A beta period for The Elder Scrolls Online will begin at the end of March, Bethesda has announced. Those chosen to try out the 2013-dated massively multiplayer online game will be notified by email. Players must then download the client, which is estimated at around 20GB.
Gamers selected for the beta will not have access to the entire world of Tamriel nor will they be able to play whenever they wish. The first stage of "beta events" will be playable only during specific times and will focus on certain areas, features, or other gameplay elements.
These beta events will be generally held during weekends, Bethesda said, and will be limited to only a "few events per month" during the first stages. As testing progresses, Bethesda will schedule longer tests.
The first wave of beta invitations for The Elder Scrolls Online in March and April will be "smaller," but will ramp up in size and scope as launch approaches.
Regarding selection criteria, Bethesda said it will choose testers depending on specific needs. Those worried about being passed over because their PC rig isn't top-of-the-line can breathe a sigh of relief, as the developer said a "broad range" will be chosen.
Gamers can sign up for the beta at the Elder Scrolls Online website.
The Elder Scrolls Online will cover the entire continent of Tamriel, including the lands featured in previous Elder Scrolls games like Cyrodiil, Skyrim, and Morrowind. The game will be set 1,000 years before the events of 2011's hit Skyrim and will put players into the world on the brink of demonic assimilation at the hands of the daedric prince Molag Bal.
The Elder Scrolls Online is due out in 2013. Its pricing model has not been announced, though the founder of game consultancy firm Gamesbrief, Nicholas Lovell, believes it will launch with a paid subscription but will eventually become free-to-play. For more, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.