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The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is Ten Years Old and Still Going Strong

By Edited Aug 9, 2016 1 2

Morrowind Cover
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind was released by Bethesda Softworks in 2002 and is the game in the Elder Scrolls series immediately prior to Oblivion.

Like the rest of the Elder Scrolls series, the game is a fantasy role-playing game set in Tamriel. This game is set in the province of Morrowind, on the island of Vvardenfell, although the Bloodmoon expansion in particular does take the player outside of both Vvardenfell and Morrowind.

Although the game is close to a decade old, and animation and graphics is not as good as newer games in the series, the age and extensive modding community also mean that there are a lot of improvements available for the game. It is possible to upgrade Morrowind sufficiently that it will require a powerful new computer to run it, with a machine as old as the game itself, or even some fairly modern ones, being unable to cope.

Game of the Year Edition

The Game of the Year edition of Morrowind includes the Bloodmoon and Tribunal expansions, so this is the version that you should buy.

Non Player Characters (NPCs)

Players can interact with NPCs in a number of ways. Many can be fought, although this can cause many problems, as, for one thing, it is possible to kill NPCs who are required to complete quests. A warning will be given that "the thread of prophecy has been broken" and will give you the option to either reload or "continue in this doomed world." Players can also buy items from those NPCs that run shops. Shopkeepers can always be found in their shops, which will not close. The majority of the NPCs do not keep a schedule, and will in most cases either stay in the same place or wander in a limited area.

Combat(96996)
There is some voice acting for the NPCs, but this is mostly restricted to greetings and some fixed speeches. As a consequence, most NPCs have a large number of topics they will discuss, not being restricted by the amount of space that voice files would take up.

NPCs and creatures that are fought are not "levelled" and neither are the fixed rewards. Consequently, certain quests will become easier as the player advances in level, and the fixed rewards will become less relatively valuable.

Quests

Quests are the most important part of the game. There are many locations that can be explored and creatures to kill that have nothing to do with quests, so quests could be ignored.

Main Quest

Sellus Gravius
The main quest starts almost unnoticeably. The player begins it shortly after starting the game, by being given an apparently minor errand to perform by Sellus Gravius. More errands follow, and the player starts on a number of linked quests in order to fulfil a prophecy. The ultimate aim of the main quest is to defeat Dagoth Ur, a demi-god who leads the Sixth House of Morrowind.

Great House Quests

Of the five current Great Houses of Morrowind, only three have interests in Vvardenfell, so these Houses are the only ones which the player will deal with - with the exception of the Sixth House of the main quest. Joining one Great House will usually prevent the player from joining any of the others.

House Hlaalu

House Hlaalu is the most powerful of the Morrowind Great Houses. By completing quests on behalf of the House, the player can advance their rank in the House.

House Redoran

By joining House Redoran, the player can perform quests for the House, which will advance the players' standing within the House.

House Telvanni

The third Great House is Telvanni. As with the other two, performing quests on behalf of the House will increase the players' rank.

Guild and Faction Quests

As with the Great Houses, players' can do quests for the various Guilds and Factions in order to increase their standing in each of them.

Ashlander Clan Quests

The Ashlanders are nomadic Dunmeri clans that live in the wilderness of Vvardenfell. There are a number of small quests that can be done for the Aslanders that will result in a small advance in the players' rank with the clans.

Daedric Quests

The Shrine of Azura
There are six different Daedra who have quests that they wish to be carried out. Success in each quest will give the reward of a specific Daedric artefact. Although most Daedra have several shrines, the quests can only be started at specific shrines.

Fighters Guild

Joining the Fighters Guild is pretty easy. Doing do will give the player various missions to perform for the Guild in order to advance.

Imperial Cult

The Imperial Cult is the worship of the Nine Divines, and Cult shrines will be found in major Imperial locations throughout Vvardenfell. Various chapels of the cult require different quests to be carried out, many of which are simply obtaining certain items.

Imperial Legion

The Imperial Legion is the army of the Empire. In order to receive Legion quests, the player must be wearing an Imperial Legion cuirass, one of which is obtained when the Legion is first joined.

Mages Guild

The Mages Guild is another Imperial guild in Vvardenfell. Five Guild branches exist in the four cities and Wolverine Hall. There are various quests available once the Guild has been joined.

Morag Tong

The Morag Tong is a guild of assassins. Joining the Tong will require the player to perform assassinations in order to advance their rank.

Thieves Guild

Performing various quests in the cities of Vvardenfell, and Wolverine Hall, which usually require the theft of items but can require the elimination of opponents to the Thieves' Guild, will advance the player's rank in the Guild.

Tribunal Temple

The Tribunal Temple is the religion of the Dunmer of Morrowind. Although a Dunmer religion, outlanders are allowed to join. The Tribunal is the collective reference to the three demigods worshipped. Ranking in the Temple can be increased by performing quests at the various temples around Vvardenfell.

