The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind Review
I’ve roamed the lands of Tamriel for over 10 years now. My first adventures were in Cyrodil, where I visited the Imperial City and fought the daedra of Oblivion. Then not once but twice (original and remaster) I’ve adventured in the chilly northern realm of Skyrim, slaying dragons as I roamed the land before settling down to build myself a home there. I also briefly ventured forth into other lands with the many adventurers playing Elder Scrolls Online, and now I’ve been given the opportunity to return with the game expansion of Morrowind. With the first extra chapter (the developers are avoiding the word expansion at all costs) to their popular MMO, Bethesda have given a huge dollop of nostalgia to veteran players of the series. The setting for the action is in the same lands as the 2002 release of Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, albeit set 700 years beforehand. For this reviewer, it was a first venture there and with its ominous central volcano, giant tree sized fungi and plethora of small islands, it’s a very striking environment for adventuring.
The first time I played the Elder Scrolls Online, I found it difficult to get into as a lone player, with many sections only opening up when you reached a certain level. That’s all changed now thanks to the recent One Tamriel update, with the whole map open to all from the very beginning, giving you much more scope to play the way you want. Admittedly you may find some dungeons contain far too difficult for your level of character and you have to beat a hasty retreat, but it does mean that when forming parties with friends, you can have a mix of high and low-level characters all in it together, raher than the newbies being excluded.
Morrowind is vast enough to feel like you’re in a standalone game rather than just an expansion, and that feeling is amplified by the fact that new characters can start the game in Morrowind and need never travel to the mainland. As is traditional in an Elder Scrolls game, you start as a prisoner who is helped to escape, always a good mechanic to explain why you start with no weapons, money, or possessions. There is a main quest line to follow but the place is packed with side quests that will keep you occupied for a very long time.
The graphics might not quite match the intricate detail of the remastered Skyrim, but are pretty impressive none the less, and many times I found myself wandering off track just to marvel at a great view or explore an impressive looking building.
Due to this being an MMO it has a different feel to any single player Elder Scrolls game, so you’ll find plenty of other players wandering around, that you can ignore or contact and team up with if you so wish. The small urban hubs and the dungeons on the main quest lines of the game can get very busy with lots of players rushing about. You can use this to you advantage if you’re playing alone as the other players may help dispatch tricky foes for you, but be warned, you only get to loot the body if its you or your party that strikes the killer blow to an enemy.
The story lines are very well entrenched in the lore of Tamriel, are well written with good voice acting and there are quite a few memorable characters with distinctive enough personalities to make them memorable.
Morrowind introduces a new class to ESO in the form of the Warden, which is a lot of fun to play as. It’s a good balanced character that draws on the natural world for its magical power with three main skill trees. You have Animal Companion that you can develop to conjure up creatures that will briefly aid you in battle, the healing magic of Green Balance, and the destructive magic of Winters Embrace.
As well as the main part of the game we are also given a new PvP mode, called Battlegrounds. I wasn’t overly impressed with this part of the game, possibly because as a new character I was possible of too low a level to be able to contribute much to the battles other to act as distraction or cannon fodder. The games seem to have been shoehorned into the Elder Scrolls model, and don’t really feel right, being far too chaotic to play as a lone player. You really need to have a good well organised group of players for this mode, and be suitably levelled and tooled up to be able to stay competitive. The maps are well made with good combinations of open spaces and tight corners, but I felt that the combat system doesn’t really lend itself well to this type of mode. For those of you that like to party up and run as a group you are given the Raid mode, which is a fun PvE mode that rewards good teamplay and tactics. A good mix of characters is required for success in Raid, and you need to know your role well as it can be tricky but rewarding to play.
Morrowind is a great expansion to The Elder Scrolls Online, with the unique look of Vvardenfell adding a freshness to the game for existing players. It’s also accessible and big enough for new players, and proves to be a great entry point to this world. The new versatile Warden class gives you a new way to play and the levelling system in place means it’s just as much fun to play alone as it is to play in a party. The Battlegrounds mode may not be the best, but it’s still good for higher levelled characters to get stuck into for some all out combat. The expansion looks very impressive graphically, the writing and story lines are excellent and with over 25 hours of questing available before you even need to step into the main game, this is an excellent purchase for new and old players alike.
Developer: ZeniMax Online Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Price: £29.99 – £49.99
Thanks to XCN and Bethesda Softworks for the review copy.