The Summerset Isles are coming to Elder Scrolls Online! We posed a few questions to Richard Lambert, Creative Director at Zenimax Online Studios, to see what Elder Scrolls fans can expect from the game’s latest drop of content, Summerset.
Elder Scrolls Online is a massively-multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) set in the Elder Scrolls universe. First released only on PC four years ago, the game has come a long way since, with an ever-expanding player base and a host of new locations to explore.
According to Richard Lambert, creative director at Zenimax Online Studios, Summerset has been an area the team has wanted to implement as part of the map from the very beginning.
“In the early days of ESO, one of the first zones we prototyped was Summerset. It did not make it out of the prototype stage though, as we were not happy with how the story was shaping up and how the visuals of the zone fitted into the world of Tamriel.”
The team were also unaware of how they would go about implementing the High Elves’ – or Altmer’s – ‘high magic’ to the world.
“We switched gears and focused on something else instead. With this latest chapter, this version of Summerset is dramatically different from that original prototype. We have learned so much over the years in terms of how we tell stories and build worlds. I think the team has really knocked it out of the park with Summerset.”
This is the first time Elder Scrolls fans will be able to visit the Summerset Isles in the series’ history. Eventually, the team hopes to populate the map of ESO with the entire land of Tamriel.
“It is a huge world and at launch, we only utilised a portion of it,” explains Lambert. “In addition to trying to fill out the map, another thing we try to keep in mind is the stories we want to tell within these locations. We make a conscious decision to ensure that we mix up the environments so that things always feel new and fresh. As an example, when we decided to do Summerset after Morrowind, we loved how different the biomes are – Morrowind is almost alien and volcanic, whereas Summerset is extremely high magic and colourful.”
The Summerset Isle is ruled by Queen Ayrenn, who has decided now is the time to unlock the gates and open her country to the public. Until now, the Altmer have been a decidedly private race.
“Queen Ayrenn believes that the best way to ensure the growth and prosperity of the High Elves is to open Summerset to the world. It has been a safe haven for the elves – a place for them to study magic, knowledge and the arts. However, that has come at a cost of being insulated from the outside world, and she wants her people to expand and grow.”
Summerset opens many doors to both new and existing players of ESO. You can now craft jewellery for your character to wear, which opens up a whole new stat tree for you to explore.
“Jewellery crafting gives players another tool in their toolkit. It allows them to further refine and customise their builds as the flexibility of jewellery opens up a huge number of possibilities.”
Lambert explains that the crafting system itself is similar to those that already exist, but with differently sourced traits. “Each of the new traits are sourced from thematically appropriate types of content. For example, the Bloodthirsty trait, which increases your damage on a target with low health, is something that a lot of the end game trial groups want to have. Players who complete the trials’ weekly quests will sometimes get a jewel piece from those quests.”
You can also participate in the new Trial, Cloudrest, if you’re after some 12-player action once you’ve had your fun with the story quests.
“It is similar in concept to Asylum Sanctorium, where players can choose their own difficulty, but with several new twists,” says Lambert. “There are three mini-bosses and one main boss this time around, and the difficulty of the trial ramps up the more mini-bosses you leave standing when you engage the main boss. Players on PTS have really enjoyed this new trial and are especially excited about the new item sets.”
Longtime fans of the Elder Scrolls series will also have heard of the mysterious Psijic Order, whose home is on the Summerset Isle. In Summerset, you’ll get to be a part of this mysterious cult for the first time.
“Throughout the course of Summerset, players will get a glimpse into the inner workings of the Psijic Order,” Lambert explains. “They get to go to Artaeum – an almost mythical island that was once in Tamriel, but disappeared hundreds of years ago, along with all the Psijic monks. Here players will get to learn much about the group’s history and, as part of the main story, get to join the Order itself. Plus, the skills they’ll learn here provide new ways – themed around the Psijic Order magics – of doing damage, healing and regenerating resources.”
Of course, as we mentioned earlier, this new addition to Elder Scrolls Online is not only for those who have already poured hours into the game. The creative director confirms there is something for everyone in this new expansion.
“Absolutely. Chapters for us are not just for veteran players, they’re for new and returning players as well. We have created a brand new tutorial that will teach you the basics of ESO and then get you immediately into the storyline and off exploring. As we do not have arbitrary level gates preventing you from exploring or playing, you can play at your own pace and always be able to play with your friends. It’s one of the things that really sets ESO apart from other games and makes it special.”