The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset Review – PC

You can say what you want about the High Elves of The Elder Scrolls franchise. Be they snobbish, proud or strict, the Altmer are one of the oldest races to exist across Tamriel. There is no denying that these golden skinned Mer, despite a player’s opinion, that they have style in spades. But even a golden visage can cast a darker shadow and not everything is as perfect as they would have you believe. You’ll find this and more as you embark upon the next chapter of Bethesda and Zenimax’s widely popular MMO with the release of The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset available now on PC.

After my last journey through ESO with the release of Morrowind, I thought that they couldn’t possible top it. Well…yeah I was wrong. After dropping hours into Summerset, I found new things to love including an all new skill tree based on a personal favorite faction of mine, the Psijic Order. You’ll be seeing more of this elusive group here than what you do in one of the bestselling Elder Scrolls titles of all time. The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset also marks the first time players have set foot on Summerset Isle in over 24 years since the franchise’s creation in 1994.

Much like Morrowind, there are two ways to enjoy The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset. For those looking to experience The Elder Scrolls for the first time you can pick up a physical or digital copy of The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset which includes the base game ESO: Tamriel Unlimited for around $40 dollars. A limited run of the Collector’s Edition (which I received digitally) will run you $60-90 dollars depending on version, though both versions come with the same digital extras like the wicked cool Bloodshadow Wraith Steed. If you’re like me who already owns ESO then you can choose to embark to Summerset Isle via a Shrine to start exploring this new content with an existing character after purchasing either of the 2 currently available upgrade options for $30-40 dollars. While there isn’t a new class this time around, I still opted for creating a new character to experience the new tutorial to set the stage for the adventure to come.

For the tutorial you find yourself trapped after a cave-in in some ruins after you arrive in Shimmerene. Only things are well… not quite right as you start hearing voices in your head. Relax you’re not crazy, it’s just your friendly and knowledgeable stranger to the rescue. Oh and do be sure to claim all personal items at the end of the ride. Thank you for choosing Psijic Airlines. I got to say the writing for explaining your gear situation was great and more than a little clever. But then again Summerset is filled with well written quests as well as its overarching storyline.

For the first time in the history of the Altmer, Ayrenn Queen of the High Elves has opened the borders of Summerset Isle to other races. I mean who wouldn’t want to visit the birthplace of magic in Tamriel. Only this decree isn’t without its opposition as some of the isle’s inhabitant would rather drive off newcomers and keep their homeland unsullied. Sound pretty familiar doesn’t it. You’ll find that there are plenty of folks that embrace the decree but folks like Kinlady Avinesse, have taken to imprisoning newcomer with some help to verify if they will “fit in” with the locals of the isle. Ah the smell of a good betrayal plot.

As with many Elders Scrolls there is always something much greater at stake and Summerset is no exception without spoiling too much. The journey is often the best part after all. Along the way there were more than a few quests that stood out including a very early on murder mystery involving a serial killer and a disliked but prominent murdered High Elf. As a fan of Sherlock Holmes and detective stories this quest really struck a chord with me. Not long after I came across a quest that showed another side of High Elf culture that I did not expect to see but found rather fascinating.

The newly added Psijic skill tree is actually pretty useful at times especially with its Undo Ultimate which turns you into Bethesda’s version of Tracer. This skill allows you to step backwards in time, resetting your Health, Stamina and Magicka to the state they were 4 second ago. The difference this time around you can’t unlock these skills like normal. Earning Psijic skills is done by completing quests for the Psijic Order instead. This also brings another quest element to light that depending on how you choose to start Summerset is a bit double sided. On the one side newcomers will be spearheaded to explore other areas outside of Summerset Isle itself which is great for them. The downside is that players choosing to play with existing main and alts will find themselves retreading over areas already picked clean content wise. The big thing about ESO is that you have the freedom to explore and playthings as you see fit so there is no wrong order to anything.

I found that The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset did seem to lack a bit of extra substance after having also played Morrowind previously. Part of that I feel was due to not having a new class but the Psijic Order skill tree more than makes up for that. There are fewer side quests but the quality of all the quests themselves balance things with memorable characters and complexity. As a player that favors Khajiit, I found myself quite drawn to the Queen’s Eye, Razum-Dar who you will frequent quite often along the main quest. For those into professions, Summerset offers a new type of crafting profession called Jewelry Crafting which allow you to eventually create rings and necklaces with special traits including those that compliment crafted sets like Julianos.

Summerset definitely felt like it had an entirely different vibe from my journey though the hostile and alien Morrowind. In many ways Summerset is the way that I picture high fantasy for this series. It’s bright and vibrant landscapes filled with beautifully crafted houses, ruins, vineyards and of course Shimmerene itself is a sight to behold and in every way a contrast to Morrowind, dungeons and darker areas notwithstanding. It’s not just the visual though as the score also breathes a completely different ambience to the experience that I fell in love with.

I thought going into The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset that they couldn’t possibly top Morrowind but boy I’m glad I was wrong. While Summerset may lack a breadth of extra content it more than makes up for it in charm, depth and grandeur in the content that it does have. The storytelling is as strong as ever with memorable characters, solid writing and plenty of intrigue. Newcomers to ESO will find Summerset a great way to get introduced to its world as well as providing them a substantial amount of content in the main game. For current and returning players there is still an enjoyable amount of new content even with the backtracking, and I really can’t wait to see what the recently announced DLCs, Wolfhunter and Murkmire will offer players now. If you’re still and ESO fan or are starting for the first time there is no better time than to check out The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset for PC than today.

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