Back in my day, if a game tanked, that was it. You just shrugged and moved on, but these days? Whippersnappers keep on fixing things. Improvin’ stuff, as if the medium was malleable or something.
After FFXIV, The Elder Scrolls Online is probably the next strongest comeback that an MMO has made. Completely replacing its business model and progression systems after a very wonky initial launch, it’s brought a lot of players back into the fold with its renewed promise of a more traditionally freeform Elder Scrolls experience.
Following on from its Morrowind-led relaunch, ZeniMax have announced TESO’s second major expansion, this time taking the game to Summerset, improbably scenic home of the High Elves.
What we’ve got here is your usual slab of new adventuring opportunities – a new island nation, several towns and a big capital city plus a bunch of new enemy types and environments – that’ll act as a quest hub for another season of DLC/subscription content over the coming year or so. As is now standard for TESO, level has little bearing on what you can do and where you can go, so if you feel like hopping over to Summerset Isle fresh out of the tutorial, you can, making one of the less linear ‘traditional’ MMOs even more freeform. They’ve done well to make TESO feel more like a traditional Elder Scrolls game, at least compared to its sorry state at launch.
Summerset seems like it might be a little small as a land-mass, but it seems quite vertically dense, with mountain passes patrolled by Griffons, caverns and hidden coves containing pirate bases and sea-monsters. As part of one quest line in Summerset, players will have a chance to join the Psijic Order, a society of dimension-hopping mages that can teach you a neat line in time manipulation spells, such as a time-slowing bubble and one that resets your health, mana and stamina to whatever they were four seconds ago, which I can imagine being utterly infuriating to encounter in PvP.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset is due out on the 21st of May, and is priced at £20/$30 if you own the base game, or can alternatively be preordered by new players for £30/$40, giving you immediate access to the base game and the Morrowind expansion. There are of course the usual assortment of price-inflated Collectors Editions, but as is common for MMOs, the perks included in these packs (in this case, a costume, a mount, some XP boosts a few treasure maps) tend to be rather underwhelming. You can snag all of these over on Steam, or via Bethesda’s own storefront.
The Elder Scrolls Online is also holding a free week trial, ending in five days at the time of writing. You can sign up for that on Steam or Bethesda’s site, too.