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July 19, 2024
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Review: The Elder Scrolls Online: Gold Road


Key Takeaways

  • Gold Road in The Elder Scrolls Online introduces new Scribing feature for character customization at level 30.
  • The Incursions in Gold Road feel immersive, giving players a sense of real world events with consequences.
  • While Gold Road marks off the usual expansion checklist, it lacks a wow factor, feeling slightly formulaic.

Whenever the new year hits June, one thing is certain: The Elder Scrolls Online is launching its newest major annual expansion. This year is no different, though this is a significant year as The Elder Scrolls Online is celebrating its tenth year as an MMO. The game has undergone many changes and updates in that time, and every year ZeniMax is tasked with the challenge of developing new content in order to keep things interesting. The eighth major content expansion, Gold Road, is now available and serves as part of the Shadow Over Morrowind multi-year story arc.

Related


Review: The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom

The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom checks all the boxes of what players would want from their annual expansion and then some.

Forgotten Prince

One of the fun things about each expansion is that they open up new versions of familiar regions of Tamriel. Gold Road takes place in the West Weald region of Colovia. This may be a familiar name and place to Elder Scrolls veterans, but things are never how most players would remember them. The city of Skingrad serves as the central hub of operations, but things are a bit out of the ordinary. A jungle has apparently sprung up overnight, with a group of wood elves searching for the Forgotten Prince Ithelia. Ithelia has no memory of her identity or realm, which sets the stage to bridge last year’s Necrom with Gold Road.

The Daedric Prince Ithelia serves as the backbone to Gold Road’s story. There is a group that is invested in restoring the prince to power. This is purely for selfish reasons, as doing so is set with the goal of returning lost land to them, as is the case whenever a group rallies behind a figure. It’s not the most original motive and draws a parallel to any group backing a political candidate for their own greater good. It’s an interesting premise, and the story works well enough to keep the player invested in completing Gold Road. It’s not a story that will likely go down as one that raises the bar for video game storytelling, but it’s good enough for keeping the game interesting.

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An area where Gold Road isn’t lacking is quests, which is something The Elder Scrolls Online has consistently done well. The main story quests constitute the bulk of what the player is supposed to be doing in order to unravel the new story, but it’s doubtful most people play Elder Scrolls in a manner where they just follow the main quest objective markers. As is the case in previous expansions, it’s easy to get lost just exploring the new area and seeing what other quest objectives are waiting to be fulfilled. The quests are highly varied which has always been one of the strengths of The Elder Scrolls, both in single player entries and in the MMO.

New Game Mechanics

Scribing is a new mechanic that has been added to Gold Road. The player must reach level 30 before they can access this new feature, so those eager to try it out will need to exercise patience if they’re starting a new character. There is a quest that must be completed to unlock this feature which, like a lot of skill acquisition quests, serves as a Scribing tutorial. Once Scribing has been unlocked, it seems overwhelmingly complicated at first but becomes a rather intuitive system to use after spending a little time with it. It allows players to use Grimoires to create special abilities and is a great system for players who want to take control of customizing their character’s build.

The Elder Scrolls Online expansions typically bring with them a new trial and Gold Road keeps that tradition alive. The Lucent Citadel is designed for a party of twelve experienced adventurers. It’s meant to be a challenging ordeal, where a dozen adventurers must work together with their collective strength to overcome the trial’s challenges. It is a potential gold mine for grinding, as there are many unique rewards for completing it, such as items for character and home customization and a noteworthy mount. It could be a bit much for the casual Elder Scrolls Online player, but for those to take their character and house seriously, it can be an enjoyable grind to get great items.

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Mirrormoor Incursions are new world events that occur in Gold Road. These events involve three elite Valkynaz trying to summon a Mirrormoor champion. The player needs to address this issue, but there’s more to it than simply finding the Valkynaz and putting a stop to them. Taking them and their champion out is part of it, but the player will also need to scour the wilderness in search of the Daedric forces that are conducting the ritual and put a stop to their shenanigans. What’s good about the Incursions is they actually seem like a real world event that goes beyond simply having to defeat some enemies. They actually feel like there are evil forces at work, bringing Daedric evil into the world around them.

But is the Road Good as Gold?

Releasing a major content expansion every year does have its pros and cons. The Elder Scrolls Online has been going strong since 2014, and in order to keep things feeling fresh and interesting, new content is essential. But because of the demand and expectation of new content to keep players interested, each expansion starts to feel formulaic. A new story and environment is expected and always exciting, but it becomes predictable that there will be a new twelve player challenge, some world event and either a new player class or ability. Gold Road checks these boxes, but does a good job of it. The Incursions feel like they have actual consequences in the game world, and once Scribing is unlocked, it’s a great new feature. Overall, the new content is a worthwhile addition for fans of the MMO, but as good as some of the new features are, the overall experience doesn’t have a huge wow factor to it.

During the review playthrough, the performance was generally acceptable. In the past, some of the expansions have had a few bugs that caused major issues. During the play time with Gold Road, there were a few minor tech hiccups, but nothing that would be a cause for major concern. The artistic direction is another strength in this expansion, as each of the environments has a well-crafted and distinct look about them.

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Closing Comments:

The Elder Scrolls Online: Gold Road is a worthy addition to the ever-expanding game. The Scribing feature is a great addition for players who want to customize their character’s abilities and the Mirrormoor Incursions help make the world feel alive. While these newly-added features help set Gold Road apart from the previous expansions, it does fall into the trap that many annual expansions are prone to where it does feel like the new features are marking off items on a checklist. Gold Road is a good addition to The Elder Scrolls Online, but after eight expansions in ten years, each expansion starts to feel like it is treading familiar ground, even with the well-done new features.



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