Video Game: The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online is an MMORPG developed by Zenimax Online Studios. Taking place in the Second Era roughly 1,000 years before the events of Skyrim, you play as a hero attempting to stop the Daedric Prince Molag Bal from taking over Tamriel and recovering your soul that was taken by him. Things are also complicated by the fact that the Imperial throne has sided with the evil Prince, and now Tamriel is in an all-out war between Cyrodiil and three alliances vying for control of it.

It was released on April 4th, 2014 for Mac and PC (with a 3-to-5-day early start for preorders), with the PS4 and Xbox One versions set for a June 9, 2015 release date. On March 17, 2015, the payment model will change: only the initial purchase is required, with an optional premium account system offered as well.

Provides examples of:

  • Abusive Precursors: The Ayleid, or Wild Elves, were this to Tamriel, enslaving most of the other races and generally treating them like animals. The Dwemer were this as well but not to such an extent.
  • Adjective Animal Alehouse: "The Sleepy Eaglet" in Skywatch.
  • The Alliance: All three major playable warring factions.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: The Emperor is the only character in the game that can have the Emperor Armor. Since there can only be one Emperor per server, this will easily become the most exclusive armor in the game.
  • Another Side, Another Story: Once you beat the main quest, you can go through one of the other two faction's main quests with the same character. This is justified with some Daedric magic, and the question "what would have happened had you washed up on a different beach?" Once you complete the second faction's quests, as well, you can do the third faction's quests.
  • Anti-Human Alliance: The Aldmeri Dominion is explicitly against a human-dominated Tamriel.
  • Arrows on Fire: Enemies will spill oil on the ground and yell "Light it up!", and then enemy archers shoot flaming arrows into it to set it ablaze.
  • Artifact Title: Averted for the third game in a row. Multiple Elder Scrolls can be found within temples in Cyrodiil which can grant blessings for all the players in a particular alliance that control them during PvP.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: The best player on the faction which takes over the Imperial City becomes the Emperor.
  • Badass Army: Every faction has one. The Ebonheart Pact appears to be in the lead, as evidenced by the "Siege" trailer. Even Molag Bal and his army of Dremora qualify, completely unflinching in their every action.
  • Bat out of Hell: Giant bats are relatively common creatures. There are even werebats on one island (though they never transform into any other form).
  • Battle Couple: The Rings of Mara allow you and another player to become this, and any married couple in a party with one another gain a massive EXP bonus for both characters.
  • Big Bad: The Daedric Prince of Domination himself, Molag Bal.
  • Big Good: Meridia often plays this, but is still as ruthless as any other Daedric Prince.
    • The Prophet/Varen Aquilarios
  • Bi the Way: Jakarn, the Breton thief you recruit for Kaleen, is a notorious womanizer, but refers to the player character as "Good Looking" regardless of gender, and when you first encounter him he states "If I found a handsome guy trapped in a cell, I'd free him."
    • The player Characters can be become this, as the Rings of Mara are not tied to character genders.
  • Blind Seer: The Prophet has gone blind after reading Elder Scrolls, but he is still quite perceptive and has some power.
  • Border Patrol: Try swimming too far away from a shoreline, and prepare to be eaten alive by a school of slaughterfish.
  • Bow and Sword, in Accord: Very well possible for any class - the class does not limit what sort of weapons can be used.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Sheogorath is fond of this, as he will casually detail the plots of other The Elder Scrolls titles, and all but telling you that a choice in whic quest will give you "2 Skill Points."
  • Brick Joke: The Alliance Trailer begins with a Nord fighting undead Werewolves in a cave. At the end of the trailer, one of those werewolves bursts out of the ground in an attempt to flee, only to be quickly dragged back under by the Nord, who climbs out himself a second later.
  • Call Back: Quite a lot.
    • Sheogorath, naturally, references all the previous games during his questline including name-checking the Staff of Chaos and Numidium. Which is odd considering that those events won't be taking place for another 1000 or so years. Archmage Shalidor is also a questgiver in this plotline.
    • A naked Nord sends the player on a quest to find the witch that robbed him.
  • Cartography Sidequest: Achievements are given for map-completion such as viewing all the points of interest in a zone, completing caves, and completing a certain number of quests in each zone.
  • The Chosen One: The player isn't the only one fighting Molag Bal's Daedra and Dark Anchors, but from each player's view they're the only one who has escaped from Coldharbour and returned to Tamriel after having their soul stolen, and is working with the Five Companions.
