The latest chapter in Elder Scrolls Online is finally here. The Summerset expansion is available for purchase and lets players adventure to the homeland of the high elves with new quests and areas to explore. Additional perks in this chapter include long-awaited jewelry crafting and the Psijic Order skill line.
Visit all the cities of Summerset.
Does Summerset hold up against ESO's earlier content and quests? As someone who has been playing since beta, I think that it definitely does. Each expansion grows the lore and immerses players deeper into the world of Tamriel. The Psijic skill line adds some nice skill options that could fit in with several types of builds.
Gorgeous Detail and Artwork
What struck me first about the Summerset expansion was how beautiful EVERYTHING in the high elven homeland was. I mean, that's to be expected from the high elves, but the artists at Zenimax have truly outdone themselves. The island itself is filled with vibrant color, foliage and water that could not be more perfect, and some spectacular architecture in the cities of Summerset.
The greatest difference that I see in the visual aspects of this chapter is in the attention to detail in the homes and buildings. In previous Elder Scrolls games, and to some extent in the older areas of ESO, every building had the same basic furniture pieces - tables, chairs, beds, dressers, bookshelves, and a few small tables and cabinets. These existed in a variety of styles, but they were all topped with the same sets of accessories, such as candles, bags, sacks, vials, and papers.
[caption id="attachment_237446" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Even the surface of the plate is detailed.[/caption]
In Summerset, the buildings feature a staggering array of décor and small searchable or lootable items. For those players who enjoy exploring and searching every corner of the world, I think that this adds to the gameplay. I feel like I'm really having to pay attention, look at each room as a unique area, and truly search. At the same time, there isn't so much clutter as to become tedious. I have always been a player who loves to search every container, but if that isn't your style of play, simply enjoy the visuals. Even the walls look great.
[caption id="attachment_237447" align="aligncenter" width="560"] The entire island of Summerset is full of exquisite construction.[/caption]
When interacting with NPCs, the high elves are certainly the best dressed in Tamriel. I can't wait until similar costume or outfits become available for players.
What About the Story?
The main quest line for Summerset can be started easily by speaking to Calibar as soon as you arrive in Summerset (just outside of Alinor). Queen Ayrenn has declared the borders of Summerset open to tourists, adventurers, and trade. However, not all citizens of this formerly isolated island appreciate Queen Ayrenn's decree. High elves have always been mistrustful of other races, aloof, and protective of their homeland.
Our old friend, Razum-Dar, appears on scene with news that strange monsters have attacked him, adding another wrinkle to the problems in Summerset. Once you investigate the disappearance of newcomers to the island, you'll discover a complicated plot in which Sea Sloads and Daedra are working to weaken the Crystal Tower that provides protection to all of Summerset.
The Psijic Order
Early in the main quest, you'll encounter an NPC, Valsirenn, a member of the reclusive Psijic Order. This guild remains isolated and hidden from everyday society, but are masters of time magic. Once you complete The Queen's Decree, the first of the main quests for Summerset, you can speak to Loremaster Celarus to join the guild.
[caption id="attachment_237448" align="aligncenter" width="560"] The Psijic Order quests will take you to some very strange places.[/caption]
The Psijic guild is a new aspect to the Elder Scrolls world that players have never been able to join in previous games. The main quest line of Summerset is woven into the reemergence of the Psijic Order on the hidden island of Artaeum. Important NPCs will bring you to the Psijic island frequently, so it's convenient to work on the Psijic Order quests at the same time.
The skills use aspects of time magic to expand your character's abilities. These include five passives, five active skills, and an ultimate. Most of these are magicka based skills with Time Stop, Spell Orb, and Undo being the most interesting choices. Time Stop will slow down and then stun targeted enemies and comes with a nice visual effect. Spell Orb is one of the passives and triggers when five Psijic spells are cast within ten seconds. This launches the spell orb at the nearest enemy for magical or physical damage.
[caption id="attachment_237451" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Time Stop will slow and then stun your enemies.[/caption]
I haven't been able to try out the ultimate skill - Undo - yet, but it has some interesting possibilities. Triggering this skill essentially rewinds your character to the stats and location of 4 seconds ago. Just make sure to use it before you die.
Before you start to wander through Summerset, make sure that you have room to pick up additional quests in your journal. In true Elder Scrolls fashion, NPC's will flock to your heroic visage with requests for aid in their local problems. Seek out missing sons, help solve a murder case, explore haunted ruins, and join a troupe of performers.
These side quests can be elaborate, with convoluted stories and an entire cast of characters. Keep on top of them as you delve further into Summerset for more efficient play. Make sure to leave room in your journal for the jewelry crafting quests, if that is something that interests you.
[caption id="attachment_237452" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Everyone needs your help.[/caption]
Some changes made since the PTS version have helped to make the game more easily playable, in particular, the addition of a mini-map version of the Psijic Order maps in the upper left. You'll also find that many of the quests in Summerset will require you to pay more attention to the notes, books, and details of conversations in order to solve a puzzle. I found this added to the immersive experience in Summerset.
[caption id="attachment_237456" align="aligncenter" width="560"] The minimap in the upper left makes the Psijic quests a bit less tedious.[/caption]
While the long-awaited skill of jewelry crafting is now here, I have mixed feelings on how it has been incorporated. The system will be familiar to anyone used to crafting in the other ESO disciplines, so that will make it fairly intuitive for experienced crafters to navigate. And the ultimate result is that you should be able to improve a set item rather than crawling through the same dungeon hoping for the drop you want.
However, the process of working through the skill line is a grind. Not that it should be easy, of course. But the raw materials for jewelry crafting are noticeably harder to find as you wander Tamriel. The best strategy seems to be to deconstruct any jewelry that you get and focus on completing the daily jewelry crafting quests. These will award you materials, jewelry that can be deconstructed for added experience, or a map to raw materials.
[caption id="attachment_237457" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Jewelry materials are hard to come by.[/caption]
In order to research jewelry traits, you will need to sacrifice items with those traits. It's easy to find rings and necklaces with the arcane, healthy, and robust traits. Once you're done with those, however, the other traits are harder to come by. Jewelry crafting quests can help reward you with these, or you can purchase them off other players.
What else is there to do in Summerset while you're waiting for your jewelry research to finish up? I love that ESO provides so many activities for every type of player. Search out the 18 Skyshards to max out your skill points. Defeat each Abyssal Geyser for a chest full of rewards. Also, make sure to log in often for the new Daily Rewards. These will refresh every month, so stay on top of them.
[caption id="attachment_237458" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Take on an Abyssal Geyser with friends.[/caption]
For group activities, Cloudrest offers a new trial that pits adventurers against three mini-bosses and the main sload enemy: Z'Maja. The trial will require some team coordination to travel through portals and destroy crystals for each boss. You can complete Cloudrest in both normal and veteran modes.
Learning Curve: 9/10
Graphics and Sound: 10/10
Summerset is a worthy addition to ESO and will provide hours of engaging gameplay that takes your character to some of the game's most striking locales.
Great visuals and gameplay
Plenty of quests and other content
New skills to learn
Not included in the basic game purchase or subscription
Jewelry crafting will take time to learn
Psijic quests will be tough for newer players (without all the Wayshrines discovered)