Video Game Thoughts: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind was a 2002 role-playing game by Bethesda Game Studios. Morrowind wasn’t on my radar when it came out. Most of the media focus was on it being a good Xbox role-playing game. I didn’t even know it was also a PC game until I got a new video card for my computer. I got lucky with the Geforce4 Ti4200. At the time it was one of the best video cards available for a low price. It was a very cheap time to get into PC gaming. This video card just happened to come with a free copy of Morrowind. I had never bought a video card before, so I was very surprised to see a full game given away for free in this way.

After installing it, I immediately saw that Morrowind was a pretty demanding game. My computer was all upgraded for gaming. Every other PC game I played ran great, but not Morrowind. I had to turn “view distance” down quite a bit to get the frame rate high enough for smooth gameplay. Aside from technical issues, the game was amazing.

It was so cool how I could put the cursor over any almost any object in the game and get information on what it was and what it did. I had never played a game where so much of it was interactive. In most role-playing games the player could only talk to people, pick up equipment, and open treasure chests. In Morrowind, however, almost everything the player saw they could come up to and pick up if they wanted. Some of the items had no gameplay use, but the option to pick them up or move them around was still cool.

The world in this game was massive. To walk across the island the game took place in probably took two hours. To actually explore everything took hundreds of hours. Any other game would be made up of small areas to explore. Then the player had to enter a door to load the next area, but Morrowind had this huge open world to explore. It, of course, had buildings and dungeons the player had to load into, but never had I played a game with so much breadth.

There was also a lot of depth, specifically in the skills system. There were probably 30 skills the player could level up. Some of them the player could pick as their major skills; they would level up faster than the others. Some of the skills were not very useful, but the majority of them had a very important niche in the game. The number of skills added immense replay value because there were so many viable ways to play the game. There was a very complicated faction system, with detailed politics. The player could join these factions and eventually become the leaders, but at the cost of relations with other factions. Overall, the game felt like it was its own thing. This was just like the Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn. The world didn’t revolve around the player.

For the negatives of this game, there weren’t enough musical tracks for the length of the game. The music itself was amazing like the rest of the game, but there was just too little of it. Before long I had heard all the pieces twenty times and became tired with them. Navigating the world was too slow unless I paid for transportation. These transport points were fairly sparse, only going to the major cities in the game. The character could run, but it used up Stamina, a critical stat in combat. If I wanted to get to a place faster, I had to risk being stuck in combat with no Stamina. I hated this. Combined with the huge size of the world, these two negatives greatly padded the length of the game. In fact, I never really beat the game because it always got too tedious at a certain point. The time I did spend with it was still very fun though. Plus the community made tons of free modifications I could download and try out.

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