Review: Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset crafts a rich story and world

Disclaimer: Review copy provided by publisher

Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC

Publishers: Bethesda Softworks

Developers: ZeniMax Online Studios

MSRP: $39.99 (requires the base game of ESO)

The Elder Scrolls Online has released its annual major expansion in the form of Summerset. Summerset takes us to perhaps one of the most lavish locations in Elder Scrolls to tell us all a tale about a once closed off city that has reopened its borders in the wake of an evil that could wipe out all of Tamriel.

As always, it’s up to you to come in and clean things up and restore order to the world while battling ancient evils, monsters, and whatever else is thrown at you. With that said, it’s definitely a story structure we’re all familiar with but one that still manages to impress with a quality of writing that only Bethesda and Zenimax could deliver.

From side quests to main quests, everything expands on this newly discovered world built by Elves ages ago. You’re constantly feeling like you’re learning new things about the social structure, the way these people live, how they feel about the borders being opened and the precautions they’re taking to newcomers. Dare I say it even has a little bit of relevance with the current events in America?

There’s a strong contrast between Summerset and previous locations like Morrowind. Morrowind had this ancient feeling with a mix of something fantastical like Tolkien had created it. It was bizarre, outlandish, and alien in a way, it was something extraordinarily weird but still enticing. Summerset is the opposite in that it feels premium with large and gorgeous castles and stone cities that feel royal.

The world around these cities isn’t unkept either, sure there are still creatures lurking out there looking for a reason to kill you but for the most part, it’s this gorgeous land filled with beautiful blue waters and captivating natural sights. There’s something incredibly beautiful about all of it and makes you realize why the borders have been closed, it’s a world you’d want to visit and explore due to the beautiful vistas and grand cities that truly feel rich.

Despite all of this, the world still has its fair share of dark and seedy stories to tell. As you uncover the mystery plaguing Summerset and Tamriel, you’ll discover revelations about mystical forces, death, and much more. It’s a meaty tale that dives deep into the fabled Psijic order, a group of mages who vanished hundreds of years ago, and allows you to join them and gain new abilities and gear.

The expansion of the Elder Scrolls lore continues to blow me away with the introduction of new civilizations like Summerset and orders like the Psijic Order. It makes the possibilities feel endless, as if this world is something that lives on outside of the game and is evergrowing. It’s sprawling with life and stories to tell, it makes me incredibly curious to see what Bethesda will do with The Elder Scrolls VI next-gen and how they’ll continue to flesh out this world that feels larger than life itself.

For those looking to sink their teeth into new activities outside of story content, you’ll find no shortage. If you’re looking for something somewhat simple and long requested, jewelry crafting has been added. While it wasn’t something that particularly interested me, it’s clear it has quite a bit of depth and will be a great way for everyone to make themselves more powerful and perhaps richer if they decide to turn it into a business inside Elder Scrolls Online.

You can craft, upgrade, deconstruct, and research all sorts of jewelry as well as purchase crafting tables for your own home inside Elder Scrolls Online if you’d like. If you’re looking for something to get the blood pumping, you can tackle the new Cloudrest trails which sees you and 11 other players going and destroying some ultra hard bosses. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart and will require you to be pretty experienced with ESO before you take on the challenge.

The Verdict

All in all, The Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset expansion is yet another worthy addition to the MMO. Thanks to its ability to expand the lore in meaningful ways in this already super crowded game, let us all explore a breathtaking new world, and add great new side content, Summerset is another achievement for the game.

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