Review: The Elder Scrolls III – Morrowind (PC)

By Drew Wilson

In this review, we check out another game that takes a long time to play – The Elder Scrolls III – Morrowind. We find out if this RPG game is as good as some have said it was.

Important note: This review is based on the version of Morrowind with both Tribunal and Bloodmoon expansions (namely the Game of the Year edition). Some bugs may either be present or not based on this configuration (not to mention the increase in content).

This particular game was released in 2003 and is a re-bundling of the original 2002 version along with the two subsequent expansions. It is also the sequel to the even larger Daggerfall game which we already reviewed earlier.

Most reviewers I found gave this game what would be the equivalent of anywhere between an 80% to a 98% as far as my grading system is concerned. In my opinion, this game doesn’t deserve a grade as high as 80% even though there is enjoyment to be had in this game.

The one thing that stands out right away is the pure size of this game. While Daggerfall was substantially larger than this sequel in terms of explorable space, this game is certainly massive in its own right. In fact, it’s so large, it took us an even 60 days to complete. In the interest of time, we used the walkthrough found in uesp.net mainly for navigational purposes. It sounds lazy, but if this gameplay was unassisted, then it would have taken substantially longer (half a year? Maybe even a year?) to complete what we’ve been able to complete.

The events in this game is supposed to take place some time after the events of Daggerfall. The opening cinematics (and even the loading screens for that matter) certainly leads you to believe that this is going to be one heck of a great game.

At the beginning, you find yourself in imperial custody aboard a prison ship. You are in first person perspective. From here, you are walked through some basic navigation (how to walk, open doors, and talk to people). From here, you are lead through the Excise office where you basically not only create your character, but also determine what you look like as well through the customization menus. There are multiple ways of going through this process. You can choose from a list of preset classes, answer some vague questions, or completely create your class from scratch. You’ll then be led through more of the Excise office where you are taught combat and how to collect items. You are also given your first main quest objective – deliver a package to Caius Cosades. When you leave the Excise office (and are no longer in Imperial custody), you are basically let loose to do whatever you wish in the huge world of Morrowind.

Much like Daggerfall, this game is not based on experience points. Instead, it’s based on skills you can obtain either from practicing said skills or purchasing training. One notable difference between Daggerfall and Morrowind is the fact that there are substantially more major and minor skills that you can train up to gain levels. This can mean more possible levels you can obtain as you venture forth. For every level up you gain in your major or minor skill, you can a point towards your next level. Every 10 points means you level up. While you can train up your miscellaneous skills to be better at them, they do not directly contribute to allowing you to level up (though they may indirectly help you train up other skills such as athletics allowing you to run from baddy to baddy faster – which you can then use some of your offensive skills at an increasing rate).

When you do level up, you are shown your list of attributes that you can upgrade. You’ll notice that some have an “X” value. These are multiplier bonuses that you earn from the skills you are training. If you train a skill with a governing attribute of speed by several levels, you’ll see multiplier bonuses show up more frequently besides the speed attribute. Same can be said for other skills and their relationship with your attribute. Medium armor, for instance, has the governing attribute of Endurance. If you increase your medium armor level up by a few levels, you’ll notice your endurance will have a nice multiplier next to it. In total, you can increase a grand total of three attributes by a maximum of x5 per level. After you level up, all of your training will effectively reset so far as levelling up is concerned. So, if you didn’t upgrade Wisdom with an x2 next to it on level up, that multiplier will not carry through to the next level up. You have to start over. The only attribute that doesn’t ever get a multiplier bonus is luck. Luck effectively is a miscellaneous attribute that can only be increased naturally 1 point at a time. Everything has a ceiling of 100, so if you want to get a nice set of 100’s by each attribute by the end of the game without doing something that may constitute manipulation of game mechanics (yes, I’m talking about damage skill on self which is something I did not do), then you’ll have to strategically keep feeding that luck attribute from time to time.

