Saturday, June 4, 2011

Morrowind - Why I Hated The Game of the Year

Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is an award winning, Game of the Year RPG for the PC and X-Box. I bought the X-Box version because I heard that it was such an amazing game, and it is, or at least some of it is.

The world of Morrowind is designed for exploration. The game designers made it an expansive place with lots of interesting things to see and interact with. It seems to be about as much of a sandbox as you can get out of a videogame. The graphics are top notch, at least they were. This unfortunately means that the X-Box has a hard time managing it. Load times take forever, and it has a tendency to be jerky, and even crash.

Character creation is another area where you can tell they put a lot of time into it. There are a wide variety of races and classes to choose from. There is also a lot of customization that you can do with the way your character appears. The options are so wide that it can be hard to pick.

Unfortunately movement and combat show just how much they tried to cram into this game, as these aspects both suffer. Movement is ok, but it’s possible to get your character stuck on things like bushes, a patch of grass, or doorhandles. There is a jumping option, but I can’t say that I ever found it very useful except as a way to become unstuck.

Combat involves getting your target in your cross hairs, and swinging. It’s fiddly, and I really disliked it. There wasn’t any option (that I could discover) for any alternate attacks, and the standing there trading blows was not only fiddly, but boring. At least in many other games where you stand there and wack on each other it at least looks interesting. The lack of a good tutorial didn’t help it any either. I can’t remember the last game I played that didn’t have a solid combat tutorial. The same process of lining your target in the cross-hairs and clicking is used for interacting with things. Be it a door you want to open or an item you want to pick up. The process is still fiddly, but picking flowers or grabbing a torch isn’t likely to get you killed!

Interacting with people generally involves a LOT of reading. The more you talk to people and learn things, the more options you open up for later conversations. Unfortunately there is so much information that it’s hard to keep track of it, even with the journal.

After trying it out several times, reading walk-throughs, and other things online, I was left with the simple conclusion that while Morrowind is a fascinating game, it isn’t the game I’m looking for. What I want is more Knights of the Old Republic. I’ve played both, and Jade Empire, and for an RPG it hits everything I’m looking for. I’m finding Fable to be interesting and fairly engrossing as well. Seeing that I don’t have a whole lot of time to spend playing videogames, I find myself pretty picky about what gets my attention. Morrowind had its chance, and then some.


  1. After the first couple of hours, I spent all my time figuring out new ways to hamstring myself to keep from making the game too easy. Combat is just button-mashing, spells become over-powered VERY quickly... so I'm trying not to level too quickly, avoiding creating obviously overwhelming magic items, etc.

    Then I just abandoned the story and zoomed around to explore, which was fun for a while but...

  2. I totally loved the game even if I think that the shortcomings you point out are actually there. Yet I was enthralled by its sandbox-y nature.

    As a player you suddenly find yourself immersed in this exotic environment you know nothing about (the same as the character you play) and you slowly start to discover all the nuances of the cultures that inhabit it and their social structure. It was a fascinating experience.
    I still remember the satisfaction and excitement of entering the secret library of the Ordinators to find one of the few available copies of the scroll that told the true tale about the Battle at Red Mountain (because the official account was a cover up created by the Tribunal in order to hide their own responsibilietes and mistakes). The fact that you have to complete lots of quests just to discover its location reinforces the feeling that you are pursuing secret and potentially dangerous knowledge.
    I also remember how fun it was to learn about the traditions and life style of the fierce nomadic Dunmer and to understand the origin of their conflicts with the Great Houses, while at the same time working to gain their trust and be accepted as a member of one of the tribes.

    In the end, if you have the patience and the interest to play the game long enough, you will start to feel like the world is "real". The authors did a good job in creating a believable, deep and nuanced setting and they arranged for the player to be able to become a part of it by slowly getting to know and love its people. I've never had a similar experience with a different fantasy videogame.

    Best regards,

  3. I have tried getting into Elder Scrolls IV and it is just to hard. It's funny though. I had no problem getting along fine with Fallout 3, but ES IV was too much... weird.

  4. My biggest complaint is that it's fairly easy to get lost, and when you do, backtracking takes a long-ass time, complete with careful management of one's stamina bar.
    Combat was also troubling - those flying pterodactyl-types always attack from directly above you, and it's irritating how easily they can get the drop on you.
    I still think there's some pretty engaging material in the game, and it's interesting how useful it is to be really charismatic, given how much information and whatnot you can lay hold of if people like you. Definitely a feature nearly unique to the series, ime.