Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (PC)

In Elder Scrolls: Arena my bow broke and I was murdered by skeletons. In Daggerfall I roamed the land for days on foot, never finding out how to start the main quest. In Battlespire I got stuck in a bloody Battlespire... but this game I've played before. So hopefully I'll at least remember how to get to the plot.

And I'll be playing it 100% UNMODDED! Not even a graphics mod, this is vanilla Morrowind in its purest form. Click the pics for a super huge version. Well, 1280x960... slightly huge.

The intro explains that I am a prisoner, sent from the Imperial dungeons to Morrowind for... reasons. It also refers to my character as a 'he', so when asked I immediately choose a female character. Already I've started to fuck with destiny's schemes.

To be honest the graphics really aren't really impressing me. It's a hell of a lot better looking than the other Elder Scrolls games, but did games really look this bad as late as 2002?

Okay I take back what I said about this game looking bad. Obviously it looks dated, but think it's got a nice style to it. Though to be honest this music could make anything seem beautiful.

Right now it's extremely linear though, I can't do anything. Can't open boxes, can't escape, can't jump. I can't even switch to third person view, though that might be because I haven't set my face yet. A chat with the guard sorts that out.

Damn, I caught the guy blinking. Or maybe he just got bored waiting for me to decide what sort of character I want, and fell asleep on his feet.

Instead of messing around with numbers and stats like in the earlier Elder Scolls, in this I just pick the skills I want. Though the questionnaire's still there if I want to let the game choose for me.

I still have the same problem with this as I did with the other games though, I don't have a clue what I should pick! I only just walked into this world off a boat, I don't know anything about anything yet. Well I do know I'll be doing a lot of fighting so my first instinct is to go with a tough fighter, with a huge sword and the heaviest armour. The most boring of all possible options, but less boring than constantly being killed, so whatever.

I didn't want to steal their dagger, but the tutorial told me to do it! It didn't quite tell me to strip the room of everything else of value, but it was implied... kinda. I know I'm not the sneakiest of thieves, but no one's around to see me in this room so I'm free to take what I like.

All I wanted to know was if I'm free to leave! I started off with only two dialogue choices in that list on the right, but the blue words in his responses gave me more things to ask about. It wouldn't let me leave the room until I got up to asking about 'duties',

Apparently I'm a free man... to a point. I have to report to a guy called Caius Cosades and do whatever he asks me to do. Or else.

Trouble is, this guy doesn't exactly know where Caius Cosades is, but he gives me vague directions to a place where someone might be able to point me in the direction of where he lives. To be honest, I think this is awesome. Even vague directions are still a thousand times better than what I had to work with in the earlier Elder Scrolls games.

And that's it, a couple of rooms and I'm free to do wander the area and do whatever I want. No starting dungeon!

After leaping onto the roof of a nearby building, just because I can, I decide to find a shop and empty my pockets of the stuff I liberated from the Census Office. I buy a sword and some armour, but keep hold of enough cash to buy a ride to Balmora on a silt strider (the giant insect looking thing standing on the right of the screen as I left the boat).

The town of Balmora, viewed from the silt strider platform. I'm not sure if that's bad draw distance or it's just foggy today. I don't care, it looks cool to me. The towns in the earlier games were huge mazes of generic fantasy medieval buildings, but this place has an some interesting architecture and a layout I can get my head around.

The directions said go ask around at the 'South Wall Cornerclub'. Well, I'm on the south wall already, so I guess I'll just go walking along looking at building signs until I find it.

The guys at the Cornerclub told me that Caius's house is the one at the very end of the street. So if anyone hasn't played this game before and wants to, I've just saved you some time.

Caius lives in a house full of drugs and refuses to wear a shirt. All part of his secret agent cover, no doubt. Probably.

Apparently I'm a secret agent too now, so I'll need my own cover identity. He tells me to pretend to be a freelance adventurer, I have got him covered 100%. The main quest line REQUIRES me to go around and do whatever the fuck I want to do. I'm not sure, but I think I'm starting to like this game.

Oh by the way, there are no voices in conversation. But there are voices whenever I walk past someone. They each turn around and say something like 'Yes, what is it? I'm busy so make it quick', as if I just interrupted them. Like they assume the only reason I'm walking down that street is to talk to them personally.


Agh, these rats! They're tearing through my armour like I'm wearing paper! This happened in the first second after I went through the door. I've still got the 'used key to open door' message up. I don't even have my sword out!

