Opinion Article: ESO Pre-Order Exclusives

As I’m sure you know by now, ESO has announced its pre-order bonuses and exclusive content with the purchase of what they call the “Imperial Edition.” Since ESO Weekly is way too far away for me to wait to discuss the topic, I’ll share my thoughts with you on the subject right here.

Standard Edition

So the game will release in 4 separate editions. All four of these editions will come with what is called the “Explorer’s Pack.” This pack comes with the ability to play as any race in any of the alliances. Now I’m not so sure I like this. It kind of rules out the point of faction pride a bit when you’re not sure which races you’re supposed to hate. It does make sense however as we’ve always been able to choose our race in past TES games regardless of where the story takes place. Of course I doubt ZOS thinks of it in those terms. They probably see it as a way for people to both play the race they want and with their friends on the same alliance. My only hope for this is that they allow people to unlock this ability by either completing the main story once or in some other in-game way. Restricting this privilege to only those that pre-order is a bad call.

Before we move on, I know some people have mentioned that the bonus treasure maps are pointless as we will be able to look their locations up on the wiki. Let me stop you there by informing you that you’ll need those maps for the treasure to be phased to you. By that I mean if you go to a treasure spot and don’t have the map, you won’t see the treasure there.



Let’s compare the digital and retail standard editions. Both cost $59.99 and both come with the Explorer’s Pack but why does the retail version only get 3 days early access when the digital one comes with 5? Is this to cut down on the production of DVDs and box art? Seems a little weird, but whatever. Moving on…



Imperial Edition

Here comes the big controversial topic of what ZOS is calling the “Imperial Edition.” For another $20, you can get the digital Imperial Edition of ESO that comes with the items listed below:



So the controversy is the fact that you have to spend another $20 to have the privilege to play the Imperial race. This does irk me pretty badly. It annoys me because it’s content that should already be in the game but are charging you more instead. I know this has become fairly common lately but I was really hoping ZOS wouldn’t follow suit.

Now I know the ignorant people viewing this are yelling and screaming “P2W or PAY TO WIN!” but that’s just stupid and isn’t true. The Imperial race will not be this uber race that has the best passives or anything like that. And when it says unique gear, they don’t mean more powerful gear. By this they simply mean you will have access to unique skins or textures. And if I were to comment further, I’d tell you that this simply means you can start crafting Imperial gear right away instead of learning how to craft it later. But since I won’t comment further, I didn’t say what I just did. Got it?

If I were to guess, the Imperial race will probably be available to everyone at some point regardless of purchasing the Imperial Edition. I believe this will be the only way they can get away with charging people for it in the first place. As I’ve said before in the cast, I have no issues with developers selling items as long as we can eventually obtain the items in the game in some manner. So if they tell us that those that didn’t buy the Imperial Edition can unlock the race after completing the main story, I will not feel so frustrated by this. I know some of you will say, “Then why charge us another $20 in the first place if we can unlock it later?” Well you’re paying for it ahead of time instead of having to spend 100+ hours to unlock it. By then you probably won’t even want to start a new character simply to play as an Imperial because you still will have too much to do with your first character. Make sense? No? Oh well, moving on!


Now the horse is pretty and it does come with a speed increase but guess what? This is available in the game already and the only difference is the way the horse looks; so again, not pay to win. Now let’s talk about these rings that buffs your experience gains. Guess what? You got it! It’s in the game too. They’ve already confirmed that these rings will be in the game except it will cost a lot of money to purchase. So since these items are already in the game and are obtainable, it isn’t pay to win.

The sad thing is the most exciting thing to me about this Imperial Edition is the ability to look badass anytime I want by transforming my gear into Imperial gear. So I can pick that ugly piece of gear with better stats without worrying about looking like an idiot because I’ll always be sporting the Roman look. You feel me? I just hope Spartacus doesn’t show up.

So if all of these bonuses (except maybe the vanity pet and ability to transform your armor) are obtainable in the game in some way, then I have no issues with people being able to pay $20 to get them sooner.


And just to cover all the bases, let’s talk about the retail Imperial Edition of the game. This edition includes a sweet-ass statue of Molag Bal, an illustrated book made to look like a scholar’s journal and a map of Tamriel that I cannot wait to get on my wall… if I were to buy into such a thing as a Collectors Edition. Don’t judge me! All the other bonuses from the digital version are included in this edition as well.

So let’s do a final recap. The Explorer’s Pack allows us to play either alliance as any race we choose and is obtained by pre-ordering any version of the game. The Imperial Edition comes with the exclusive ability to play as the Imperial race. And all of them, excluding the retail standard edition for some unknown reason, comes with 5 days of early access to the game. To many, ZOS has crossed the line here by excluding content that should be included with our purchase of the game and continued subscription payment. I have to say that I agree with them unless ZOS states that the Imperial race and these items can be unlocked or purchased in-game with in-game gold. Forcing people to pre-order a game for content that should be included has become a common occurrence but was something I thought ZOS was above. Maybe they will rethink this and allow these items to be unlocked in-game: maybe that was the idea all along and this is just a way for us to speed up the process.

All I can say is that I’m disappointed once again that another momentous event has been tarnished with what most would consider bad judgement. I still love you ZOS, but sometimes I wonder. Will the game “fail” because of this stuff? No. As with everything else, people will blowup about it and then they will shut their mouths and pull out their wallets.


P.S. This Arrival Cinematic Trailer is the best damn thing I’ve seen in a long time. That High Elf chick (she’s not Queen Ayrenn by the way) was kicking so much ass! I thought the Breton guy was pretty weak until he comes back as a freaking necromancer. And that Daedric armor… DAAAAAMN!