  • Combination Attack: "Synergy". Some attacks will give another nearby player a prompt that they can activate the Synergy, which is a bonus attack done at the same time at no extra cost.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Most melee moves by enemies will hit you, no matter how much you try to dodge it - you can be ten feet away and a tiger swiping its claws will still make contact somehow.
  • Continuity Snarl: Shalidor mentions reassembling the fragments of the Numidium. However at the time of the game, the Numidium is still intact (and in the safekeeping of the Tribunal).
    • NPCs in Morrowind note that the Tribunal haven't made their annual pilgrimage to Red Mountain, a reference to the events of Morrowind. However the return of Dagoth Ur won't take place for another 300 years. That said, there might be other reasons the Tribunal aren't making the pilgrimage like being busy with the Alliance War.
  • Cosmetic Award: Completing most achievements will net you a new dye color. If you obtain certain veteran rank levels, you will unlock a special costume to wear, and you will earn the Emperor's Regalia if you become Emperor. There is also a dungeon that gives you a Dwemer Spider vanity pet as a reward.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The battle in the "Arrival" trailer. The three faction leaders that we saw in the "Alliance" trailer take on a platoon of dremora. The Breton ends up possessed and attacking the Imperial City with an army of undead while the other two barely escape with their lives. Pretty much almost the entire time all three of them are very hard-pressed to stay alive, and the only reason they live is because the High Elf woman brings down one of the chains attaching the Dark Anchor to the ground, causing a massive statue to collapse on top of the battle area.
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: Many dungeons and buildings use the same layouts.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory: For those used to Skyrim, anyways - in Skyrim, power attacks break through block. In ESO, it's the other way around.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Justified Trope in that due to being offered to Molag Bal as slaves and having their souls stolen, all of the PC's get resurrected infinite times. This is even written into the game lore: you can find a book detailing the concept of a "paragon" soul, as special kind of soul that allows Soul Shriven to not deteriorate and instantly revive. The only penalty is armor damage.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Fire atronachs explode upon death.
  • Defector from Decadence: Imperials as a race, who can join any Alliance. They are described as 'outcasts' from Cyrodiil, who have turned against the Daedra-worshipping majority of their race, and would conceivable aid any alliance in order to 'free' their brethren from Molag Bal's influence.
  • Distressed Dude: In Coldharbour the player encounters a character named Stibbons, who has been abducted by a winged twilight who is attempting to seduce him. Upon being freed and trying to make his way to the Hollow City, he gets abducted by female daedra again.
  • The Dragon: Mannimarco serves Molag Bal, although he's also The Starscream, wanting to obtain power greater than the Prince's.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Several quests involve you donning a disguise to fool enemies into letting you pass, or at least making them less likely to detect you.
  • Dual Wielding: One-handed weapon types can be dual-wielded; there's even a skill line for dual-wielding.
  • Eleventh Hour Superpower: Shortly before the final battle Abnur Tharn sacrifices one of your companions to power up the Amulet of Kings, and grant you the ultimate power. with this power boost, you can three-shot the titans that try to stop you even with an average build, not to mention one-shotting all the dark seducers who get in your way.
  • Emote Animation: Over a hundred of them. One of the most popular is /lute, which has your character play one of the bard songs on the lute.
  • Enemy Mine: The Ebonheart Pact is comprised of the Dunmer and their two most hated enemies, the Nords and Argonians. They are only working together because of the threat posed by their mutual enemies. Whether or not this holds true for the other factions remains unknown, though considering that traditional relationships between Orcs and Bretons and Redguards have been hostile to say the least, it seems likely.
    • There is also Eyevea, the Mages' Guild headquarters. You can be a ranking Ebonheart officer having a polite conversation with a top researcher from the Dominion, and that's the norm.
    Dunmer: "The centuries of hatred between my people and... most of Tamriel seems somehow petty in a place like this."
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: At one point during the Riften questline, you need to make a ritual sacrifice in order to pass through a sealed door. You have the option to sacrifice a member of the Reachmen, a race of Chaotic Evil Hagraven worshipers. If you do choose him for the sacrifice, you have to trick him into thinking you're leading him out of enemy territory. On the way to the door, he will proceed to tell you about his eight-year old daughters, and how they cried when he went to war. There is horror in his voice when he discovers you're not there to free him.
