LGR – Elder Scrolls: Morrowind – PC Game Review
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LGR – Elder Scrolls: Morrowind – PC Game Review

February 10, 2020

As of this video’s posting, The Elder Scrolls
III: Morrowind is fifteen years old. Released on May 1st, 2002, Morrowind is still
considered by many to be the favorite of the series, myself included. Although for me, I didn’t actually play
the game until a couple years after it launched, and it was with this Game of the Year Edition
that I first experienced the land of dark elves and silt striders. And it’s a nice enough box I suppose, but I
much prefer the massive collector’s edition, clad in matte black and embossed glossy artwork. Definitely a centerpiece of any PC game collection,
but good luck finding a complete copy of this for less than $200. Inside this edition you not only get the game
and construction set discs, along with the standard manual and fold-out map poster, but
there’s also the phenomenal soundtrack by Jeremy Soule on CD. In addition you get the 48-page Art of Morrowind
book, which is a real treat if you want to see more concept art than the in-game loading
screens provide. And finally there’s the two-and-a-half inch
pewter Ordinator figurine. But yeah, the typical small box North American
release is pretty tame in comparison, but at least it comes with the map and full-color
manual, both of which I admired and analyzed analyzed endlessly back when I first played this. However, if you were in one of the European
territories where Ubisoft distributed the game, you might’ve had this fantastic bundle. It has an inner package that slides out and
unfolds, revealing more artwork, as well as the manual, map, and CDs tucked inside in
a way that’s much more visually appealing than the ugly cardboard tray we got over here. And of course, there were the two official
expansion packs, Tribunal and Bloodmoon, which I have thanks to a generous donation. Thank you very much for that! This content was included in the Game of the Year
Edition, but they’re sweet little boxes on their own, and they came packed with their
own separate maps as well, a welcome thing indeed for the cartographically inclined. And finally, there’s the Xbox version, the
only other platform Morrowind appeared on outside the PC. Despite its drawbacks due to hardware
limitations, it was received rather well and ended up being the fifteenth highest-selling
game on the system. And finally, there’s the Morrowind Prophecies,
this one being the game of the year edition which is a gigantic 416-page strategy guide
by the venerable Peter Olafson. Not a requirement in the days of online walkthroughs,
but holy crap, the detail this thing goes into is darned impressive. Morrowind deserved it, too; this was a game
with nearly a decade-long legacy in 2002, with years of hype building up to it after
Arena, Daggerfall, Battlespire, and Redguard established the brand up to that point. Crazy to think that it almost happened completely
differently too, with Bethesda teasing it as far back as 1997 with this note inside the box
for Battlespire. Yeah, a Morrowind in 1998 would’ve been
quite a different beast indeed, but instead they scrapped the XnGine used since Daggerfall
and went with Gamebryo predecessor NetImmerse, also used in games like Freedom Force and
Prince of Persia 3D. Whew, all right, are you still with me? Good, because you’re about to have an eargasm courtesy ofJeremy Soule! *Morrowind theme eargasm plays* Hearing just the few opening notes of the Morrowind theme, or heck ANY of the soundtrack to this game, fills me with
all manner of joy and wonder and adventure and just augh! This game is so awesome and
we haven’t even gotten past the main menu yet! Once you do get past this menu and start a
new game, you’re presented with a quote and a creepy yet soothing voice whispering
sweet ambiguities in you ear… Disembodied voice: “Fear not, for I am watchful. You have been chosen.” Voice of Jiub: “Wake up! We’re here.” “Why are you shaking? Are you okay? Wake up!” Yeah, this is actually quite a departure from the preceding
Elder Scrolls games in terms of introductions. No hair metal, no cheesy FMV, no complicated
stats screens. Instead, in what would become a Bethesda game
tradition, Morrowind starts you off as a blank slate to determine your identity through the
narrative, while also acting as a quick tutorial. The setup is that you’re an anonymous prisoner
who’s just landed on the isle of Vvardenfell within the Tamriel territory of Morrowind. You’re about to be released, but first you
have to fill out the required paperwork, which sets you up to perform all the classic CRPG
character creation stuff. Choose your sex, your appearance, and your
race, some of which will have long-standing consequences throughout the game due to skill
bonuses, special abilities, and the people of Morrowind’s individual biases. You’ll also choose a class or create your
own, always a lovely opportunity to completely screw up your game before it even starts if you
don’t know what you’re doing! After this you’re given a set of final obligations
to fulfill as an ex-con, which involves delivering a package to a man in the town of Balmora. And yeah, that is all you have to go on.
You are on your own. And wow, it does not seem like a decade and
a half has passed! Morrowind may not have the grandest opening
act or the prettiest opening scenery, but there’s still something special about stepping through
that door for the first time and walking out into the village of Seyda Neen. It’s just you, some basic inventory, and
a journal against the entire rest of world. You have a map, but other than a few vague
markings and territorial outlines it’s empty. Furthermore, there are no quest markers or
arrows pointing you in a certain direction, it’s completely up to you as to what to
