Skyrim: Back To Morrowind’s Weirdness?

By Alec Meer on March 10th, 2011 at 5:15 pm.

Yo, where my mushroom forests at?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. Todd Howard, lead blokey on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, has fessed up that last game Oblivion ditched a bit of the wonderful oddness of its marvellous predecessor Morrowind – and that this is something Bethesda hopes to correct in Skyrim.

I entirely agree. I found a lot to like about Oblivion, but all those forests and Euro-cities sure were a comedown after the cities made from giant turtles, building-sized waterfleas and bio-mechanical spider-dwarfs that Morrowind offered.

Said Howard to Official Boxes Magazine, “With Oblivion, we’re dealing with the capital province, and we wanted to get back to the more classic Arena and Daggerfall feel of a fantasy world that felt more refined and welcoming. A place that you instantly understood. But in that, we sacrificed some of what made Morrowind special; the wonder of discovery.”

The aim this time around is “trying to bring some of that back and walk the line between Morrowind and Oblivion. Where it’s at first familiar looking, but has its own unique culture and spin on it.”

I guess some people are going to say BUT IF IT’S A MIDDLEGROUND IT’S NO GOOD AAARGH RAGE HATE BETHESDA RAAAAAAGE but I’m enormously happy to hear Skyrim at least recognises what made Morrowind quite so special. This is light years better than saying “yeah, it’s like Oblivion but more accessible,” which is something I wouldn’t have been entirely surprised to hear. But I didn’t hear it. I am pleased this day.

Whether or not Skyrim will actually make good on these claims, Howard clearly understand the concerns of TES old hands. “It should feel alien, kind of ‘stranger in a strange’ land, with familiar looking elements only rooting you early in the game. The whole tone ends up being one of ‘I’m an outsider, I’m uncomfortable’.”

Excellent. Discomfort does make me comfortable. And in the game.

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125 Comments »

  1. Eukatheude says:

    “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. ”

    Seconded.

  2. Quasar says:

    Great news. And you’re right, one of the most immersive things about Morrowind was the fact that I never felt like I belonged anywhere. Everybody looks at you, calling you “Outlander” or muttering some local slang. It was great to be able to stare in wonder at a giant crab-building, or a fortress with a giant mushroom tower growing through it, while everyone else went about their daily business.

    That kind of atmosphere is one that more games should strive to achieve.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      Or the creepy wind chimes in Ashlanders’ camps…

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      You s’wit!

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Travel guides to unknown places.

      Sure I read that somewhere once…

    • badoli says:

      Yea, that was one great thing about Morrowind… No npc in the game thought of you as fancy as “the hero” or “the chosen one” or “the one the legends told us” blah. I mean, if i’m the chosen who will bring back peace and save each and everyone, why do those people still charge me for weapons…?! Bloody capitalistic mediveal society rather dies in vain than giving one out for free…?!?

      Oh, and while they’re at it, i hope they get rid of those oblivion cookie cutter dungeons aswell!

  3. Binman88 says:

    That’s a good sign. Nothing better than a bit of weird in my video games.

  4. Pointless Puppies says:

    I like this promised mixture between both, but honestly the people who truly hate Oblivion’s art style and call it “generic” really have no idea of the series’ past, and it only tells me that those people only started playing the series with Morrowind.

    The series was never about giant turtles and mechanical whatevers. In terms of art style Morrowind is the “redheaded stepchild” of the series, but a lot of people are treating that art style as if it were an Elder Scrolls staple, ignorant of the fact that it’s Oblivion that actually stays truer to the Elder Scrolls style.

    With that said, I really like that they’ll be making a mixture of both, but people should just stop with the “omg skyrim lukz generic jus like oblivion where’s mah morrowind this ruins teh seriez” complaints. That style is a staple of the series. If you don’t like it, you never really liked the series in the first place, you just liked the one game of the series that was the odd man out.

    • Psychopomp says:

      To be fair, it’s also considered the peak of the series by a lot of people.

    • Jesse L says:

      Yeah, wow, I guess I’ve been an unwelcome moron all this time.

      Yes, Morrowind and Oblivion are the only two Elder Scrolls games I’ve played. I don’t care about “the Elder Scrolls series.” I never claimed to be a fan of it. I’m a fan of Morrowind and I was hoping that the team of people who made that game would make more games like it. It was a surprise to see the sequel become so generic. You’re saying I shouldn’t have been surprised?

      Okay.

      This is good news. Now, waiting to see something that proves it’s true.

    • Danarchist says:

      Marrowwind is the most loved of the series and many of its most persistent fans use it as the measuring stick for the rest. I think mainly because it was actually way different from the dozen other lookalikes that were out at the time. For me and many other “old school” adherents it was the most imaginative and immersive of the series.

      p.s.
      just because you think you have played a game, or series of games, longer than others does not mean your opinion carries a gram more weight than anyone elses. It just means you perhaps have some ego issues and a fear of branching out.

    • Premium User Badge daphne says:

      I was actually quite ready to sell Morrowind out for a newfound relationship with Oblivion, which I imagined would be superior in every way. Sure the world looked oddly generic, but… but then the news came, along with the casualties. First spears, then levitation… and after playing the game, the closed-off cities and the egregious level scaling! URGH!

      For me it’s more the things Oblivion did, rather than Morrowind’s outstanding merits, that truly empowered my love for the older game and kept me coming back over the years.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      @Danarchist: when did I ever say my opinion had more weight? My point is, if you like Morrowind’s art style so much and detest Oblivion’s, you don’t like the art style of ES period. I kept hearing in here and in many other places about how Morrowind’s art style was practically the defining one for the series, even though it’s the complete opposite.

