The world of Tamriel becomes a community for players worldwide in The Elder Scrolls Online, set during the Alliance War of the Second Era where the nations of Tamriel have formed three opposing factions to defend against the machinations of the Daedric Prince Molag Bal, and maybe even conquer the Imperial Throne.

Players still create their avatar from one of nine playable races traditionally seen in the series, excluding Imperial (this choice is only available to players with access to the special Imperial Edition of the game). The player's race will determine which faction of the Alliance War they will become a part of by default:

Aldmeri Dominion
Altmer, Bosmer, Khajiit

Daggerfall Covenant
Redguard, Breton, Orc

Ebonheart Pact
Nord, Dunmer, Argonian

Imperials and players with access to the Explorer's Pack upgrade ignore these restrictions. All players can choose one of four starting classes that determine how they will participate in the PvE and PvP gameplay of The Elder Scrolls Online. Players can also explore six crafting professions to produce and items and equipment they can keep or sell on the marketplace for profit.

The three factions that make up the Alliance War figure heavily into the game's three-sided PvP gameplay. Players can participate in large scale, open world PvP battles against opposing factions for control of strongholds throughout Cyrodiil that yield valuable resources. Conquer enough of Cyrodiil during the ranking period and factions may even compete for the Imperial City, with the top player of the winning faction being crowned Emperor (until the next battle for the Throne, anyways).

PvE gameplay is instead centered around the player's quest to uncover and stop Molag Bal's plot to Planemeld the realms of Nirn and Oblivion. Players can attempt to conquer the public dungeons found throughout Cyrodiil alone or with parties of others. The story features NPCs voiced by recognized talent including John Cleese, Lynda Carter, Michael Gambon, Jennifer Hale and Alfred Molina.

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