Video Game Review: The Elder Scrolls III – Morrowind
Remember the days where slashing at a Mudcrab was infuriating? Me neither. If you’ve ever been through the realm of Tamriel before, but you haven’t experienced Morrowind, then you’re in for a treat. However, I thought I would do something different for this review. Welcome to Morrowind, made much prettier with the Morrowind Graphics Extender.
|Windows Release||May 2002|
|Price on Steam||£12.99 (with all DLC)|
The story of Morrowind follows a group known as The Tribunal and their struggles against a cult-like group, the Sixth House, led by the traitorous Dagoth Ur. You find yourself in the middle of the conflict between the two factions, as Dagoth Ur has gotten himself a powerful artifact which has made him immortal. He now seeks to drive out all of the Imperials from Morrowind, keeping it free from outsiders. However, in the unsuspecting village of Seyda Neen, the player character is released from their imprisonment – And the quest they are about to embark on will affect the whole of Morrowind as we know it.
Playing an Elder Scrolls game is always different for each person, as the complexity of the franchise is really deep. However, everyone starts off as a prisoner on a boat, who is about to be let free in Morrowind, the land of the Dunmer (Dark Elves). Before you can do that, you identify who you are by confirming your name, your class and appearance, your star sign and a few other little bits of info. You can create custom classes, which is a brilliant option, or you can do a series of questions to have a class picked for you.
Once you’re free, you go and speak to NPC’s, who may give you quests if you speak about specific dialogue branches. For instance, Fargoth is looking for his magic ring, which you can find at the start of the game. If you give it to him, you can then take on a secondary mission to find where he’s hiding his tax money from the Imperials. Quests will then get you gold, items and more – And sometimes you’ll get a point in a skill.
Some people don’t like how Morrowind plays through the levelling system, but I personally love it. You level up by increasing your Major (or Minor) skills. You level up faster if you level your Major skills. As an example, if you are a thief of sorts, one of your Major skills might be Athletics, allowing you to run longer. A minor skill for a thief might be Speechcraft, allowing you to talk your way out of a scenario. If you run lots, you’ll slowly increase in Athletics and after you hit the required amount of skill increases, you are given a prompt to level up. To level, you simply find a bed and ‘reflect’ on your experiences (by sleeping). After this, you’re given an interface to increase stats, which you can control where bonus points go to, by focusing on relevant skills.
You are able to join guilds, allowing you access to way more powerful skills, vendors and otherwise. Typically, you can join just about every guild you want to, although it’s worth pointing out that some of them contradict another. For instance, the Thieves Guild is all about theft, without conflict – But the Dark Brotherhood requires murder in order for you to advance. Sometimes, it’s just about doing the guilds on the sly.
As you progress, you get access to better gear. You can get your gear enchanted, or just buy or earn enchanted gear, all of which typically have extra abilities. The earliest example of enchanted gear is the Ring that you find for Fargoth. If you betray him (or you don’t give it to him) and find his secret hiding place, you can equip the ring and use it. Using an activated ability on an item is done in the same way you cast a spell – In the spells menu.
Of course, if you struggle, or if you really want to play around with the game a bit more, then press the ` button on your keyboard. This gives you access to the Console, allowing you to do all sorts of weird and wacky things. If you’re interested in playing with this, you may need to look up the commands.
I mentioned how this is the Morrowind Graphics Extender (MGE) version of the game, but what does that mean? If you check out this link, you can get this mod for yourselves. The installers function is to take you through setup completely, which is a blessing, as when this mod first came out you had to do it mostly manually. This installer takes care of everything for you – From installation to configuration. However, before you check out the gallery, here’s a screenshot of the game without MGE.
Pretty, right? (Sarcasm mode deactivated.) Yeah, well this game is older than some of our readers, so it’s to be expected. Right, onwards with the gallery!
As is typical of Bethesda, the music and audio quality is top notch. From the beautiful soft sounds of the menu screen (as opposed to the harsh chanting in Skyrim), through to the in-game music, everywhere feels like a massive fantasy adventure. So whether you’re in Balmora or fighting in the front lines for the Imperial Guard, the music is never overpowering, but truly befitting a high fantasy environment.
There is truly a simple joy about Morrowind that later iterations of the franchise just didn’t have. They might have been better core experiences, because let’s be honest – Skyrim is wonderful. Oblivion was unique, and even though it’s technically better than Morrowind and a more ‘Elder Scrolls experience’ than Skyrim, it missed something that Morrowind has. That missing something? The sense of adventure; the feeling of helplessness and thus relying on information that only the game provides.
See, Morrowind doesn’t have fast travel, unlike both the later iterations, or the previous incarnation, Daggerfall. This is a markedly great feature about Morrowind, as it means you had to look at your journal to get anywhere. For example, one of the earliest quests for the Mage’s guild, well, the first quest, has you looking for flowers. They don’t put any markers on the map, they just tell you to follow the river south until you find a wooden bridge, then find a way over the mountains to the west. It’s not an easy title, so many people might not have the time for a game like this, but if you want a high fantasy experience like no other, then this is the game for you.
As always experiences differ, so let us know what you think about Morrowind. Is it the complete TES experience? Is it too hard?! Did you ever die to a damn mudcrab? As ever share your thoughts and opinions below, or over on Facebook or Twitter.