Some reviewers that I noticed point out that you can buy your skill level ups through a number of trainers throughout Morrowind. I suspect that these reviewers didn’t play too far into the game because there is a major caveat to this element of the game. While there may be numerous trainers throughout the game, there’s only one of each skill that can train you up to 100. These NPC’s are considered master trainers. Unless you have a guide, it can be quite difficult to find them at times. In fact, you’ll only really notice you are training with a master trainer if you simply keep getting trained up and you find yourself suddenly at 100 after a while. One master trainer is even hostile towards you on sight (Enchant master trainer). Due to a major oversight, the developers also forgot to add an armorer master trainer via neglecting to add a training option on one of the NPC’s.

One thing that is immediately obvious is that your walk speed is incredibly slow. You can move around quicker by running and jumping. This is at the expense of stamina, but at least you don’t move at a snails pace at the beginning. Right clicking will allow you to view your menu. Caps lock allows you to stay in run mode. “E” is jump. “A” and “D” are strafing which can be useful in defending against ranged attacks. Left mouse click allows you to attack. “F” puts you in fight mode. “R” puts you in spellcasting mode.

You can equip a weapon for the purpose of attacking. You can also equip a spell. In any case, you are effectively limited to one weapon or tool at a time. To use the spells found in scrolls, scroll down to the bottom of your spell list and you’ll find enchanted items and scrolls found on the bottom – separate from the spells you have in your, what I think of as, “spellbook”. Just equip the scroll and cast.

In terms of loot, you are limited to what you can hold. Your encumbrance meter is located above your characters picture. Your natural maximum encumbrance is 500 because you gain 5 maximum points for every point of strength. Since your maximum natural strength is 100, you can’t go any higher than 500 without magical assistance. If you find an item that can increase your strength temporarily or permanently so long as the item is equipped (ala constant effect), then you can also increase your maximum encumbrance past 500 in a somewhat temporary way. Very useful if you have 501 in weight to haul back to town.

You can also swim in this game. After you dip a little below the surface, you’ll get a breath meter. I’m not aware of any way to increase the capacity of this meter, but if it drops down to nothing, you’ll start taking damage from drowning. Two ways you can avoid this is either by casting a water breathing spell or simply increase your athletics skill so you can swim faster and get out of the water sooner. A swift swim spell will also allow you to swim faster.

When encountering an enemy, if you use a melee attack (the game balance favors characters with melee skills), there are three different sounds you can hear. If there is a simple swing sound, then you aren’t close enough to an enemy. If you hear the swing noise with a little bit of added texture to the sound, that means you are close enough to strike an opponent, but you missed anyway. Naturally, if you hear the “thwacking” noise and see a puff of blood, then it means that you’ve hit the enemy. The extra yellow bar that appears in combat represents the enemies health.

Fatigue plays a major roll in whether or not you can either successfully cast a spell or hit an opponent. If you have a full bar of fatigue (green bar), you are most likely to hit an opponent (determined also by how skilled you are with that particular attack). If you have no fatigue left, unless your skill is already at 100, the chances of hitting an enemy is extremely remote. You can more or less see some chance numbers in real time in spells. If you use up your fatigue, look at the number after the slash (chances of a successful cast – first number is the cost of the spell) next to the spells in the right click menu. Then, stand around doing nothing outside of the menu screen to allow your fatigue to fill back up. When you look at those numbers again, chances are, the chance of a successful cast have increased (again, dictated by your skill in that particular spell class). I don’t think your character can collapse from exhaustion like Daggerfall, but I never personally chanced it and kept casting Stamina every so often.

