Morrowind RPGDot

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Morrowind is the third game in the Elder Scrolls series that was released in 2002 for Windows and the Xbox. It’s a real-time, first-person, character-based roleplaying game set in fantasy world. But that dry technical description doesn't even begin to do this sprawling behemoth justice. This is a tour-de-force. More than four hundred quests. Thousands of NPCs. Hundreds of thousands of objects, magic items, weapons, and treasures -- all of which you can take, drop, leave wherever you want to. This game is vast. Perhaps the biggest videogame ever. 

In this episode of the popular open world fantasy RPG series, players explore the land of Vvardenfell which is a large island within Morrowind. During this adventure players follow the story of the deity Dagoth Ur who wishes to seize control of Morrowind and free it from the Imperials. 

The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind Game Review

Your first experience in the vast world of Morrowind is a humble one. You awake aboard a slave ship that has just landed on the island of Vvardenfell. You have been freed to serve Tamriel's Emperor as one of his many agents in Morrowind. You are given a simple assignment: join the Blades, a secret organization whose goal is to protect the safety of the Emperor. This leads to a discovery of an ancient prophecy and an evil scheme concocted by a powerful deity whom you alone can stop.

The introductory sequence gives instructions on basic travel. It also gets to the character generator. You get to choose a race from a possible 9, varying from Dark Elves and Wood Elves to Imperials and Orcs. Two unusual races first introduced into this game are the Khajits and the Argonians. The former being a cat like race and the latter being a lizard like race. Of course both sexes are available, and even humans have 3 different races.

Morrowind was designed with an open-ended free-form style of gameplay in mind, with less of an emphasis on the game’s main plot than its predecessors. While there’s a main quest to follow as you try to discover your identity and find your connection to Vvardenfell, there are so many paths you can take to get there. And you can do whatever your human/elfish/beastly heart wants. Try some madness -shack up in other people’s homes, pick fights, etc. - or just play the game to build your character, complete short quests and look for hidden caves. It’s a rich experience that Bethesda has spent many years (and sequels) perfecting. 

To add to Morrowind's extreme open-endedness is the fact that other characters interact with you differently based upon your actions. There are various guilds within the game, like the Assassins Guild, and whether or not they see you as friend or foe is determined by how you interact with them. Attack an assassin, and the entire guild will be hunting for your hide. This means that each game can play out a little differently. 

Control

No major problems with the control. Moving is a breeze with the analog sticks on your Xbox controller. The button layout is solid and intuitive, and the only major beef would be that the strafe option on the X-axis stick isn't nearly as effective as it should be. Other than that, the game makes a nice transition from the keyboard to the controller.

Skills in Morrowind

The game relies on a skills-based system for character advancement. Thirty skills are divided into three categories: Strength, Magic and Stealth. Each class specializes in a particular skill category. The character places the skills into major, minor and miscellaneous categories. 

You start with a set of skills, ranging from weapons and armors to speech craft and mercantile. Improving skill is as simple as using the skill -- the more times it is used the more it improves. If it takes you two swings to kill a monster, then the skill for the weapon you used increases by two swings. With the skills trainers and opportunities to use these skills, they are increased fairly rapidly, resulting in level increases 

Morrowind Combat Mechanics

The game uses the old school tabletop gambling style of “dice roll combat”. Your player's offensive skill is matched against the enemy’s defensive skills to determine if you hit. If it was a hit your player’s weapon damage and offensive skill gets put against the strength of enemy armor and defensive skills to see how much damage is done. 

Morrowind provides very little information about what's happening in a fight. You'll know that you hit the opponents but you won't know to what extent you hurt them. You won't know if your two-handed sword did one point of damage or 60, and you won't know whether you've merely grazed the opponents or whether you've delivered them to death's door. The designers should have at least shown visible damage on the enemy characters. 

Game Graphics

Graphics for this game are pretty good. Huge cities with different denizens, of all races and appearances. Cultural diversity can actually be seen as you travel through the world. The game is amazingly detailed, with architectural styles and natural terrain that vary from region to region, city to city, and dungeon to dungeon. Huge, huge landscapes, tons of caverns, hidden grottoes, shrines, etc. litter the landscape. Tons of stuff to discover.