  • Evil Empire: The Akaviri Potentate practices slavery and worships Molag Bal.
  • Expy: The three main factions (Ebonheart, Aldmeri, Daggerfall) are each roughly equivalent in theme to Dark Age Of Camelot's Midgard, Hibernia, and Albion (respectively).
  • Fantastic Racism: The game is riddled with it. The Ebonheart Pact consists of the Dunmer and the two races that were their worst enemies before the Akaviri Invasion. The Veiled Heritance in the Aldmeri Dominion see the Bosmer and Khajiit as lesser races (although they seem to hate every other race just as much). Many human members of the Daggerfall Covenant still struggle to accept that the Orcs are a sentient race. Those are just a few examples. Needless to say, most characters despise races from the other alliances.
  • Faustian Rebellion: The vampire coven that players can join is of the Cyrodiilic Bloodline, descended directly from Lamae Bal, the oldest vampire in existence, the Monster Progenitor of the Cyrodiilic Bloodline, and is believed to be the first Daughter of Coldharbour. She hates Molag Bal for certain reasons, and intends to turn the entire Cyrodiilic Bloodline against him. And she's still alive. At this point, her crusade against Molag has become a full-blown Roaring Rampage of Revenge, with her also hating Arkay, whom she believes abandoned her in her time of need.
  • Faux Affably Evil: While Sheogorath tends to present himself as all fun and games in previous titles (save for Shivering Isles), we see a particularly malicious side of him in TESO. It still doesn't stop him from being utterly hilarious, however.
  • Filk Song:
  • Foregone Conclusion: The interregnum in the second era was notorious for having so many "Emperors", that history never bothered to record many of their names. And no matter the toss-up between which faction wins the throne, the closing years of the Second Era will see the rise of Tiber Septim and the Third Empire of Men, and the first truly pan-Tamrielic empire.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Mudcrab Beach has a larger-than-normal mudcrab as a boss.
  • Historical In-Joke: In game, no less. The reason Wuuthrad is shattered? The Worm Cult was using it to empower the ghost of a giant it slaughtered.
  • Godzilla Threshold The Daggerfall invasion of the start of the Pact storyline forces them to summon Balreth, the Brother of Strife wich curbstomps the force. Then you have to put him back, however...
  • Gravity Barrier: The edge of each region (except for the sea, of course, which has slaughterfish) is bordered by gigantic cliffs that you cannot climb.
  • Honor Before Reason: The Redguards hold their ancestors in very high respect, included the corpses of ancestors raised as Undead. Most Redguards would rather run away before dishonoring themselves by fighting them. This becomes quite a problem thanks to a group of Necromancers who know that all too well.
  • Implacable Man: The trailers show the dremora as being this. Even in the middle of a pitched battle during the "Siege" trailer, a platoon of them aren't even slowed down by a group of Ebonheart soldiers smashing into the front ranks. Pretty much everything they do, they do at a slow, foreboding walk.
  • Insanity Immunity: Sir Cadwell is the only Soul Shriven of Coldharbour who isn't a hostile psychopath since he was already mad when he got there. In fact, he quite likes it there.
  • Interspecies Romance: There are several examples of this: at least two Bosmer-Khajiit couples, and a Redguard-Altmer couple, for instance.
  • It's Personal: One of the reasons why Queen Ayrenn wants to take over Cyrodiil is to take revenge on Abnur Tharn, who had caused her great suffering several years ago.
  • Jerkass: The comments made by the guards in the Daggerfall Covenant tend to be rather scathing, such as "If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you." and "If you want to lose ten pounds of ugly fat, I'll be happy to cut off your head."
  • Karma Houdini: Any of the three Disc One Final Boss characters for each alliance; specifically, High Kinlady Estre, Anghof the Undying, or Thallion Wormfather; has the chance to become this in Coldharbour. After being sent to Coldharbour for failing Molag Bal, they're forced to compete in a 'game' where they have to use their minions to kill two of the others for a chance to get back into Molag Bal's good graces, and their minions consist of Mage's Guild members you have to rescue. At the end of the quest, you have a chance to either save the Disc One Final Boss, or the Mages... or both, by threatening to kill the Observer over and over again until he gives in to your demands, which would permanently disrupt the game. The one you chose to save undergoes a Heel-Face Turn of sorts, and joins your army against Molag Bal.
  • Kill the God: Magistrix Vox attempts to do this to the Tribunal in the Deshaan questline.