    • Binman88 says:

      As if blandness being a staple makes it any less bland? Bland is bland is bland. I don’t imagine this conversation has ever occurred:

      Person 1: Oblivion is a bit on the bland side and I’ve kinda lost interest in it. It doesn’t really have the same charming appeal that Morrowind had which really endeared me to that game.
      Person 2: But the first two games in the series were bland too.
      Person 1: Oh really? Well then Oblivion is fucking awesome!

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      Bland is bland, but when you treat staple blandness as an “outlier” when in reality the series has HAD that “blandness” for a very long time is ignorant to say the least.

    • karry says:

      “just because you think you have played a game, or series of games, longer than others does not mean your opinion carries a gram more weight than anyone elses.”

      Hmm…do you apply this to other areas ? For example, wine connoseurs and food and art critics, do you trust their opinions ? Or do you go up to your boss and say that his opinions on how to run his business are worth less than yours ?

    • Wulf says:

      I really don’t understand that and I’m actually confused by it.

      Okay. I’m just going to say it. I’m calling shenanigans.

      People who loved the originality of Morrowind should be hated on? How is that any different than Mr. Meer’s rather fabricated and sensationalised take on those who thought that Morrowind was the better game of the series? Really, I’m calling shenanigans on all of this, because the people who’re calling out those who disliked Oblivion are just being childish.

      I liked Morrowind because it was exotic, original, and like nothing I’d ever seen before. Only rarely had I ever been exposed to a fantasy world that was so genuinely alien, which is something I want in my escapism, because that’s the whole point of it for me – I want to see things that I haven’t a million times before. Morrowind could be done again, almost exactly the same, and it would still be original because so few people have tried something like that.

      Oblivion was the more typical Lord of the Rings style setting which has been featured in almost every fantasy game and film ever, and about the only unique things about it were the realm of Oblivion itself and the Roman approach of the Imperials. But I felt that (unlike the Charr) the Roman approach was so incredibly heavy handed in its approach that it was crammed down my throat. If it’d been done a little more subtly it would’ve been interesting. But they even used latin and everything. It was all a bit too much.

      I was bored by Oblivion because I’m old and I’ve seen that sort of thing a lot. You may be young, and other people may be young, and I’m incredibly tired of the same old fantasy setting that’s medieval England with a few slight differences, with all the bad parts airbrushed out. (Like how it was never touched upon that the Imperials must’ve used legions of slaves to construct their giant cities, and those slaves must’ve lived in slums, and the slums were tiny and almost inconsequential compared to having the impact they should have had. In fact, talking about that, that’s another thing that Morrowind didn’t airbrush out. There were slaves. And I loved going on a crusade to set them all free.)

      The problem I have with the Oblivion approach is that it’s just a clean version of medieval England. I went there in my youth. Then I went there again. And I went there again. And again. And again. And again. And again. Ad nauseum. By the time I went there in Oblivion, I was so sick of the setting that I couldn’t stand it any more. I just wanted more Morrowind instead. If you take one thing from Morrowind, say, the Striders, there’s absolutely nothing that matches that level of imagination in Oblivion.

      Morrowind seemed to ask the questions: How can we be crazy and imaginative today? Does anyone have any batshit crazy ideas that we can toss in here that’ll make the player’s jaw drop and admire our brazen creativity? What can we do that’ll surprise them? What untapped potential exists that we can use for our new game?<

      Oblivion seemed to ask the questions: We don’t want to alienate our incredibly xenophobic audience and their needs for everything to be familiar and easy to understand, so what’s the mot typical fantasy setting you can think of? And how can we make it just a little bit different without scaring them? Roman legions in medieval fantasy olde Englande? And a ‘hell’ dimension? That doesn’t sound too challenging. Does anyone have any other ideas that aren’t too challenging?

      And one should be hated for preferring the Morrowind questions to the Oblivion questions?

      I bloody well call shenanigans!

      And yes, I’m worried about Skyrim, because it’s even taken the options of playing other races away. You get one set character to play now – the most average view of a hero that there could be. A muscly and partly naked barbarian guy. And they’re promising alien things, but it’s sounding like Oblivion, where they’re promising alien things that won’t scare or challenge their audience. It sounds like they’re promising us Oblivion with perhaps one or two tiny elements here or there which could be alien if you actually sat and think about them, but won’t bother the mainstream gamer who won’t.

      Yeah, definitely worried about Skyrim, and with good reason. I want the Morrowind questions to be asked by Bethesda again. I want to see them asking those questions, and building a a game upon those questions.

    • theblazeuk says:

      I don’t think people are really reading puppies messages all the way through, even before replying comprehensively or projecting conservativism into the design choices for a western-fantasy RPG series.

    • Premium User Badge Durkonkell says:

      Ack, Wulf, is that confirmed that there’s only one playable race? I hadn’t heard that.

      Because if it is AAARGH RAGE HATE BETHESDA RAAAAAAGE

    • Mr Monotone says:

      I can find hearsay saying that the same 10 from oblivion and morrowind are there. Certainly can’t find anything saying there is only one playable protagonist. I think trailer guy is just the same as that imperial knight that showed up in the oblivion marketing stuff.

    • Negativeland says:

      “I like this promised mixture between both, but honestly the people who truly hate Oblivion’s art style and call it “generic” really have no idea of the series’ past, and it only tells me that those people only started playing the series with Morrowind.”

      That’s just a complete load of bull-pap. Daggerfall already had the Daedra and Dreugh and the different provinces had different architectural styles. The ingame books told of strange and wondrous places and people, in detail that made those people seem like parts of real history to you. Despite the primitive graphics, the game had gritty and lived-in quality that’s completely lacking in the much more technically advanced Oblivion. Battlespire was completely located in a Daedric realm, and Redguard already featured the Dwemer. Up until Oblivion, the Elder Scrolls series had kept a comfortable distance to stereotypical fantasy fare. They had living gods, cannibal wood elves, strange giant automatons, actors and choices of ambiguous morality, etc. etc. And suddenly with Oblivion, Ken Rolston and Michael Kirkbride had to go, none of that past greatness meant jack shit to Howard and Co. in their pursuit of “accessibility”.
      All the games gave the impression of the Imperial Province being a warm, humid and populous place, and the imperials being largely modeled after the ancient Romans. Facts Oblivion decided to throw out of the window.

