The El­der Scrolls On­line: Summerset

Come for the Daedric mon­strosi­ties, stay for the wine


I rev­elled in the chance to go all Mind­hunter on a mur­der case

If it’s been a while since you’ve vis­ited The El­der Scrolls On­line, new ex­pan­sion Summerset is the per­fect ex­cuse to go back. Just be pre­pared for a bit of a cul­ture shock, what with all the high elves, vine­yards and fancy, gilded ar­chi­tec­ture. It’s like re­turn­ing to your par­ents’ town af­ter a cou­ple of years away to find the dingy lo­cal bar has a ve­gan menu and the lo­cal church holds hot yoga ses­sions. Of course, The El­der Scrolls On­line‘ s team has al­ways de­liv­ered top-notch fan­tasy— it’s got more lore to draw on than a Star Trek ver­sion of Triv­ial Pur­suit— but the cou­ple of hours that I spent cod­piece-deep in Summerset felt like the rich­est yet.

It mines the high fan­tasy land of Summerset Isle for its main quest, which fea­tures high elves, sin­is­ter Daedric plots, a ‘life-suck­ing pearl’, and more cheek­bones than you can shake a con­tour­ing brush at. That means plenty of chances to chat­ter with TESO reg­u­lar and un­likely sex dream star (just me?) Kha­jiit Razum-dar, Psi­jic mage Val­sirenn and sub­sti­tute queen Al­winarwe. Be­neath that tangle of in­trigue spaghetti lie some solid new fea­tures too, like a new Psi­jic skill line to fol­low (which boasts an ul­ti­mate abil­ity that al­lows you to rewind time in com­bat), jew­elry craft­ing (be­cause you can never find the right pen­dant to go with your greatsword), and a new 12-player Trial set in Cloudrest. With gryphons.

The real test of any RPG is the rich­ness of its sid­e­quests, and one in Summerset was so good it dis­tracted me from the main quest and scup­pered my plans to un­cover more about the Daedric med­dling. In­stead, I rev­elled in the chance to go all Mind­hunter on a mur­der case fea­tur­ing a serial killer called The Ghost of the Green. The quest was called ‘Old Wounds’, and—ac­com­pa­nied by a pair of el­ven Juris­reeves—I had to fig­ure out why a sup­pos­edly cap­tured killer who liked to skewer peo­ple with wood elf ar­rows had sud­denly reap­peared. With a bit of story sleight of hand, The El­der Sc rolls On­line man­aged to make me feel the world’s best in­ves­ti­ga­tor, when re­ally all I was do­ing was en­joy­ing some ex­po­si­tion from my dour com­pan­ions, hit­ting things with swords, and play­ing find the corpse.

Win­ing about mur­der

A good jour­nal­ist would have delved deeper into the new Psi­jic or­der, but I was quite happy ques­tion­ing wit­nesses and hunt­ing through grapevines for dis­carded clues. There was just some­thing so tempt­ing about ad­ven­tur­ing in Summerset Isle’s mead­ows and crys­tal clear streams, all while a crys­tal tower that looks noth­ing like a pe­nis sits on the hori­zon.

The ex­pan­sion is out on June 5, and I was play­ing at an early ac­cess event in March. There were a hand­ful of bugs to con­tend with, but noth­ing that any­one who has ever played an MMO would soil their bloomers over. A few key NPCs who failed to show up at the right mo­ment, leav­ing me hang­ing like a re­jected date, and the oc­ca­sional miss­ing map icon for a quest, but ev­ery­thing else was smooth like well-aged high elf wine.

None of it stopped me mark­ing June 5 on the cal­en­dar and log­ging in to ESO that night to make sure that my Kha­jiit Dragonknight Cham­pion was warmed up and ready to dis­patch some Skaafins in the name of proxy Queen Al­winarwe. This is an­other bumper ex­pan­sion from one of the hard­est-work­ing teams in the in­dus­try—one that lis­tens to con­stant ques­tions about a Skyrim se­quel while qui­etly serv­ing up caviar qual­ity fan­tasy con­tent on a reg­u­lar ba­sis—and looks like it’s ab­so­lutely go­ing to be worth your coin. Rachel We­ber

Welky­nar Gryphon Knights are flock­ing to Summerset.

“Maybe if I just tickle its armpit right here...”

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