do next and how to get there. Heck, you don’t *have* to go anywhere, since
every single village, fortress, town, and city is packed full of stuff to do and NPCs
to talk to. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when a CRPG
throws you into the deep end from the beginning like this, but in this case I wouldn’t have it any other
way. The volcanic, mushroomy world of Morrowind
is downright enthralling to explore from the start and the sense of freedom and self-motivated advancement
is a continual pleasure even after all these years! Welllllll, for the most part. I like to think I’m not completely blinded
by nostalgia when it comes to Morrowind even if it remains one of my favorite games. But there are tiresome quirks and major aggravations
all throughout its 60+ hour main storyline, with plenty more if you continue onto the
countless hours of side quests and expansion pack territories. And I’m not just talking about bugs and glitches of which there are quite a few still, but a lot of it really is just how the game is designed. Some of these issues I don’t find as bad
as their reputation suggests, namely the combat. As with prior games in the series, the combat
in Morrowind is based on percentages and stats; so just because you see a visual representation
of you swinging a sword into some dude’s face, it doesn’t mean you’ll actually
hit them unless the invisible dice rolls in your favor. It also evolves the mouse cursor swiping of
Arena and Daggerfall and meshes it with typical first-person game controls. So when combining your attack with movements
and held-down keys, you’ll get different animations and attacks. The options menu lets you override this and
always use the “best attack,” which I typically do because I’m lazy, and also because I
don’t find it any more rewarding or beneficial NOT to use it. Naturally, players have debated the merits
of this for years, but either way you’re stuck with the same animations playing
over the same dice rolls that lead to the link between the player and the combat feeling
loose at best. I find that this is mostly a problem in the
early hours of the game where you’re still a 97-pound weakling, since once you level
up past a certain point and boost those sweet combat skills, the fighting becomes a whole lot
more enjoyable. Not exactly what I’d call excellent or anything,
but a bit more satisfying at least. And since the vast majority of Morrowind’s
gameplay takes place after you’ve gotten good, I genuinely don’t find the combat
to be this ultimate deal-breaker. Unless we’re talking about freaking cliff
racers, because screw these guys. They gang up on you, follow you around forever,
and are harder to hit than seemingly anything else, even with all the high-level combat
skills you can find. And speaking of skills, in Morrowind your skills
are increased by using them rather than, say, picking from a list of upgrades when you level
up. Instead, while leveling you increase your primary attributes
and these in turn determine the maximum level of their associated skills, but the skills
themselves are upgraded by simply playing the game. A common exploit of this system is to run
and jump absolutely everywhere, which will increase your athletics and acrobatics skills pretty quickly. And with as slow of a runner and weak of a
jumper you are at the start, you absolutely will want to take advantage of this just to make getting
around in the game that much less of a slog. There are also trainer NPCs dotted throughout
the world, which is fine and dandy, but not only is it an annoying string of menu options
to go through each time, but the only thing standing in your way of epic skills is money. Talk about missing the point of a strict skill
system where you only learn by doing, since most of it can be ignored entirely by being rich. And thankfully, getting rich is a ton of fun
and is the entire point of the game, at least as far as how *I* play. It doesn’t matter what kind of grandiose
plans I make for myself, or what kind of totally new character I generate, I always end up
becoming a sneaky, murderous kleptomaniac. It’s just, dude, there’s so much shiny
stuff just lying around, who can resist! And if your character is good at talking to
people on top of that, then a bit of flattery and bribery is par for the course when fencing
your stolen loot. This stuff is seriously like, 90% of why I still
go back to Morrowind, because the gameplay loop of sneaking, stealing, and bartering
is just hugely entertaining. About the only thing bringing it down is the
experience of bashing your head against the UI trying to actually sell stuff and keep
track of what you have. This brings me to my next big gripe with Morrowind,
the user interface. Just, all of it. You’ve got these windows you can drag around
and resize, which is fine, but the actual information contained within leaves a lot
to be desired. Not only is there a lack of really detailed sorting abilities, but the same vague icons are often repeated for
items with completely different attributes, and the way they’re laid out here seems scatterbrained
and an inefficient use of on-screen real estate. Same goes for your quest-tracking journal,
which was improved through the Tribunal expansion to allow filtering by active quests. But even then it’s
still only what I’d call a tolerable experience. These chronologically-sorted pages make it a bit
easy to get flustered trying to find an obscure piece of information you received forever
ago, making me wish for a search function and maybe even a way to add your own notes
in-game. But by far the bigger pain when it comes to
managing text is the speech and conversation system, which is about as pleasant as a wet
fart in an elevator. To be clear, I’m referring to the interactive
