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Elder Scrolls Online will be receiving the long-awaited Justice System in Update 6. The Justice System allows players to pursue a life of crime.
Once Update 6 goes live, NPCs and their homes will be loaded with valuables that players can steal. As in Skyrim, items that are illegal to take will have their names written in red. If you're trying to pickpocket an NPC, you'll be told your chance of success in advance. You'll need to crouch and approach your target from behind for a chance at their belongings.
Aspiring criminals don't need to be so subtle, though. They can also murder NPCs and steal their belongings. ZeniMax Online Studios says that "most of the citizens of Tamriel" can be assassinated. The exceptions are presumably shopkeepers and questgivers. I'm guessing the developers don't want players to cause each other grief by killing key NPCs needed for everyday tasks.
You need to be careful not to let anyone see your crimes, though. The most surefire way to do this is by committing crimes while in stealth and completely undetected. If you're caught in the act, your bounty will go up. The guards will treat you differently depending on your bounty level:
As you commit these unsavory acts, you'll slowly become a hardened criminal. A new skill line called "Legerdemain" debuting alongside the Justice System will give you bonuses to your unlawful activities.
The Justice System will be expanded in the future to let players uphold the law, too. It sounds like they'll be able to hunt down fellow players with bounties. ZeniMax isn't sure when that side of the Justice System will be introduced, though.
"These are large changes to the game, and go hand-in-hand with our vision to add more freedom and sandbox-style elements to the world. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and we just need to make sure that we phase it in carefully to ensure the best experience for everyone," Zenimax said last year.
ZeniMax has plans to connect the Justice System to the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild quests as well. Those quests, whenever they're released, will put players' assassination and thieving skills to the test.
Elder Scrolls Online will be ditching its subscription requirement in March. This new business model will also be used for the long-delayed Xbox One and PS4 versions coming in June.