The Complete Fool In Morrowind

By Alec Meer on December 28th, 2011 at 2:34 pm.

The RPS Hivemind is still recharging, the major nodes soldered directly into the towering soul-capacitors necessary to sustain their thin simulacrum of consciousness for another 12 months. Fortunately, an errant pustule has attained basic mobility, and opted to present you with artifacts from the Shotgun archives to help see you through until our resurrection. First up, a return to the Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, with a haphazard diary series written by Alec back in Summer 2009 during a obsessive revisit of the game that many still feel is Bethesda’s finest hour. It’s a tale of hats, spider-dwarves, assassin-besieged home ownership, grand burglary, poorly-designed forts and existential crisis, in a land far, far stranger than Skyrim.

Note from Alec: yeah, this series was never completed as such. Sorry about that: my return to Morrowind consumed me for over a month, during which I summarily failed to get any other work done. Real life eventually beckoned. Still, what are Elder Scrolls games but a series of random vignettes without overarching purpose? Also, I really wish I’d called it something smarter than ‘A Fool In Morrowind.’

Précis – the plan, the character the mods, the comment section that immediately informed me I was using all the wrong mods. So…

Précis, take 2 - Let’s take this from the top, then. This is the mod-set I ultimately went with: improvements to both graphics and features.

Day 1: Trousers – Of slaughtering animals in plain sight and collecting new clothes but still ending up with bare legs.

Day 2: Granny – Leading a geriatric into terrible peril, and investigating the outer limits of Morrowind’s AI to boot.

Day 3: Fort Stupid - Not-so-impregnable defences. Also: using a mad cult to hide my drug stash.

Day 4: Existential Crisis – Why do I always seem to play RPGs the same way?

Day 5: Big Jobs – Grand-scale crime, as I attempt to achieve fame and glory within the local Thieves’ Guild.

Day 6: Tweet – New Games Journalism, or just a very silly concept-post?

Day 7: Powerhat – Introducing the best loot in any game, ever.

Day 8: Domestic Bliss – Maybe tomorrow, I’ll wanna settle down. Until tomorrow, I’ll just keep stealing hats.

Day 9: The Last Dwarf - Face-to-face with a tragic echo of perhaps the most fascinating facet of Elder Scrolls lore.

And that was that. I had a good time, and I wish I could have continued it for longer. One day, time-willing, I will return – specifically to explore the canine charms of the Bloodmoon expansion.

__________________

« | »

, , , , , .

91 Comments »

  1. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Hello old friend, nice to see you once again.

    Still the best TES game. Wish I could be playing it now but that really would be my degree over.

    • starclaws says:

      Agreed.

      *Spoilers*
      Something about map design that features a magical meat skewer fork, a shipwreck full of pillows, random magician falling out of the sky with the weirdest hat ever, an item called the “BanHammer”, and an ode to Indiana Jones just to name a few.
      *Spoilers*

      Map design will never be the same with all the pre-generated nonsense that they went to in the newer games.

    • Duke of Chutney says:

      I concur, the best thing in Morrowind was the scroll that allowed you to jump a third of the way across the world, only to die on impact, awesome.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      All I’ll say is while Skyrim is a definite return to form after the slightly lacklustre and bland Oblivion, in Morrowind you’d never see a Wolf, Fox or Deer. You saw Nixhounds, Guar, Scrib, Alits and fking Netch… the first time I saw a heard of Netch it blew my mind, I was terrified and enchanted simultaneously, and nothing in Skyrim has come close (so far). Nothing in Morrowind was ever mundane, and that’s why it was such a delight to play despite all of it’s issues, of which there are dozens.

      If they remade that game now it’d blow everything out of the water, including Skyrim.

    • Wulf says:

      I absolutely agree, so much and so wholeheartedly. And frankly, the one-dimensional political thing in Skyrim of fascists vs. racists doesn’t come close to the nuanced political struggles of Morrowind. What many have forgotten is that Morrowind was all about the politics, and it did it so well. And they were actually politicians, not just genocidal maniacs having a cult of popularity contest.

      I was pleased when I heard that netch and the dwemer were back in Skyrim, but… well, the dwemer interpretation in Skyrim was horrible. I’m sorry but it was, and I’m deeply saddened that no one sees that, I truly am. In Morrowind, the dwemer were these industrial people with factory cities who had actual machines and mechanical automatons all of which looked like it could have been mass-produced in the beginnings of an industrial era. In Skyrim, everything went akaviri, and the dwemer stuff no longer looked dwemer. It didn’t have that ‘mass produced’ look about it, it made the dwemer feel all mystical and magical, but that’s not at all what the dwemer were. It seems that few people actually got the dwemer, and Skyrim didn’t either.

      That feel of being built up from blogs of mass produced elements was intrinsic to the representation of the dwemer. It made it feel like their cities were building themselves, that each new tunnel you’d say may not even have been made by the dwemer, but their endless, living factories that continue to plow away at hte depths below Morrowind. It was truly eerie because no one really knew that these factory cities were still so much alive beneath their feet. All clad in bronze.

      In Skyrim, they were just stone ruins, they didn’t have that same feel to them, they just looked like some akaviri had stolen some dwemer devices and then etched a bunch of nonsense into them, making them look ‘ornate,’ because everything must be ornate. And thus the dwemer lost their identity in Skyrim. Whereas in Morrowind, the different peoples had such a strong sense of identity. The dwemer had their living factory cities, the three political houses had such a variety of architecture (I loved the shell houses), the Telvanni had towers built out of living mushrooms that they’d magically coaxed up out of the ground, and so on.