    • Qazi says:

      “(Like how it was never touched upon that the Imperials must’ve used legions of slaves to construct their giant cities, and those slaves must’ve lived in slums, and the slums were tiny and almost inconsequential compared to having the impact they should have had. In fact, talking about that, that’s another thing that Morrowind didn’t airbrush out. There were slaves. And I loved going on a crusade to set them all free.)”

      What. Um. They did use legions of slaves to construct their giant cities. They being the Ayleid elves who used to rule Cyrodiil.
      The men that are now called Cyrodiils were the slaves. The first Empress led the revolt against their Ayleid masters and they took what is now called the Imperial City for themselves, centuries ago.
      This is why the Empire outlaws slavery. Morrowind is the only exception due to concessions made during negotiations between Tiber and Vivec when the Tribunal of Morrowind chose to join the Empire under peaceful terms, rather than forceful subjegation.
      Also, I’m pretty sure Todd Howard has confirmed that the usual races are still all playable.

    • Premium User Badge Durkonkell says:

      Re: The single playable race thing
      Very well. Stand down from ANGRY STATIONS then. But be warned, my fury emitters are on hot standby. A full outrage volley shall be discharged by all batteries should there be any actual evidence presented to substantiate this whole removal of other playable races thing.

      Thank ye, RPS types.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      People who loved the originality of Morrowind should be hated on?

      Nice try putting words in my mouth, but in no way did I ever say this. You can like Morrowind all you like, but if you absolutely hated Oblivion’s art style and are calling it “generic”, you just ought to know that Oblivion’s art style is exactly the art style from Arena and Daggerfall. The series has ALWAYS been about relatively generic fantasy, which makes Morrowind a more creative outlier within the series.

      What I’m calling out on are the people who CLAIM to be longtime fans of the series and call Oblivion and Skyrim, among other things, “generic”, as if those games are somehow a freak abomination of the series. In reality, if you dislike that particular art style, you dislike the art style of The Elder Scrolls series, which is perfectly fine as long as people don’t pretend like the “generic fantasy” art style is some jumping-the-shark moment for the series.

      Likewise, if you want another game in the style of Morrowind and don’t want Skyrim to be anything like Oblivion, you basically don’t want Skyrim to follow the general pattern of the Elder Scrolls series. The most vocal people about this are by far the people who started the series with Morrowind, oblivious to what the previous games were like. Again, I have no issue with that until people start calling Oblivion and Skyrim “generic” by comparison and clamor for another Morrowind-style game. The only thing that tells me is that people just want another Morrowind, not another Elder Scrolls.

    • malkav11 says:

      The first two games had worlds generated almost entirely procedurally with minimal hand-placed content and worldbuilding only present in ancillary readable materials and a few quests. I’m not sure it’s fair to describe Oblivion as being a return to their style in any meaningful way. But even if we accept that it is, so what? The series should just ignore the amazing atmosphere and world design of Morrowind because it’s an “outlier”? I beg to differ.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      @Wulf
      Okay, so people liked Oblivion because they’re children, or immature, stupid, and xenophobic? What? Wait, who’s being an asshole here?

      No one has ever hated on anyone here because they “liked Morrowind”, dude. Morrowind is a great game. We all like Morrowind. What does provoke a reaction, however, are those who not only “liked Morrowind”, but miss no opportunity whatsoever to hysterically heap torrents of abuse upon Oblivion, and importantly, make all these not-so-subtle insinuations about the intelligence and taste of those who thought it was a very good RPG, once you easily modded around a few things.

      We get it. You didn’t like Oblivion. A lot of RPS didn’t like Oblivion. That’s fine. I’m willing to let it be a manner of personal taste and/or different expectations. Why it has to be made into some sort of obnoxious snobbery is beyond me. And the trolling every. damn. post. about Skyrim with “omg obliviun was soooo suck so skirim will be so suck too, wat a joke, wat a shit gamez!!!” is getting really old, too.

      Personally it’s really the blatant double standards that get to me. Oblivion is constantly held up as some epitome of generic, terrible RPG design. When it really, in most ways, is much less generic than countless games that these same people take no issue with whatsoever. It’s simply because it followed in the same series after Morrowind that Bethesda takes all this shit from people.

      You wanted Morrowind 2, you didn’t get Morrowind 2. Suck it up. Get over it. Admit that your expectations were (understandably) skewed instead of blathering on and on about what evil, incompetent sellouts Bethesda are, and what classless, ignorant suckers those who liked Oblivion are.

      Move on, guys. Trashing one game because it wasn’t Morrowind II is enough. Pre-emptively trashing Skyrim, based on little to no evidence, simply because it isn’t Morrowind III is just being ridiculous.

      @Qazi
      dammit qazi, don’t let your silly “facts” and “knowledge” of the lore get in the way of people’s angry butthurt!

