The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset review for PC, PS4, Xbox One

Platform: PC
Also On: PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: ZeniMax Online Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: Multi
Online: Yes

The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset is the second big expansion for the MMORPG that launched in 2014, and like the outstanding Morrowind expansion that came before it, Summerset proves that this game still has plenty of life and content to offer old and new players alike. One of the draws to the expansions for The Elder Scrolls Online is the ability to come in as a new player and immediately start the expansion, with no real handicap. If you are a big Elder Scrolls fan, but did not care to get into Online when it launched you can come in and just play the Morrowind expansion, or just play the Summerset expansion. Sure, it has all of the elements that make it an MMORPG, but it also has some amazingly in depth quests and lore in its story. The world is rich and populated, with plenty of quests and story content to discover, all without ever really having to interact with the other players around you. Sure, you see them there running around and questing as well, but these expansions can be played by yourself, and played simply to visit the old worlds you remember from previous Elder Scrolls titles.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset takes place in the land of Summerset, home of the High Elves. Being in this world feels unique and similar all at the same time. Summerset has not been visited since the original Elder Scrolls, Arena, so getting to walk around and experience this piece of Elder Scrolls history in a modern engine is a treat for any long time fans of the series. Like Morrowind, it does feel like they rely a bit too heavily on the joy of seeing and exploring these areas from past games, to the point that some of the story components and the joy to be found might be lost on players unfamiliar with Elder Scrolls history. This is effectively balanced out through incredible story telling and a questline spanning nearly 25 hours. Even a newcomer to the series will be able to tell you of the history of Summerset, the xenophobia of the High Elves, the magic of the land and the history of the Psijic Order.

The Psijic Order is an ancient group of mages that players have heard of in other Elder Scrolls titles but have had very few opportunities to interact with, and have never been able to play a role in their story. Summerset changes this by allowing you to take part in their quests and become a part of their order. The Psijic Order skills are built around controlling time, a feature that Summerset encourages players to capitalize on while playing and raiding, allowing you to stop time around you, giving you precious seconds to deal damage, heal or escape from a particularly nasty scenario. In addition to gaining their incredibly powerful skill tree, questing for the Psijic Order unlocks access to the island of Artaeum, the island that the order calls home. This is one of the highlights of the environments introduced in Summerset. What Artaeum lacks in size it makes up for in beauty, I spent a lot of time simply walking around admiring the attention to detail and the feeling of separation that the island of Artaeum has within The Elder Scrolls Online.

The questline for the Psijic Order is somewhat of a mixed bag. The character interactions were all top notch, and the story aspects accompanying it are some of the best in the game so far, but some of the actual questing was less than enjoyable. The earliest stages of the Psijic Order quest has the player running from one end of the massive land of Tamriel to the other over and over again to close rifts in time. This can take a long time and is very tedious, even if you have a decently well explored map with wayshrines unlocked all along the way. If you do not, it is going to be a lot of just running through the world. This can be both good and bad, it is very tedious for players who simply want to complete the quests and progress the story, but if you are a new player it gives you a good opportunity to explore the whole map and get a feel for the world around you.

In addition to the new skill tree, new areas and new quests, Summerset opens up a new crafting profession, jewelry crafting. This allows you to increase your effectiveness and your skills with rings, necklaces and other pieces of jewelry that your character can equip to great effect. The research required to craft high level items takes a long time and is a bit frustrating, as the solution the game presents you with is ?go spend money in the online store to research them instantly?, but in a now free to play MMORPG, I can?t fault them with working to make a little bit of extra money to support the amount of content they are creating. $40 gets you the base game, the Morrowind expansion and the Summerset expansion. That is easily several hundred hours of content for a new player to experience.

As someone who has come and gone with The Elder Scrolls Online in the four years since its launch, I was incredibly pleased with the content that Summerset delivered. A friend of mine joined me when Summerset launched and started from scratch, never having played before and loved every minute of it. Summerset may not have delivered quite as much content as Morrowind did before it, but most of what it presented was outstanding and added to the rich history of Elder Scrolls. Whether you have been playing since launch or are picking it up for the first time, The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset is a great experience, suitable to be played alone or in the company of friends.

Note: Bethesda Softworks provided us with a The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset PC code/copy for review purposes.

Grade: B+