In a recent blog post, Zenimax Online Studios released information on Dark Anchors; what they are, and how players will interact with them whilst journeying through Tamriel. While at initial reading, Molag Bal’s Dark Anchors might seem like something that the game developers threw in to encourage players to group up – this is most certainly not the case. They play a key part in the story, and go a long way to represent the apocalyptic feel of Tamriel in the Second Era.
In short, Dark Anchors are tools of the Daedric Prince Molag Bal in his quest to get all of Tamriel under his control, pulling it into his realm of Coldharbour (which you will be able to explore thoroughly throughout the game). They will appear throughout the world at a variety of locations, and will spawn masses of Daedra for players to take on. At least, that’s the gist of it. There are several more mechanics than just mowing down Daedra grunts involved in attacking a Dark Anchor. Random enemies and random bosses will spawn during battle, making each battle seem more unique rather than a repeatable farming experience.
Zenimax also stressed that there will be incentives for players to fight at Dark Anchors. Including but not limited to cosmetic rewards, achievements and even some Fighters Guild quests. This sounds like a great incentive for players to participate in these massive battles, and the seemingly continual value of attacking Dark Anchors means that it’s something you can do again and again during your leveling in ESO. It might not even be something you have to go out of the way to do, as ESO’s developers have mentioned before how they want you to stumble upon quests and events.
In the blog post, ZOS gave up a little insight into how their development process works. They stressed that in their first iterations, Dark Anchors were a lot smaller than they are now. The developers didn’t feel that they carried the visual weight that they should, and revamped them to make them much bigger – even including a very grand summoning event (something which many of you may have heard during the recent closed beta weekends).
Not only does this serve as an interesting insight into why the Dark Anchors are the way they are, but it also lets us know that the ESO development team is making conscious decisions to make the game feel better. As we all know from previous TES games, the feel of an environment, event or battle is very key in creating a good gaming experience. Despite the negativity surrounding recent decisions made by Zenimax, it’s good to know that the core mechanics of the game and in game content are being well thought out.
In the short video they released, we can really experience the grandness of a Dark Anchor. The video details a summoning ritual and shows off the massive anchor as it plummets down to sink its teeth into Nirn’s core. You can see the whole sky turning black as the anchor appears, and the armoured cultists down below offer up their sacrifice to Molag Bal. The whole thing does look massive, and it’s actually very impressive that the game engine can handle such large animations in real time. I for one can’t wait to see what a horde of Daedra looks like when they come to battle a group of powerful adventurers from Tamriel, all under the shadow of a Daedric portal.
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