ESO Summerset is live in the Public Test Server, and after getting a taste of it at PAX East, I was excited to jump in blade first and actually get a crack at those brand-new soul powers that are the key gameplay change coming with the new expansion. I’m still figuring out the best ways to use them all, but they are great for upsetting the flow of battle. As someone who tends to run a little tanky, thats a handy skill to have.
The Summerset Isles are gorgeous, and they’re filled with quite a few enemies to take on. Unlike the Morrowind expansion, Summerset feels on scale with the rest of the game — massive, gorgeous, and just a little bit strange. The storyline I won’t spoil, but it does add a more mystical flavor to the game — which is a surprise for an MMO with a base story set around alternate realities. So, make sure you read at least some of the quest fluff. It is actually worth it, I promise.
Aside from the time and soul-bending new magic skill tree, the combat in Summerset is pretty much exactly the same as in ESO Morrowind. However, add those new skills in, and it’s almost like a new game. Suddenly, this isn’t a pure numbers game, but one of strategy and skill. The numbers still have their role of course, but things feel more active. The new dungeons and trials are well worth your time and present a definite challenge — I might have died epically in the midst of exploring a few because the public test server dungeon finder isn’t always reliable, and I do have a distressing tendency to go run into fights I can’t win, especially in Elder Scrolls Online .
Other than the changes to the combat system and new content to explore, the real thrust of the expansion is the lore. As it always is with The Elder Scrolls, the lore is the driving force. We get to explore a brand-new part of Tamriel with its unique customs, creatures, flora and fauna, and architecture. There’s quite a lot of new stuff to learn, which is a joy. And unlike the Morrowind expansion, there are no previous expectations to live up to, which is always a plus in my book.
While you can create a new character for Summerset or bring over a pre-existing one, the new tutorial does take you through some gorgeous crystal gardens. So I recommend it for the scenery alone.
The voice acting is a bit not good, with incredibly wooden readings of the lines, but I tend to expect that from Elder Scrolls games. It helps that I read faster than the VO can keep up with. And the soundtrack does help to make up for it. There’s that traditional, bombastic Elder Scrolls Online music as well as some new themes, which make for good ear candy.
I’ve still got a decent bit of game to explore, but I am thoroughly enjoying it thus far. Summerset has reminded me of why I was so excited for this game back when I took part in the beta test phases way back in 2014.
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