Firstly, new screenshots out today show off more of the wold of Tamriel and its heroes. The game is set 1,000 years before Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, during the Second Era when players will contend with the Daedric lord Molag Bael as well as the first known necromancer, Mannimarco. The screens give a look at the variety of landscapes Tamriel as a whole will have to offer; the previous Elder Scrolls titles tended to stick to one region for most of their game, so seeing them all laid bare next to each other will be interesting.
As for the hands-on time with the game, ZAM reports that there are many familiar features for Elder Scrolls faithful, including first-person perspective combat, the familiar sneaking setup with the opening and closing eye, and the ability to eventually learn every skill in the game if you want to spend the time to do so. Leveling is planned to cap at 50, with additional skills and abilities being unlocked the more you use certain weapons, armor, or spells. Once you proceed a certain amount into a specific skill tree you’ll run into a “morph” which will let you specialize and gain access to other abilities.
Combat will be combo-oriented, with timely attacks and combos making creatures vulnerable to killing blows. There is also a system in the current build of the game called Finesse, which rewards you for pulling off especially well-done kills with bonus XP. Finesse is also used to power special “Ultimate” abilities you gain as you level up, creating an incentive to really hone your combat skills in order to pull off the powerful moves. And yes, pull off that skilled kill just right, and you’ll get a slow-motion kill shot. The game is also balancing single-player story experience with MMO staples like dungeon running, with the tank/damage/healing roles being important if you want to team up to take on public dungeons and other challenges.
Elder Scrolls Online is scheduled for release in 2013 for PC and Mac.