      It was, and remains to be, a sight to behold. Skyrim has nothing of the likes, which makes me sad.

      The wildlife in Morrowind too. Oh, how I loved it for being different. Netches were creatures of imagination, weren’t they? I remember some sot yelling at me that they were in Skyrim, so I went looking for them. Butt hey weren’t there. Either they were lying to me (which I’d suspect is the case), or they mistook the glowing mushrooms in Blackreach for them, which would be an incredibly silly thing to do. All of the wildlife in Morrowind was really something.

      And as I expressed in the Skyrim thread – I want more of this. Morrowind felt alien. It felt so alien. I mean, Skyrim? Skyrim you could do on earth. Skyrim you could easily do in live action form without too many special effects (unless you’re fighting dragons). But Morrowind? My beloved Morrowind was a place unlike I had ever been. The only places that matched the beauty and evocative strangeness of Morrowind were many of the D’ni locations in the later Myst games (Uru especially).

      Not to mention that Morrowind has, hands down, some of the best mods for it. Has anyone here played House Dagoth? If not, please, do yourself a favour – grab the mod, and go back and try Morrowind. Get the Morrowind Graphical Overhaul 2.0 whilst you’re at it. And see for yourself what made Morrowind so very, very special.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Jim Henson would like a word with you, Wulf.

    • spartan2600 says:

      Wulf, you wanted Morrowind: Episode 2. What you got was a new game, not a rehash of old stuff. If you think the politics of Skyrim are “Fascists vs. Racists” and gameplay is like walking around Germany with dragons, you aren’t paying attention to the game.

    • Gurrah says:

      I empathize with you, Wulf, I really really do but you have to do what I did with a lot if not every modern day sequel of our beloved late 90′s and early 00′s games – treat them as something disconnected from what we remember. Skyrim was never meant to be a continuation of Morrowind, and it never could be because, as you so eloquently described, there is no substitute for the beautiful Morrowind.

      I used to treat every modern-day sequel as a true sequel to the golden days as we remember them, that’s why I never finished Oblivion or even made it very far – it always felt so wrong playing it with that memory of Morrowind still fresh in my mind shouting at me WHY ARE YOU PLAYING THIS NONSENSE IF YOU COULD RIDE SILT STRIDERS AND LIVE IN YOUR HOUSE CARVED OUT OF A PREHISTORIC CRAB!!!

      With Morrowind shut out I can and am enjoying Skyrim for what it is and it has consumed going on 120 hours already. The only thing I really don’t understand is why they abandoned the idea of building a home for yourself in Oblivion and Skyrim respectively – Breezehome is ugly and you can’t do anything with it. There is no sense of accomplishment whereas Morrowind… well you know what we could do in Morrowind. I’m going to miss you, old friend…

    • Frikkinold says:

      Wulf, you are spot on. It is not possible to overlook the past of Morrowind -although I try hard with Oblivion – when playing Skyrim, exactly because you play the game, hoping for something that more resembles the former than the latter, and a return to that atmosphere of “otherness” and uniqeness. I as well got my hopes up very high when I learned of dwemer ruins, one of the coolest historical-architectural features of Morrowind. I really don’t understand why they thought they had to make them different, it is quite illogical and probably unheard of in history that a race or culture would change their building style when entering or conquering foreign territory, unless they were to assimilate the culture of the new country totally, as many believe in the case of the Egyptians. There is still too much dwemer in Skyrim structures to argue that any assimilation has taken place, I think. As for the ornaments, they are, I am sad to say, an inevitability of graphical development – developers somehow believe that the more lavish and detailed the ornamentation, the more impressive the graphics.

      If I use my goodwill, maybe I can convice myself that the “runes” or decorative script came at a later date with the nords, long after the dwemer had left.

  2. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    The third best TES game for me, but still brilliant. Lots of good memories.

  3. dijibell says:

    Man, gaming diaries are what got me into RPS in the first place. The one for Mount and Blade had me rolling, which is particularly dangerous when you have an exercise ball for a desk chair. I always end up “very serious” about completing “story arcs”, especially in RPGs, and it is hilariously refreshing to read read well-written pieces about gaming experiences that differ so greatly from my own (especially the part about a cavalier attitude towards saving the world). I’ll make my way through this one while I wait for my main computer to purge a particularly nasty virus. Keep up the good work, guys!

    • Cael says:

      Agreed, I’d really love to see a new gaming diary series on RPS, they’re one of my favorites things to read

    • Tusque D'Ivoire says:

      I distinctly remember feeling the urge to bear a child from Alec Meer after reading this and his Risen-diary! Best thing about RPS (but not of course the single best thing). Shame Quinns doesn’t do them anymore, alec and john haven’t been at it for quite a while…

    • McDan says:

      The gaming diaries are amazing, this one especially. I find myself returning to read through this one every few months or so. This is one of your greatest works Alec, be proud.

      And do some more?

    • The Tupper says:

      Yeah the gaming diary for Minecraft corresponded, coincidentally, with me finding RPS (I’d always liked the guys’ stuff on PG Gamer magazine) and – no coincidence – subsequently buying Minecraft.

      Addition: and loving it.

  4. dangermouse76 says:

    I am getting Morrowind for the PC via Steam
    Plus getting the fancy visuals MOD as seen here.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NX-MvnYUEs

    The file site does not indicate where to extract to for Steam anyone got a clue. Is it just into the Data folder like the other games.
    Thanks for any help.

