Hello all! Last week’s game tested the limits of your sanity. By which I mean, the game would mess with you in all sorts of hilarious ways.
This week brings us to a game I sunk hours into way back in the day. I’ve been meaning to get my thoughts down on it for some time.
My first experience with Elder Scrolls wasn’t Morrowind, as it turns out, but rather Daggerfall, the second game in the series. At the time, I didn’t really “get” it. I mean, Daggerfall has the largest world in gaming history (albeit somewhat randomly generated). But I’d say my real...knowledge of what Elder Scrolls is begins here.
At the time, I had a brand-spanking new PC, and needed games for it, hence, Morrowind. I bought the collector’s edition, and I still have the tiny pewter Ordinator figure that came with it (along with the art book and soundtrack).
Now, Morrowind isn’t the first experience I had with a huge, open world. I’m a huge Zelda fan, so that’s really my first game where I wandered around an open world, exploring every nook and cranny. But Morrowind was different. Morrowind essentially drops you off in the world and says go. I mean, everyone’s familiar with the Elder Scrolls formula: You build a character, spending 45 minutes deciding on a face, then you go through a bit of mandatory stuff, and then...what you do is up to you. You can follow the plot, or you can ignore it and do nearly endless side quests, or just explore.
It was something of an eye-opener for me. I mean, here’s a game that isn’t shoving me towards a pre-defined goal. Here’s a game that said, “Hey Bri, the whole world’s open to you here. Go see it.”
Morrowind, in fact, spends the least amount of time getting you situated than any other Elder Scrolls game. As soon as you arrive in Vvardenfell, an island in the province of Morrowind, you’re given a quest and...well, that’s it. You can do what you want. And that’s what really sold the game for me, or rather, that’s why this game took so many hours from me. What the developers offered here, way back in 2002, was a remarkably detailed world you could get lost in. Lots of RPG’s have open worlds, of course, but at some point, you’re gonna have to go fight that boss or clear that dungeon.
In Morrowind, I was able to blow it off, and get to it whenever. I’d much rather explore this cave, or chat up the people in this shop. It was incredible. I got lost in Vvardenfell; hours would tick away in the real world, but then again, I wasn’t in the real world.
Regular readers of this weekly thing I do here might know I love getting immersed in games. And, I tend to get very immersed in them. Morrowind was one of those games for me. It’s barely a game for me, and more of an experience, and it’s why I look forward to every Elder Scrolls game and expansion.
Of course, over the years, it gets harder and harder to actually play Morrowind. It’s kind of...stiff, especially when compared to the later Oblivion and Skyrim. The combat, for example, is the weakest in the series, leaning heavily on dice rolls to score hits. It’s frustrating, especially when you’re fighting a rat and he’s absolutely kicking your ass. And then there’s all the people in the game, being of ten different species, yet all their text-based dialogue is identical, from the highest king to the lowliest Argonian slave.
Everyone in this game is wordy and educated. And endlessly polite, too!
There’s the damn journal, too, which does an incredibly poor job organizing your quests. And there were glitches and crashes to desktop, the latter of which would nearly break my brain, because, again, total immersion.
The game had problems, yes, from a gameplay standpoint. It’s even worse now, again, in comparison to later Elder Scrolls titles. But then, I think about moments like this:
That’s a Silt Strider, and it takes you from city to city. It’s the game’s fast travel system. I remember seeing that for the first time in Balmora, really the first “big city” I visited in the game.
That thing’s incredible despite being a giant bug (I have problems with bugs and spiders). I thought the idea of traveling around the island on these giant things was great. And this is just one moment in Morrowind for me. To say nothing of the massive city of Vivec, or the small town feel of Seyda Neen, the town you start in. It’s still the most unique and diverse world in Elder Scrolls history, even if it’s pretty bleak.
I mean, Vvardenfell’s a tough place, so while you can do what you want, you should still learn a weapon and magic. Which is another thing I always liked; in order to get better at a skill in Morrowind (or any Elder Scrolls), you need to actually use that particular skill. It’s smart, because you can build the character you want, but you have to put in the time and work (bunny hopping endlessly around the world notwithstanding).
Regardless of how Morrowind measures up today, it’s always going to be one of Those Games to me. Much like Zelda, Silent Hill, EarthBound, etc., to me personally, it’ll always be something special. Perhaps it was a bit of escapism for me back then, but back then, I think I needed that. There may have been times I was happier in this game than I was in reality. I don’t think I’m like that anymore, but anyway, Morrowind is something that’s pretty special to me, and that’s something that can never be taken away from me.
I really like video games, is what I’m saying.
Thanks always for reading my stuff! As always, leave comments, suggest future games to be featured as Game of the Week, and find me on Twitter! Also, read more of my stuff at Current Digital! I just wrote a new thing there, in fact, so check it out!
Next week’s game is a little bit lighter, as I’d like to tell you all about my first PSP game. You get to drive cars in this one. Also you can jump on cars, and from one car to another car...there’s a lot of cars and shooting.