Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind


You start the game as a prisoner being taken to land by boat in order to be released and the first steps of character creation will take you through the office of an administrator asking you who you are and where you're coming from. Smart and smooth introduction!


The prime improvement that made Morrowind accessible to a large audience (as opposed to its predecessor Daggerfall) was the new 3D engine. While Daggerfall was constantly making use of 2D sprites constantly facing the player's character, Morrowind adopted real 3D models that you could walk around and look at under any angle.

My personal guess is that, being published in 2002, Morrowind was also able to appeal to a larger audience than Daggerfall due to the public's greater familiarity with first-person view popularized by first-person-shooters like Doom, Quake, Half-life and Counter-Strike.

Another quality of Morrowind was the beauty of its environments. Bethesda doubled-down on water shaders (the water texture and its light-reflecting patterns) and luxuriant vegetation to engage players into an exuberant world. And it worked!

Also, the named NPC's (non-playable characters) such as guild members or characters important to the main quest, were not static as they used to be in the previous opus. Instead, they were walking about within a still tight environment but it gave a greater feeling of immersion in a lively environment.

The final nail in the coffin that made this game a best-seller was the possibility for players to create their own mods (modifications) to add functionality, items, quests, characters, or any kind of content imaginable to the original game and to exchange it with other players. Thanks to this possibility, players could get new content or improved content for free from other players... A choice of game design that has since been provided with every new game in the series.

As for the storyline itself... it was ok. You know: prophecies and stuff! Guess who's the man of the prophecy! I'm exaggerating a little since it sends you to explore archaeological sites of long gone civilizations and befriend the local majority race (dark elves).

Apart from that, it was quite similar to what Daggerfall had to propose.


Morrowind had few downsides. The 3D engine could lag a bit on the less powerful machines and the camera placement was less than optimal when playing in 3rd-person mode. Also, probably too much clicking involved in picking up loot but that was tolerable.


To the public who had never played Daggerfall, Morrowind appeared as a very fresh new way to engage into RPG. It did almost everything pretty well and received the success it deserved.

To me, the game mechanics were fundamentally a copy-paste of Daggerfall's and that's why I didn't find it as revolutionary as other players did. Daggerfall was the revolutionary one.

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