dialogue, not the short barks and phrases NPCs speak when you move close by. “KHAJIIT HAS NO WORDS FOR YOU.” In a step back from Redguard, Morrowind does
not feature fully-voiced dialogue, which makes sense seeing as this game is orders of magnitude
larger. But when combined with the awful text windows
you have to navigate, conversations end up being more overwhelming and annoying to navigate
than ever. There’s tens of thousands of lines in-game,
and I swear, it seems like a single NPC can contain half of them at once! In theory, I have no problem with copious dialogue, but
when it’s a chore to deal with I just tune out. And that’s unfortunate because there is
a slew of captivating lore in Morrowind, but hell if I’m gonna waste my time sludging
through it with this bland wall of hyperlinks. Compare this to the conversation system in
Fallout as an example, where you have similar amounts of dialogue, yet because of the way
it’s divided up and presented it’s friendlier to interact with and feels much more conversational. But enough complaining for now; once you come
to terms with Morrowind’s strangeness, its sheer awesomeness shines through and it is
something special indeed. Whether you’re going through the main storyline
or creating your own destiny being sidetracked by wayward women, it seems like there’s
always something new and enjoyable to experiment with. A lot of this comes from the various guilds
and organized groups you can pledge allegiance to. Got trouble dealing with pent-up rage? Join the Fighter’s Guild! Have a penchant for magic and trapping souls? Join the Mages Guild! Can’t keep your hands off of anything, ever? Join the Thieves Guild, if you can find them! Tired of having BDSM dudes beating you up while you’re trying to sleep? Track down the Dark Brotherhood and be sure
to bring your own whip. And who can forget the various Great Houses,
religions, and cults that you can join and take advantage of. Each one of these comes with their own set
of rules, duties, advancement opportunities, spells, potions, and skills to learn, and
personally I find completing these questlines to be far more intoxicating than the main
story. That’s not to say that the main story is boring
or anything, far from it. I won’t spoil it here, but lemme just say that
once you find out what the disembodied voice was droning on about in the beginning of the
game, the journey you’ll take to fulfill your destiny is quite the fantastical
thing indeed. But you know, good luck keeping focused when
there are spells to mix, valuable items to enchant, Dwemer artifacts to collect, and
frozen barrows to raid. You can even turn invisible, spawn monsters,
walk on water, and fly away using levitation, it’s just absurd the amount of stuff you
can do and the combinations of cool things you can come up with, with magic, and skills and all the items; I just love this stuff man! This kind of open-ended, player-driven gameplay
is happily reminiscent of classic tabletop role-playing games, while remaining approachable
and just challenging enough to keep you engaged for hours on end. Later Elder Scrolls games tend to be a bit
simpler in this regard, and while clearly some aspects of Morrowind *needed* streamlining,
it can be argued that they went too far in some ways later on, and that Morrowind is the last of
its kind. And if you want to play it today and have
a PC that isn’t made of turds, it’s incredibly straightforward and easy to do so. Unlike several of the older Elder Scrolls,
Morrowind has never really been far from reach, and is still playable on modern operating systems. And it’s currently for sale sale on digital distribution
platforms like GOG and Steam. There was also the Elder Scrolls Anthology
released in 2013 that contained a physical copy of the Game of the Year Edition, alongside all the other mainline Elder Scrolls to that point, so it’s a decent little jump-start to your collection if you don’t want the individual boxes. And finally, I have to mention the modding
scene, which has always been a key part of the Morrowind experience due to Bethesda bundling it with
The Construction Set. This is a comprehensive bunch of editing tools,
and is the same SDK Bethesda used to create the game itself so it allows you to do pretty much
anything you can think of. And the modding scene is still thriving through
sites like Nexus Mods, complete open source engine revamps like OpenMW, and large-scale
content compilations like Morrowind Overhaul. There are fan-made mods, patches, and tweaks
to address practically every shortcoming I mentioned throughout this review, so if you
look in the right places and spend a certain amount of time you can basically forget everything
negative I said and make Morrowind the most perfect game in the history of time. All right, maybe that’s a bit much, but my point
is that this game’s player-guided agenda just doesn’t stop, and continues well beyond
what comes in the package. Quite simply, if you haven’t played Morrowind
yet, I implore you to give it a shot. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface
of things to see and do and experience, to the degree that there’s a good chance that your favorite
thing in the game might be something I didn’t even mention! Morrowind is just a big, beefy, beautiful
role-playing experience, and I fully expect us to still be talking about it in another
fifteen years. It is by no means perfect, but it’s still
what I would call a masterpiece in its own admittedly flawed way. *Morrowind exploration music plays* And yes, in case you’re wondering I am quite curious about the Morrowind expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online. I don’t know if there’s gonna be a video, but there are other Elder Scrolls videos already and more to come in the future. So stay tuned! And thank you for watching!

