Elder Scrolls games :D Broken, broken and more broken.. lets wait a month.

    • Jonathan Hornsby

      Not being developed by Bethesda. 

  • Duskwolf

    Did not notice the Argonian at first, but at least its a better appearance then the… *squints* “Khajiit”. It’s unfortunate that they didn’t take the chance to highlight the diversity of races. 

    They could have had a Khajiit scaling the wall, an Orc launching one of the ballista bridges with a Redguard running across, a Bosmer without a helmet (so as to be properly identifiable) and maybe have coaxed that shy Argonian into smacking a zombie werewolf (or maybe just crawling out of the pit behind the Nord).

    I understand why the Altmer, Nord and Breton get the limelight, but many people (including myself) have a favourite race outside of those three, and it was a little disappointing to not be able to point out and say “thats my guy!”.

    Beyond that though, it was a visually stunning trailer. I loved what they decided to do with the siege, but I have to say, I think the elf lady with her insta-lightning-disintegration, lost out in epicness compared to the Breton ninja of “holy shit awesome” and the Nord with “Bloody ass werewolves… Sorry guys am I late?”.

  • Jonathan Hornsby

    Also, I am pretty sure it was said that you CAN become a werewolf or vampire in this.

  • Ravenstorm

    What would’ve made the trailer truely epic, imo, was if those 3 forces were annihilated by a demon minion of Molag Bal, summoned by that evil summoner guy in Cyrodiil, which is afterall the reason the other races want to invade it, they find the leadership of Cyrodiil weak/tainted . 

    That way you get justification feelings for killing those defenders, knowing they unknowing are in service of the big evil bad.

    Otherwise, damn it but yes I’m getting tingles of anticipation for this mmo, still gonna be sceptic though, pretty pictures ain’t no guarantee. No sir. But still.

  • DoctorOverlord

    Cinematics are always fun and this was an amusing dissection clearly done with some grains of salt.    Nonetheless, Blur is known to work closely with their clients when they make these cinematics so there may be hints of game elements sneaking into it.

    I was a bit confused with the fighting at first until I figured out everyone was attacking the Imperials.     And those Aldmeri scaling the wall must have really appreciated their siege engineers trying to splatter them :)  (Although I suppose they could have been siege engines from another faction).  

    Also I just can’t see the blurry Khajit at 5:00, anyone get a good freeze-frame of it?

    • Jado Cast

      No, I tried to get a clear frame, but I think its the camera depth that makes it blurry, not the quality of the video, so not sure it’s possible.  I play a Khajit in Skyrim, so I’m eager to see what they look like in TESO.

  • Jado Cast

    While the Cinematic is well done, no doubt, it worries me.  Trailers like this got me pumped up to play SWOTR, which only increased the Hype.  I see this game going the same direction.  Don’t get me wrong, I signed up for the Beta because I’m a big TES fan, but I’m still very hopeful.  This company has had one marketing blunder after another so far, and that makes me very cautious when it comes to expectations.  It would be interesting to hear what Mike B thinks about this trailer.

  • Donald R. Logan

    At 1:01 I see 5 Ebonheart characters. 3 Dark Elves on the left, 1 Nord middle, 1 Argonian right.

  • MrMonkeyPoop

    i cant seem to singup for the beta, not getting a response from the page. anyone else getting this problem ? 

  • Gabriel Martin

    TESO is going to be a triple A title, at the very least I am sure I’ll get my moneys worth. I don’t think I’ll play it for more then a few months since I am not a big PvP fan in these types of games and I probably won’t raid much either. I don’t think I will ever play a game for as long as I did WoW, I just became a much more casual player that would rather play as many good games as possible then just chasing carrots raiding the same stuff over and over for “progression”.

  • Joseph Giovanni Fiol

    I thought Guild Wars 2 would be the last MMO I ever played.  Damn you Bethesda!!

  • Miljan Stanojevic

    what to say, just EPIC teaser, totaly agree with Joseph, was thinking…GW2 and no more, but…damn, this one is lookin way to hot to say no!

  • Rob Kingsboro

    Give me a modern, hardware-limits-pushing MMO that looks like this CGI trailer and I’ll gladly pay $15+ per month. With an “entry level performance GPU,” like the GTX 660 Ti, GPU utilization is around 40-60% in most currently-available games. Sometimes I wish consoles didn’t exist at all. -_-

  • Odeezee

    CGI trailers in this day an age really need to die in a fire. says a lot when you don’t make a video from the game client. the game will play and look nothing like this, so why even go there? /sigh

    • Kyle Robinson

      Simply put, because they can. They’re really cool to watch. It’s obvious it’s not gameplay, and if anyone takes it as such is a loony. I don’t see the big deal.

  • Sebastian Ferlin

    This game isn’t coming fast enough…