Before Skyrim, before Oblivion, there was The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. The first true 3D open-world western RPG to bless the original Xbox console. It changed the genre forever, and set standards which some would argue have never been met since. I had the privilege of reviewing the Game of the Year version of Morrowind back in 2004 when Rocket Chainsaw was just an idea in the heads of our clever editors, giving it 96% and stating it “may be the life you’ve been looking for”. Little did we know back then that Blizzard’s World of Warcraft was just around the corner, and the boom of the MMORPG market would commence.
Fifteen years later and ZeniMax Online Studios has been busy at work re-creating the masterpiece island of Vvardenfell to be placed in their ever-changing and successful MMORPG The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited. The developers used the original map from TES III as an overhead to create the new map, fitting perfectly with its original size however the events of The Elder Scrolls Online occur some 700 years before TES III, and therefore the Morrowind you remember is not identical to the Morrowind you will see today.
ZeniMax wants to make it clear to everyone that absolutely anyone can jump in and begin their adventures in The Elder Scrolls Online with the Morrowind expansion. Since the massive overhaul of the game which included the removal of the monthly subscription and introduction of a paid The Elder Scrolls Online Plus service that gives paying customers bonuses (mostly cosmetic), the entire game’s world now scales to your level, meaning no matter where you are in the entire map of Tamriel you are able to continue your journey with whatever quests you might already have. This means beginning in Morrowind is as easy as creating your character and getting off your ship in the sleepy fishing town of Seyda Neen, the starter town from TES III and seemingly the perfect ship docking destination from the mainland for hundreds of years.
The starter quest in Seyda Neen soon leads you to the island’s capital Vivec City, home of the god Vivec, to speak with him directly regarding urgent matters. Morrowind’s story has you involved from the moment you get off the ship. If you have an existing character and choose to use that instead, your journey in Morrowind will begin in the same way, only instead of arriving on ship you will instead locate the Seyda Neen wayshrine on the map and teleport to the island. Whilst completing the main quest, dozens of side quests will pop up along the way. There are many more quests scattered across the island, some which only become available once others are completed. The amount of single-player content in this iteration of Morrowind seems to be on par with the original.
A lot of the quests feature voice acting throughout most of the dialogue, which really helps to become immersed in the new content. Other MMORPG’s don’t have any voice dialogue for single-player content, so it was great to come back to Tamriel and enjoy sophisticated quest content. If there’s anything to complain about with the quests in Morrowind it’s that you’re only rewarded with XP along the way, and usually some gold and an item at the end. It would have been nicer to get some gold and items throughout quests as some of them have you travelling around the entire island, meaning you might complete a dozen other quests throughout the process.
Along with the new quests, there are six new delves (solo dungeons), two new public dungeons (4 player) and one trial (12 player). They are all themed perfectly to the Morrowind expansion, and offer continued gameplay for those that have reached endgame content. There are also several world bosses scattered around the island, each with a daily quest. It’s relatively easy to find a group for world bosses, so if you happen to stumble upon one in your journeys, just ask in the zone chat for help. World bosses are a great way to keep your equipment at-level with your character.
The zone chat was relatively helpful to use, albeit slightly immature. A problem with this expansion is that Vvardenfell is essentially a single zone and therefore absolutely everyone that wants to experience the new content is in one massive chatroom. Sometimes it felt like the good old World of Warcraft Barrens chat (even that zone and its respective chat got split in an expansion), but mostly people were civil and assisting each other by any means, which speaks lengths for the Elder Scrolls community. Perhaps Vivec City and Balmora could have had their own chats to allow for a split in the overall traffic.
The Morrowind expansion introduces battlegrounds, where three teams of four characters face off against each other in a variety of game modes. Once you hit level 10 you can join in the PvP fun which previously was only available in a more open-world style in Cyrodiil, the location of the Imperial City. The three new game modes are Team Deathmatch, Capture the Relic and Domination which are all fairly self-explanatory for anyone that has played any kind of online PvP games before. Each match only lasts a maximum of 10 minutes, and are easy to join by joining a queue in the Group and Activity Finder (press P). Battlegrounds are a great way to hone your skillsets, so if you’re struggling with your single-player content, trying out the new battlegrounds might be a good idea. Performing well in a battleground will reward you with medals which can be used for alliance points, experience points and end-game items.
The other main addition to the Morrowind expansion is of course the new Warden class. Wardens are similar to the Sorcerer class in that they can summon a pet. The bear pet takes charge once you reach level 12 in your Animal Companion skill, and can essentially be used as a tank while you DPS from afar. This means the Warden class is great for using bows, however you can still use melee weapons. Wardens have three talent trees, one for your pet, one for DPS and one for healing, making Wardens able to be used as both a DPS and healing role when in groups. It is fairly easy to learn how to play as a Warden, and once you hit level 15 and unlock your second action bar allowing you to set up a perfect DPS/Healing combination, you’ll find Warden to be a very enjoyable class to play in The Elder Scrolls Online.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind is absolutely beautiful. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best looking and most immersive MMORPG’s to bless our screens. While other MMORPG’s are becoming more and more dated, the graphics in The Elder Scrolls Online continue to amaze. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s easy to compare the newly released expansion with the original 2002 edition, or it could just be that this MMORPG looks that good, and there’s nothing else on the market that can compete with the Elder Scrolls lore whilst matching it graphically. If you’ve been stuck playing the same old MMORPG with aging graphics and you’re looking for a noticeable update, The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind is definitely worth trying, and don’t forget there’s no subscription.
Who can forget the epic music that became synonymous with The Elder Scrolls when Morrowind was originally released? The title music “Call of Magic” for the original Morrowind which has lent its familiar tune throughout the ages has received yet another retake, and fits ever so perfectly in the world of The Elder Scrolls Online. You’ll also notice other familiarities with the original TES III soundtrack as you explore Vvardenfell. With all the added voice acting, stunning music and sights and sounds of Morrowind long time fans of the series and newcomers alike are treated to one of the best packages we’ve seen in a MMORPG.
Witness The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind’s introduction with the remade Call of Magic in this video below:
Summing up The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind is hard to do. The game as we know it today is very different to the base game that launched in April, 2014, with the basic subscription removed, world leveling, several new areas to explore, and more. The Morrowind expansion adds many more hours of gameplay, a wealth of new lore and some of the best nostalgic gaming recollections imaginable. Purchasing any package which isn’t the basic “Upgrade” pack will net you a copy of the base game as well, making it easy for newcomers to begin their journey, or veterans to share the love and get a friend or family member to try out Tamriel Unlimited. Morrowind has turned The Elder Scrolls Online into the MMORPG that it deserves to be, and we are very excited to see what ZeniMax Online Studios does next with the game.
- Huge new zone of Vvardenfell to explore, mapped to be exactly the same size as TES III
- New Warden class brings new life to PvE, PvP, and group dynamics
- TESO takes a huge step forward with this expansion, could Skyrim be next?
- Still a few minor bugs to fix, mainly frozen loading screens
- The UI could use an overhaul to make things like groups easier to understand.