  • Legacy Character:
    • The Wilderking/queen is always a mortal who takes up the mantle of the Wilderking/queen, losing the memories of who they originally were.
    • There is a new Silvenar and Green Lady of the Bosmer once per generation. A portion of the Aldmeri Dominion quests involve helping the new Silvenar and Green Lady rise to power after the death of the current ones.
  • Level-Locked Loot: Each armor or weapon has a level on it that you must be at before using it. Also, some crafting materials require you to achieve a certain level in that craft and spend a skill point to be able to use it.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: The game has a bad case of this, to the point where magicka builds are the way to go if you want to be competitive in trials or fighting in Cyrodiil, simply because magic builds can push out far more damage far faster and over a larger area than those relying on stamina by endgame.
  • Loading Screen: Plenty of these, containing artwork and a brief bit of information that is usually relevant to where you are.
  • Lockpicking Minigame: Similarly to the main series, you are shown five pins on springs and must press down on each one until the right moment (when it starts to shake slightly), and then release. If you push it down too far, the lockpick will break; if it is not far enough, then it simply will return to its normal position (although repeated attempts may still break the lockpick). It is also has a time limit based on the difficulty of the chest: the more difficult the lock, the less amount of time is given to open it.
  • Mle Trois: The three playable warring factions in the game consist of the Aldmeri Dominion (Altmer, Bosmer, and Khajit), the Ebonheart Pact (Dunmer, Nords, and Argonians), and the Daggerfall Covenant (Bretons, Redguards, and Orcs).
    • As shown in various previews, this will be very common in PvP. Of particular note are sieges where the defenders may be attacked by forces from the other two factions but the two groups may also start attacking each other.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: The entire game, but the lands and story arcs of the Daggerfall Covenant are like a love letter to the genre.
  • Merchant Prince: High King Emeric, leader of the Daggerfall Covenant, was originally a merchant lord from High Rock.
  • Mood Whiplash: There's a merchant called Elodinar, who, when spoken to, says mournfully, "My heart goes out to the many victims of this foul tragedy that has befallen Greenwater Cove..." before concluding with a cheerful, "... So! Do you need to buy anything!"
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: Lampshaded with the Seducer Armor set/Disguise. The helmet covers the eyes entirely, but it reveals a lot of the rest. [1]
  • Neck Snap: Some of the dying animations have an NPC's chin directly over their shoulder bone while they fly in the direction you hit them in. When you're using a mace or an axe, it looks like you hit them in the head with so much blunt force, that you've snapped their neck. The fact that they simply flop over dead really helps this effect.
  • Nonindicative Name: The Daggerfall Covenant is led by the King of Wayrest, which is its capital. Similarly, the leader of the Ebonheart Pact is the King in Windhelm, and the Pact's capital is Mournhold.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • On the Aldmeri Dominion side, Queen Ayrenn and Razum-Dar's backstory seems to be full of these. Often in reference to the time they adventured together.
    • Many of the hireling letters you receive are like this.
    Gavin Gavonne: A word of wisdom from one who learned a thing or two in his travels: no matter how much your drunken companion might encourage it, never, under any circumstances, should you moon a werewolf.
  • Nostalgia Level: Eastmarch in general, to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
  • Notice This: Having the keen eye perk on one of the various crafting skill lines will make crafting resources of that type have a noticeable pillar of light effect coming from them, making it easier to spot and harvest them.
  • Otherkin: A Dunmer in Woodhearth. He calls Khajiit his brothers and "true people".
    Vadelen Inodthan: I was cruelly born without a tail, without claws, but I know where I belong. If I can just find the right mixture, I can fix that.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different:
    • In the Alliance trailer, one part of it features a trio of Ebonheart warriors fighting a group of zombie werewolves.
  • Ouroboros:
    • The game's logo has the three animals which represent the factions forming this sort of circle (lion for the Daggerfall Covenant, dragon for the Ebonheart Pact and eagle for the Aldmeri Dominion). This probably shouldn't be taken as an indication of the faction's respective advantages over each other.
    • In the Alliance trailer, the Nord, Altmer, and Breton leaders (representing Fighter, Mage, and Thief respectively) circle each other in the shape of the Ouroboros.
  • Pillar of Light: Skyshards have one above them.
  • Player Versus Player: Players will be able to fight one another in battles for keeps and other such fortifications, with a particularly huge arena being the Imperial City itself, with 100 v 100 battles. This isn't surprising, considering the main creative talent were behind Dark Age Of Camelot.