One major pitfall in this game is the fact that merchants have a limited amount of gold. That means that who you sell to after a while can be dictated by how much gold they have on hand. If you have a weapon that is worth 50,000 gold, even after the haggling that knocks down how much you can sell it for, chances are, the most you can hope for is the maximum amount of gold the merchant has. The gold does reset after a period of game time, but if the starting amount for the merchant is 300 pieces of gold for that weapon, you’ll only ever get 300 gold profit. Depending on which dungeons you loot, it’s entirely possible to regularly come up with items that the merchants can’t even afford. In a sense, you’ll always be losing money based on limitation more that mercantile skill. In short, you could be hauling 400 units of equipment and are only to sell 30 units – leaving you stuck with 370 units of loot and only a broke merchant to work with. While this does kind of suck, I did find a word that should be familiar with anyone who’s played this game rigorously: workaround. The game allows you to lay down items on the ground and it will remember where you put it even after time passes and you’ve left the area. So, the workaround goes a little something like this: Find the merchant with the most gold, set everything you own at the feet of the merchant away from anything the merchant may own, then whenever the gold resets on the merchant, you can grab something (or a set of items) off of the stack of loot you’ve accumulated throughout the game and sell it. This solution mainly solves the issue of encumbrance. You can simply keep adding to the stack and also sell piece meal at the rate you can muster up to how fast the merchant resets the gold. This is great because even if you went out and traveled by silt strider or boat just to fetch an item or ask something of an NPC, you can always come back to that merchant and sell the maximum gold as if you brought back a massive haul. The only thing is to remember to periodically pick up your gold limit every so often. After a while, the loot piles look ridiculous with weird totem poles of weapons and armor (as items stack after a while), the practicality trumps the ludicrousness of this idea. Do you still lose money on each transaction that exceeds the limit of the merchants total cash reserve? Yes, but it saved a lot of headache for me since, unlike Daggerfall, there is no wagon option for your loot. This solution wound up being the best way for me to make a large amount of money in a smaller amount of real time.

The next inevitable problem I came across was trying to extract the loot from the dungeon in an efficient manner. For this, I modified the idea of piling the loot a little and the solution was that either you concentrate the loot at the entrance (as that’s a nice landmark to go for) or somewhere in the middle (thus decreasing the distance you have to travel from the edges). When you’ve cleaned out the dungeon, pile the loot, have your mark spell set at the merchants feet, then pick up all of the loot all at once and cast recall. This is what worked well for me throughout the game whenever I found a dungeon filled with great loot and very few practical means of hauling it out. If you come across a weapon that’s worth lots, but also weighs enough to cause you to never be able to pick it up and move, you can always leap frog your way to the pile by simply looking down a little, placing the item as far away from you as possible, then walking to the other side of the weapon as far as you can go, picking up the item and repeating the process. This can end up being time consuming, but if you want to sell that item badly enough and you don’t want to unequip something in the process, that’s your next best idea.

So, those are some tips I’ve come up with in the 60 days I’ve spent playing this game. Not saying I’m the first to find these (in fact, I’d be shocked if no one else thought of them), but these are some of the problems I was able to solve without assistance.

There are numerous things I felt were annoying about this game. One of the biggest complaints I have was the spell list. Yes, it’s good that items were separated from actual spells which further had a small list of abilities. It is an improvement over Daggerfall in that the spells are automatically placed in alphabetical order. It can still wind up being one really long list. I think if the spells were further divided in tabs by magic school, the browsing of the spells would be far less painful, but having one giant list of spells really gets irritating even when it’s all in alphabetical order.

Another bit irritant is something I do agree with the vast majority of other reviewers out there. The journal system is awful. By the time I was done with this game, my journal had over 300 pages of entries. Each journal entry is added at the end of what amounts to another long list. It’s possible to stuff 8 entries for every two pages, but most of the time, you’ll end up with 4 or 6. Your status of completion doesn’t affect anything as completion entries just gets tacked onto the end. There is a topics based section, but that only becomes mildly useful – and I do mean very mildly. If entries were separated based on completion status, it would’ve made a world of difference, but the journal system you have in this game is only useful if you go through the entire game one quest at a time (difficult!).

In addition to all of this are the bugs. One reviewer went so far to defend this game as to say that nitpicking the game for it’s bugs is not seeing the forest for the trees. My response would be that if you see a forest full of bugs, you call it for what it is: a buggy game. Any person that says that Daggerfall is a buggy mess, but Morrowind is a sleek polished game, those people are simply kidding themselves. Having played both, I can honestly say that Morrowind is only a mild improvement. Some bugs still exist in this game that plagued the previous game. Some bugs are improved over the previous system, but are still there. Probably the big difference is that the graphics are shinier and the mechanics of the game were tweaked. The bugs I found in this game are quite severe in some cases and numerous in other cases. I’ll get into section specific bugs that irked me later, but there are a few general bugs I found in everything.

One of the bugs is the load times for the water effect. If you travelled by boat from one location to another, you’ll notice a very solid color of the water. After a moment, the water effects will finally load. This bug simply makes the game look odd at times.

Another bug is that NPCs mouths sometimes freeze open while they talk. This can be fixed by moving around, but it, again, looks odd.