    • CoburnW says:

      Usually when you are installin mods for Oblivion you go in C:\Local Disk\ProgramFiles\Steam\Steam apps\Common And the game file folder to the directory should be “Morrowind” Jus double click it and you have the file Data double click there and install them “Drag and drop or Copy and Paste usually”

      Not 100% though because ive never installed mods for Morrowind only Oblivion and Skyrim.

      Hopefully this helps in some way have fun gamin :)

    • Demiath says:

      Haven’t messed around much with Morrowind 2011 but especially in terms of ease of use I’d strongly recommend switching to newly released (not to mention practically self-installing) Morrowind Overhaul 2.0, which has been featured on RPS as well if I’m not mistaken. It’s available from here;
      http://morrowindoverhaul.rpgitalia.net/

    • povu says:

      Morrowind Overhaul 2.0 is far superior to the MW 2011 project. Easier to install, customizable, more graphically consistent and with full support on the official Bethesda forums from both the compilation maker and the modders.

    • Eukatheude says:

      Oh hey, i knew the guy who did this mod. I was supposed to help him playtest the first version bu ended up doing nothing. Glad to know a second version’s up.

    • dangermouse76 says:

      Thanks for the advice guys will try out that other MOD to.

  5. Saleck says:

    Every time I try to play Morrowind, I bounce right off it. Anyone got any advice for getting really into it? Also, how the hell does sneaking work in Morrowind? it isnt as clear as Oblivion or Skyrim when you’re doing it right and doing it wrong… any pointers would be appreciated :) thanks!

    • sinister agent says:

      Sneaking is very unreliable, as the AI has a very primitive detection system (or appears to, anyway). When you’re undetected, there will be a little icon in one of the bottom corners with a hand and a coinpurse on it. It’s very fiddly, particularly at low levels. I wouldn’t rely too heavily on it, as it’s not as much fun as in the other games either.

      As for enjoying it… well, I’d suggest fairly heavy modding myself, but which mods you use depends on what about the main game you didn’t like, so it’s a bit awkward to answer. I would suggest treating it as a more “use your im agination” sort of RPG than it is an action RPG. Oh, and try to get at least one combat skill very high, as combat is a mess of tedious invisible dice rolls, which makes some fights a wearying chore if you haven’t got a strong sword or axe or whatever skill to hurry it up.

      Also, explore, but have a scroll or spell of Intervention handy, as these teleport you to the nearest temple, which will save a lot of hassle if you get stuck out in the wilderness with broken weapons, being attacked by suicidal wildlife every 15 seconds. It’s very much a game about relaxing and poking about and inventing your own story and challenges, rather than being about excitement and skill like Obliv and Skyirm.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I found the game much more enjoyable after I learned fly. Also, run into a corner, weigh down the forward key and leave it alone for a day or so. Same goes with jumping. Having faster movement just makes the game more enjoyable. Generally using cheap moves to break the training system makes the game more enjoyable. All in all, I thought it was a fun little game but it’ll never be in my favorites.

    • sinister agent says:

      You can bypass the waiting around by using a console command to increase your athletics skill (ie: running speed). I recommend this too, unless you want to go everywhere at an excruciating pace. That way it won’t mess up your levelling either.

    • Wulf says:

      There are mods that fix sneaking.

      As for getting into Morrowind – it’s easy. I found it the easiest of the Elder Scrolls games to get into, really. Just find something to do that matters to you, find something that meshes well with you. Follow the questline the Imperials give you for as long as they do, then talk to the locals to find out what interesting things are going on.

      One of the things I like in Morrowind is jumping straight into the thieves guild, because at least there they aren’t thugs. I mean, there are thief-ish thugs in Morrowind but that’s the Morag Tong and they’re a completely different organisation. Skyrim seems to only have a Morag Tong equivalent, which makes me very sad. In Morrowind you had a thieves guild that you could really love.

    • GuyPerson says:

      I dunno Wulf, IMHO I would rather have a thieves guild full of people who actually seem like thieves than lovable Robin Hoods, but it’s probably because I would rather have a more realistic game than a fairy tale sort.

    • Wizlah says:

      Erm, as I seem to recall, the Morag Tong were the exact opposite of thugs, seeing as how they were honour bound by ancient dunmer traditions and all of that to resolve conflicts by killing carefully in accordance with certain laws and stuff.

      The Camonna Tong, now they were plain ol’ thugs. Racist thugs, at that.

  6. Unaco says:

    “Note from Alec: yeah, this series was never completed as such. Sorry about that”

    No surprises there then.

  7. BAshment says:

    Flashback?

    Its like the writers strike all over again. Except turkey induced.

  8. HoradricNoob says:

    What a fantastic series; I’m glad I decided to include RPS in my gaming bookmarks!

    Ahh, Morrowind. How many hours of my life have you claimed?

    Good choice on the mods, it wasn’t until years after my first playthroughs that I began to toy with any of

    those; they truly bring a lot to the party.

  9. Cael says:

    One of my absolute favorite series of articles on RPS, I can remember looking forward to a day 10 that never came. I still hold out hope that you will make one for Skyrim…

    • Moist says:

      I hold out that Quintin will return and make another gaming analysis series the equivalent of the great work he did on Pathologic. Bringing RPS readers back to finding the art in the gameplay of games rather than the Emotional Appeal of flapping cat ears on a back pack and virtual LARPing funerals for shitty Skyrim characters.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “another gaming analysis series the equivalent of the great work he did on Pathologic”

      Doing that would require a game as interesting in its gameplay as Pathologic though, wouldn’t it?