Vampiric Quests

Should the player contract vampirism and become a vampire themselves, there are a number of new, vampire related quests that can then be done, some of which are general, and others specific to the three vampire clans.

Other Quests

As well as those quests associated with the main quests, the Great Houses, Guilds, Factions, Vampires, Ashlander and the Daedra, there are also a number of quests that aren't associated with any of them. These may be within towns, cities and other locations, or out in the wilds.

Factions

There are many factions, which includes the Great Houses, Guilds and vampire clans as well as others, in Morrowind, some of which can be joined by the player. Once a faction has been joined, it may be possible to advance in rank inside it, although advancement is limited for some of the factions. Some of the factions, such as the Great Houses, are native to the province of Morrowind, whilst others, such as the Guilds, have migrated from the Empire itself.

Advancing in rank will usually require certain minimum stat or level requirements, as well as performing quests for the faction. In addition, joining one faction may preclude joining another, as many factions are opposed to or dislike each other. Being a member of one faction may, in some cases, automatically trigger a violent reaction from members of an opposing faction.

Once a high enough rank has been obtained in one of the Great Houses, a stronghold can be built. In addition, one can be obtained in the Bloodmoon expansion.

Places to Visit

Vvardenfell is full of places to visit and explore. Many will be visited during quests, but others are stand alone. Places will not show up on the map until they are either discovered or are heard about. The official expansions, and some plug-ins, add yet more places to visit.

This is a portion of the World Map with many places discovered. To get to the majority of locations, it is necessary to walk to them, although some can be reached by boat, silt strider, teleportation and some other methods. Unlike other Elder Scrolls games, there is no method of fast travel between two discovered locations other than the specific types between preset locations. As more of the world is explored, more areas of the map become filled in.

Morrowind World Map

The local map shows the places are known in a particular area, such as in the city of Balmora here.

Morrowind Local Map

Ancestral Tombs, Caves and Mines come in a number of different sizes.

Ancestral Tombs: These are the resting places of important Dunmer (Dark Elf) families, and are usually occupied by undead creatures or worse. There are 91 tombs around Vvardenfell.

Ashlander Major Tribal Camps: There are 4 major tribal camps of the Ashlander clans.

Ashlander Minor Tribal Camps: There are 14 minor Ashlander clan camps.

Caves: There are 91 of these caves, which are a variety of natural and artificial caves and dungeons, with varying creatures present

Cities: There are three cities in Vvardenfell, plus the capital Vivec City, which has ten separate areas.

Daedric Shrines: There are 40 shrines to various Daedra. They are mostly shrines to "bad" Daedra, and various Daedric creatures can be found in and around them.

Dunmer Strongholds: There are 11 ancient strongholds of the Dunmer in Vvardenfell, built when the Dunmer were stronger. They are often mostly abandoned, although monsters often now inhabit them.

Dwemer Ruins: There are 23 ruins of the Dwemer (Dwarves) abandoned by their original owners, although they are often still occupied and can still be guarded by the Dwemer's mechanical creations.

Foyada: There are 8 Foyada, or fire-rivers, former lava flows that stretch across parts of Vvardenfell. These aren't single locations, but stretch across parts of the province.

Grottos: There are 11 underwater grottos, usually inhabited by sea-going monsters.

Holy Grounds: The Pilgrimages of the Seven Graces quest has 7 associated Holy Grounds.

Homes: There are 29 farmhouses, manors, plantations, camps and other settlements across Vvardenfell, some inhabited, some occupied by monsters, as well as five manors in the Manor District of Ald'ruhn.

Imperial Forts: There are 5 forts of the Imperial Legion.

Landmarks: There are 15 landmarks, including houses, monasteries, districts and mountains. Some landmarks are also listed in other sections.

Mines: There are 44 mines, where ebony, glass, diamond and eggs can be mined. Most major mines are run by the powers of Morrowind.

Ships: There are 34 ships and shipwrecks that can be explored.

Towns: There are 18 towns around Vvardenfell.

Velothi Towers: The 12 towers of the ancient Velothi are mostly still inhabited, but not by their original owners.

Yet More

There are hidden Easter Eggs, items scattered across the map, diseases that can be infect the player, books and various transportation services which allow fast travel to name a few things.

Expansions

Bethesda released two expansions for Morrowind, Tribunal and Bloodmoon. Both of these are included in the Game of the Year edition.

Bloodmoon

Fort Frostmarch
Bloodmoon is set on the island of Solstheim to the northwest of Vvardenfell. There are two main quests added, as well as a number of smaller ones, 4 major and 6 minor settlements, 8 landmarks, 6 sacred stones, 16 barrows and tombs, 20 caves and a ship.

