Elder Scrolls Online Gold Road review: A spectacular journey to rediscover the forgotten Prince

Elder Scrolls Online Gold Road review
Ithelia, the Daedric Prince of Paths, returns in The Elder Scrolls Online Gold Road (Image via ZeniMax Online Studios)

The Elder Scrolls Online Gold Road is the highly anticipated sequel to last year's Necrom chapter, marking the game's tenth anniversary with its eighth major expansion. It introduces a plethora of exciting new features, such as Scribing and Styling, and continues the Secrets of Apocrypha arc that began last year, unveiling a new addition to the Daedric pantheon, Ithelia.

The Elder Scrolls lore is vast and intricate, with no new Daedric Prince introduced to the series since 2007. So when Ithelia was revealed in Necrom, accompanied by an amazing storyline justifying her absence from the pantheon, the expectations for Gold Road were high.

Does ESO Gold Road meet those high expectations? How do the new gameplay systems perform? These are a few of the questions we'll explore today.


Necrom's sequel lives up to the hype (but don't look behind the curtain)

Ithelia's character design is visually striking, and she undergoes multiple transformations in Gold Road (Image via ZeniMax Online Studios)
Ithelia's character design is visually striking, and she undergoes multiple transformations in Gold Road (Image via ZeniMax Online Studios)

The Elder Scrolls Online Gold Road chapter picks up from the major cliffhanger of last year's Necrom expansion. With Hermaeus Mora's secrets exposed and Ithelia, the long-forgotten Daedric Prince of Paths, freed from her imprisonment, the threads of fate are unraveling. As Mora's Proxy, players must take on the responsibility of protecting reality itself.

I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative, especially interacting with Ithelia and witnessing her character arc. She was the highlight of the story, along with Hermaeus Mora, both brought to life by the outstanding performances of their voice actors.

In contrast, the other new and returning cast of characters felt one-dimensional, often reduced to mere quest markers. What should have been emotional story moments fell flat because I never really cared about them.

Nonetheless, the ending to this two-year-long saga was oddly satisfying, perfectly wrapping up the Secrets of Apocrypha arc.


What's new in the Elder Scrolls Online Gold Road?

Skingrad is a beautiful city in West Weald (Image via ZeniMax Online Studios)
Skingrad is a beautiful city in West Weald (Image via ZeniMax Online Studios)

In the Elder Scrolls Online Gold Road, players have access to only one new region: West Weald, unlike the two zones introduced in the previous expansion. However, this new region offers the same amount of side activities as the last two combined, including six new World Bosses and Delves, two Public Dungeons, a Trial, and numerous side quests.

West Weald is visually stunning and fun to explore, with somber music that perfectly captures the mood. While nothing truly compares to the Lovecraftian themes of Apocrypha — one of the zones from last year's chapter — exploring Gold Road is still a top-tier experience, as expected from ESO.

Where it truly shines is in the twelve-player Trial, Lucent Citadel. I spent most of my time here battling the various bosses, and I must say, they were a blast to fight, especially on Veteran difficulty. Although this Trial is somewhat easier than previous ones, the boss designs and mechanics are top-notch.

While I haven't personally attempted the Hard Mode versions of the bosses, I'm sure they'll still pose a challenge and satiate veteran players' appetites.


Conceptually, Scribing is the best mechanic added to ESO in years

Scribing a new skill is easy once the players have obtained the specific Grimoires and Scripts (Image via ZeniMax Online Studios)
Scribing a new skill is easy once the players have obtained the specific Grimoires and Scripts (Image via ZeniMax Online Studios)

There are two new gameplay systems in ESO Gold Road: Scribing and Styling. The Scribing system fits this expansion perfectly, as it's set in the province of Cyrodiil. This region first appeared in the Elder Scrolls Oblivion, the game that originally perfected the concept of Spell Crafting.


The precursor to Oblivion's Spell Crafting is a fun new system

I was incredibly excited about Scribing and Styling, as the ability to customize my unique spells and alter their visual effects is a unique concept in MMOs.

That said, I experienced both highs and lows with Scribing. While I appreciated the ability to customize numerous new skills, I eventually reverted to my tryhard tendencies and gravitated towards using only the most optimal Scribing combos. This led me to question the purpose of an intricate spell-crafting system when many players only use a handful of specific combinations and disregard the rest.

In practice, however, Scribing completely blew me away. Even for players with highly optimized builds, the ability to change specific buffs and effects for a skill based on the situation is fantastic. It encourages player agency and build diversity.

On the other hand, Styling was disappointing. Players can only customize the color of certain skills by unlocking new Styles, which are locked behind achievements. For most skills, the changes in Styles were barely noticeable.

I had hoped Styling would be more transformative, significantly altering the skills' visual effects. However, it only changes the color of the effects, and even that is limited to just one available option for a select few skills.

Despite this, the system has a lot of potential for future updates. It’s almost certain that the developer, ZeniMax Online Studios, will introduce a variety of fancy options in the Crown Store cash shop. Hopefully, they will also add some enticing Styles within the game for players to unlock.


In conclusion

West Weald is a gorgeous zone (Image via ZeniMax Online Studios)
West Weald is a gorgeous zone (Image via ZeniMax Online Studios)

The Elder Scrolls Online Gold Road is a solid tenth-anniversary expansion that successfully lives up to the hype. It features one of the best storylines in ESO, hindered by a shallow cast of characters. Nevertheless, the story has a satisfying conclusion, and there's plenty to do after.

The new zone is beautiful and fun to explore, and the Lucent Citadel Trial exceeded my expectations with its excellent boss design and mechanics. I'm looking forward to progressing through the Hard Mode versions of the bosses.

Alongside this, the Scribing system is an excellent addition to ESO. While Styling is quite lacking now, it has the potential to be a fan-favorite feature in the updates to come.

While I recommend playing the Necrom chapter before diving into ESO Gold Road, this expansion delivers an immersive experience for both new and veteran players. It's already available on PC/Mac and will come to the consoles on June 18, 2024.


The Elder Scrolls Online Gold Road

The Elder Scrolls Online Gold Road is a worthy sequel to Necrom (Image via Sportskeeda)
The Elder Scrolls Online Gold Road is a worthy sequel to Necrom (Image via Sportskeeda)

Reviewed On: PC (code provided by ZeniMax Online Studios)

Platforms: Windows, MacOS, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S

Release Date: June 3 (PC/Mac), June 18 (Consoles)

Developer: ZeniMax Online Studios

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

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