      Also, Moist, do not insult people. That is not okay.

    • Moist says:

      Ok Rossignol, I just read your post. I hope you’ll forgive the slander I posted slightly before I did read it.. I do like your Stalker posts!

  10. Moist says:

    The last good game Bethesda made and the first step of the decline after Daggerfall

    • Moist says:

      For all it’s failures Morrowind is the only post-Daggerfall game to truly realise the potential of exploration in the place of gameplay. It was a really alien world of the artist’s mind and was very compelling just to try and see a little bit of it. Oblivion and Skyrim are failures for aping pulp fiction high fantasy and then photo-realistic Norwegian mountain-scapes. There’s more to simulating exploration than just setting though, and Skyrim would have been a truly amazing game if it bothered to introduce survival elements and snow storms and stuff that would absolutely make you terrified as an explorer and maybe kill you if you weren’t prepared. This is what exploring a fantasy landscape of poorly written barbarians and colonialists is all about. But it has none of that, it’s an exploration game as simplistic as an asset tour, there is no dynamic world, no NPC reactions, no real choice and consequence and very little actual game.

    • Moist says:

      These criticisms apply to Morrowind too, of course, and you have to place a lot of value in the artist’s originality to place Morrowind higher than Oblivion and Skyim given that the gameplay elements are only marginally more present in the world (ash storms causing disease is the only one I can think of).

    • Kraelorn says:

      Morrowind was a great game, but lets deal with it – Skyrim is much better:
      1. massive amount of different and interesting quests, comparing to crappy fedex ones in morrowind, plus radiant quests which never ends;
      2. alive NPC’s, on par with Gothic II ones, and with even more diverse animations (comparing to wooden ones in Morr, standing on one place forever),
      3. totally dead world in Morrowind, Skyrim is full of life
      4. much better and diverse random encounters;
      5. fantastic landscape to explore comparing to all the same and empty one in Morrowind (tho with good design, can’t deny it), each dungeon is unique, comparing to copypasted in Morr;
      6. Cooking, crafting
      7. Better combat.
      8. Much better potential (with unlimited possibilities with SKSE) and powerful engine for modding community
      Only really close-minded can say that Morrowind is better

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Kraelorn: Only really close-minded old [snip]

      This should work out well for you.

    • Stevostin says:

      …. also, Arena & Daggerfall were horribly broken game, with skills that didn’t do anything (disguise !)and bug that made it very difficult to just finish the main quest. Morrowind was a big improvement (you could finish it) but the gameplay was still badly balanced (it took 100X more time to level alteration vs sword, for instance), making the game really difficult until a certain level, and then way too easy. etc. Despite its uninspiring design and the bad combination of increased realism vs small world design, Oblivion was a game that was at least working decently.

      Then of course there is Skyrim with nicely fine tuned gameplay and balance, complex and varied quest. You can argue reasonably that Morrowind was a more important achievement at its time than Skyrim – although that’s already a bold statement. But that it is, now, a better game ? I doubt everyone claiming that he would pick Morrowind for real if he had to be locked in a room for one month. And even if he do so out of stubbornness, I am pretty sure he would check the harsh reality : Morrowind is way less content, with less entertaining writing, less things to do, etc. There’s no craft, the “houses” quests are nothing what the guild quests are in Skyrim, etc.

      That being said I still see Morrowind as a wonderful achievement in art & world design – one I’ve never seen matched by anyone, included other Bethesda games.

    • JackShandy says:

      Personally, I judge Elder Scrolls games by the Ditch Index: How much fun I can have by throwing everything that looks like a quest into the nearest ditch and wandering around the landscape at random.

      Now in Morrowind I threw the main quest letter away and dove into the sea, expecting to hit invisible walls – but instead, I found that I could fish for pearls, and investigate shipwrecks, and harvest ingredients from plants around the shore to make a potion of water-walking.

      Soon, though, I went inland and found the whole place to be honestly empty. I spent hours going over the same empty brown mountains, fighting cliff-racers. Occasionally I found people standing in the road asking me to take them to the nearest town. The towns were all massive and empty. Eventually I relented and went to do the Mage Guild quest, which involved picking herbs. Once I’d turned in the herbs, I had to… pick some more herbs.

      In Skyrim I spent the longest time hunting dear. And in that time I went through forests, mountains, fought trolls, jumped down waterfalls, fled from ice-wraiths. Once I followed a farmer and watched him sacrifice his cow to a pack of giants.

  11. dontnormally says:

    “Let me tell you about my hat.”

  12. Moist says:

    I know RPS is full of white-knights prepared to defend Skyrim to the death so I will say that, yes, Skyrim did do some things better than Morrowind. Graphics (if not art style), multitudes of quests (that nearly all are at some point a dungeon crawl), radiant AI (still automating the least possible effort to create a rich and dynamic world); cooking, crafting (has never been less effectual and more “balanced”, requires MMO style grind to bother with), and a THOUSAND TIMES BETTER GFX OMG

    Everything else I doubt anyone will bother white-knighting.

  13. Moist says:

    I really only touched on the exploration aspect of Skyrim. I did that because there’s an abundance of criticisms that Skyrim and Oblivion and even Morrowind aren’t actually RPGs with worlds that react to the player or real choice or agency or any of that stuff that people use to describe games and not theater or literature or film.

