Entering its fourth year, The Elder Scrolls Online shows no signs of slowing down with the launch of its second major expansion, Summerset. The MMORPG's latest addition sees players venture back to Summerset, home to the High Elves and a region which hasn't been explorable since 1994's Elder Scrolls: Arena, which launched on the PC. Along with a gorgeous new region, this expansion features over 30 hours of story content, new abilities, a new trial, and the ability to craft your own jewellery. Given how much we enjoyed the previous Morrowind expansion and how distinguished it felt from the base game, we were excited to delve deep into the world of Summerset.
Picking up right after the events of last year's Morrowind, the story starts as all borders to the region are opened by Queen Ayrenn of the High Elves, allowing outsiders to settle there for the first time in decades. Returning players will find plenty of familiar faces and callbacks to previous events throughout the main line of quests, but for those that are new, no prior knowledge is required and the narrative still stands strongly on its own. After a painless tutorial (which is skippable for experienced players) we were soon pulled right into the main storyline searching for a group of missing outsiders and uncovering the residents' true feelings towards them.
The largest addition the Summerset expansion brings is, of course, the region itself, which hasn't been featured before within an Elder Scrolls title in full 3D. Summerset feels like a world plucked right out of a fairy tale, as it's filled with mythical unicorns and griffins, lush streaks of purple and green terrain, and towering castle-like structures. We loved exploring the world as it looks and feels like nothing else found within the base game and that's something which Morrowind did so well a year prior. The setting may not have the same nostalgic pull that Vvardenfell had in the Morrowind expansion, for example, but here we feel Zenimax Online were able to use their creative vision to deliver us something new and special - free from the shackles of prior material.
Summerset will take players roughly 30 hours to get through providing they play through all the quests, dungeons and boss battles that it offers. What we really enjoyed about the expansion is that even the smaller quests felt really fleshed out and could take between half-an-hour and an hour themselves to plough through. These smaller objectives felt substantial and had us hooked and among other things we were tasked with tracking the identity of a murderous archer and reuniting a mother with her lost son. Outside of the quests and story content the expansion introduces a new 12-player trial and allows you to craft your own jewellery to deliver stat boosts.
Players can also expand their skill set and learn new magical abilities in Summerset by joining The Psijic Order. Our favourite ability by far was time stop, which freezes enemies in a passage of time to allow for a speedy getaway or to let you dish out plenty of additional damage. There's also meditate which allows you to replenish your health, stamina and magicka whilst in a state of deep focus. And then there's the undo ability, which allows you to rewind time by four seconds enabling you to restore your vitals. Whilst these skills may not compare to having a bear companion by your side like you could following the release of Morrowind, the time manipulation powers are especially fun to play with and build on the already solid set of skill lines featured.
Besides setting up a new ESO account we found it a little difficult to reach the new isle and we wished there was an option for us to fast travel straight there or perhaps have clearer instruction within the title menu. We found it much easier to start as a new character and just begin our journey within Summerset but we know that many returning players will want to come back and use the same characters they've adventured with before. We also thought that the expansion didn't introduce anything too drastically different to the MMORPG. Morrowind, for example, featured all-new PvP in the form of battlegrounds and something as comparably substantial is missing here from Summerset.
Summerset might not be dripping in nostalgia like last year's Morrowind but it still delivers a worthwhile expansion that enhances the experience that Zenimax Online Studios has worked so hard to build over the last four years. The mystical world of Summerset is gorgeous and we loved playing around with the new time manipulation abilities. The Isle of Summerset could have been made a little easier to access and we felt that there weren't as many significant additions as Morrowind offered, but we'd still say that it's a worthy purchase even if it's not quite the strongest point of entry.