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The Elder Scrolls Online: Gold Road Final PC Review

The Elder Scrolls Online’s tenth-anniversary expansion, Gold Road, leads players into the vibrant autumnal realm of West Weald. Breathtaking environments, challenging encounters, and a compelling main story weave together to create an experience that’s both familiar and refreshingly different for ESO veterans. The new Scribing mechanic adds some variety to our characters though can be costly to get going for brand new players, but otherwise this is yet another engaging chapter as we head into the MMO’s second decade.

The main section of Gold Road is connected to Valenwood Annexation that has lush forests teeming with vibrant flora that give way to crumbling Imperial ruins. Ayleid ruins, once grand and imposing, now stand bathed in an ethereal glow, remnants of a glorious past. The third piece of the landscape puzzle is the Colovian Highlands that creates a visually stunning and diverse area to explore for hidden treasures. In stark contrast, corrupted forests writhe with Daedric influence, their vibrant hues a twisted reflection of the Ayleid’s lost beauty. Every corner of the zone feels distinct, begging to be explored.

Players face an increased number of mini bosses as they complete quests which is a welcome challenge. I also loved having what felt like an increased number of world boss locations and some had some different mechanics, while one roams a particular area. Then there were the new world events, Mirrormoor Incursions. These were a little confusing initially as the action happens away from the main area when splinters of mobs spawn, but the main boss encounters were exciting and colourful, especially with the green beams from Necrom’s Arcanist class spell effects. Voice acting for all major characters was outstanding as usual and really added to the immersive atmosphere as the plot is slowly revealed, culminating in a multi-phased boss encounter.

Gold Road’s narrative weaves a captivating tale centred around wood elves who have splintered off and are working with a group called the ‘Recollection’. This group is desperately looking for Ithelia, a Daedric Prince that has escaped with no memory, wandering aimlessly but is drawn to artifacts in the world. Picking up after the cliffhanger finish to last year’s Necrom Chapter, her sudden return to Tamriel disrupts the tranquility of West Weald The once-familiar city of Skingrad, encountered in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, now stands as a crucial line of defence against the impending Daedric threat.

The initial premise sparks your imagination as you start to reveal new areas of this new zone. Delves and public dungeons are exciting to work through and the environment artwork is of outstanding quality. I did get lost following the main quest as the quest objective says one thing which splinters into several side quest storylines. I switched over to the Scholarium to unlock the first couple of stages of Scribing which had me travelling to several older zones and completing those objectives. However, when I got back to West Weald, I only had the core questline left that had no quest objective on the map. It took numerous attempts at asking in zone chat to get back on track.

Scribing is an excellent concept and a great time to drop it into the game with the 10th anniversary. This unique mechanic empowers players to craft glyphs that enhance their abilities in groundbreaking ways. The UI is like that of enchanting and you’ll require a grimoire, which is the core of an ability, and then you add three types of scripts – focus, signature, and affix, to customise the new skill. The focus script defines the scripted skill and sets the main function. The signature script adds a unique effect to the script to make it your own. Finally, the affix script adds a final benefit of your choosing.

You are given an initial new skill for the soul skill line, as well as some starting scripts to use for future skills to scribe. There is a npc merchant in the Scholarium that can sell you scribing items; however, these range between 10,000 and 50,000 gold. I have been playing since launch and while I don’t play all year around, I had about 250,000 gold saved up in my bank. If you’re a returning player then you’ll be ok getting your first few skill scribes, but a brand-new player to the game who is starting with the Gold Road chapter, it may take a little while to build up these initial funds. After spending 4-5 hours playing through some of the West Weald questlines, I had earned 15K, and I could have made much more if I sold items on guild auction houses.

There are also skill styles that you can unlock through quest rewards. These add different elemental colour effects to existing skills, and you will be unlocking skills for all classes, not just the one that you’re playing at the time. This brings an element of RNG into the mix, but at least it’s a great surprise when one does present for you. I am not that much into changing the colours of flashy effects, but it’s at least something to make your character feel a little different after playing it for 10 years.

Gold Road offers a wealth of content to keep players engaged long after the main story concludes. Public dungeons provide opportunities to test your mettle alongside fellow adventurers. Delves contain challenging bosses and these are a joy to explore with amazing environmental detail. The Lucent Citadel, a new Trial, offers endgame players a chance to coordinate and conquer some of the most difficult encounters in the game. The zone itself is packed with captivating side quests that delve deeper into the lore and characters, often exceeding the emotional depth found in the main story. These diversions provide a compelling reason to explore every nook and cranny of West Weald.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Gold Road is a solid expansion that builds upon ESO’s existing strengths over the last 10 years. The expansive zone design pushes you to explore every corner of West Weald, and the new scribing mechanic is a worthwhile addition to the game to provide some freshness to our ageing characters. Regardless of whether you’re a veteran ESO player or are brand-new to the game, Gold Road provides a beautiful new world to conquer and lose yourself in. We can expect two new companions to arrive later this year and it will be exciting to see how ESO develops as we move forward into the second decade of adventures.

This review utilised a Steam key provided by Bethesda ANZ and The Elder Scrolls Online: Gold Road is out now on PC/Mac and launches for Xbox and PlayStation consoles on June 18, 2024. For more information, head over to the official website.


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