When I completed my first major quest line in the original Elder Scrolls Online, I promised myself one thing – I would never come back. For hours, I’d toiled, and I as I was sucked further into the world of the game, I realised that if I went too far, I would never emerge. Proving that I’m highly capable of following my own advice, I leapt at the chance to review the franchise’s newest expansion, Morrowind.
I’d enjoyed the short preview of the game I’d played in early May, and was itching to dive back into a world that I loved and hated in equal measure. Morrowind in all its glory was quick to draw me back in, with an option to dive right into the new main quest, or continue my adventures into Tamriel. With the help of a convenient wayshrine at Seyda Neen, continuing players are able to dive right into the adventure, where I soon found myself stumbling across a dead body, and becoming embroiled in a quest to save Vvardenfell and defeat the evil Chodala, who aimed to dethrone the enigmatic Lord Vivec.
The story of Morrowind is deep and engrossing, with several hours of new content to devour. Also included in the expansion is the new Warden class, which, in addition to some cool new outfits, lets you take control of the all powerful war bear. While I didn’t get the chance to ride the bear myself, I did catch several players riding one majestically past me, and I was almost immediately consumed by a burning jealousy. Instead of the bear, I settled for having an armoured dog companion, which did go some way to calming my desperate longing.
In addition to the mystery and magic of the main quest line, there are many other side quests and dungeons all across Morrowind to explore. Indeed, these side quests are just as necessary as the main quest line, particularly for building much needed XP. Preferring the lone wolf option, I often found myself in dire need of help in the tougher boss battles, largely because I was under levelled. Completing smaller fetch quests, talking to every NPC and exploring dungeons became absolutely necessary as I progressed further along the main quest, struggling along on my own.
When I first previewed Morrowind, I had a team of battle-hardened journalists to aid me on my way, but now, going it alone, I often found myself in trouble. I’ll be honest, I died a lot. Having said this, the party system in The Elder Scrolls Online is one of the simplest I’ve encountered, and it’s easy enough play with friends, or make new ones in your travels. It was my own stubbornness that eventually led to me abandoning the main quest and heading off to complete a variety of explorations and fetch quests for the numerous NPCs that populated the gorgeous world of Vvardenfell.
Many people may decry the retail release of Morrowind as by all accounts they may consider it just glorified DLC, however, the sheer amount of content, and the beauty of the new world present a worthy justification for its release. I spent over 15 hours exploring Vvardenfell and its surrounding scenery, and even then felt that I only scratched the surface. Each town and village comes with a variety of new requests, to the point where I often felt overwhelmed by the scale of the expansion. Despite this level of content, quests feel easy to navigate and sort, and you’ll never feel lost with the great mapping system. Wayshrines dotting Morrowind are great tools to travel, but it’s important to keep an eye on your coins, as spending too much will mean you have a long walk ahead.
Combat in Morrowind has been somewhat improved from past Elder Scrolls titles, but it’s unfortunately still not the game’s strongest suite. Weapons tend to swing wildly, and with slow enemy loading times and the occasional server glitch, I often found myself swinging into nothingness and missing my enemies completely. Several battles that I undertook featured spontaneously teleporting enemies as textures loaded in the wrong places and people vanished before my eyes. As time went on, I began to enjoy the unpredictability of it all. Would I swing my sword at thin air? Would my enemy miraculously appear behind me and stab me to death? Would they accidentally teleport themselves into a wall? Really, it was great fun watching the struggle.
While Morrowind never feels as interactive as past Elder Scrolls titles, with fewer weapons and items to buy, sell and trade, and fewer objects to loot and steal from enemies, this has little bearing on the gameplay itself. The Elder Scrolls Online stands as its own game, with a rich story, gorgeous graphics and fun gameplay. Fans of the franchise that have managed, thus far, to avoid The Elder Scrolls Online would do well to give Morrowind a spin. The love for the original title is clear throughout the game, with a strong attention to detail, and deep, engaging lore. For those wary of microtransactions, rest assured that while there are many great items to be purchased, they’re unnecessary, and The Elder Scrolls Online thankfully avoids functioning as a pay-to-win MMO.
The world of Morrowind is one of the most gorgeous lands in all of Tamriel, and it’s rendered beautifully in game, making the entire expansion a delight to explore. Towering mushrooms and lush forests litter the lands surrounding Vivec City, while further along the main quest, you’ll be ushered through raging volcanos and desert lands. Each of the landscapes are frankly stunning, and I often found myself pausing or wandering off between quests just to spend more time surrounded by those awesome visuals. Sure, there’s the odd glitch or two, and Morrowind often features slow texture loading, missing terrain, visual bugs and other oddities, but would it really be an Elder Scrolls game without them?
Review Score: 8.0/10
Highlights: WAR BEARS, great amount of content, fun and mysterious quest line, beautiful world, great attention to detail
Lowlights: Visual glitches, occasional server issues, lacklustre combat
Developer: Zenimax Online Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: Out Now
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Mac, Playstation 4, Xbox One
Reviewed on Playstation 4 Pro.