The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset Review

June 6, 2018


Just one year after the launch of the first major expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind, Zenimax Online Studios launches the second major expansion: The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset. The new expansion is set in the Summerset Isles,  comprised of a very large island in the south west corner of Tamrie, as well as some surrounding isles. One of the most fertile parts of Tamriel, the Summerset Isles are a pleasure on the eye, and this expansion looks gorgeous on the surface, but has plenty of hidden secrets lying underneath.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset Review

I got well and truly stuck in to The Elder Scrolls Online after the launch of Morrowind, and my main character (an Imperial Worgen) is smashing through the champion levels, so reviewing Summerset was a far more enjoyable experience than getting a fresh MMORPG or obscure RPG thrown on my desk. Of course, it always helps when the scenery is serene and the community is, well, above par. Zone chat in Summerset throughout the early access period wasn’t exactly the most mature, but what can you expect from a bunch of excited MMORPG players? So, sit back enjoy as I review the major changes in The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset.

The first big change for a lot of classes is that two-handed weapons now count as two set pieces when trying to construct a five-piece set bonus. This has been a long time coming, as a lot of players had opted to use two one-handed weapons instead of the better two-handed weapon that might drop, simply because they didn’t get that final set bonus. How this will affect PVP and end-game PVE content remains to be seen, and Zenimax will most likely make a few changes to account for any unpredicted balance issues.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset Review

The next big change is the Psijic Order. This new faction comes with its own skill line which includes some quite powerful skills to place on your hotbar. The ultimate ability allows you to return to the exact state you were in (health, stamina & magic) four seconds prior, so if you’ve taken a huge hit and on your last legs, this move will prove to be quite useful. It does of course require you to replace an existing ultimate ability though, and if you’re a warden, for example, then that means you’ll lose your pet. There are other time twisting abilities though that are just standard skills, and we’re sure they’ll be worked in to some players’ rotations. The Psijic Order quest line is quite grindy though, with a lot of traveling back and forth and not as much story as we would have hoped for. Every new skill line is welcome though, as it always helps to create a more diverse MMORPG.

There are plenty of new delves, world bosses, geysers, dungeons, and a new trial for players to master in Summerset, and some are more eye-opening than others. A few of the delves are not your typical dark cave or wrecked buildings but are instead large outdoor open-world areas. The boss in each delve is still fairly straight forward to locate, making achievement hunting quite easy in The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset Review

The highly anticipated Jewelry crafting finally arrives in Tamriel, and with it comes an array of changes to how players can use rings and necklaces. Purchasing the Summerset expansion immediately unlocks the Jewelry crafting profession, and you can instantly start leveling up your profession and scouring the world for nodes to assist your crafting. It’s a pretty straight forward profession, and as usual will take a while to get to the higher tiers, but once you’re there it can be quite profitable if you’re good at trading with fellow ESO players. All jewelry gained since the launch of Summerset can be deconstructed to assist with material gathering too, though players that were hoarding their gear beforehand might be in for a surprise when they realise this gear can’t be deconstructed.

Much like the rest of The Elder Scrolls Online, there isn’t any set way for you to play this expansion, and realistically nobody will do it in the same order. One of the best parts about The Elder Scrolls Online is the community and how easy it is to join groups for world bosses and other tasks, and this expansion is no exception. It’s almost impossible to avoid seeing messages in the Summerset zone chat every time you log in of players looking for others to help take down a world boss or an Abyssal Geyser, and it’s great to see the community is still just as friendly as it has always been. There are also a bunch of hidden quests scattered all over the Summerset Isles, as well as easy to miss Delves and of course chests, sky shards and lore books. If you use wayshrines to fast travel everywhere you will definitely miss a lot in this expansion, so buckle up and saddle on because scouring this expansion is a blessing to the eye.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset Review

The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset has some of the most gorgeous vistas you’ll find in a video game. The amazing architecture of the cities on Summerset Isle (my favourite is Lillandril), mixed with sweeping ocean views, rocky waterfalls, or lush green areas makes the Summerset Isles the absolute prettiest part of Tamriel. You’d be mindful to be skeptical over there being yet another grassy green biome in Elder Scrolls Online, but Zenimax Studios outdid themselves. The only annoying part of traversing the map is that often you have to work your way around rocky areas or climb extensive amounts of stairs in cities to get from A to B. It’s easy to get lost or confused in the Summerset Isles, but luckily a wayshrine is never too far away.

While this expansion adds plenty of new content, expansive areas to explore, and some fun new storylines what it lacks is character development. After playing Summerset for 30-40 hours and pushing the Champion level of my main character closer to the maximum of 750, nothing really changed in my abilities or my move-set. Sure, there’s minor changes to what some of the skills do but the overall changes for a casual player aren’t terribly noticeable. The grindy Psijic Order skill line offers some powerful new abilities, but there’s no progression with your own character class and race. Other MMORPG expansions usually offer new abilities and really try to change up the game so that you’re not stuck doing the same thing over and over again, but it seems The Elder Scrolls: Summerset is more of the same. Riding off the success of last year’s Morrowind, I expect this won’t be the last major expansion on offer for ESO, and to be honest I’m always excited about where else in Tamriel this game will take us.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset Review

We reviewed The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset on maximum settings using an EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW GAMING Graphics Card and experienced some framerate issues in highly populated areas, but otherwise a smooth ride with quick load times around the islands.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset is also available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 platforms.


- Seemingly bigger than the Morrowind expansion.
- Gorgeous vistas and beautiful environments
- Some fun new quests and puzzle solving.


- The Psijic Order quests are pretty grindy
- There’s a lot of back and forth for quests, darting all over Summerset
- Some of the lore writing is pretty basic for Elder Scrolls standards.

Overall Score: