ZAM gives its impressions on The Elder Scrolls Online after a tour of ZeniMax studios.
Speaking of ninjas, fans of Sneak in Elder Scrolls will be happy to know that a very similar ability is available to all characters. Hit C and you crouch, turning your reticule into an eye with an initial 3 second cool down before you are fully stealthed. As you move, you use up Endurance, to encourage strategic choices of when to pause and look around shiftily. Detection is shown through the iconic widening eye deployed so memorably in the single player RPG predecessors of TESO.
As not all of the classes were available and armor type is locked in at this point, my light magic wielding, heavy plated toon wasn't exactly born to backstab. A dev told me that it was much tougher to pull off effective stealth finishers due to my clanking pants.
Still, though it certainly wasn't always easy, I did manage to execute some sneaky kills utilizing a main hand dagger — poisoned, naturally — with forethought and careful choices of approach.
In a Q&A later in the day, I asked the team if Sneak would have its own tree or whether it would rely completely on armor ability unlocks to enable players to live out their Snake Eyes fantasies. I was told that was one of the aspects of the game currently under discussion; whether to further add to boons like Endurance when stealthed, that are expected to be unlocked through armor "leveling," by having a separate, specific Sneak tree.
The level of customization for each player and style is certainly a core tenet of the design philosophy of the game.
There is a hot bar with abilities numbered 1 to 6 which are populated by the skills earned from using weapons. The more you use a weapon, the more abilities you unlock for it until you hit a branch in your tree called "morphs" where you can specialize, to choose one of two paths. Any class can use any weapon, there are no restrictions — something not yet available for armor in the current build, but a definite for the future.
Want to play a caster in heavy plate, wielding a two hander with all the chaotic glee you would imagine a battlemage to have? Go for it.
As Matt Firor stated, "giving everyone access to everything brings balance," and the potential for customization, due to the many options through all the weapons, each weapon tree, the three armor types — light, medium and heavy, naturally — and their respective ability paths, is very intriguing. In fact, once you hit level 50, you can continue earning XP and unlock every branch of every weapon and armor type in the game.