The Elder Scrolls Online has been my go-to video game comfort food lately; whenever I finish one of the many great new releases that have been gracing us this year, I keep going back to ESO. Sure, it’s not my favorite MMORPG, but it’s one that is both intriguing and relaxing due to its level agnostic nature.
The newest expansion, Summerset, is just on the horizon, bringing a whole slew of new features to Bethesda’s popular game. Recently, I had the chance to travel to the Summerset Isles to check out how Bethesda and ZeniMax Online Studios reinvigorated its four-year-old MMO.
By the decree of Queen Ayrenn, Summerset’s borders are open to any and all foreigners — this is the first time this area has been seen since 1994’s The Elder Scrolls: Arena. The first thing you’ll notice when you load into the new zone is how gorgeous it looks. It is not the most unique fantasy world you’ll find in a video game, but everything from the architecture to the vibrant vegetation creates a world I want to explore.
This new zone is where Summerset‘s chapter begins. After you speak to Razum-dar, a Khajit that will aid you throughout this new quest, you find out a few travelers have gone missing since they arrived at the High Elves’ homeland. You find that Daedric followers are behind the disappearances with the help of a mysterious orb.
All of these events occur reasonably slowly. Honestly, I almost lost interest after the first hour or so. However, once the story did pick up, I became very invested. Unlike some MMOs I’ve played before it — where I would skip through the dialogue because it took time away from leveling — I wanted to listen to what these characters had to say. The characters themselves, save for a select few like Raz, were not that interesting but what they had to say was.
During these beginning moments, you conveniently meet someone from the Psijic Order, an ancient guild of magic wielders responsible for the development of Mysticism. By the end of the first main quest, you are brought to Artaeum, the home of this secretive sect where you’ll find the side quest that will give you access to the Psijic Order Skill Line.
It’s great that a new Skill Line is available; this gives players new and old something to look forward to as well as extend their playtime as they complete this new chapter. The time-bending nature of the Psijic Order’s magic is something that could not only be cool to see in action but also useful for crowd control. The problem is that it seems like it will be a long journey to unlock them. It’s cool that this quest tells, yet again, an intriguing story that gives reason to these new abilities but it would be nice to have learned one of those abilities from the start of the questline, giving you a little taste of what this Skill Line is all about.
All of this is great but what makes The Elder Scrolls Online stand out from all other MMOs is the aforementioned level-agnostic nature; it does not matter what level you are. You can enjoy any and all of the new content whether you’re like me and new to the game or you’ve been playing since 2014. This extends to the entire game, not just Summerset. This subtle feature of the game allows for a more inviting experience than any other in the genre. It takes the pressure off the player and lets them enjoy the game at their pace.
Overall, The Elder Scrolls Online continues to be both intriguing and relaxing with the MMORPG’s newest chapter, Summerset. Though I’m very new to the ESO experience, the level agnostic nature of the game allows you to start right from the beginning disregarding the traditional level rules of most MMOs; it’s a subtle feature that doesn’t force you to play through the content you don’t want to play. The main quest may be slow at the start but it quickly picks up steam, which kept me invested with an engaging plot that I wasn’t expecting. The only downside I experienced was the tedium of unlocking the new Psijic Order Skill Line; it isn’t hard by any means — and exploring the beautiful and vibrant land of the High Elves makes that journey seem less strenuous — but leveling that skill tree and garnering all of those abilities will take some time.
If you’re looking for a new adventure within the Elder Scrolls‘ world, Summerset will be an excellent place to jump in when it launches on May 21 for PC and June 5 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. If you want to know more about the new expansion, you can check out our interview with Game Director Matt Firor and you can pre-order the title now on Amazon.
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