Not a Review: Morrowind

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind by Bethesda

Why am I talking about a game that came out in 2002? Especially, in a field that is obsessed with the future and has yet to find a way to make its past relevant in any meaningful way? I’m talking about it because one of its sequels recently was released (Skyrim) and before I played that I wanted to, finally, play through this.

Also, D is playing Skyrim right now…

Anyway, Morrowind. Morrowind is the third in Bethesda’s long lived Elder Scrolls series (17 years?!) of open-ended, free roaming, near sandbox level, role playing games. Elder Scroll games are known for their large, rich worlds, extensive backstory, and the player’s ability to freely wander the world, exploring, dungeoneering, smithing, leatherworking, potion making, etc… In general, players can ignore the story line entirely and still have hours of stuff to do!

This is about as good as Morrowind can look, but for 2002 that's damn impressive!

I’m a half a dozen hours into the game and I haven’t really touched the main story line. I’ve been too busy working my way up the ladder in the Mage and Thieves Guilds. I think the story has something to do with an ancestor-god of the Dark Elves who inhabit the island the game takes places on. The Dark Elves are divided into houses, one of which was evil and destroyed a long time ago, but is now somehow coming back. I’m pretty sure that is what is happening. Like I said, I’ve been distracted by other things. What I have been noticing is that Morrowind is an incredibly ugly looking game. I know, I know this game is almost 10 years old and PC power back then was only a shadow of what it is now but, Super Mario Brothers for the NES had a richer color palette than Morrowind. Everything in this game is a shade of brown or gray. The dull color palette is only part of the problem, all the character models in this game are hideous as well. Take a look at this Nix hound:

Ack! it's hideous!

Why is it green, and scaly, and have three weird teeth? I don’t even know how this thing would eat if it was real? Everything looks like this too? Weird boxy, brown, bugs, and strange walking toadstools, and poorly assembled human dolls with off putting faces. It’s as if the artists were trying to offend the players sense of aesthetics… You don’t want to kill things because they’re evil, or attacking you, you want to kill them because their existence is an affront to good taste!

Orcs are supposed to be ugly, I know. But, Egad!

Playing Morrowind has helped me to recognize how spoiled modern gaming is. Oblivion and Skyrim would never let the player get lost or have to figure out where to go on their own. Both of those games have extensive, detailed maps and a quest tracker that always points you in the direction of the quest you’re working on. Morrowind has detailed map and parts of it are even labelled. But quest tracking? Nope. You’ve got a journal that keeps track of your conversations, which is vital, because to get from one place to the next or to find some of the out of the way spots NPCs direct you to you’re going to have to follow their directions. Their often vague and general directions… Flipping between the journal screen, map screen, and main screen will eventually get you there, most of the time. But, I’ve found myself wandering off numerous times, unsure of where I was and where I needed to go. There’s still a dungeon out there I can’t find despite having directions to it…

All in all I’m having fun with the game and I can see why it was such a big deal when it came out. I am looking forward to playing Skyrim though when I’m done.



Author: falselogic

Doesn’t mix well with polite company; his two favorite topics being politics and religion. Would rather be out cycling, swimming, running, or camping. Misspent his youth reading genre-fiction; today, he is making up for it by reading large quantities of non-fiction literature. The fact that truth, in every way, is more fascinating than fiction still tickles him.