Why Gold Road is the perfect jumping on point for The Elder Scrolls Online

As a single-player Elder Scrolls fan, I've always been a little wary of The Elder Scrolls Online, maybe because I've always been guilty of that kind of gatekeeping that declares MMOs to be incapable of offering the kind of narrative depth or immersion that single-player games do. 

I've tried The Elder Scrolls Online a few times in the past, and while I've had some fun with it I'd always eventually bounce off in search of single-player pursuits. But after jumping back in recently to try out the new Gold Road expansion, I have to admit: The Elder Scrolls Online has come a long way in the 10 years since launch, finally finding that sweet balance between the things that made the single-player games special, and the grinding, player guilds, PvP, and hotkeys that come with the MMO territory. 

The Elder Scrolls Online is really rather good these days, even if you lean towards going it alone like me. So with eight big expansions under its belt, including the freshly released Gold Road which takes us back to Oblivion's old stomping ground of Skingrad, I want to talk about why now is a great time to jump in—even if you're not an MMO fan.

Flying Solo

playing solo in elder scrolls online

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

First up, playing solo is totally viable. While there are world bosses, raids, and timed events that require banding with other players, the world largely scales to you. This means you can quite easily tackle the quests and storylines of the expansions by yourself, as well as take on Delves—dungeon-oriented quests designed for solo players. 

There's almost no level-gating here, so from the moment you arrive in Tamriel, you can take the boat to The Elder Scrolls III setting of Vvardenfell, the Khajit homeland of Elsweyr, the all-new Gold Road, or any of the other dozens of regions in the game, each one filled with engaging factions, sidequests, and main storylines to pursue. 

All these distinct areas look great too, thanks to the fact that The Elder Scrolls Online is probably the most presentationally polished MMO ever made. The landscapes, the soundtrack, the fully-voiced NPCs (right down to bards singing in taverns) all make for an inviting, immersive world that's genuinely fun to explore. The game's had no major graphics updates over the years—and the character animations could use a cleanup—but Tamriel's diverse locations still look stunning, and the fact that you can run it liquid-smooth at 4K resolutions on even mid-range PCs is a massive plus.

A thousand roads

view of Skingrad in The Elder Scrolls Online: Gold Road

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

There's just so much to do here; beyond the questing and exploration of the overworld, there's a well-thought-out crafting system, the Tales of Tribute card game, Scrying puzzles, and one of the most robust housing systems I've gotten to play around with. if you like digging into Elder Scrolls lore then there's tons of worldbuilding out there for you; if you're into PvP, hit up the arenas and the Alliance War—an epic-scale ongoing conflict that turns Cyrodiil into a battlefield, and almost feels like a whole separate game. Or if you want to keep things old-school then the Dark Brotherhood, Thieves' Guild, Fighter's Guild, and Mage's Guild questlines are all there. The Elder Scrolls Online basically lets you lose yourself in one aspect of the game while forgetting that the others exist.

Finally, its payment model is actually pretty fair (which is high praise for a modern MMO). The base game is super-cheap and often given away for free, but if you buy it with an expansion, you'll get all previous expansions included. So if you get Gold Road, that means you also get Necrom, High Isle, Blackwood, Greymoor, Elsweyr, Summerset, and Morrowind with it. If you've held off buying it until now, you're basically getting rewarded with a huge amount of content if you finally take the plunge.

Alchemy crafing in the elder scrolls online

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Of course, The Elder Scrolls Online has a huge economy that lets you purchase its special in-game currency called Crowns to buy cosmetics, horses, furnishings for your home, and other extra fluff. The game doesn't push its real-world economy in your face, and that's refreshing on today's MMO scene.

The Elder Scrolls Online has grown into a big, beautiful game over the years, and with the Gold Road expansion, you get a ridiculous amount of bang for your buck. Sure, it's an MMO, so it will always want you to throw more money at it, but it's to this game's credit that you really don't have to. If you haven't played it yet, now could be the perfect time.

Rob is a freelance games journalist, SEO and content manager. He's written for PC Gamer, GamesRadar, Kotaku, Rock Paper Shotgun, WhatCulture, NextPit, PCGamesN, VG247, Eurogamer, TechRadar, and more.