I'd decided to join the Fighter's Guild, seeing as I'm a fighter with a big sword, and they sent me off on my first job... clearing out rats from a store room. So far, so cliché, except for the fact that the malevolent little rodents are stripping the flesh from my legs.

I need to get the hell out of here. Fortunately enemies can't travel through map transition doors, so I'll be safe once I'm outside. Then I'll be able to run back to the Fighter's Guild and sleep my wounds away in a free bed. But I'll be back. For revenge.

Rats win. Fatality.

My character seriously needs some more practice with this sword, she's getting humiliated here. The first enemies I've fought in the whole game and I can barely even get my attacks to connect.

Which is a shame because I bet my new sword would have done some real damage to them. It's a nice one handed magic flame sword which I found lying around in a box in town. Apparently the boxes in the street don't belong to anyone, no one knows or cares why they're there, and no one's bothered when I steal the contents.


By day three the rats were finally dead, but I get the feeling that I'm not quite ready to continue pursuing the way of the warrior. So I went and joined up with the Mage's Guild. All they want me to do is pick a few mushrooms.

So off I walk then. Well, jump. No point walking when I can hop everywhere instead and build up my acrobatics skill.

Hey look, mushrooms! Well, my job here is done. Actually no, I have to get the loot back to town first, and unlike Arena and Daggerfall there's no fast travel in this, even to places I've visited before. I can travel from town to town using silt striders, boats or Mages Guild teleporters, but that doesn't do me much good when I'm out here in the wilderness.

Maybe I should look into getting myself some of those teleport spells for myself.


Caius is satisfied with my new cover identity, so he's given me the next part of my assignment.

The task is simple, all I have to do is go chat to a guy and get some information. But before he'll talk, I have to do something for him. He wants me to go climb up the side of a volcano to an ancient crumbling ruin and search through the catacombs within for a rare artifact. As long as there's no rats in there I'm pretty sure I'll be fine!

Though I feel like I'm forgetting something somehow...


Actually these things aren't hard to kill, they're just annoying. I'm going to run off and find these ruins before more show up.

Well this looks perfectly safe. I should be able to find that tiny artifact down here in no time.


Awesome, another enemy! I haven't killed this one yet so I must be back on the right track. This place is a bloody maze, and I've been stuck wandering around in circles. For all I know I've already walked right past this thing I'm trying to collect.

I'm doing fine now in combat, now that my attacks are actually connecting. Though I'm still not sure who these guys are supposed to be. They don't seem to have been collecting any of the treasure lying around in the open, and they attack me on sight even though I'm friendly and loveable.

I've been in this damn place so long that I've ascended to level 4. I can choose three stats to raise on each level up, and the amount I can raise them by depends on how much I've been using skills related to that stat. Eg. I've been hitting things a lot, so that's given me a x3 multiplier to my Strength.

Which seems like it could be fair enough, except that any bonuses I leave unselected will be lost. So if I go with 3 points to Strength, 2 points to Agility and 2 to Endurance, then those 2 points of Speed are gone forever.

Also it kind of encourages me to avoid sleeping and levelling up until I've raised my skills enough to get three x5 bonuses. Definitely room for improvement with this system I reckon.

With the artifact found and my bag packed full of loot, I use my new 'recall' spell to teleport next to the shops, at the point where I cast my 'mark' spell earlier. This teleport spell is awesome, I just wish I had another set of them so I could teleport back into the ruins and grab more loot. Diablo had the right idea with its town portals.

On my travels I ran into a scamp in the town of Caldera running a shop inside a mansion. And unlike most people around, this guy actually has a decent amount of cash on him. It gets ridiculous when I'm trying to sell a 1000 coin item to a shopkeeper with only 600 coin on him.

Okay, I'll just check my journal to remind myself what Caius told me to do next. Thankfully this also has the blue text, so I can click it to jump back to previous info. It's not the best journal in gaming history, but it's fairly decent.

It seems that Caius has sent me to the city of Vivec, so I'll need to find transportation there (or walk the whole damn way). Fortunately the Mages Guild has a teleportation service that'll take me right there instantly.


I hate Vivic. It's more of a maze than that ancient ruin. And this time there aren't even any interesting people trying to kill me. Just elven guards that keep calling me 'scum'. Which is exactly what I need when I'm miserable and frustrated looking for people in a multi-level maze of brown corridors.