    • Grape Flavor says:

      @Negativeland
      “Daggerfall already had the Daedra” I believe Oblivion has Daedra gallivanting all over the damn place. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s pretty much the main plot.
      “The different provinces had different architectural styles.” Yes. Cyrodiil’s architectural style did not bear any resemblance to Morrowind’s. I believe that is much of the basis of your problem, correct? That Oblivion wasn’t Morrowind 2.0.
      “The ingame books told of strange and wondrous places and people, in detail that made those people seem like parts of real history to you.” Didn’t read any of these? http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Oblivion:Books Guess not.
      “Redguard already featured the Dwemer. UESP: “Their ruins and artifacts are scattered across Tamriel, specifically within Hammerfell (mainly in the mountains of Stros M’Kai), High Rock, and Morrowind.”
      Yeah. Do you see “Cyrodiil” anywhere in that sentence?
      “And suddenly with Oblivion, Ken Rolston and Michael Kirkbride had to go, none of that past greatness meant jack shit to Howard and Co. in their pursuit of “accessibility”.” Bethesda threw out… what?. The game had some (easily modded out) console-focused design decisions. That’s a technical matter – you have yet to name one thing of Bethesda’s supposed “betrayal” of TES lore that has any factual basis. You were disappointed in the game. Fair enough. Doesn’t mean your conspiracy theories are valid – BTW KEN Rolston was the lead designer on Oblivion, and Michael Kirkbride did some of the books for it.
      “All the games gave the impression of the Imperial Province being a warm, humid and populous place, and the imperials being largely modeled after the ancient Romans.” Oblivion was less humid, and less inspired by historical Rome than you may have been led to believe it would be. Okay. Still not “omg scandal!” territory IMO.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      That’s like saying Halo is good because Bungie made Marathon before it.

      In fact, it’s a lot like that, as Halo was originally supposed to basically be a remake/sequel.

    • Urael says:

      For anyone worried about Wulf’s ludicrous and unsubstantiated claim that there is only one playable race in the game (Wulf, we’ve talked about this negativity before) there seems to be a choice of at least 10:

      http://www.videogamesblogger.com/2011/01/12/the-elder-scrolls-v-skyrim-combat-leveling-races-detailed.htm

      And that was just the very first link I found in Google. Sigh.

    • Kdansky says:

      Just because it is the “style of the series” does not mean I have to like it. And after playing countless generic fantasy games where you could mix up screenshots and fans would be hard pressed to figure out which games they come from, there is quite a necessity for awesome and atypical art styles.

      I’d buy a game in Exalted’s setting, even if it was shit.

    • Adventurous Putty says:

      Forgive me in advance for nerding out, but TES is kind of my specialty soooo…

      1.) Arena and Daggerfall did not have an aesthetic insofar as one could be separated from any other cookie-cutter RPG with influences from DnD and Ultima Underworld (of which there were several). The races and provinces were introduced, but were only fleshed out later to anything other than really boring, randomly-generated nonsense. The exception is Daggerfall’s political intrigues, which are awesome fun to involve yourself in as a player but dazzlingly labyrinthine.

      2.) The unique art style and culture and so on of the Elder Scrolls series DID NOT begin with Morrowind. It actually began with the spinoff games — Battlespire less so, but definitely Redguard, which had (amongst other things) the myth of the disappearing Dwarves (and airships!), Imperial imperialism (not to mention the introduction of the Imperials as a race, for that matter), a fleshing-out of the First Era’s history, Redguards and their lore almost in its entirety, Cyrus the Restless, and the POCKET GUIDE TO THE EMPIRE, without which nothing in Morrowind could have been possible. It was the pocket guide that first dreamed up the weird gonzo worlds of Morrowind, Rainforest-Cyrodiil-That-Never-Was, and beyond.

      3.) Oblivion, in and of itself, sucked not because it was Medieval England, but because it was Medieval Maryland. They redeemed themselves with Knights of the Nine and Shivering Isles, though. Kinda.

      4.) Oblivion’s lore sucked significantly less because it was perpetuated, albeit unofficially, by the games’ “lore community” and especially freelance writer Michael Kirkbride (who penned most of Morrowind’s better bits and dreamed up the Empire at large in the Pocket Guide). Kirkbride was on Bethesda until after Morrowind, when he went freelance, but he still worked with Bethesda on Oblivion (where he wrote, for instance, Mankar Camoran’s dialogue and Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes) and its plug-ins (especially KotN). There is a whole repertoire of mind-bendingly weird documents pertaining to TES lore, which are official-unofficial in the sense that they have yet to appear in a game but probably will. They can be found (along with Morrowind-era stuff) here: http://www.imperial-library.info/content/obscure-texts

      5.) Michael Kirkbride will be collaborating on Skyrim, by all accounts. This, combined with the information in this article, makes me more-than-cautiously optimistic that Skyrim’s world-building (if not its plot) will be absolutely fucking awesome.

  5. Stomatopodal Pride says:

    I suppose this to be unable to ease my worries—ever so slightly.
    The TES canonical lore’s quality as of Morrowind was quite above average within videogames’ writing sphere. They ill-inspiredly turned it down in Oblivion, and I hardly see a chance for this “dragons are back!!1″ to be anything but a cheese-deep dive into over-theatrical clichés.

    • Resin says:

      over-theatrical cliches?! but as the dragon-born choosen Navareen only you can save the universe! How is that possibly cliche?

      As much as I love my tried and true over-theatrical cliche trope mesiahnistic hero stories, some fresh writing for a more mature audience would indeed be welcome.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      Uh, the “dragons are back!” storyline has “only” been hinted at since the beginning of the series. It’s not like they just randomly came up with dragons in a staff meeting when planning out Skyrim, it was there in the lore all this time.

    • Bhazor says:

      Pointless Puppies
      Now now you can’t expect people to actually know what they’re talking about on the internet can you. So what if it’s been the very back bone of the whole series? There are now dragons so this is instantly a shark jumping moment.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      @Resin
      I guess if you’re tired of RPGs making you the big hero, you could make a mod where you’re a mud-crab farmer, or something. I’m sure there’s millions of people out there just dying for an epic RPG where the player fills the role of insignificant peasant.