  • Power Incontinence: Aranias, a young Altmer woman who can be found in Valenwood, has a connection with nature. You see some of her past: she has remarkable powers, able to raise land and grow vines right out of the ground, but she also isn't able to control it. She destroys an entire ship on accident by raising a rock out of the ocean.
  • Pre-Order Bonus: Players who preordered the game got the Explorer's Pack, which gives you the ability to have your character be in any alliance regardless of race, a Scuttler vanity pet, and treasure maps.
  • Promoted Fangirl: YouTube singer Malukah, who did popular covers of Skyrim's Bard Songs, is the singing voice of female bards in this game.
  • Prophet Eyes: The, well, Prophet has them.
  • Required Secondary Powers: It is surprisingly how often having no soul can be useful in quests. To the point where you have to wonder how those quests still work after you got it back and are doing the other Factions Storylines in lategame.
    • The quests for the other factions work because you don't have your soul for them; Meridia is showing you what would have happened had you been ejected from Coldharbour into a different area of Tamriel.
  • Retcon: In The Elder Scrolls: Arena Cyrodiil was depicted as a tropical rainforest rather than a Medieval European Fantasy-standard grasslands-and-forests region as in Oblivion and Online. Oblivion and out-of-game sources justified it with Tiber Septim using CHIMnote , but Online's calling it the result of Future Imperfect (a "transcription error"), to much derision from lore-minded fans. The game also changes many established elements of the main series both visually and story-wise in order to fit the game's vision.
  • Rule of Three: Three factions, which mirrors Dark Age Of Camelot and its Realm vs. Realm combat.
  • Running Gag: The game continues some that have made regular appearances in the ES games: M'aiq the Liar appears once again, and you can bake sweetrolls and Fishy Sticks. And yes, The Lusty Argonian Maid also makes its return.
    • One running gag has escalated from previous games. Once again, the player character starts as a prisoner. However, the prisoner is essentially killed off in the introduction in order to bring them to Molag Bal's realm of Coldharbor.
  • Secret Test of Character: The Trial of the Heart in Hissmir.
  • Self-Deprecation: After you complete a quest to drive off a Covenant attack on Ebonheart, a Nord will jest that they can probably make you the thane of Whiterun, considering that they'll make anybody a thane there.
  • Shout-Out:
  • The Starscream: Mannimarco serves Molag Bal, but wants to obtain greater power than the Prince's.
  • To Hell and Back: Coldharbor is the starting location and tutorial. Once one character has done it, it can be skipped.
  • The Reveal: The Prophet turns out to be the previous Emperor who got Tamriel into this whole mess.
  • Twenty Bear Asses: Averted for the most part, with most of the quests either being a Fetch Quest, a Plot Coupon delivery quest, or taking down a boss.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Bretons are fond of this. In particular there are a women and a man talking about "seeing his collection of antique riding crops, *wink* *wink*"
  • Vestigial Empire: The Akaviri Potentate is weakened following various wars, leaving Cyrodiil in a state of chaos.
  • Warrior Poet: Jorunn the Skald-King, the High-King of Skyrim and one of the leaders of the Ebonheart Pact.
    • Vivec, one of the Dunmer's living gods, is also said, in-universe, to be this.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Various warring races have had to come together in order to form the three different Alliances. This is best illustrated in a piece of lore on the game's website, with a note found on the body of a Dunmer slaver. Though apparently the enslavement of Argonians has been made illegal by the Ebonheart Pact, Dunmer keep attempting to find their way around the law in order to continue the trade.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: The game world is said to be even larger than that of Skyrim's and consists of most of Tamriel, though not all will be available at the start.
  • War Is Hell: Various raids by enemy forces result in the destruction of farms and villages, the deaths of families, and, if the attackers aren't careful, the releasing of curses and other monstrosities that the Soulless One then has to clean up.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Lamae Bal, the original Daughter of Coldharbour, qualifies. She's still alive, and is leading a Faustian Rebellion against Molag Bal with the intent of turning the Cyrodiilic Bloodline of vampires against him.
  • World of Badass
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Happens to an Altmer in Woodhearth. She plays her part in the Veiled Heritance's plans, and after she's done, she's rewarded with a blade to the gut.
  • Your Soul Is Mine: A Type 1 example done by Molag Bal on the player. It also serves to justify being able to come back to life repeatedly.