    The most common response is that it’s fun to just explore, and it is in certain ways, but when you try and justify your experiences it tends to feel a little empty. In the end Skyrim is so simplistic and easy that you can explore every inch of the asset tour and experience very little gameplay. What gameplay there is entirely taken from MMORPGs. Alec actually did a really nice commentary (that could have so easily been criticism) of Skyrim in the Christmas games of the year list. He touched on the various ways that the gameplay of Skyrim emulates World of Warcraft and he was almost entirely right, depressingly this standard of gameplay isn’t immediately reviled but somehow accepted because people so easily put aside what they’re doing in the game if the graphics and voice acting and “polish” is to a high standard.

    • Kraelorn says:

      “In the end Skyrim is so simplistic and easy that you can explore every inch of the asset tour and experience very little gameplay”.
      It’s not easy and definitely not simplisitc. Leveling system changed alot in Skyrim. Now you can encounter very hard enemies and locations for low/mid-level chars. And there’s difficulty level for everyone, who bothered checking game options at least once. Try master difficulty and say after that, that Skyrim is an asset tour.

      • Abundant_Suede says:

        Kraelorn: It’s not easy and definitely not simplistic.

        It’s pretty easy and simplistic. Even on Max difficulty.

        But that’s just due to the usual lazy vanilla Elder Scrolls game design. There’s no way to derive any real challenge from a game that lets you, say, pause in the middle of combat and eat a full meal or unlimited potions, and unpause again at full health, bristling with buffs, only to repeat it again a few seconds later.

        Morrowind was simply *more* broken than Skyrim mechanically. But Skyrim is still lazy, and there is little real challenge to be had on any difficulty setting without modding, unless you deliberately gimp your character and play with one arm tied behind your back.

        • Kraelorn says:

          “It’s pretty easy and simplistic. Even on Max difficulty.”
          This is obviously not true. You will not be able to eat a full meal or unlimited potions because you will be killed with one hit in many dungeons for high-level chars on master and close-combat fighting with few enemies is a real nighmare, even Witcher 1/2 is much easier.

          • Abundant_Suede says:

            @Kraelorn

            The only character type that could possibly be one hit by anything is a toe to toe melee fighter, because they’re the only ones that take hits(mages and archers only get hit if they want to…to say nothing of the god-like Skyrim stealth character), and only at low level, or if they’ve gimped themselves by not prioritizing their core combat skills or by trying to generalize, or because they didn’t buff themselves.

            Regardless, if your answer to combat challenge is you have to fight something that kills you with one hit in order to overcome TES potion/consumable spam, you’re just illustrating how poor the combat design is.

            There is no character that wont have effectively out-leveled the game by level 20+, which you hit rapidly, at which point they’re sleepwalking through the vanilla game on any difficulty. TES games are designed to be broadly accessible, not to be challenging. Or balanced.

            [edit] Reply function doesn’t appear to be working for me after all the thread nuking.

          • AndrewC says:

            The Elder Scrolls games are designed for generalisers, not min/maxers. Design choice, not bad design.

          • Abundant_Suede says:

            @AndrewC

            Being a melee fighter, and prioritizing your core melee abilities (weapon specialization/armor/blocking)is not min maxing. It’s common sense. And it still leaves you plenty of points to generalize with, for instance to make your functionally unlimited, spammable potions with.

            Min-maxing is dumping another important ability to be overly potent in one very specific and situational ability. Skyrim (or any TES game) never forces you to do that to excel at your core ability set.

            If you build any archetypal template to logical spec, you’ll sleepwalk though the game. If you over generalize, you’ll struggle early on, but still end up out leveling the game in terms of potency.

          • Kraelorn says:

            @Abundant_Suede, yes I’m playing a hybrid of heavy fighter/necromancer with advanced crafting, lockpicking and enchanthing skils and expert level is hard enough to me. I’m at 34 lvl and there’s still a lot of challenging fights. If it’s too easy for you, then wait for mods or grab some few simple ones released already on nexus which making enemies few times stronger. So far I’m more than happy with vanilla difficulty.

          • AndrewC says:

            “If you build any archetypal template to logical spec”

            Well, there you go. You can’t imagine why anyone would act any differentky from you save for incompetance, and I can’t imagine anything more dull. I’ll go look at some mountains, you go immerse yourself in the things you do enjoy and we’ll both be happier.

          • Abundant_Suede says:

            @AndrewC

            If you want a low challenge game about Exploration , thats fine with me. Skyrim is great for casual exploration. But you were replying to a discussion about the difficulty of combat (or lack thereof) in Skyrim, and the lazy design across the board. If you have to deliberately tie one arm behind your back to find a challenge, that’s bad design.

            I had already stipulated you’d have to deliberately gimp your characters combat abilities in order to find challenge. For my part, I’ve had no problem building roleplaying characters who are not good at everything in the game, but good at their core abilities and identities, and know who they are, and are not.

            Of these, the only character to provide remotely any challenge was a toe to toe melee paladin , who did not steal, and who deliberately did not use any potions or consumables…only healing magic(shes sustained by her faith), and then only from Bandit Leaders/Bosses who scale disproportionately to the rest of the game on Max difficulty, and even then, only to about level 20+ or so, because leveling her smithing abilities spiked her character level, and caused the challenge scaling mechanic to briefly outlevel her combat abilities.

