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...”