Moving NPCs sometimes wind up in places they don’t belong. In Balmora, I found a soldier stuck on top of a box. While walking, the NPC wasn’t moving.

Similarly, but more prominently, NPCs that aren’t supposed to move do move. Sometimes, these NPCs eventually end up blocking doorways. Other times, they fall off of docks and only load swimming in the water below. This isn’t all that obvious at first, but when you’ve given this game enough mileage, this problem goes from barely noticeable, to odd, to infuriating. Sometimes, jumping around them work. Other times, strafing your way around them works after wiggling your way through, but sometimes, you just have to find another available rout if available. In some rare instances, you’ll get lucky and the way will be cleared up again, but not that often.

Sometimes, peaceful monsters block your way. If a monster experiences that glitch of simply flying into a wall (ala bull netch), it can block an entrance to a dungeon. This is because the click zones overlap in ways that seemingly shouldn’t. I had to kill a bull netch because even after sleeping, the bull netch wouldn’t move.

Similarly, if corpses even remotely overlap, you’ll have to remove one to gain access to another for looting purposes even if your mouse is clearly pointing at the correct corpse. So, clicking zones are not that well designed in my opinion.

Another pitfall is the music. At first, with the intro, this game sounds like it’s going to be an amazing game. That sense of possible amazement dwindles when you realize there’s maybe a half a dozen songs or so – about half of which activate when you encounter something hostile and goes away when all is calm again. A vast majority of games I’ve played at least have a few tracks for specific environment. This game has numerous environments like caverns, open plains, forested areas, ruins, mechanical environments, cities, underwater areas, small villages, forts, and a whole lot more. To me, a well produced game will contain something musically different for each drastically different environment. Morrowind does not contain this. Instead, the music you get when venturing out into the forest is the same music you get in caverns, a large city, a shrine, in underwater areas, the dungeons that contain final bosses, and everywhere else you care to venture. It’s not so bad when the battle music is the same, but when the calm environments contain the same music, the distinguishing factors of each environment become blurred. To add to this, the soundtrack is extremely limited. So, while you might be able to enjoy and appreciate the music the first few days of play, you’ll eventually get bored of the same music being played over and over again. I was able to adapt by simply tuning out the music after a while. I could shut it off entirely in the options, but the music changes whenever you encounter a monster whether or not you see them. So, I needed the music on for that extra seemingly clairvoyant ability to detect hostility. Still, I thought the soundtrack of this game was limited and very repetitive for something that takes weeks, if not, months to play.

Some reviewers criticized this game for the stripped down lock-picking/trap disarming. I agree it’s not the greatest in the world when you are told whether something is locked and/or trapped, but it could be a heck of a lot worse in my opinion. The incorporation of trapped doors and chests did add some flavor to it. I’ve played games where almost all boxes are not trapped and not locked, so those elements do add a certain element of flavor to it. Still, I agree that there’s a whole lot more that could have improved this such as the risk of a trap being set off when disarming something or an element of doubt as to whether a chest is trapped or not.

Personally, I found the map system bug more annoying. At random moments, the game will stop mapping where you are. So, if you right click, you’ll randomly find the arrow that represents your character in a sea of black. Even if you re-enter already mapped areas, this often doesn’t go away and the map still won’t update. I had to come up with multiple solutions to get this game mapping my location again including entering and leaving random dungeons, sleeping out in the open, and staring down at the ground. The annoying part is the fact that at any given moment, one solution won’t work while other solutions will. This bug frequently happens when you encounter a baddie, but that isn’t always the case. If I encounter an area at one point in the game that refuses to be map, I’ll find myself crossing the same area several real days later and the game maps the are without a problem. There are no skills associated with exploration, so it’s simply a bugged system.

Having said that, there are positives to be had in this game. I thought that the open nature of the quest lines was a very good concept. It’s not perfect in that you can break the game’s main quest simply by completing quests as intended, but there are still good ideas to be had here. The large number of quests are also pretty well done. I doubt I’d ever complete every available quest out there, but there is so much you can do, you basically plot your own course throughout the game. I thought this was a positive.