          • Kraelorn says:

            @Abundant_Suede: Simple question, Witcher 1/2 or Gothic 1/2 is challenging enough for you? Skyrim on even expert level is already harder than these games.

          • Abundant_Suede says:

            @Abundant_Suede: Simple question, Witcher 1/2 or Gothic 1/2 is challenging enough for you? Skyrim on even expert level is already harder than these games.

            It most certainly is not (although I’m no expert on the Gothic games). For the record (and in no way to boast…there would be no point to boasting about Max difficulty in a TES game)I play on Max Skyrim difficulty, and have a mod installed to increase the dragon difficulty, until a comprehensive re-balancing mod is released.

            Although there are definite scaling issues, it has much more to do with all the lazily implemented mechanics in Skyrim (or any TES game), and not the core combat itself, which would be reasonably functional if Bethesda ever gave any indication people actually play through these games before they release them.

            Otherwise they’d realize that things like being able to infallibly pause and spam unlimited potions as much as you want removes the potential of any real challenge from combat, entire skills trees like lockpicking (no one would ever take a single perk in that tree once they realize the tree is based around the idea of lockpick scarcity, except lockpicks are abundant) are broken, and being able to stand right in front of a vendor and steal things off their counter or assassinate someone in the middle of a crowded inn with half a stealth tree filled out, or a half assed food mechanic that serves no purpose other than concept and is never worth the weight in your pack, just make the game feel lazy.

            Skyrim works as a casual game. It’s good for broad concepts. It has a superficially lavish world. It has breadth, but not depth. But As soon as you nick the surface and start noticing this stuff, or thinking about the mechanics, it (like any TES game)all falls apart in terms of any real expectation of challenge.

            It’s possible you just haven’t noticed yet. It’s possible that illusion is still intact for you. It’s possible we have disparate levels of skill, although I assure you, I am no “hardcore” gamer. I run screaming from any real test of skill. Skyrim requires no real skill.

            It’s also possible we just disagree.

          • Kraelorn says:

            @Abundant_Suede: so have you played any open world rpgs since 2002 which gives to you any real test of your skill? I completed most of them and can say that Skyrim is still a very challenging game to me. I don’t use game exploits like you in case of drinking unlimited amounts of potions at once, because I don’t have unlimited amount of them and prefer to keep my inventory clean.

          • Abundant_Suede says:

            @Kraelorn

            AS I said, it’s not a matter of my skill. It’s a matter of the underlying game being mechanically deficient. I rarely max out the difficulty on many of the games I play.

            Many games provide a challenge when thought has been put into their design and balance. I enjoy TES games after the community has gotten to them and rebalanced some of the more egregious examples of laziness with overhaul mods.

            I think we’re done here. Don’t you?

          • Abundant_Suede says:

            Kraelorn :I don’t use game exploits like you in case of drinking unlimited amounts of potions at once,

            Heh. You don’t get to refer to doing something that is completely intended and allowable in the game as an “exploit”, and still make the case there is no issue with the design being lacking. You cannot have it both ways. Pauseable Potion Spam is working as intended. It’s always that way in vanilla TES games.

            If they wanted to limit the potion consumption somehow, like popular overhaul mods for Oblivion did, so you had to make more strategic decisions about what to use and carry, and when to use them, so you couldn’t infallibly heal and buff yourself at will instead of relying on strategy and skill, they could have done so.

            They either don’t believe it’s a problem (out of touch), didn’t notice it’s a problem (lazy), or my personal guess, they simply don’t care that it’s a problem. They want a casual game that doesn’t challenge anyone, and are unwilling to expend the effort to make the game mechanically sound for people who want more thought put into the design. It simply isn’t necessary for their target casual audience, who are perfectly delighted with the big shiny world, even if it doesn’t work very well as a game.
            .

            [edit] Reply function still not working. I truly apologize for my blather sprawl.

        • Stevostin says:

          Max difficulty could be pretty much impossible for some builds. The game simply wasn’t balance. BTW Master difficulty is poorly made in Skyrim (although at least it’s working). Fallout game system deals with it way better.

  14. Kraelorn says:

    “Skyrim just looks like every fantasy cliche’ out there.”
    Skyrim looks just as I wanted – northern europe, full of snow,cold and beauty. Is that considered cliche already? Witcher, Dragon Age is not cliche then?

  15. zabzonk says:

    For something vaguely similar, I always enjoyed Arwen’s Journal at http://arwenevecom.ipage.com/Morrowind/MW_Index.htm

  16. Jason Moyer says:

    Evidence of rose-colored glasses: We’ve made it to nearly 50 comments and no one has so much as mentioned Cliff Racers.

    At a previous job I walked to work along a set of railroad tracks through a heavily wooded area, and it happened to coincide with a replay of Morrowind. During that entire period I was so paranoid about Cliff Racers that I had that natural ‘glancing around nervously’ thing from the game carry over into my walks in real life.

  17. Jason Moyer says:

    i thought Oblivion missed a golden opportunity for lore-building with the Ayelid ruins. They could have been as interesting as the Dwarven ruins in Morrowind but ended up being fairly bland and not really adding anything to the background of the series.

