Ah, Summerset. The picturesque island home of the high elves. Vibrant in colour and steeped in magic, it's a wondrous Elder Scrolls setting that's yet to be properly explored in video game form, and The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset does a great job of bringing it to life.
Like last year's Morrowind expansion, Summerset adds a large new map to the game, boasting its own storyline, characters, quests, dungeons, enemies, and loot. It's another grand adventure that'll likely take around 30 or 40 hours to finish off, and those already heavily invested in the MMO will no doubt love every minute.
The main set of story quests are especially engaging. There are some interesting twists and turns dotted throughout the campaign, and more than a few familiar faces show up to really get things moving. The plot's developed well as you travel across the sun-kissed landscape, and all in all, it's up there with the very best stories that The Elder Scrolls Online has to tell.
The same can be said of the many side quests that you can undertake. Some of them adopt a humorous tone and are bolstered by some strong writing, while others fall back on good old fashioned dungeon delving. Existing players will be familiar with how quests are structured, but that doesn't dampen the experience. It's clear that between this and Morrowind, the development team is further refining its craft with every expansion.
Meanwhile, for those just starting out, Summerset presents a good way to kick things off. As with Morrowind, you can create a new character and jump straight into this latest expansion, which is a thoughtful option if you've only just picked up the full game. As alluded, quests are quite varied in tone, so new players can get a decent idea of what The Elder Scrolls Online is all about.
The co-op activities are of a high quality as well. Sunhold is an entire city that's been overrun by pirates, and it's one of the most entertaining public dungeons yet. Elsewhere, Cloudrest is this expansion's trial, and as 12 players push through it, it's hard not to appreciate its intricate design and intense battles.
Speaking of which, Summerset's home to some challenging bosses, with more than a few fights putting your skills and character build to the test. We dare say that some of them almost feel like endgame content, but we suppose that the development team is always looking for ways to expand upon established combat.
Our only issue with Summerset on PlayStation 4 is the frame rate, which does noticeably stutter here and there. It's not consistent enough to drag things down overall, but encounters can become a bit of a chore if the performance decides to dip during battle. We assume this is the trade-off of Summerset being the best looking location in The Elder Scrolls Online to date.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset is another easy expansion to recommend to existing players. It's stuffed with high quality quests, and the island itself makes for an inviting and enjoyable setting. Developer ZeniMax Online Studios has found a real consistency with its output, and the future continues to look bright for Tamriel.