4-One Retro Corner: Morrowind

Morrowind turned 14 years old yesterday, and so we take  a look back at the third installment in the Elder Scrolls series, and considered to be the first of the modern era Elder Scrolls games and the first major development for Bethesda on consoles.

Since its release in 2002 on Xbox and Windows, Morrowind has received over 60 awards and sold over 4 million copies. Its depth, freedom, character customisation, difficulty and beautifully crafted world has kept fans coming back for more to this day.

The game begins on the Island of Vvardenfell where you arrive as a criminal being released by Imperial decree. You are sent to serve as an agent for Emperor Uriel Septim VII on the island of Vvardenfell in the province of Morrowind. You arrive in the town of Seyda Neen. Here you are asked a series of questions that decide your  character’s name, race, gender, class, and birthsign. These of course affect your starting attributes, skills and abilities. You can also choose to create your own combination or choose from a number of pre-made classes. From here you are sent to meet with Caius Cosades, a member of the Blades, who sends you on various quests involving disappearances of the citizens of Vvardenfell.

Your character develops their skills through repeated use, trainers and books. A formula we have become used to. This is an element of the game that shines in comparison with other RPGs in that it gives you a huge level of freedom in building the type of character you want to play with. Another feature that has become a mainstay of the Elder Scrolls games is the countless amount of side quests you can embark upon. This means that although the world of Morrowind is pretty tiny in comparison to Daggerfall, in no way does that leave players with less to do. For the bookworms among you, Morrowind contained over 300 books, not including scrolls. A massive amount of text recounting lore, history and stories of the series’ background that PC Gamer equates to 6 full novels.

Silt Strider taxi

Daggerfall was a massive game in terms of land size, but the world was procedurally generated and composed of your average medieval looking villages, towns and scenery. Morrowind on the other hand is, in comparison, a strange land with swamplands, big mushrooms and massive silt striders that serve as transport.  Across the different regions you find a good variation in landscape as well as politics and deal with day night cycles and weather changes. While exploring, you need to be mindful of your level, as unlike Skyrim, enemies do not scale with your level, so you could quickly find yourself in an area you’re not supposed to be in yet and your life ended by a beastie, much too strong for you.

Importantly, it should be noted that Morrowind was the game that kicked off the vibrant modding community that has become a part of the newer Elder Scrolls games today. The Elder Scrolls Construction Set was introduced, and allowed players to tweak and create their own elements and share them with other players.  The modding community has become an important part of these games and is one thing that gives them longevity. There are even some massive community projects ongoing with many people involved, like the mod Skywind by the TES Renewal Project community. which aims to revamp Morrowind with use of the Skyrim game engine.

Last but not least, the music. This was the first Elder Scrolls game that Jeremy Soule was involved with and has been involved with the series ever since. Like his other works it’s a beautiful orchestral soundtrack that you can listen to below. Here’s hoping we continue to see Soule’s contributions to the games, as it’s one part I know I will always enjoy when another ES game comes along.

Have you any fond memories of Morrowind? Let us know! Or maybe memories not so fond, like cliffracers..

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