    • Stomatopodal Pride says:

      @Pointless Puppies
      Dragons were extinct, as far as I remember. I am not going to delve further into the matter (unless someone asks me to do so) because that would not be in most readers’ interest.

    • Wulf says:

      You don’t have to be tired of being the hero to be tired of RPGs. Fallout: New Vegas was plenty alien enough for me, even Champions Online is. It’s just that some people are tired of the same setting repeated over and over. This sort of thing has been around since Wizardry I, Dungeons & Dragons (the first edition), The Hobbit, and Willow.

      I don’t think people have a problem with being a hero, but that the setting is stale, and there’s only so much stale bread a person can eat before they become ill. I think that what people are after is something a little more intellectually stimulating. The likes of Planescape: Torment and Morrowind proved that this is all too possible. It was even possible in the action-adventure genre with Beyond Good & Evil, where I loved running around taking photographs of all of those wonderfully impossible critters.

      It’s just so overdone. It’s targeted at the young, I get that, but there’s no harm in some of us longing for fresh bread.

      Edit #1: Just think of what films have done with fantasy – when I do that I wonder why games can’t be more original. Even older kids stuff like The Neverending Story and The Dark Crystal was more interesting, for crying out loud!

    • Negativeland says:

      @Wolf: I have to agree about the tiredness of generic fantasy. We’ve seen this same shite regurgitated a thousand times. Judging from the Wikipedia article on Skyrim, the new Bethesda doesn’t seem to even get generic Medieval England right. :

      “When practicing archery, arrows take longer to draw back than in previous Elder Scrolls games, but do greater damage. Because of this, arrows are expensive and considered rarities. A player equipped with a bow can use it defensively in close combat, in a charging counterattack.

      That’s not how bows work, you COCKS! They’re still used for hunting around the World today. Go ask some South American indians how rare and precious their arrows are…
      /angry_internet_man

    • DiamondDog says:

      So what are we classing as generic then? Just for future reference.

      Swords? Everything has swords in it.

    • Negativeland says:

      This is why the whole stopping-the-dragon plot is silly. Unless Bethesda pulls a complete 180 degree turn at some point of the plot. You might recognize the name “Dagon” there. Just like he got turned into a generic baddie in Oblivion, the Alduin will be in Skyrim.

    • Resin says:

      My complaint is that you are consistently given the role of the world saving hero in many games. One thing that Bethesda has done right imo in the past is having interesting side quests: becoming an assasin, rising to the head of a guild, deal with vampires, become a relic seeker. I was always much more interested in these than in ‘saving the entire land’. Not every story needs to be about that, sheer repetition makes it meaningless. I become much more interested in how I can personalize and customize my own gaming experience.

    • DiamondDog says:

      @Negativeland

      Are Bethesda not allowed to write a story where someone finally breaks the cycle? I’m not sure what you are railing against. Especially when you haven’t even played the damn thing yet.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      @Negativeland
      Yeah, maybe the bows don’t work realistically in TES. I bet you’re every bit as outraged over, and refuse to play any shooters other than ArmA II. Or wait, maybe you’re just a hypocrite. Games aren’t realistic 99% of the time.

      And your link “proves”… what? And Dagon and Alduin were ruined… how? What did Bethesda do here that messed up the lore? Try backing up what you say with evidence instead of just casting aspersions.

    • drewski says:

      @ Resin – if you want a story where you don’t save the world, that’s fine. Go find one somewhere else. But don’t expect Bethesda to fuck with the Elder Scrolls series. Don’t complain when they make an Elder Scrolls game, instead of a Game Resin Wants game.

      In the Elder Scrolls series, you save the goddamn world.

    • Adventurous Putty says:

      Uh, the “dragons are back!” storyline has “only” been hinted at since the beginning of the series. It’s not like they just randomly came up with dragons in a staff meeting when planning out Skyrim, it was there in the lore all this time.

      Well, actually, they kind of did. The thing they had been building up to was the decline and fall of the Septim Empire, particularly through the recurring character of Uriel Septim — the dragons are kind of something they’ve retconned in. For THE DRAMA!!!!, presumably.

      Not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you. But I just figured you should know.

  6. Resin says:

    Sounds promising…
    I hope they do good weather, that was something that stood out to me about Morrowind over Oblivion, that and a map that feels huge, with lots of things to discover everywhere you turn.

    As for weirdness, yay, cool, and if they don’t go weird enough, I’ll just download that mod with the giant lol cat sleeping on the castle roof.

  7. McDan says:

    This is excellent news, they’re should be more morrowind-esque weirdness in games. Now I feel I must play Morrowind again. To get psyched for Skyrim. I might have even finished it by the time it comes out…

    Also the caption for that picture was so good it made me spray coke into my best friends face…

  8. pakoito says:

    “More accessible” is the cancer of videogames.

    • Zaboomafoozarg says:

      This is correct, look what it did to Deus Ex 2.

    • Bhazor says:

      Yep accesibility totally ruined shooters.
      Why can’t they all be as sophisticated as Doom.

    • Zaboomafoozarg says:

      Accessibility != Sophistication.

    • Premium User Badge Joshua says:

      Complexification used to be.

    • pipman3000 says:

      [blank] ruined [genre].

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      No. Accessibility just makes a game easier to become involved with, not easier to play to completion.

      If anything, “Dumbing down” is the -insert unnecessarily hideous thing- of video games.

      Hence I put this message to Bethesda: NO BLOODY QUEST ARROWS PLEASE!!! There is no sense of discovery if you are constantly being told where to go. Like in, um, Fallout 3?

      (And incidentally, those of us that aren’t completely blind found that Deus Ex 2′s only major fault was the small levels, otherwise it was thoroughly underrated.)

