Summerset Review in Progress
Summerset, Elder Scrolls Online’s latest expansion (Chapter) is definitely “more of the same”, but that’s not a bad thing when the game’s become a polished, shining example of a great theme park MMORPG. I’m a PC ESO player, which means I’m out there with all the other pre-order folks playing Summerset a full two weeks in advance of the console players. At this point, the only way I’d play ESO on console is if they announce it was coming to the Switch and was cross-platform with my PC account... keep dreaming, right?
Where was I? Oh, right! Summerset. I’ll admit - at its announcement, I was not all too excited about Summerset as the location of the next Chapter. After the nostalgic and god-infused grasp of both Vivec and Sotha Sil in Morrowind and then the Clockwork City DLC, the idea of going to Elf-town Paradise just didn’t seem riveting.
Then I played it.
The story that concluded in Clockwork City is continued here, though it’s worth noting that ZOS has done an excellent job making sure you can have skipped Morrowind and CWC and still know what’s going on. They’re tied to each other, but also entirely separate from one another. Like the Marvel movies, you’ll get a bunch of in-jokes and ties if you’ve played all the DLC, but they’re not necessary to enjoy Summerset.
The Queen of the Altmer, Ayrenn Arana, has opened up the gates to the fabled (and usually xenophobic) isle of Summerset, and you’re invited. You’ll work with the world’s most awesome Khajit, Razum-dar, to figure out what’s going on with the Daedric Princes as they’re suddenly working together to do something awful (as always) to the home of the High Elves. Soon enough you’re also working with the Psijic Order, a secretive and extremely powerful guild of mages.
Oh, and for the love of the Wabbajack, Zenimax, stop teasing us with gardening. Just come out and admit that it’s coming in the next big patch. The screen above is just one of many gardening-themed bits in Summerset. Greenhouses litter the landscape, planters too, and there are several quests that deal with gardens in and around the island of the Elves. I’ve been beggin for gardening to be added, as a part of housing and in the open, for a while now. It seems that ZOS wants to add it too, as these things feel like more than coincidental.
Content wise, the questing and general gameflow of ESO remains the same in Summerset. But one thing that I’ve noticed is that you have general areas of interest (circles on the map, as opposed to actual pinpoint locations) for quest objectives in a lot of cases. This makes quests less “obvious”, though the pinpoint location quests still exist too. ESO’s “go where you want, when you want” is in full effect too, as lots of random quests and events happen as you wander the island too.
I’ve also been enjoying the Abyssal Geysers, sort of a “New and Improved” version of the Dolmen’s from the base game. You or another person activates the Geyser event, and wave upon wave of Abyssal monsters pour out, scaled to the amount of folks nearby, all capped off by a big world boss at the end and loot chest for all involved. They’re fun public events, great loot, and lots of achievements are tied to each of them. The only thing that would make them better to me would be if they happened in the open world randomly too - akin to Rift’s namesake. Always knowing where to find the big ones is cool, but I’d love smaller more random ones to dot the landscape as you adventure.
I’ve only just begun to work on Jewelcrafting too, but it’s nice to have another crafting profession to work on, as ESO’s crafting has always been both meaningful, useful, and fun. There are even new nodes for jewel crafting reagents, as necklaces and rings don’t use basic ore from Blacksmithing.
In the next couple of weeks, I’m hoping to wrap up the main story, and see how the “end-game” of Summerset fairs - what’s the repeatable content like, and what all is there to do once you’ve cleared the map’s main content? Morrowind had a good selection of daily activities, but I still felt compelled to go to new zones and other places. I love the look and feel of Summerset so much that I’m hoping there’s more reason to stay put for longer than the story.
Have you begun digging into Summerset yet? What are your early thoughts?