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Have you played... The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind?

It's the best Elder Scrolls. But...

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“2002’s Morrowind is the best Elder Scrolls!” or so the popular refrain goes. Popular if you’re as old as I am, at least. I agree, obviously I agree.

But I’m also wrong.

It depends on what we define ‘Elder Scrolls’ as, doesn’t it? If, by that name, we mean roleplaying about choices and discoveries and possibilities and unexpected places, then yes, Morrowind all the way. It does things, things of great ambition, which seem so uncommon and unlikely today, and I treasure it for that. But if, by that name, we mean exciting fighting and sweeping vistas and relatively elegant interfaces (relative only to Bethesda RPGs’ oft-wonky standards, of course) and big bloody dragons, then Morrowind’s a stinker.

By which I mean, for an awful lot of people, it’s Skyrim all the way – because they want, or at least know, something different. Something brasher, something which trades strangeness for drama, (again, relative) slickness and cohesiveness. I want the next Elder Scrolls to be more like Morrowind and less like the murder-frenzies of Skyrim and Fallout 4, but I don’t know why I – and those like me – should get to make that demand.

I am the past. So is Morrowind. I love Morrowind dearly. It is one of few games I have had dreams about – but it is not the future. I realised that when I played the Morrowind module of Elder Scrolls Online. For a time, I was tickled pink by the chance to revisit all those beloved sights and creatures and cities once more. Later, I felt the hollow growl of what comes after nostalgia is sated. They made the thing I liked again: now what? So what? What does that say about me?

I don’t want another Skyrim, but I don’t really want another Morrowind either. I want something else, something to shake me out of the torpor of wanting familiar things.

Morrowind is the best Elder Scrolls. That isn’t something I want to find myself saying forever.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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