    • CMaster says:

      @Casimir’s Blake.
      The tiny levels.
      And the terrible animation work (most characters stand in reference pose most of the while)
      And the poor graphics work (poor models, blurry, indistinct textures)
      And the really awkward to manage inventory system.
      And large chunks of the plot being a rehash of the first game (particularly the endings)
      And I could go on, but those are the things that stick in my head.

      Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of ways in which it improved on the original. But there was also a lot wrong with the game. I went through it twice I think. Have tried to go back a few times, never can get into it.

    • drewski says:

      But hey, you played it through twice, so you obviously liked it well enough.

    • JackShandy says:

      I’m reminded of a post I once saw on the Bioware forums. A big long list of Mass Effect 2′s flaws that ended with this classic line: “I’m now snoring through my third playthrough.”

      Labouriously identifying a game’s faults is a type of enjoyment all it’s own, really.

  9. Easydog says:

    Hooray :)

  10. shagen454 says:

    One of the most important factors for a hiking simulator is to be a little odd.

  11. Mr Wonderstuff says:

    Prefer Oblivion style…never got on with Morrowinds art style. Must be just me and a few others.

  12. frenz0rz says:

    So they finally admitted it, eh? Better late than never I suppose.

    Still, if Skyrim is anything like Morrowind, im going to take a month out in order to gradually regress myself to the mental state of a 12 year old, so that I can enjoy it just as much as I did with it’s mushroom-forested predecessor.

  13. Eversor says:

    Dammit Todd, I will not believe a word you say that would make me feel incredibly excited! I refuse to believe!

    Though I really, really want it to be true. Oblivion could be the best Regular Forest Hiking Simulator, but for me, it was the strange ashlands and swamps of Vvardenfell where I truly felt both lost and… discovering an entirely different world. Morrowind was That Game for me, the one I spent months in a row playing, doing all kinds of odd stuff and hardly even touching the actual story, or missions of any sort. Just wondering around, finding stuff, and then, years later, playing through it again armed with the Internet and muttering to myself over and over – “Damn, I never knew there even was such a thing here!”.

    Therefore, I refuse to believe Todd Howard now. I don’t want to be disappointed. Oblivion wasn’t bad, it was just… eh in terms of the setting itself. Shivering Isles was a step in a good direction, because it played on the strengths of the setting, not along the usual, tried fantasy stamps.

  14. akemichan88 says:

    excitement a gogo!

    Now we play the waiting game.

  15. Flameberge says:

    BUT IF IT’S A MIDDLEGROUND IT’S NO GOOD AAARGH RAGE HATE BETHESDA RAAAAAAGE!

  16. Freud says:

    As long as I can jump from giant mushroom to giant mushroom, I’m happy.

  17. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Combine the things that Morrowind did better than Oblivion and Obliion did better than Morrowind and this will one hell of a game.

  18. Cinnamon says:

    The new weird > the new shit. I approve, and it’s not like I wasn’t going to buy the game anyway.

  19. BobsLawnService says:

    Nevermind Morrowind. If the whole game can be as good as the Dark Brotherhood quests in Oblivion I’ll be happier than a pig in faeces.

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      Never mind the Dark Brotherhood quests. If the game can recreate the feeling of excitement as I finally tracked down the rumoured Morag Tong, the legal executioners, and proceded to become the grandmaster, despite hardly being able to kill a mudcrab when I started…

    • Stomatopodal Pride says:

      I think the Dark Brotherhood questline’s writer has since left Bethesda. I am unable to recall the exact name, but he was one of the most prominent contributors to Morrowind’s lore and background.

    • Wulf says:

      …that explains a lot.

    • Voidy says:

      @Stomatopodal Pride
      AFAIK, Emil Pagliarulo is still working at Bethesda. He was the lead designer of Fallout 3 and is probably heavily involved in Skyrim development.

      EDIT: And if he made any contributions to Morrowind, they are uncredited.

    • Negativeland says:

      “I think the Dark Brotherhood questline’s writer has since left Bethesda. I am unable to recall the exact name, but he was one of the most prominent contributors to Morrowind’s lore and background.”

      The Dark Brotherhood questline of Oblivion was designed by Emil Pagliarulo, who’s AFAIK still working at Bethsoft, and was the lead designer of Fallout 3. The person who’s to thank for much of Morrowind’s and other past games’ lore and books, is Michael Kirkbride, who’s no longer working there. Much to our loss.

      In other news, Pagliarulo seems to have a Wikipedia page, but Kirkbride doesn’t. Yet another blemish in the shield of the “Encyclopedia”…

    • Qazi says:

      Kirkbride still does freelance writing for Bethesda, even if he no longer has a permanent place on the design team.
      He has been posting things like these on the Elder Scrolls Lore forum in the build up for Skyrim.
      http://forums.bethsoft.com/index.php?/topic/1160383-shor-son-of-shor/
      http://forums.bethsoft.com/index.php?/topic/1164564-the-five-hundred-mighty-companions-or-thereabouts-of-ysgramor-the-returned/
      http://forums.bethsoft.com/index.php?/topic/1159381-dominion-prism-textract-partial/

    • Negativeland says:

      @Qazi:

      Nice! Consider some of my faith for the game restored. Kirkbride is truly an unparalleled writer of what comes off sounding like religious texts or ancient myths. Lovely stuff. Still hoping for the “so u hav to slay this dragon, rite?”-plot to take a more interesting turn at some point though.

    • Stomatopodal Pride says:

      @Negativeland
      I recall reading that Kirkbride had written the Dark Brotherhood quests; still, I may indeed to be wrong.
      I was also unaware of Kirkbride working freelance for them. This is good news, but the overall approach to the game’s presentation and Bethesda’s past behaviour (read: rigged E3 demo faking features that Radiant AI did not actually have) still lead me to expect very little from this game.