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  1. Played morrowind nonstop in 06. Told my gf i was getting a 360 to play oblivion. She said she would break up with me if i did. I said ,”bye”. Haha

  2. My favourite part of this game is the enchantment system. I would always make a ring with the maximum possible athletics enchantment for the minimum duration. With it you could cast and jump immediately to clear mountains.

    But you had to cast again right before landing, or you'd die.

  3. Morrowind is unquestionably the best. I've even played the DOS Elder Scrolls games, and cant say I was a fan because they were so hard! Morrowind however has a much better paced beginning and much more rewarding gameplay. No quest markers, makes you really fucking LIVE in the world, learning how to navigate, interpreting verbal directions, the music… this is a game I put 50 hours in compared to any other game in the series I got bored of by 30.

  4. Morrowind is a good game for story, Skyrim is a good game for running around and killing shit, and Oblivion is somewhere in between

  5. Never played this game. I remember looking at it and thinking its probably the sort of game fucking nerds play. Looking at this review I can see I was correct.
    The best games of all time are splinter cell and tiger woods golf.

  6. My favorite part about Morrowind was that I could wear clothes under my complex armor set and a wizard robe on top of all of that, and I could enchant it all with ridiculous things like invisibility and levitation

  7. I played this game for probably a year straight when it came out, would do it all over again. You know you are to high a level when you can equip sundar or keening and not die for 30 sec 😂👍

  8. What's fascinating about this game is it feels and looks like it was devised in Europe. There's something about it that is very European. Maybe some Americans are closer to us than we think. Ofcourse this was 2002.

  9. Destroyed 3 xboxes with over powered weapons and spells. I love the PC version. It still fun and mods do help the game as well. Always fun.

  10. Not gonna lie, I got anxiety when he was showing the TES construction set and it looked like some alien program was being opened and operated on my desktop

  11. Such a masterpiece of a game. Easily worth the money/time. True RPG entertainment. I'd love to meet any of the developers and tell them, "I'm proud to own and have played this game." Thanks guys.

  12. Unfortunately, Bloodmoon set the precedent for making all story-essential NPC's unkillable in future Bethesda releases because, if you waited or slept overnight, you would have inadvertently turned into a werewolf and killed random people, not even important characters were safe from your escapades.

  13. One of my favorite games ever. And this most excellent review (you even mentioned the modding scene! <3) reminds me that I never finished it!… Yeah. I know.
    By the way, did you hear about Skywind, the fan remake in the Skyrim engine? Are you excited about it?

  14. Daggerfall got me started with the TES series and still stands as my personal favorite. But Morrowind holds a very special place in my heart…this game is just amazing all around, flaws and all. And yeah, I played it on XBox first. Not a bad version, limited, but very good.

  15. I played this on Xbox first and sunk thousands of hours into it before I even touched it on PC. I can't wait for the Skywind mod to finish, if it ever does. This game Ruined RPGs for me. Totally spoiled me.

  16. Morrowind is the first game that you could easily start without a guide sure you’ll make a few characters before settling on one but after that it’s smooth sailing
    Sorry elder scrolls game

  17. Only thing that sucks if cliff racers their design is cool but that’s it, they fly up high so typically you can’t even hit them while they attack you, thousands of them swarm at once, and heck their week as heck their praises for being hard they aren’t it’s an illusion of difficulty if their whole gimic was that you had to jump up and them or something like that rather than them just being some health eater
    Also you can just exploit the darkbrother their easy after around an hour or so into the game and their armor is valuable

  18. So, Steam sale is a dangerous thing, I just bought Morrowind and Oblivion both in GOTY edition….for under 10$….😁 (Oblivion in GOTY Deluxe edition)

  19. I nearly cried listening to this intro. The memories are too raw still. I feel in love with video game all because of Morrowind on Xbox…

  20. I never got sick of being a klepto ninja jumping from building to building firing arrows like mad at all the guards.

  21. I tried playing Morrowind once. I got branded a thief for taking food from a table in my room at an inn.


  22. Friend : is morrowind good?

    Me: talks about dagot ur and the nerrevar and almalexia and that the last living dwemmer is in the game and other shit for 7 hours

  23. the thing that baffles and impresses me is the fact that it seems like each human npc has its own specific name other than a generic “bandit” name

  24. I could never enjoy morrowind, all because of cliffracers, always ambushing me while I try to explore, it is made even worse with that annoying desease they transmit, crippling your exploration attempts even further

  25. I wonder did they reuse music from morrowind and oblivion to skyrim? Its so rarely playing anything in Skyrim I'm unsure lol

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