Oh, also... it's not just one maze. It's a bunch of mazes, all connected together with bridges! And I have to walk around them all on foot until I reach the one I'm supposed to visit. This place really isn't one of the game's best ideas in my opinion.

In fact it would be fair to say that I really fucking hate this place.

Oh of course one of the people I'm supposed to be looking for is hiding out in the sewers. That's the one place no one in their right mind would want to go look for them! I couldn't get any more detailed directions out of anyone, so I'm just going to have to keep looking around the sewers until I find them.

I... think I took a wrong turn. And now it's raining too.

On the plus side, this game really does has some nice weather. The thunder scared the shit out of me first time I was in a storm.

Also I've got to admit, the giant floating rock is cool. Okay let's find this final person so I NEVER have to come here again.


I did a few more jobs for people to keep my cover, got my gear repaired, and returned to Caius for my most dangerous mission yet. All the work I've done so far as been contained to the same general area of the game map, but this time I'm going way across to the other side of the island.

I took a silt strider from Balmora to Ald'ruhn, then another to Maar Gan, but from there on I've been travelling on foot. (Uh, I started at the yellow dots at the bottom of the map, and travelled to the yellow dot near the top, and I'm heading to the Urshilaku Camp).

You can check out this ridiculous map on the Unofficial Elder Scrolls wiki to see where I've travelled, or just get an aerial view of how absurd the city of Vivec is.

Also, the paper map (external link) that comes in the box is the probably best I've ever seen for a game. It's amazingly detailed.

Well, that's something different looking. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say these ruins probably didn't belong to the same people as those other ruins I was in. Maybe I should investigate further...

Actually no, instead of investigating the ruins I'll run away in the opposite direction as fast as my speed stat allows.

Eventually though I find the people I was sent to meet camped out in tents near the coast. They ask me for a gift to show my respect for then. And by 'gift' they mean 'bribe'. After handing around some coin, they agree to talk to me. Some more coin gets them to actually say something useful. Apparently my job here is to go to their ancestral tomb and get an old bow for them. Sounds simple enough.

Oh crap, their ancestors are still around, and they don't like trespassers. Well it's not like I can kill a skeleton. I'm just... laying them to rest, I'm sure no one will mind.

To be honest I haven't really explored the intricacies of the battle system. I just run up to things and hit them until they fall over. Or run around until they use up all their magic trying to blow me up, then hit them. I am but a simple warrior with a big sword.


This damn place is even more of a windy twisted multi-level maze than the ruins or Vivec! Well okay maybe it's not that bad. It seems I just follow this spiral rock bridge upwards, clearing out each floor as I reach it. Or I could just go straight to the top where the bow almost certainly is. But then I'd miss out on all the cool stuff.

And this place definitely has some nice gear around. I found a glass shield worth 20,000 coin, which is so expensive that no shop keeper in the game can afford to buy it. I'm gonna have to trade them for some cheaper stuff first and work up to it.


Well, I'm back! Huh, bringing the bow back didn't prove I was the chosen one? I have to do all this crap too? Unite the houses, unite the clans...  so many factions in this game. This really sounds like a lot of hard work. Also a lot of phrases like 'he must' and 'they call him' being thrown around in this prophecy. I guess that lets my female hero off the hook, right?

Time to find a way to sell this shield and use the cash to retire I reckon... or maybe I could equip it and go do one more mission for Caius. Or two.

I loved this game first time around, and I still think it's great. It takes what Arena and Daggerfall were trying to do, and finally makes it work. The game is huge, but it doesn't abandon you to find the story by yourself. The combat can be complex with endless spell effects, conjured weapons, enchantments, summoned creatures... or you can just grab a sword and hit things. Sure it's got a lot of bad points too, but I'm hopelessly addicted to it again, and that wins it shiny awards.

Other Elder Scrolls posts:
Elder Scrolls: Arena
Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall
An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire
Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

1 comment:

  1. When I first played Morrowind on Thew Xbox back in 2005 or so,my first impressions of the game then (and now) were that it was a great game, with excellent graphics, interesting characters, good plot and much exploring. The cons were that it was buggy sometimes and the characters didn't look all that great, plus going underwater is too murky and these flying birds/pterodactyls were attacking me later in the game like ever minute or so! It could also get tedious backtracking and traveling plus losing an item, etc. but I love the game still to this very day and play it again sometimes, unmodded as well.


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