  18. Kraelorn says:

    @Abundant_Suede, yes I’m playing a hybrid of heavy fighter/necromancer with advanced crafting, lockpicking and enchanthing skils and expert level is hard enough to me. I’m at 34 and there’s still a lot of challenging fights. If it’s too easy for you, then wait for mods or grab some few simple ones released already on nexus which making enemies few times stronger. So far I’m more than happy with vanilla difficulty…

  19. vecordae says:

    Ah, Morrowind. I purchased you when you came out. I was a creature possessed of strange and unseemly fancies. Fancies that the marketing blurbs on your case promised to fulfill.

    Sadly, I never got past the seemingly esoteric levelling system and the hordes of cliff racers. I think I finally quite the game forever after having been killed by random cliff racer ambushes for the sixth or seventh time that day.

  20. Stevostin says:

    I am reading more books in Skyrim that I did in Morrowind, with more pleasure – mainly because the font is better. That being said they’re good and I am truly getting a better sense of the politics and the story of Skyrim – and I feel more involved. All in all it’s a pleasure to feel this huge TES lore coherent from game to game. The skyrim’s stories are largely told in Morrowind, and you find a lot of reference to the dunmers in Oblivion and Skyrim too. Good stuff.

  21. Wulf says:

    That’s how I feel. Skyrim isn’t a bad game, it’s a fun one, but I find comparing it to Morrowind infuriating. It’s like comparing a microwave meal to something you’d get a michelin star restaurant. Both are enjoyable, but one clearly has more depth, more beauty, and more intellectual worth.

    Does any person think about these things whilst eating? I’m sure that most don’t, but some of us do. And as a meal, Morrowind was the equivalent of that michelin star restaurant, and Skyrim was a microwavable meal. Skyrim was an appeal to the masses (the masses whom are apparently genocidal… humanity, what has become of you?) and that worked. The parts which weren’t necessarily going for a lowest of the lowest of the lowest of low common denominators appealed to me, and I enjoyed them. It wasn’t a bad game, it was just a shallow game. It was a TV dinner game.

    And I’m sorry… but though one might hate me for it, calling a TV dinner better than something you’d get at a micheliln star restaurant is just silly. You may wish it to be true, you may long for it to be true to the deepest depths of your soul, but it never will be true. And like a TV dinner, Skyrim is shallow, so it’s very easy to understand, and just anyone can get into it.

    Like a meal at a michelin star restaurant, Morrowind has depth, so at first you’re going to be confused by the wonderment you see before you, and the raw amounts of choice present, and the unfamiliarity of it all. You may not know where to begin and you may even feel completely out of your depth, you may long for the simplicity and mediocre nature of TV dinners, just so you won’t embarrass yourself.

    But that doesn’t make TV dinners good and michelin star restaurant meals bad. And it certainly doesn’t mean that TV dinners are superior to michelin star restaurant meals.

    That’s what I’m hearing, however, from angry mainstream-type people who’re screaming in my ears that TV dinners are better than anything you could get in a michelin star restaurant, and I just find it folly. I sigh at them, I might try and explain the nature of things to them, but they’ll never understand. They’ll just hate me for preferring something that has more beauty, depth, complexity, and intellectual worth. Such is the way of things. Such is what it means to be a part of the gamer subculture.

    And whenever I’ve cited the abhorrent but omnipresent anti-intellectualism of the gaming subculture… well, Morrowind is a huge example. One seems to be hated for merely liking it. I’m a simple person myself, but I do enjoy things of beauty, and Morrowind was a thing of beauty.

    But c’est la vie. What can you do?

    (Yay for orphaned replies.)

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Reply fail

      EDIT: Guess RPS is broken again :/

      • Vinraith says:

        @Sheng-Ji

        There’s been a lot of thread nuking on this article (because there have been a lot of people that can’t seem to express an opinion without insulting other people, sexual orientations, races, and every other damned thing). Whenever posts get deleted it seems to play havoc with the forum software. This is supposed to be a reply, for example.

        • rustybroomhandle says:

          @Vinraith My own post also got deleted because I made light of two post before mine that included such slurs. The post prior got nuked, so I guess without context, my own post also ended up looking liked it was doing the same. Another person saw my humour and responded with another joke – that also got nuked.

          So yeah, into the vault, citizens – there be nukes!

          • Vinraith says:

            @rustybroomhandle

            Yeah, collateral nukage happens.

          • Abundant_Suede says:

            I say nuke the entire thing from orbit.

            It’s the only way to be sure.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      @ Wulf

      I do kind of agree with you – though I would say oblivion is the microwavable lasagne – a crude copy of an italian classic (a basic stab at high fantasy) mostly ruined by it’s cooking method (ruined by the need to sell huge numbers on consoles) yet stops you from feeling hungry – some may even enjoy it (scratched that RPG itch)

      Morrowind indeed is the Michelin starred snail porridge. It is alien and exotic, unique and special, an experience you will never forget and worthy of the worldwide praise it receives. It took a unique visionary to create this and the likes of it will never come from another kitchen.

      So where does that put Skyrim? In my opinion, Skyrim is the ready prepared herb crusted rack of lamb. Just remove the plastic and pop in the oven for 35 mins (Still panders to the consoles with dumbing down) but the cooking method is much more sympathetic to your tastebuds (at least they made an effort). The only drawback is the quality of ingredients used is rather lacking (Despite the effort, there are still huge problems).

    • Adventurous Putty says:

      To be fair, I think RPS is largely free of that anti-intellectualism, at least as compared to the gaming public as a whole. That’s certainly why I like it here, at least.

      That said, I definitely do have a doctoral thesis lurking about in the back of my head about Morrowind as a Borgesian Labyrinth. Not many games inspire that sort of highfallutin’ sideways-talk.