One of the main quests involves werewolves, and it is possible to contract lycanthropy and finish the rest of the quest as a werewolf, which alters which sub-quests you will actually do. The other optional quest series involves the East Empire Company, and has two paths that can be followed.

Tribunal

Palace Courtyard in Mournhold
Tribunal is set in the city of Mournhold, and the locations are in the new city, the ruins of the old city, or accessed by a teleport from the city. Many of the new locations are therefore city districts, houses and buildings, sewers and ruins. There is another main quest and several miscellaneous quests added with this expansion.

The main quest involves the attempts of two of the Tribunal demigods, one, Almalexia, as she attempts to hold onto her power and Sotha Sil, who has apparently gone mad.

Downloadable Content (DLC)

Bethesda Softworks published a number of official plug-ins for Morrowind. These are all still available for free.

Adamantium Armour

This adds adamantium armour, from the Tribunal expansion, to various places across Vvardenfell.

Area Effect Arrows

This plug-in adds a new shop, Aradraen's, in the Lower Waistworks of Vivec's Foreign Quarter, which sells a variety of Marksman weapons, including arrows, bolts and throwing weapons unavailable elsewhere that cause area damage when used.

Bitter Coast Sounds

This adds ambient noise and dragonflies to Morrowind's Bitter Coast region.

Entertainers

With this, players can entertain patrons of the Eight Plates inn in the city of Balmora, performing various acts to get a potential cash reward if their performance is good enough.

Helm of Tohan

The Helm of Tohan is a small quest which has the adamantium Helm of Torhan as a reward.

LeFemm Armour

This adds two new sets of armour, Gold and Domina, which are designed for female characters, as well as adding new female models for some existing armours that were missing them.

Fort Firemoth
Master Index

This is another quest that requires the player to recover the 10 Propylon Indices, which have to be acquired in the correct order, in order to receive a reward.

Siege at Firemoth

This plug-in adds a small island chain to the southwest of Seyda Neen and a quest that requires the defeat of an army of skeletons.

User Created Content

Like with Oblivion, users can create content for Morrowind using the Elder Scrolls Construction Kit. This has led to an extensive community of still active Morrowind modders. Many players prefer Morrowind to newer games in the Elder Scrolls series.

Morrowind, because of its age, has had users creating and improving on it for ten years. As such, the quality of a modded version of the game is far superior to that of a basic install.

Morrwind Seyda Neen Lighthouse
The user created Morrowind Overhaul mod extensively overhauls both the sound and graphics in Morrowind. The mod itself is actually a collection of dozens of user created mods that are tested and installed together that greatly improve almost every aspect of Morrowind's sound and graphics, including various meshes and textures used as the basis of objects. The mod contains 10 years of user improvements to the Morrowind game. The mod itself requires the Bloodmoon and Tribunal expansions, as well as Morrowind itself, and is designed to be added to a fresh install of Morrowind.

Morrowind Seyda Neen Lighthouse Overhauled
The two pictures here show some of the potential for improvement, simply from a graphical point of view, which can be achieved with the game. The first screenshot is a view of the lighthouse in the starting village of Seyda Neen using the standard Morrowind install. The second screenshot is of the same approximate location, but after Morrowind Overhaul was installed. Even then, the computer used was not powerful enough to use the Overhaul mod to its' full potential.

The majority of the screenshots taken in this article were from a game that had the Morrowind Overhaul mod installed.

Morrowind also has a user created mod that is probably the largest of any created for any Elder Scrolls game. This is Tamriel Rebuilt. The Morrowind game covers just part of the province of Morrowind, namely Vvardenfell. Tamriel Rebuilt aims to create the rest of the province. It already covers an area that is at least equal to the official game, with many new quests and items added too. It should eventually have vastly more content than the original game. Indeed, it is probably close to that already.

The Game

Morrowind features freeform play, so what a player does at one point can affect the possibilities available in the future. There is no fixed path that has to be followed, although doing certain quests will require that the player has completed other required quests in the series; it is not possible, for example, to go straight to the end of the main quest without doing many intermediary quests. However, it also isn't required that the player commences the main quest immediately either.

Given how old the game is, it can be quite surprising as to how much there is to do and how good it can look, but this is also a feature of the games' age and ability to be modded - there has been such a huge amount of changes made to the game by dedicated players' that it doesn't look ten years old and there are hundreds of hours of content available.

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Game of the Year Edition
Amazon Price: $19.99 $10.00 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 9, 2016)
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Comments

Jun 22, 2012 5:40am
Danielpj512
Wow, interesting to see this game is still around. I was playing this years ago. The Graphics have certainly improved. Great review.
Jun 22, 2012 5:47am
egdcltd
I actually bought Morrowind after I got Oblivion, and if my computer was better (it's only a Core 2 Quad) the graphics would likely be even more improved. NPC movement isn't as fluid as in Oblivion though.
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