The Elder Scrolls Online is the first foray into the world of massively multiplayer role-playing games for Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls franchise, due to be released later this year after six years in development. The game is the first for developers ZeniMax Online Studios and is currently in the stage of beta testing.

The Elder Scrolls Online What to Expect

This installment is actually a prequel for the previous Elder Scrolls games, being set one thousand years before the events of the franchise’s latest release, the widely popular The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Set in the same imaginary world of Tamriel, this MMO will allow players to explore almost the entire continent.

Players will get to choose between nine playable races and three character classes: Dragonknight, Sorcerer and Templar. The nine races in turn are part of three warring factions fighting for power in the realm: the Aldmeri Dominion, the Daggerfall Covenant and the Ebonheart Pact.

But setting and storyline aside, this game got everybody talking when it was revealed that it is equipped with a full first-person play mode as well. Players will thus be able to switch between third person and first person play, which is not a small feat for an MMO. Further efforts have been made to match up The Elder Scrolls Online to the graphic style of previous installments, with minor changes to interior settings in order to make room for more players.

Fans of the franchise and of MMO games in general recently got a first glimpse of the actual gameplay when a 20-minute unofficial beta testing video was leaked online. The video was soon pulled down, but it gave players a good idea about to expect of The Elder Scrolls Online.

The leaked video showed how character creation works but also what the user interface, skill trees and quests look like. The clip also offered a more detailed look at the open-world graphics and some combat scenes, both first- and third-person. The overall graphics did not look exceptional, but keep in mind that this was only a demo video and there is still a long way to go until the final product is revealed.

An exact release date for the game has yet to be announced, but it is expected in mid to late 2013. In the meantime, fans can still sign up for beta testing and send any questions they have directly to developers, on the Elder Scrolls Online’s website.

[Image via PC Gamer]