  22. Dominic White says:

    I could never get into Morrowind. The setting was great, yes, but the NPCs were largely charmless walking wikipedias, the environments were brown (or otherwise muddy/cloudy shades) as can be, and the combat being first-person and action oriented, but dependent entirely on dice rolls to decide whether a clearly connected hit really did hit or not just rubbed me up entirely the wrong way.

    Blasphemy, I know, but I never really enjoyed the Elder Scrolls games until Oblivion, and never loved one until Skyrim. Well, that’s my take – I’m a horrible person for it, I’m sure.

  23. Irregular Peanut says:

    I too think that the core gameplay mechanics in all Elderscrolls games (at least the first latest three which I have played) are all flawed. I don’t place any real value on them, I was initially interested by the dual wielding in Skyrim but that didn’t turn out to be anything really special to me. There is nothing truly exciting about fighting in an Elderscrolls game for me.

    Stealth was the only gameplay mechanic that I enjoyed at all, and that was only in Oblivion (the game was darker in general, and you had to use those shadows even at higher stealth levels in order to stay hidden, in Skyrim everything is too well lit and the NPCs detection ability diminished, if feels like the NPCs are completely blind when you sneak right in front of them at higher levels, although this would happen in Oblivion occasionally as well).

    The only interest in fighting in Elderscrolls for me is “Where will I be able to go after this fight?”, it’s probably another reason I enjoy stealth, I don’t have to deal with the fighting as much and just explore and skip annoying and ultimately poorly made combat mechanics, I’ve tried to make it challenging and enjoyable, I’ve set it to the hardest difficulty and you either curbstomp them instantly or you spend the next three minutes shooting a draugr or clanfear with arrows from an unreachable rock or kite them into an instant kill trap.

    I enjoyed Morrowind the most because there was a lot more interesting stuff to it than the broken combat mechanics (also I guess since there was no scaling, a sense of danger everywhere that you explored, incase you ran into a frost atronach at level three). Oblivion was good fun playing a stealth character but otherwise had a rather repetetive landscape and environment. Skyrim seems to have polished everything except that which I care about (including making stealth too easy), it did introduce crafting (not including alchemy) for the first time but to me it’s ultimately a group of skills that supports combat with armour and weapons, something I’m not interested in enough to warrant using it. The first time I was truly impressed with Skyrim was when I entered Blackreach, and I think that was the only time as well.

  24. Vandalbarg says:

    The only other site’s whose Let’s Play’s compare with the RPS one’s are the something awful ones.

    Amazing reads.

  25. iv4nfx says:

    Morrowind Overhaul

    If you ever feel nostalgic…just check this out.

  26. snoopy369 says:

    @Abundant_Suede – if you think the potion spam makes the game too easy, don’t do it. You really aren’t required to take advantage of any given element of game mechanics if it doesn’t make the game fun for you… I suspect the potion spam is possible primarily for the purpose of making particular fights beatable for players (Dragon Priests, etc.) that would otherwise have to lower the difficulty level (which many people refuse to do) or just get frustrated by the game. Instead you are free to potion spam all you want. I don’t generally use potions beyond a limited, reasonable amount, and don’t use food at all, in order to make the game an appropriate difficulty level for me.

    There are dozens of complaints I could understand about Skyrim, but one that is so easily fixable on your part really does not seem reasonable.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Snoopy369: if you think the potion spam makes the game too easy, don’t do it.

      Ah yes, the “Tie one arm behind your back ” apologist argument to lazy game design.

      Well, if you happened to read my subsequent statements, you’ll see that not using potions is exactly what I did with one character playthrough in order to find some challenge in the game.

      Wouldn’t it be better if the game was actually designed thoughtfully so I didn’t have to actually eschew the use of potions in a fantasy combat game in order to find some challenge? Other games manage to do it. Popular overhaul mods for Oblivion manged to do it. It’s not like the developers were unaware there weren’t better solutions.

      And that is a single issue. I listed many more examples of the lazy design that makes Skyrim or any TES game fall apart on the mechanical level. Those were off the top of my head, and I could list more.

      How many arms do I have to tie behind my back? So far it’s: Don’t use stealth, don’t use magic, don’t use ranged combat, don’t use consumables, don’t steal, don’t buy lockpicks from vendors, don’t make logical choices on what skills to advance your character in, etc…

      I’ve only got the two arms, after all.

      I would just prefer to play a game where I dont have to “pretend” there’s actual gameplay design.

  27. snoopy369 says:

    For my part, I do have to say that I would prefer the wildlife to be a bit harder, and a bit more present in general. Early in the game wolves and such are pretty interesting – they are hard enough that if you run into three of them you have to really concentrate on beating them, and Sabre-tooth Cats are individually quite hard. Once you get into the game some, though, you lose that; only Giants and Mammoths are of any real concern, and they don’t aggro. Dragons don’t really add that for me, even if they were a lot harder, as they’re not common enough; but I suppose I’d have to live with that. I would prefer them to attack a bit more quickly – ie, rather than hearing Dragon noises well ahead of time and having tons of time to plan, I would like my first notice of the dragon, at least sometimes, to be the 1/3 of my HP being wiped out with a swipe from its claws.

  28. Shaz says:

    I loved this series! It made me load up Morrowind all over again. I was so disappointed when it abruptly ended; I kept hoping and hoping that it was just a short hiatus.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>