When you think of how the fantasy realm and gaming world have collided over the last 23 years Bethesda and their Elder Scrolls series are one of the first things to come to mind. It’s crazy how much of a following the series has had, especially around The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind that released back in 2002. Fans have been foaming at the mouth for a return since the last generation of consoles was released and when The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) came out a few years ago there was a glimmer of hope that the space of Tamriel may someday include the province of Morrowind. After a couple of years of ups and downs with ESO, Bethesda stuck to their guns and stayed true to their fans to revamp and adjust the game. When the Morrowind expansion was announced it breathed a fresh bit of life into the game and kept players hanging on for a chance to go down memory lane.
The Morrowind expansion isn’t just a remaster or remake, but takes players back 700 years prior to the events of 2003’s Game of the Year. Once you step foot on Vvardenfell all those memories come flooding back just like revisiting the home you grew up in long ago. Nostalgia has a way of interfering with the way we perceive something we know so well, especially when it is a game that you’ve poured hundreds of hours into and was groundbreaking in its day. The great thing about this “expansion” is that it doesn’t feel like an expansion and whether you are an old hand from back in the day or a first time traveler to Morrowind it will feel like its own separate title where you don’t ever have to travel back to the mainland. All level caps have been cast aside to allow everyone to enjoy the experience of being ingrained into a new world of giant bugs and mushrooms galore.
There is a great little intro to show you the ropes to become acquainted with the control scheme. The brief backstory and mission to kill the slavers is superbly done so it does not drag things out so you can jump right in to the PvE world chalk full of quests, side missions, and exploring to last you hundreds of hours. You’ll start seeing familiar faces from the original, like the god king Vivec, as well as various cameos and references to the future (for the Morrowind veterans) in books. My only real complaint within the side quests or leveling up your guilds or clubs is that you are sent on a pointless task after pointless task that makes you feel like a FedEx courier instead of an Elder Scrolls champion. The main story offers up 30+ hours of gameplay that puts you in as the central figure and is a fresh breath from quest-lines on the mainland. Even though you are the “main character,” after a quest you can’t help but notice all the other people heroes who have crowded the same chamber as you, dressed in the same guise needed to complete certain quests, and obviously have just completed the same quest. Sure this is a minor gripe that doesn’t affect the game a whole lot other than the occasional dungeon being cleared out by the group just ahead of you.
Returning players and newcomers will fall in love with Morrowind and all it has to offer through its stunning visuals and integration into the political feud surrounding the main storyline. Everything from the moon sugar growing in dark, dank caverns to the ominous & foreboding Red Mountain always looming in the backdrop are beautifully rendered and help set the game apart from cookie cutter fantasy games. The ambiance of the soundtrack draws you into the fantasy theme, but you’ll find bards scattered across Morrowind that will have you pull up a seat and listen for a while. And even though music can bring things to life, it is the voice acting and dialogue that occurs that makes the game feel huge and full of life.
With the Morrowind expansion comes the brand-new Warden class that mixes a little bit of everything into three skill lines; Winter’s embrace gives you the ability to be that dungeon tank and take onslaught after onslaught, Green Balance for healing you and your party, and finally the ability to summon animals to deal massive damage during battle. It is a great jack-of-all trade’s class that feels like the druid class you find in the Diablo & Neverwinter games. There is also a change from ESO’s PvP Alliance Wars to a new game mode called Battlegrounds where you fight in small arenas in classic PvP multiplayer game modes like TDM, capture the flag (relic here in Tamreil), and domination. These are quick matches that take far less time than the alliance war and pits three teams of four players against each other in a nice change of pace from questing across Morrowind.
Bethesda creates something new, yet familiar from one of their most beloved titles of the Elder Scrolls series. Morrowind captures the essence of what a RPG while delivering it in an easily accessible MMO experience that showcases how far ESO has come since its rough start that had some fans avoiding it like the black plague. It’s hard to be objective when writing about a game you loved, but even looking through the eyes of a new player there is something for everyone who knows every secret scattered across Morrowind or if this is their first time stepping foot on this strange and beautiful land you’ll quickly find yourself immersed in what feels like a more typical Elder Scrolls game.
Score – 8/10
Review code supplied by Team Xbox.