The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind 15 years On – A Look Back & Review

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As of May 1 2017 ( or May 2nd if you live in EU), it has been 15 years since the release of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. In the time since, gaming has gotten even bigger and The Elder Scrolls series in particular has continued to grow, and it seems that many, while acknowledging Morrowind is a great game, don’t realize why it was.

The Elder Scrolls: Arena, the first game in the series, was a fairly average for the time CRPG. it was rooted in the D&D model and many things introduced in the game were changed in some way, or drastically expanded on to provide new explanations later on. The races were presented differently, The Daedra were not present and some key locations and didn’t have any real significance to them besides acting as shout outs to other works, such as the writings of Tolkien. The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall saw the series go into a more fluid 3D form than before, introduced the Daedra and some concepts and characters that would become important later. But it still wasn’t  quite The Elder Scrolls we know today. Those games were very much based in the typical fantasy elements that were often used, and it wasn’t until Morrowind that the series really set itself apart.

It isn’t that Morrowind had a bigger open world than the previous games. Daggerfall was much bigger than Morrowind, which is only set in part of the fictional province. No, it was that Morrowind felt alive, like it was a unique land that was a breath of fresh air from the normal tropes of fantasy. We weren’t getting a European based fantasy story, we were getting weird fiction and it was awesome. This was the game that introduced so much to the series. The Daedra got their proper personalities, we got a true backstory for the games, there was a unique cast of characters, and every choice you made had consequences.  The game began the series tradition of starting out as a prisoner, and handled the protagonist in an interesting way, that to explain it now would be a spoiler as I want you to play this game and appreciate it.

This was the game where The Elder Scrolls set itself apart from the pack, and another way it did that was through its Xbox port. It wasn’t a good port, as the Xbox simply wasn’t meant to handle such a game, but it helped expose the series to a new audience. It was this game that brought us the mystery of the Dwemer, and it was this game that took those shout outs to Tolkien and actually made them distinct and different.  The different races all became unique in their own right, and we got to learn the mythological lore of the series that still goes on in the current games. The Elder Scrolls : Oblivion and The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim owe much to Morrowind, but so do games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age. This was the game that showed what could truly be done with Western RPGs. That they could rival and surpass the JRPGs.

So I say to you now, if you haven’t ever played Morrowind, give it a try. Yes it has dated graphics and a clunky control scheme, but mods can help with that. This game brought so much joy and so much innovation, that it deserves to continue to be appreciated today!

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