I thought there was a bud of an interesting idea by adding a bounty as an element. It’s not perfect in that the second a crime is committed, everyone in all of Morrowind magically knows that you did something wrong, but there’s a start here. You can’t exactly loot people’s houses with the residents seeing everything you do like other games, so there is an added sense of realism.

An additional positive is that NPC’s speak differently depending on what is going on. Specifically, if you are injured or have a bounty on you, then random NPCs will speak to you differently. NPC’s will also speak to you differently depending on what race you are. I thought this was a very nice highlight in this game.

To add to the positives, I thought the changing weather patters and continually moving sun and subsequent lighting was very well done. Too bad there are no shadows that also adjust in this game because that would have been a nice cherry on top. Still, cell shading was a nice touch.

There is always something different you can do in this game. Every one element gets boring after a while, but you can, at your own pace, shift your focus from one element to another. You can randomly explore the land. You can complete guild quests. You can beef up your mercantile skills by trying to get better and better deals. You can practice your speechcraft by intimidating or admiring people. You can hunt down master trainers. You can find ways of building up your cash reserves by, among other things, looting various dungeons found in this game. You can practice your thievery by unlocking chests. You can see how many spells you can buy from spell merchants. What you do, how much you do it and when is more or less up to you. I thought this ultimately was the biggest reason I didn’t eventually set this game aside. It wasn’t that any one element was necessarily amazing, but you can experience different things are your own pace throughout this game. Had this game been just quest completion and stat building, I would have eventually gotten bored of this game and moved on to something else – never completing the game. The variety of what you can do ultimately saves this game for me the most.

So, having said all of that, I’ll go into game section specifics.

Morrowind

What you’ll find is that there is a main quest tree. There is also a pile of sidequest trees along the way as well. Some elements are well designed while others were horribly designed.

If you complete a Seyda Neen quest in the first village where you are to find the stash of a particular NPC, it’s easy to see how well done quests can be in that you get to stand watch at the watch tower and keep an eye on him as he visits his stash he’s hiding from the local guards. Unfortunately, I found, that quests aren’t always this well thought out.

A vast majority of the quests seem to fall into either the fetch quests, the speak to x NPC quest, or assassination quests. As you go about completing quests, I personally found that I was asking right before the quest was given, “OK, who do I have to kill, who do I have to speak to, or what do I have to find now?” Inevitably, the quests fall into those categories. Some quests have multiple segments like the investigation quests that sometimes crop up from time to time. Some quests asks you to visit a small list of locations and do something specific at each location. Other quests are merely a “point A, point B, return to point A” quest though.

An interesting element is that it’s impossible to complete all of the quests available in the game in any order you choose. In the fighters guild, for instance, you are quested to kill a list of quest givers in the thieves guild. If you haven’t competed the thieves guilds quests yet, it’ll make it impossible to actually complete anything left undone if you compelte the fighters guild quests.

Of course, the quest system does get worse from here.

Some quest givers give vague or convoluted directions to where you need to go. Given the massive size of this game, this can become problematic very quick because you could find yourself wandering in huge areas for hours, not finding what you are looking for. Sometimes, you may even find yourself close to where you need to go, but you’d never know it. Unless you are using a detailed guide, getting lost will become a very normal and common occurrence in this game. A very frustrating element in this game to say the least.

In my opinion, a serious bug in this game is that an NPC critical to your main quest (not just a little optional side quest) can disappear from where she is supposed to be located. This is the Sharn gra-Muzgob informant quest. I found that saving the game right where she is located and loading the game back up fixes this, but that assumes that you know exactly where she is located going into the quest. New people to this game would not know this and never find a way of completing this quest. This, to me, was one of the biggest and most severe bug in this game because it can easily stop people from completing this game just a few quests in.

This game encourages you to complete side quests. Caius Cosades even explicitly tells you to continue your under cover status by going out and completing quests. If you complete all of the Morag Tong guild quests, for example, you will be unable to complete the main quest. I think that there shouldn’t have been any quests you can complete that stops you from beating the game. It’s a little ridiculous to even have that possibility in the game in the first place in my opinion. If you are explicitly encouraged to complete side quests, side quest shouldn’t stop you from completing the game.

