"The Elder Scrolls Online." Regardless whether you love it, hate it, or haven't even heard of it, the MMO known as ESO is still around. And it's about to get even bigger.

Launched in 2014, Zenimax Online Studios' flagship game has seen its fair share of hardships that other titles in the MMO world are quite familiar with. ESO has persevered, however, and is now set to expand with its second chapter in June of 2018.

The news came with the release of a video containing actual (development team) gameplay clips from "The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset" on Bethesda Softworks' verified Youtube channel.

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Titled "The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset", the expansion is introducing players to an area that has not been in any Elder Scrolls game since "Arena", the first installment of the now popular franchise.

According to the publisher's website which details the upcoming release, the new zone appears to be set up in much the same way as the Vvardenfell zone was: containing the expected wildlife, enemies, world bosses, delves, and public dungeons, as well as a new Trial (a 12-player Raid).

Yes, just like with Morrowind, expect an entirely new experience and enough new content to keep players in the game for another month or two.

Oh, and a new group event titled "Abyssal Geyser." With the way that Morrowind introduced PvP Battlegrounds, one can only think that this new group event might be a new type of dolmen event, pitting you and a group against enough adversaries to send a certain annoying little banker scuttling for the nearest inn.

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You're gonna need to pay for that

The first expansion, "Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind", was released on June 6, 2017. ZOS required players at the time to purchase the expansion, rather than giving free access to those with a subscription.

And yes, just as with the release of Morrowind, ZOS is going to require you to purchase this chapter. While it might raise more than a few cries and jeers from the players, ZOS is staying true to their content release schedule outlined at the end of 2016 and seen in practice throughout 2017.

ZOS is offering both physical and digital releases of the newest chapter, and the digital option does, according to the official store page and the developer's announcement of the expansion, have an upgrade option for those that already have an active game account.

In an apparent nod to logical thinking, the digital editions will give players access to the Morrowind chapter. Whether this decision will reflect positively or negatively is ultimately up to the players to decide.

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Jewelry crafting finally arrives in ESO

Yes, you read that correctly.

Jewelry crafting has been a very deeply desired mechanic of many ESO players, and ZOS has announced that it will finally be possible with the new expansion.

Yes, the days of running through a single dungeon, repeatedly, in hopes of finding a single ring may not be ending, but getting irritated because it isn't the quality you need surely is. If the new crafting school follows the other gear-crafting schools, you will soon be able to utilize special materials to improve the quality of your jewelry, and you can do the same for all your guildmates as well.

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It also means that all that jewelry that used to get dumped on the local merchant is now going to become fodder for crafting experience and researching those pesky traits. Crafting players, rejoice in the knowledge that you will soon be able to say, with a laugh: "Do you want rings with that?"

While it stands to reason that jewelry will follow the same basic progression and mechanics that the other crafting skills do, we will need to wait until the content is released to be certain.

A parting observation

Yes, Elder Scrolls Online has seen its fair share of criticism and angry vitriol, and it is probably well deserved.

Just the fact that Bethesda has pushed back the next chapter in the single-player Elder Scrolls franchise is enough to send some fans scrambling at even the slightest hint of news.

But the fact of the matter is that ESO has survived and is entering its fourth year in April 2018, just a few days away, as of this writing. The game has evolved and expanded past the artificial confines that the developer originally imposed upon it and is now starting, in this writer's humble opinion, to maneuver into a position to begin challenging the biggest names in the MMO genre in terms of storyline, content, and immersive depth.

Sharpen your swords. Polish your armor. The shores of the Summerset Isles are waiting...

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