All of that detail meant that something had to be cut somewhere, and so the game's dungeons are very small compared to the ones in previous Elder Scrolls titles. It’s no wonder that some of the dungeons on the main quest line can be fully explored in fifteen minutes. 

Vast fantasy world

Vvardenfell is simply gigantic, featuring literally hundreds of towns, cities, farms, caves, forts, tombs, dungeons and more. Every single city is populated with unique characters with unique stories, names and looks. There are enough quests in the game to make every area feel different and important. Be the noble hero embarking on an epic quest, or an insidious thief rising to leadership of his guild. Be a malevolent sorcerer developing the ultimate spell of destruction, or a reverent healer searching for the cure to a plague. Confront the assassins' guild, and they take out a contract on you. Impress them, and they try to recruit you instead. 

The society in Morrowind is intensely divided and it’s the tension between its rival houses and tribes that drive the more interesting quests you’ll take on. What unites the Telvanni, Dres, and Redoran houses, the Ashlander barbarians and the Morag Tong, is their hatred of “outlanders”. Outlanders are very unwelcome especially on the bleak island of Vvardenfell where the game takes place. A visitor to this gloomy realm is well advised to finish his or her business and leave, lest he/she be drawn into a dark web of political intrigue that has been spun over thousands of years of internecine rivalry.

Soundtrack

Acclaimed video game composer, Jeremy Soule, produced Morrowind's awesome soundtrack. The main theme expresses the feeling of Morrowind perfectly, but is, unfortunately, overused. Throughout the entire game you will hear renditions of the same piece many times, but it is made up for in quality. Whether you're in a dark cavern or a brightly lit fortress, the music always fits the mood.

In-game books

Reading in-game books is a marginally less interactive way for the game to divulge exposition than NPC dialogue, and much can be said of the voluminous quantities of literature occupying the shelves of even the poorest citizen. What makes the books worth mentioning here is the impression they give of the Elder Scrolls universe as a whole; that of an exotic, dynamic, unique land filled with strange and wondrous locales and characters. 

Immersion

Probably one of the best senses of immersion you’ll ever feel in a game. So many places to explore, so much to do, so many things to collect. There is a sheer amount of plant, animal life. So many things you can make from it, as it all has a use. The larger cities feel like they’re larger cities, something that is hard to really hit home in most games.

Morrowind changed the focus of the Elder Scrolls games from quest chains within semi-identical cities to exploration. Morrowind lacks standard features such as quest markers while fast travel is only possible between a handful of locations. All this produces a more real, more immersive feeling than does the instant-gratification, hand-holding approach that has become the norm in newer games. 

For instance, lack of quest markers means that you have to navigate the old-fashioned way-using directions, maps, signposts and landmarks-which results in a much more organic way of exploring the world. You simply wander around the world and uncover new caves, new buildings, and new people to interact with. Curiosity becomes the defining player motivator, instead of simply character improvement and narrative progressio

Performance & Stability

With system requirements as high as they must be to power the visuals and number crunching in this game, you just know performance is potentially going to suffer. And, as usual, you're correct. Minimum requirements mention 128 MB RAM for Windows 98/ME and 256 MG RAM for Windows XP/2000. A 500 MHz processor is required, too. They also recommend an NVIDIA GeForce 2 GTS, or fast ATI Radeon video card. 

Overall the game is relatively stable. However, it suffers from a few bugs, the most annoying of which is the fact that the longer you play, the longer it takes to exit the game and return to Windows. Other bugs are less obvious, such as a problem with the auto-mapping system which sometimes causes the game to forget to fill in areas you've visited on the local map.  

Gaming Awards

Morrowind received both critical and commercial success, winning various awards, including game of the year, as well as selling over four million sales worldwide by 2005.The game spawned two expansion packs, namely Tribunal and Bloodmoon that were released as Game of the Year Edition in October 2003.

Verdict

Here is game that embodies everything a true role-playing game should be, it takes place in a vast fantasy world, gives you a nearly infinite freedom of choices and never forces you in any specific direction to advance the story. With its expansive characters, grand-story, epic combat, creation tools and a big ol’ fantasy world, Morrowind truly delivers on the promise of the Elder Scrolls series. At its best Morrowind is epic, revolutionary, beautiful, captivating, and highly addictive.

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