Quest bugs are quite prominent. Half the time, there are bugs in the quest you are on. In fact, the final main quest for Morrowind contains 9 known bugs in it. I can see a random side quest having bugs in it, but a main quest – not to mention the big final quest to boot – containing so many bugs? Really?

Another big irritant I have specifically for Morrowind is the fact that chunks of dungeon are sometimes overused. Take for instance, Addamasartus. This dungeon is the closest one to Seyda Neen. When you enter, note the overall layout in the first area. There’s a stalactite in the middle of the room and a nice circular rock ramp that leads down to a passage. I have honestly lost track how many times this dungeon piece was used in other dungeons. There may be dungeons without the stalactite. There may be dungeons with this block completely being redecorated. It’s just unfortunate just how many times this piece was used. By far, this isn’t the overused segment (how many elements in an ancestral tomb are re-used anyway? They almost all look the same save for them being laid out in a slightly different configuration.)

The size of the dungeons were another irritating factor at times. They are at a respectable size when they are related to main quests. This is good because they are at a somewhat respectable size most of the time where it counts the most. Unfortunately, for a lot of other dungeons – even dungeons related to side quests – they are frequently just three of four rooms divided by a hallway or two. Most of the time, they don’t even contain worthwhile loot (exception being if you’re just starting out and it’s worth it to haul plain clothing back to the local village for small amount of cash). Some dungeons are, granted, split up in segments and contain multiple levels. Unfortunately, most of the time, you are looking at a few rooms in each level and you are looking at all of three levels at most in each dungeon. In any event, you’ll find yourself clearing out an entire dungeon in all of ten minutes or less with hit and miss results in a lot of cases. I found this element to be completely unrewarding. In fact, most of the effort in the process winds up being finding a specific dungeon rather than raiding the dungeon itself. Finding specific dungeons are sometimes annoying, so the reward tends to be small. This is where Daggerfall trumps Morrowind because if you completely loot a dungeon in Daggerfall, you’ll get a very good feeling of satisfaction because it’s a major accomplishment looting a single dungeon. Morrowind, on the other hand, is different in that looting an entire dungeon is simply a small task you do in a heartbeat – and it’s much less rewarding after.

One bug I did encounter was that it’s possible to fall through the floor in the outside area in Vivec. This occurred most often in the Temple portion of Vivec, but it did happen once in the Foreign quarters. Luckily, I had a levitation spell, so I could fly back up through the floor again from the water. This seems to occur when you employ jumping while running – which is the fastest form of travel.

Vivec was also irritating to explore because there’s such a long distance to cover just to enter one of the small handful of entrances in each canton. Sometimes, these entrances lead to a small cramped one room quarter containing an NPC on top of it all. So, sometimes I felt like I was wasting my time trying to find specific areas in Vivec. Vivec could have been a whole lot smaller in size in my opinion.

There are positives in this part of the game. There’s a huge variety of side quests not related to guilds you can complete (escorting people, delivering love letters, etc.). I thought this added flavor to the overall gameplay.

A visual bug I found was that water splash effects can go right through solid objects at times. It makes some environments look a little off.

Additionally, since you are probably working up your jumping skills, try to avoid landing on top of torches. If you do, the game will think you are falling even though you’ve stopped. This means the only two ways to get off of this torch is either by a magic spell like levitation or divine intervention or by reloading from a previous save position. Save often because this can easily happen accidentally in some environments.

Another positive was the fact that the variety of environments were generally good. You can find giant mushrooms, lava, and swampy regions to name a few in the overland area. While the music in this game falls far short to match, I thought the visuals you can get in these environments were nicely done – even if structures you can enter are so often repeated throughout the game. The natural environment was well done.

One tip I can give is the fact that if you should aim for 50 reputation by the time you complete the Caius Cosades. Don’t waste your time with the fighters guild because you won’t get hardly any reputation there. Try one of the great houses or mages guild if you want to focus on earning reputation. You can save yourself some headaches further down the road if you do this.

I thought that there could have been more cutscenes in this game, but the two I saw were decently well done. I also thought some of the voice acting was decent enough even if the warping may have been a little overdone – causing some of the voicework to become a little unintelligible at times. Still, the final bosses reaction when you start slicing and dicing the heart was a nice touch.