    • drewski says:

      Most games feature some degree – and often an awful lot – of fakery in show demos, depending how early they are in the development cycle. I mean, I can understand that it annoyed you, but it’s basically the biz. Hopefully you’ll not be fooled again, eh?

    • Stomatopodal Pride says:

      @Drewski
      Leave the provocation, please. Rhetoric aside, I also can not agree over the way you seem to consider common malpractices as tolerable practices. In particular, there is a significant degree of difference between teasers, “guided” sessions and feature demonstrations; faking the latter is merely dishonest.

      P.S.
      To honour Bethesda’s naïveté, I must say that they forgot to remove the annotated, script-complete quest entry from the master file, allowing any mod-savvy user to notice their behaviour.

  20. Premium User Badge Skystrider says:

    I am now sitting up and paying attention. This might turn out to be an interesting game after all.

  21. bildo says:

    Playing Oblivion NOW because I was just so excited at this news :D

  22. Hunam says:

    So we all agree Morrowind was the best one? Nice :)

    • pipman3000 says:

      that’s a weird way of spelling daggerfall.

    • Kerry D says:

      Completely agree with you pipman3000. My biggest problem with Oblivion and Morrowind is how much has been stripped away from the previous games character system.

  23. Out Reach says:

    More Boots of Blinding Speed.

  24. notjasonlee says:

    uh, no, go back to the MASSIVENESS of dragonfall, please.

    • Kerry D says:

      I could do without the massiveness of Daggerfall if it meant a return to Daggerfalls more robust character system.

  25. Davey Jones says:

    Stomatopodal Pride: If what you say is true, we’re f*ked. IMO, without the lore, the game is entirely incomplete, and no amount of giant mushrooms and mechanical fortresses will matter when they don’t have proper titles and histories. Not that I was one of those folks that read every piece of information in Morrowind, but from what I did learn from the vast amounts of book text/dialogue, I gained an immense appreciation of the locations I was visiting/plundering.

  26. Vinraith says:

    Weirdness in fantasy settings is a very, very good thing, and I’m incredibly encouraged that Bethesda recognizes that Morrowind’s setting was worlds more interesting than Oblivion’s. I was already looking forward to Skyrim, but now I’m genuinely excited.

  27. Cinnamon says:

    Looks fine to me in google reader. Oh, wait, I see what you did there. Leave my hiking and murder simulator alone. Hiking and murder is one of my favourite genres, better than guns and conversation.

  28. Arglebargle says:

    It’s nice that they’ve finally said that, but I don’t believe them anymore. I don’t believe any of them.
    No more first day buy for me. Most of these go into the ‘On sale below $20, and just maybe I will get it’ bin. The combo of bad interface. dumbnerness, and dull background is too much. Not to mention the poor record on fixing (or even acknowledging) bugs in Bethesda’s other games.
    “Because I used to love her, but it’s all over now.”

  29. Xiyng says:

    I got into the series thanks to Oblivion, and while it’s a terribly flawed game without mods, I still haven’t had the chance to play Morrowind. However, after the initial ‘wow’ I always felt Oblivion’s environments were pretty boring so this sounds pretty great.

  30. Hyperion says:

    I started playing TES with Morrowind as well (enough people recommended it to me) even though I am not a huge fan of standard fantasy and/or Tolkien stuff because it is a bit overdone and boring unless you are a young’un.

    Which morrowind abandoned and why most people like it. But I also liked Oblivion and Daggerfall, mostly because the Lore is still all there regardless of setting, which I liked a lot.

    I’m happy as long as Skyrim is like all the others with the huge depth of the lore. Would be nice also if they took some stuff from how Obsidian did quests (New Vegas). I liked how no matter what skills you had, all of the quests could be completed one way or another, the way getting there or the method getting to the end was different. Lots of replay value after being something different everytime.

  31. Haplo says:

    Hm, it’s interesting to see the reactions here- a lot of people liking or preferring Morrowind’s weirdness to Oblivion’s traditional setting, but a few people preferring Oblivion’s. I’m one of the people who do in fact prefer Oblivion’s.

    Now, there might be a few reasons for this! Like how I have a natural predisposition towards green or that I played Morrowind on the XBox, thus spending most of my time griping about truly awful animations or the like. But I’m training to become a psychologist, so let’s analyse this! Because why not.

    Firstly, let’s look at why I might prefer the bland, Generic Medieval Fantasy setting of Oblivion over the general weirdness of Morrowind. As noted earlier, I used the XBox version, which I hear isn’t quite as good as the PC version. But a lot of my experiences of travelling were akin to this:

    1. Some truly epic views obscured by draw-rendering limit fogs.
    2. Wandering around the broken, arid wasteland being attacked by freaking Cliff Racers.
    3. Some greenland that was vaguely swampy? I don’t remember it too well.
    4. Being practically eternally poor and very slow.

    (This of course didn’t stop me from putting 70 hours into the game, but I digress.)

    So I figure that most of my troubles with Morrowind stem from the fact that the main way to view the world- travelling by foot- was long, painful, costly and I was really bad at it, which over time built up a fairly negative reaction. “Oh awesome, more ash/sand/stupid jellyfish”.

    Now, let’s look at Oblivion. Lots of green, rolling hills, forests, rivers, some swampland, a bit of a jungly area, some snowy area, so on and so forth. All pretty standard to the genre, all fairly standard stuff for a fantasy setting. Bland, even. That can’t be denied.

    So obviously the issue is with me. And here’s what I think: What about the environment of the player? I grew up and live in subtropical Australia, where most of the grass I’ve seen is yellow or pale green, the trees are much the same. The exception of course being the rainforests, which are dense, green, probably lethal, and very hot and humid.

