Right Click to Zoom — Morrowind, and why it Will Never be Replicated

Welcome back (finally) to Right Click to Zoom, the more in-depth article side of this blog. For today’s topic, we’ll be looking at Morrowind; primarily the original release, but also the more recent visit to it in Elder Scrolls Online, alongside a number of attempts to mod it into more recent game engines.

It’s said about the Elder Scrolls series that the first entry you play is likely to be your favourite. This seems to hold true of most people I’ve spoken to, with people rising to sing the praises of many games in the series but rarely able to overcome their original. Whether it’s Skyrim, Oblivion, or even Daggerfall and Arena, the series is well loved and it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t have that favourite.

In my case, my first Elder Scrolls game was Morrowind, and my favourite is Morrowind. I’ve spoken about it at length on this blog, mostly before these article types were defined, but in the time since my respect for the game and its design continues to grow. I’ve continued to discuss and debate this with multiple people, and it’s come up enough that I decided it was high time to use this article structure and space to look at aspects of the game with more focus.

So what makes Morrowind so great? It boils down to a key word: design. Allow me to elaborate.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

The scope of the Elder Scrolls series — and the scope of video games as a whole — has continued to expand over time, with each new entry proving bigger and more content packed than the last. While few would say that this is a bad thing, there has had to be some sacrifices to achieve this with each new iteration. Corners are cut on some aspects, and liberties are taken on others in order to achieve this vision, with mixed results.

A large focus for Bethesda on Oblivion and Skyrim was trying to achieve the sense of a living, breathing world. Rather than having limited paths and patterns for what they would do, many NPCs in the game will attempt to go about their lives regardless of the player’s intervention. They’ll discuss matters with one another, eat food that’s around, interact with objects and react to various stimuli around them. Granted, it’s not always well implemented, with Oblivion’s systems being the source of quite a bit of humour in retrospect, but a living world was always the intention.

Continue reading “Right Click to Zoom — Morrowind, and why it Will Never be Replicated”

Advertisements

Scrolls, both new and Elder

A month out from Persona 5 and the funk persists, to the point where it’s unbelievable. I keep bouncing from game to game in search of something that’ll keep my attention for more than a day, and so far I’m coming up empty.

Rather than make any significant progress in parts of my backlog, I’ve just been resorting to comfort games that I’ve played through lots and make for good time sinks. Strategy games like Civilization VI and Master of Orion 2016 help me make a day disappear, and there’s been a frankly absurd amount of Heroes of the Storm played since the 2.0 update. But today I’m going to focus on one in particular that I’ve been returning to: Morrowind.

It’s said that a person’s first Elder Scrolls game is the one that they’ll consider their favourite, mostly because the concept and freedom their worlds offer is at this point completely new to a player. Later games may refine and streamline the process and generally be more “playable”, but their worlds and concepts aren’t original by that point, so it becomes a lot harder to completely lose yourself in it. Generally, those who played Morrowind first (like me) will still say that Morrowind is better to this day, even if most will grudgingly agree that it hasn’t aged gracefully.

Nonetheless, every attempt I’ve made at playing another Elder Scrolls game will at some point see me finally caving and reinstalling Morrowind. It’s been quite a while since that happened; the most recent time I played Skyrim, I went mildly insane on the modding front and found plenty of interesting content and updated mechanics to keep my attention. This time, the lures back to Vvardenfell were twofold: my playthrough of the Skyrim mod Enderal, and the impending release of Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind expansion.

In the interest of covering all these games equally, I’ll speak about those two before I go back into recounting my Morrowind adventures. Continue reading “Scrolls, both new and Elder”