The Elder Scrolls Online "Character Progression" video emphasizes that flexible character creation will be one of the game's highlights.
One of the more unusual aspects of Elder Scrolls games is the way they approach character development. Instead of saddling players with a particular class, they provide virtually unlimited access to a pool of skills and attributes and allow players to do with them as they will. The Elder Scrolls Online, as explained in the new "Character Progression" video, will take a different approach but, within the limitations of a faction-based MMO, aims to achieve essentially the same result.
At the most basic level, TESO players will undertake quests, kill monsters and gain experience that will allow them to level up. Characters will be defined by their attributes - health, magicka and stamina - and skills, both active and passive. Skills can be increased through usage and eventually "morphed" into more specialized abilities; high-levels players will gain access to extremely powerful, class-based "ultimate" abilities, and there are other special skills that only be discovered by playing the game.
It's a different and probably somewhat more restrictive approach to character development than we've seen in single-player TES games, but the nature of MMOs imposes a more pressing need to maintain some differentiation between the races and factions. Even so, it sounds like The Elder Scrolls Online will be about as flexible as possible under the circumstances, which is good news for all the Orc archers and Bosmer barbarians out there.
The Elder Scrolls Online is currently in beta and scheduled to launch in early 2014 for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.