    I loathe heat, I loathe humidity. I prefer cool air and cool surroundings- which means I’m altogether unfond of rainforests and fairly unfond of the climate here, too. I’m also very pale and prone to sunburn- but my skin never tans. I would much prefer somewhere else, somewhere nice and green and cool.

    Of course, that isn’t to deny Australia’s natural beauty, it’s moreso that I’ve lived in it so long and been so prone to it’s humid Haplo-hating climate that I’ve really spent a good deal of time thinking about aforementioned nice, green place.

    Which… In its own way, is exactly what Oblivion provided. It can’t physically make me cool, but I have air conditioning for that. To me, the bland, genericness of Oblivion is basically a place I’ve never personally experienced except in photographs. It -is- weird to me. It -is- unexplored to me. It’s a slice of world that I’ve never personally experienced. It’s a highly gratifying experience.

    • iamrawr says:

      Why walk when you can ride?
      oh and I wouldn’t bother paying attention to anything bethesda softworks developers say
      http://www.rpgcodex.net/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=15427&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

    • Haplo says:

      Too poor to afford Silt Striders :(

      Honestly, most of my money went to Silt Strider funds. Which is a poor reflection on myself, really.

    • drewski says:

      You need to sweet talk the Strider jockeys to get cheaper prices. I liked the slightly anachronistic travel style in Morrowind, although that didn’t stop me from fast traveling as soon as Bethesda made it available.

    • Wulf says:

      In all fairness I’ll just say this…

      If your people live in giant, breathing mushroom towers, then I want to visit and see for myself.

      That is all.

  32. Premium User Badge The Sombrero Kid says:

    i hope skyrim also captures what made fallout 3 special too, that feeling of going off to explore things on the horizon, the others had this but fallout 3 mastered it.

  33. John P says:

    Where were all the people saying ‘hey Oblivion is kinda boring and actually not very good’ back in 2006? Everyone was praising it giving it 10/10 scores. Took about 2 years to finally hear some honest opinions. Bit of a lesson in marketing and hype, I think.

    • Wulf says:

      I was bored by it when it was released and I pretty much said so everywhere – of course, I got drowned out by the hype of people who hadn’t played it yet, and it took a lot of people about a year to catch up, to get over the hype and admit that they were horribly wrong about how dull of a game it was.

      *hugs his Morrowind hard copy.*

    • Urael says:

      John, it actually took me a little while to get to that point. I got the game a little after release and was enjoying it up until I reached about level 20 or so, when I realised that instead of coming to dominate certain areas I was still fighting just as bloody hard to get through them as I had been at level 1. If anything, Oblivion Gates were becoming tougher. Once I realised that it killed the game entirely for me; I stopped playing and never went back, suddenly seeing loads of little faults in the game that I’d been ‘living with’. the levelling was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’ve still never played it to the end.

      Then I fired Morrowind back up and realised exactly how shallow Oblivion actually was, and have been commenting to that effect ever since. Oblivion was gorgeous for it’s time, though, which I think dazzled people enough to gloss over the faults a bit. Hindsight always gives more clarity, too. :)

  34. Wulf says:

    Any Universe designed for escapism that’s dull even when compared to reality should be let go, and another should be forged in its place.

    Silly Bethesda.

  35. Real Horrorshow says:

    All these replies look like they were authored by n’wahs.

    …yeah, I want to reinstall Morrowind now.

    • casimirp says:

      Never uninstalled Morrowind :-)
      Morrowind was what got me to switch over from D&D games and never look back. Loved the freedom to practice any skill yet take a long time to master it. Something the rigid rules of D&D could never allow.

  36. Nameless1 says:

    Nice bunch of bullshits by Mr. Howard.
    After Morrowind I bought the collector’s ed. of Oblivion, and that was my last mistake.

    All this excitement after he said an idiocy like “with Oblivion we wanted to get back to the more classic Arena and Daggerfall feel of a fantasy world that felt more refined and welcoming” to giustify the shameful path Bethesda took after Morrowind is not worth this site.

    PS: an incomplete reminder http://sites.google.com/site/damicat/

  37. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    AAARGH RAGE HATE BETHESDA RAAAAAAGE, lol’d so hard haha, and yes, TES V!!!

  38. Jazzlledazzle says:

    :^’ All the haters!!
    Ya´ll have no idea what so ever what fantasy is.
    I really don´t know about morrowwind wi(t)ch is a good thang cuz I can still find out.
    Just played oblivion & ya´ll can do better than that U R F=:=ng briljant cuz
    that´s what oblivion is, inspite of irritating oblivion portals or what ever!
    2 be revolutionary U have ta experiment!! So shut up & enjoy or just do better!!
    Can´t wait 4 skyrim 2 arrive!!

  39. casimirp says:

    Agreed with a lot of Wulf’s comments. A few things I loved about Morrowind that I wish they would have kept in subsequent games – 1. Enchanting was awesome. Recharge over time rather than having to constantly refill soul gems, and being able to enchant any spell into anything was awesome! Grand soul gems and grand souls were something to be coveted in that game! 2. Armor and Clothes – so many more combinations of possibilities with left and right pieces, pauldrons, and the ability to wear clothes under your armor. That was cool! 3. Levitation. Come on, making the game 3D was awesome, especially looking around for loot in high up crevaces in dungeons. 4. Endless number of factions to join, some of which were mutually exclusive. That helped with replayability. 5. Leveled dungeons independent of your character level. If you are stupid enough to take on Daedra at level 1, then so be it. Good for you for trying to find ways to beat a high level monster with a low level character. Takes more creativity. 6. The different architecture was awesome, somewhat reminiscent of the detail that lord of the rings went into to define its different races. 7. Content content content. A decade later, I still play Morrowind and see it being sold in stores. No other game can claim this kind of replaying power. I still haven’t done half the quests available in Morrowind.