Cold Day In Hell: Elder Scrolls Online’s Evil Oblivion Plane

By Nathan Grayson on May 3rd, 2013 at 8:00 am.

This could be you!

[This Elder Scrolls Online post/travel brochure brought to you by Got Your Soul Industries, a subsidiary of Molag Bal, the daedric trickster god.]

COME TO PLEASANTLY BREEZY COLDHARBOUR. Bring your kids! Bring your significant other! Bring your brittle, tenuously tethered soul… wimsuit! Bring your swimsuit. Yes. You thought Skyrim was Tamriel’s number one destination for snow-coated outdoor fun? YOU THOUGHT WRONG AND YOUR LIFE IS FORFEIT. Um, we mean, clearly you haven’t traveled to other planes of existence. You should be more adventurous. Plus, for you native Morrowindians, our trees are all snaky and weird, and you’re in no┬ávery little danger of being shouted off a cliff by some crazed dragon hunter. So come join us in Coldharbour, whether you want to ski, snowboard, or have front row seats for the coming End Of Days. We promise, we don’t bite. (Disclaimer: except for Xzanlthor’phlaranx, Dreugh lord of a thousand pointy mouths. He has been known to bite occasionally.)

So yes, Coldharbour is Elder Scrolls Online central villain Molag Bal’s lair of general unpleasantness, and he wants to drop it on top of Tamriel and devour all the pancake-flat souls that squirm out from underneath because he’s a bit mean.

I recently had the chance to go hands-on with TESO and interview its developers at Zenimax Online, and I came away fairly concerned. While it contains some excellent tweaks and additions to the traditional fantasy MMO formula, I’d have hardly known I was playing an Elder Scrolls game if someone hadn’t already told me. That said, a first-person mode and truly sanbox-y elements are on the way, so the series’ trademark flavor may yet emerge from this confused cauldron.

A closed beta for the game is running right now, and you can sign up for a chance to join in over on the official website. TESO might not be quite what everyone was hoping for just yet, but are you still interested?

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51 Comments »

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  1. Svant says:

    So the player and all the other 20000 players will be the special soulless ones? That seems unique…

    • Arglebargle says:

      Just as unique as it was in all the other games that used that ‘special, only one’ motif.

      • GamerOS says:

        They all want to make you feel like the Hero, and when everyone is a Hero, nobody is.

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          Harlander says:

          Congratulations on finding a use for that paraphrase that actually makes sense.

          Though actually, aren’t the NPCs the non-heroes? There could be a situation where heroes outnumber the non-heroes, which is pretty weird when considered.

          “We seek the chosen one who is destined to give out quests!”

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            Lacero says:

            MMO economies are based on the chosen few with the power to bestow XP and their slaves.

          • mollemannen says:

            but everyone is the hero of their own story?

      • Ansob says:

        The other games weren’t MMOs.

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        RaveTurned says:

        Yes, but usually they’re single-player games that can afford to give the protagonist elevated status to justify the player’s increased agency in the game world. It makes much less sense to use that device in an MMO, when the player can see all the other characters running around completing the same quests and progressing along the same story arc. Hardly special any more.

    • phelix says:

      The Soulless Crowd.

      inb4 snarky comment about gingers

    • Trent Hawkins says:

      This game is the soulless one.

  2. Unrepentant says:

    This saddens me just as much as most TES news. I loved the description of ColdHarbour in Oblivion, but now it’s being turned into just a zone where everyone goes up to a dude, gets a quest to do something while dozens of other people get the same quest, repeat. Also, I don’t see that sky on fire, but then again, I didn’t see a jungle in Cyrodiil either, so meh.

  3. Arglebargle says:

    They seem to be going out of their way to peeve various segments of their fan base. The racial three faction procrustean bed RvR locks, the you-are-the-anointed-one story…. What other surprises lie in store?

    • jellydonut says:

      More WoWification and generally nothing the TES fan base will like at all.

      I think it’s better if we pretend this game doesn’t exist.

    • Skhalt says:

      Ah yes, I still can’t believe those factions are final. They really don’t make any sense, especially the “Ebonheart Pact”.

    • Brun says:

      the you-are-the-anointed-one story

      Given that every TES game (including sacred-cow Morrowind) has had this story I don’t really see how it’s going to peeve the fanbase.

  4. Desmolas says:

    Ancient prophecy foretells ‘soulless one’ will stop Molag Bal in his tracks.
    Molag Bal steals your soul in the first 5 minutes of the game sealing his own fate.
    Either im missing something here, Molag Bal is really dumb, or there is a massive plot hole going on all ready?

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      Harlander says:

      Molag Bal gets home, sets down his huge sack bulging with freshly stolen souls.

      Picks up the latest copy of Prophecy Today

      “Oh, son of a…”

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      RaveTurned says:

      Yeah, it does seem he’s kind of tempting fate a little. I’d hope a villain doing something so stupid would be doing it as part of some devious master plan, but in this particular case I don’t hold out much hope.

    • Nova says:

      Well they don’t even try to pretend that the story will be anything other but dull.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Well, it could work. Stealing souls seems to be Molag Bal’s thing and fateful prophecies are oftentimes so fateful because they tend to hit a weak spot in said character.