  1. Austin Marr January 31, 2014 1:38 am 

    Alright, i know a good amount of you guys have played WoW and i was seeing if you could relate to me. I am super excited for this game because it’s like a nostalgia trip from wow (btw i stopped playing in early Cata) that is also something new, i know it wont be a wow clone but i feel like i will finally have those 1-hour long scenery trips in the back parts of questing zones like i did in WoW. And man do i miss ganking people, not in things like DayZ or other similar games. I mean stabbing people in the back and laughing at them on the ground. Overall, i am so looking forward to this game to sort of “replace” all my old WoW memories with something new and fun. I really hope this game suceeds.
    – Btw Josh and Kyle. You guys should do a poll of how we are going to buy ESO

    • BrendenH January 31, 2014 9:17 pm 

      Yep I can relate to that I even quit WoW around the same time

  2. Lewis Clements January 31, 2014 2:43 am 

    I feel they are ruining some of the lore and the purpose of the alliances by letting you play in any alliance, as any race. The Imperial might work (Not for AD), but a Nord fighting for the AD? No, I just don’t understand this.Other than that, this is really cool. I am still excited for this game, but the lore on the race/alliance thing just breaks my Altmer heart.

    • Michael January 31, 2014 4:49 am 

      Dude, the Thalmor were in charge of alot of Nords fighting against the Stormcloaks later on in Lore history. Obviously for the “Motha Skyrim” type Nord we would suspect him to gank anything close to an elf, but the Nords who took to fighting to pretty much keep Skyrim domesticated would not care that much.

  3. CStevens January 31, 2014 4:24 am 

    Overall, I like the items in these packages. It felt like something was missing without Imperial as a race option. As for being able to play any race in any alliance; this was unexpected but I like it. We find every race living in every province in the ES games right? In Skyrim I could be a High Elf living in Skyrim and join the Stormcloaks. This is a war of nations, not races.

  4. CaptainKNT January 31, 2014 6:45 am 

    I completely agree with everything this article says. I just hate when a great game has been made and then it is ruined by the suits. I can understand how from a business perspective all of this makes sense, but from a gamers perspective all of this seems unnecessary, unfair, and “a cash grab”. The worst part is that this is causing more people to not buy ESO and if they really thought about it they will have less buyers and therefore make less money. Since the already have a sub mode and Elder Scrolls has a huge fan base the best thing to do money wise is to keep as many fans interested in buying and playing the game as long as possible by listening to their feedback; don’t try do grab every penny you can get by adding loads of pay gates.
    I’m sure we all want ESO to be successful and we cannot let the suits ruin it! Let your voices be heard; give your opinions, in a calm and respectful way, on their forums, don’t buy the collectors addition or even preorder at all. We can still save this game, we just have to fight the evil that is attempting to ruin it. Let’s fight these demons till the end. They must not win!

  5. Marcin January 31, 2014 4:17 pm 

    Yes, I kind of blew up over this as I thought they finally were doing something right. Something for the fans. I liked the game i was right there ready to buy it no questions asked. Then I saw the Wildstar videos and gameplay. Now my wallet is back in my pocket. Both games require subsciption and what ZOS just pulled left me a bit sour on ESO. I’ll only be paying one subscription this spring.

  6. JSF January 31, 2014 5:36 pm 

    This is really just playing to what works in the MMO market. It is really no different than stuff being available in a cash shop, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they will be available in a cash shop for those that do not pre-order.

  7. N Wheeler January 31, 2014 7:56 pm 

    “This is really what works in the MMO market.”

    But ESO made it very clear they were interested in attracting the single-player market. This cash-grab is going to drive away those very players.

  8. Luciendar January 31, 2014 8:22 pm 

    Playing in any alliance is really more early access than an exclusive, as after you reach level 50 with a character you can play in any alliance as well. You simply won’t be able to level a character in an alternate alliance without preordering.

    I also do not see any issue with the treasure maps. Yes, the chest and loot is phased to you, but there will be such a large number of chests out there which I am sure will have similar loot that I can’t imagine anyone won’t be stumbling over them, literally. Similarly, I am sure there will be treasure maps discoverable in the game with similarly phased loot, there are merely some that you access by preordering that give you a bit of a head start.

    So that brings me to the Imperial race and styles. The crafting styles and gear transformation are purely cosmetic and I am sure items will appear in the marketplace to be attainable in short order. The horse and rings are both attainable items in the game, though they might require significant investment on the part of the player. The only truly exclusive item is the Imperial race. I am sure that the “unique bonuses” will be evenly weighted, essentially reducing the additional race to a cosmetic factor, but this is the item that has everyone up in arms, because it is exclusive and it costs money.

    I don’t believe the Imperial race will become available through in game actions, and for one if I hope that if it does, it is nigh unobtainable. Zenimax has already stated that anyone can upgrade to the Imperial edition after launch, they will have a mechanic by which to do so. This leaves the Imperial race as a $20 pay item, and I am quite alright with that. It is a slippery slope, I do not want to see them introduce any other pay to attain items from this point forward, but the fact is that I want a tangible reward to my premium purchase. The reality is that it is less than 10% of the price for the first year, and as so long as this doesn’t lead to additional cash shop only items, I am quite content with the way things sit.

  9. JSF January 31, 2014 9:50 pm 

    One thing to realize about cash shops in MMO’s. There are ALWAYS items that are that are only available via the cash shop. It’s the entire reason for a publisher to have a cash shop in the first place. The whole idea is to have things in the cash shop that are appealing enough that people will pay extra money for them.

  10. Aidan February 1, 2014 3:26 am 

    If anyone has seen Josh’s video he completely opposes the Collectors Edition because of the possibility that it will lead to more pay gates

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