Also worth noting is the fact that the richest merchants I found in this game had 4000 gold. I’ve heard of merchants (namely the talking mudcrab) with 5000 gold, but I never found them.

So, overall, the overground areas were decent enough , but the dungeon environments tend to get quite repetitive after a while visually speaking. There are lots of bugs to be had. The quests can get confusing and can even break things if you’re not careful enough. So far, for me, this game is playable, but it’s by no means an amazing game as others have suggested.

Tribunal

Tribunal is the first expansion of this game. When I first entered the expanded area, I thought the visuals, were a breath of fresh air. Almost everything is new in terms of construct.

This area is basically a giant city with all of your dungeons below it. It’s an interesting construct in that you have an over and underground element in it all, though the sewers is the most repetitive environment found in this area.

The area to explore is much smaller and, therefor, much more manageable. You’ll still encounter quests that might make you lost (in fact, there’s that awkward 24 hour waiting period with no objectives to be found in the main quest), but it’s generally much better than Morrowind even though there’s less you can do.

One major positive is the fact that there’s a merchant with 10,000 gold. Excellent for all those pieces of equipment worth tens of thousands of gold pieces.

Another great part about this is the fact that parts of the environment can be altered – whether by quest or you altering the environment yourself. I thought this was the best implementation of moving objects found in all three portions of the fully expanded game.

One thing I found confusing was what the ideal level you should be at by the time you get to this part of the game. In some instances, it almost sounds like you could be somewhere around level 20 to 40. In other instances, I was struggling at level 70. So, when is the best time to enter Mournhold is a bit of a mystery to me even after completing it.

The lack of an expanded music library was a missed opportunity for me. You still get the same music over and over again in these areas, so the audio landscape gets more dry here. The expanded dialogue amongst NPCs was nice though.

Another thing I thought was weird was that I experienced falling through the ground outside in the courtyard. Luckily, the game eventually warped me back up and this only happened the one time. Still, it shows this section is not exactly bug free either.

Overall, I think this was the best part of the game. A good expansion overall even if there were some pitfalls here as well.

Bloodmoon

By the time I got here, I had maxed out almost every stat I had. As a result of this, apparently, this made most of this expansion a bit of a cakewalk in that fighting became optional and all I had to do was keep moving quickly to avoid most fights. All of my fighting and movement stats were maxed out, so there was literally no point. Still, there are situations where a level 70+ character can have difficulty surviving, so the area didn’t always contain a pushover difficulty. Still, I think it would have been better to have caps raised so you can have more difficult monsters waiting for you (much like Tribunal in retrospect).

I thought the reuse of the fort assets was a letdown, but the snowy environments and new NPC looks were a step in the right direction.

The best part of Bloodmoon is the greatly expanded dialogue. NPC’s speech changes even based on how far along you are in quests. Again, though, there was a major missed opportunity when there was no new tracks added. So, the music became painful enough where I had to train myself to ignore the music whenever it’s not changing from calm to combat situations.

The quests were decent enough, though many quest related elements from Morrowind were more or less re-used in Bloodmoon.

On a positive, I never experienced falling through the floor in Bloodmoon, so there is that.

It can be hard to see the location of your objectives, but you are give a semi crude map to help with the quest that requires the most exploration of this island.

Overall, this expansion was interesting – though the most short lived.

Wrapping it Up

Overall, this game was an interesting one. It’s not the best RPG game I’ve ever played, but it’s certainly not the worst either. It can easily soak up several hours of your time and it’ll keep getting you to come back for more. This game is a lot like Daggerfall in that there are numerous bugs. Some reviewers look past this and give the game top marks for this, but I think this was unwarranted. There are positives to be had in the game, but the often muddied quest lines and horribly constructed journal system and spell book system contributes to this game not receiving high praise from me. So, a decent game all around. Just wished it broke from what dragged down Daggerfall because I’m sure there is a great game under all of these deficiencies.

Overall

Furthest point in game: Completed main quests for Morrowind, Tribunal, and Bloodmoon. Finished all but three quests in fighters guild. Completed all quests in Mages guild. Completed a few quests in the Imperial Cult. Completed all quests in the Tribunal Temple. Made it to level 73. Armoror skill made it to level 80. Mercantile was up to level 88. Every other skill was maxed out at 100. Luck at 63. Every other attribute at 100. Reputation built up to 72.