    • Brun says:

      Molag Bal’s portrayals in TES lore usually show him as being quite arrogant, especially when dealing with mortals – which makes sense, styling yourself as the “Lord of Domination” tends to suggest something of a superiority complex. It doesn’t surprise me that such a character would totally blow off a prophecy about his own demise.

  5. tehsorrow says:

    This entire game is just a neverending bummer

    • Ross Angus says:

      While I’d disagree with your terms, I like the implication that it’s possible to play as all shades of the LGBT spectrum.

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        RedViv says:

        Ssssh, you’ll confuse the yank audience.

        • Brun says:

          Unconfused yank reporting in.

          EDIT: Assuming “yank” means American. Otherwise disregard.

      • deadly.by.design says:

        “If only my escapes into fantasy worlds could look just like every other day of my life.”

        Maybe I’m just that guy who never makes his TES characters look like himself, or even the same race.

  6. phelix says:

    For the first few seconds I thought Bethesda was showing us the Molag Amur Region. Boy, what a dissapointment came.

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    RedViv says:

    This looks far too cold for Coldharbour. The dreadful thing about the place was supposed to be that it looks like it should be temperate to warm, with the sky a gleaming fire, but everything still unnaturally cold. But I guess translating that into game graphics is too much effort, and TES would not be TES if all of a sudden more than the minimum were to be put into it.

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      strangeloup says:

      I suspect that Molag Bal’s common epithet of the King of Rape is going to be swept under the carpet in TESO. It’s also how he created the first vampire.

      They’ll probably miss out Coldharbour’s ruined version of White-Gold Tower spattered with blood and shit, too.

  8. Rollin says:

    There’s an ancient prophecy in the Elder Scrolls, that says the souless one will ruin the series. And in fact, this game /is/ the souless one. At the very beginning of development, ZeniMax steals the soul out of the game by making it an MMO, and the player needs to get it back.

    In order to turn ZeniMax’s schemes against them, the player needs to go to Bethseda, their publisher, to find out what the next game in the series is, and where Bethseda keeps it. If the player can do that, they can turn the game against ZeniMax themselves, and stop the merger of Tamriel and a bland MMO.

    • phelix says:

      Now with permadeath.

    • KirbyEvan says:

      9/10

      I laughed heartily during this, and chuckled afterwards when I saw the Brian Blessed avatar and then reread it in his voice.

  9. Mirqy says:

    It’s worth pointing out that Coldharbour road is a really good song by Stornoway. Still unsure about TEScO though.

  10. barney says:

    I used to live on Coldharbour Lane, in the flat John Major grew up in. It used to be one of the most violent streets in Britain (after Johns, before my time), but it’s a pretty good street all in all these days.

  11. Selvec says:

    On the positive side the games Loremaster is clearly a wizard, so that’s something good at least.

  12. bakerman says:

    Does the first image remind anyone else of Dark City?

    • Larkington says:

      Yes. I’ve only just watched that movie for the first time. What a trip!

  13. Khirin says:

    Does it bother anyone else that they call Molag Bal the “Prince of Schemes”?

    Because, he’s really not. He’s the Prince of Domination and Slavery. Mephala is much closer to a Prince of Schemes.

    Getting that backwards suggests a disturbing ignorance or lack of care for the lore of the Elder Scrolls. It’d be like a Forgotten Realms game mixing up Bane and Mask. :|

  14. CutieKnucklePie says:

    Looks kind of blue, doesn’t it. I’m sure we’ll get some orange accents too at some point. Now where did I leave my mace..

  15. CutieKnucklePie says:

    Man the Loremaster guy should do voiceovers or voice acting

  16. goettel says:

    Crafty how they manage to make every color look like a shade of grey. Again.

  17. Eschatos says:

    Molag Bal the trickster god? That title would have to go to Sanguine or Sheogorath. Molag Bal is the god of pleasant things like rape and slavery.

    • Razumen says:

      Far too many different Daedric princes for everyone to understand what they’re all about, better to just merge the similar ones into one big baddie and call it a day, much easier for the masses.

  18. Barberetti says:

    This is shaping up to be the best Elder Scrolls game ever.

    • Banana_Republic says:

      I don’t see how. The ONE place that TES has always shined was in it’s ability to let the player control their game. MMOs, by necessity, are all about restricting that as much possible, while not making the player feel they are on rails. TESO might be a good MMO, but that’s only in comparison with other MMOs. Comparing it to it’s precursors titles is a case of apples and oranges — which is good because it would undoubtedly come up lacking.

      Everyone gushed about the idea of Skyrim being an MMO, but I think many are going to realize that what made the game special, just isn’t possible when it must also equally cater to a thousand other long prophesied heroes, destined to save the world. Though it’s probably still going be more interesting than most other MMOs out there right now.

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        On a positive side, maybe the people clamoring to make TES games multiplayer will go play TES Online and leave us alone to have nice single-player games.

  19. MellowKrogoth says:

    Nice environments, which I fully expect to be ruined by homogeneously placed monsters and questgivers with punctuation above their heads. Oh, and random players running around.