General gameplay: 14/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 66%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85



2 Comments

  • vtastek says:

    https://www.rpgfan.com/reviews/tribunal/tribunal-4b.jpg
    Show active, show completed etc.. You missed it, for a whooping 60 days.
    The game is long, I would say that is a plus. For once, epic means epic.
    None of those bugs are critical. An old game gets a detailed bug list, the same attention would find hundreds of bugs for any game. I don’t think there are many worthy of such attention though.
    Millions of Morrowind players played the game, I don’t think they had superhuman abilities to decipher these supposedly vague descriptions. I don’t think you gave the game any attention, you seem you made your mind before playing it. You didn’t have to review it if you can’t have the time.
    It is an RPG, choices matter. Making different characters to enjoy different experiences should be a feature for more games. Morrowind achieves this while being incredibly open. I would like to see others beat that.(dozens of characters, never passed level 25. Completionists, they don’t understand. :))
    Combat later levels is indistinguishable from Oblivion and Skyrim’s always hit model. It is still bad though.
    Calling a quest a fetch quest is not good criticism. LOTR is a fetch quest. There is always a meaning behind all these quests in Morrowind that ties into the NPCs’ goals, game world lore and politics which would make you stop and think! They are not like MMO quests at all. The difference compared to others like the spectacle of Oblivion’s very imaginative quests is like the difference of an actual gameplay segment and a setpiece. You just observe in one as the quest plays itself, the other requires you to act without handholding.
    I love the music so much that I never got bored of it, still it makes sense to have it dynamically change based on circumstances.
    Completionists and powergamers would not enjoy Morrowind, I give you that.

    • Drew Wilson says:

      Personally, I always found it funny that for games like this, they get a free pass for bugs and they are considered amazing. Meanwhile, other lesser known games get poor reviews based on less severe bugs as if a small glitch was the end of the world. I was constantly worried I was going to break the game via stumbling on a large bug or completing the wrong quest at the wrong time. In fact, I did partially break it when it started kicking out error messages on load for a little while. Luckily, the error messages went away after playing for a little while longer. I’ve played numerous large games with far fewer bugs than this. Collectively, they were a constant reminder that this game could have been worked on more.

      Even with the option in the journal system, it could have been made a lot better. Maybe not even show the inactive/completed quests instead of fading them out? I just gave up on it and focused on completing things one at a time. All I thought about when it came to the journal was that if an entry was added, it meant I completed either one of the checkpoints in a quest or I completed something.

      I gave this game a positive rating (effectively in the decent range), but I didn’t give it a glowing review. This isn’t because of me being a completionist, but because of the numerous reasons I outlined in the review. The less than satisfactory dungeon’s, constant glitches which included me falling through the ground, early level caps in spite of the expanded areas and plenty of others that I outlined in the review. The game was good, but not amazing for me. I’ve played better (Ultima Underworld, Might and Magic 6, etc.) and I’ve played worse (Gauntlet II, Cool World, Wetrix, etc.). I agree that this game certainly has it’s positive moments and aspects such as the unique levelling system, expansive overworld, and great graphics for it’s time, but I have to weigh everything that’s in front of me. When it comes to a really large game like this, that isn’t easy because there is LOT’s of content to go through just to get a decent size sample for a halfway decent and accurate rating. Most reviewers would never go this far to rate a game thanks to extremely tight deadlines. I went into this game having never played it when it was first released. Still, I wanted to try something new and was willing to invest the time and energy to be as thorough as I felt necessary to get a good feel of this game. Either completing all of the quests for a couple of guilds or almost all of them four a couple of guilds over top of completing the main story seemed reasonable considering how many hours you’d have to invest just to get that much finished. It sounds completionist, but that approach was more a case of trying to get a nice sizable sample out of the game so I could know what the quests were more or less all about. Otherwise, how would one even contemplate getting an an accurate experience out of the game is almost all of the content was never played? I was motivated enough to get that far and I was never put off enough to not just push this game aside and call it boring which should speak positively to this game in and of itself. Believe me, there are games out there that I’ve played that I simply pushed aside because of lack of motivation to complete. those games got far worse ratings than this.

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