Although the Elder Scrolls franchise has existed for just shy of 30 years now, some games in the series are still looked upon more fondly than others, and Morrowind is undoubtedly one of them. First released in 2002, Morrowind’s influence seems to have barely dwindled over the last 20 years. Massive Morrowind mods such as the Skywind overhaul help show just how prominent it still is in the eyes of fans. Even the Elder Scrolls series itself has gone back to pay tribute to Morrowind several times over the last couple of decades. The Morrowind expansion of The Elder Scrolls Online and Skyrim’s Dragonborn DLC are just two such examples.
Some Elder Scrolls fans have even pointed out that Bethesda’s developers could implement quite a few elements from Morrowind into The Elder Scrolls 6. The game’s spellmaking mechanic is one feature that many hope will be returning to the series. Morrowind’s immersive approach to roleplaying, especially compared to modern Elder Scrolls titles like Skyrim, is another facet that players are looking forward to the possibility of. Some are even wishing that The Elder Scrolls 6 will take place in the region of Morrowind again, though it seems more likely that it will take the protagonist to High Rock or Hammerfell instead. However, as the game is still in the early design stages, that may be subject to change.
It’s worth noting, of course, that not every element has held up well over the years. Morrowind still has plenty of mistakes. Visually, Morrowind is relatively lacking compared to modern-day RPGs and even more recent Elder Scrolls games like Skyrim and The Elder Scrolls Online. Morrowind’s combat system also faces heavy criticism, even from fans of the game. Primarily, this is because its combat is based mainly on dice rolls. While it isn’t necessarily bad for a character’s combat capabilities to be based on their skill level, relying on luck severely limits a player’s strategies while fighting. As a result, quite a few mods solely seek to make Morrowind’s combat more satisfying. Still, many other gameplay elements from Morrowind are viewed quite fondly.
One RPG element that Skyrim gets wrong is the amount of hand-holding the game provides during its quests and storylines. The straightforwardness of Skyrim’s mission objectives, combined with map markers and the ability to fast travel puts less emphasis on exploration and player freedom. In contrast, Morrowind fully embraced the open-world aspect of the game and made its objectives feel like part of a story rather than a simple checklist. Quest directions were given in the form of vague instructions that prompted players to explore the world around them entirely. Additionally, fast travel was unavailable save for utilizing in-game elements like Silt Striders, boats, or the Mages Guild’s teleportation locations. The challenge of navigating Morrowind’s vast map without fast travel makes it all the more rewarding to find the correct destination.
Morrowind’s approach to essential NPCs is another area that makes it stand out from Skyrim. Both games feature quite a few NPCs that are considered necessary to the progression of the main storyline. Skyrim prohibits players from killing these characters to ensure that the story can still happen. Morrowind, on the other hand, provides no such safeguards. Instead, players can essentially break the main questline by killing off any number of essential NPCs, at which point they will be greeted with a message informing them that they’ve created a doomed timeline. Even then, there are alternate workarounds the Nerevarine can take to progress. In this regard, Morrowind’s game-breaking set a standard for player agency that subsequent mainline Elder Scrolls games haven’t quite reached since.
Visually, Tamriel is home to many unique regions. For example, the Khajiit homeland of Elsweyr is primarily desert, as is Hammerfell, whereas Skyrim is much colder and more mountainous than many other areas on the map. The island of Vvardenfell is no exception. The region is marked by giant mushrooms, the towering volcano Red Mountain, rocky wastelands, and coastal wetlands populated with unique plant life. The landscapes and imagery of Morrowind are easily recognizable and, in the eyes of many Elder Scrolls fans, iconic. Some of Morrowind’s fauna, namely Silt Striders and Cliff Racers, are likewise influential over the Elder Scrolls series.
Morrowind also dealt heavily with concepts that helped build up the lore of the Elder Scrolls franchise quite significantly. The Heart of Lorkhan and the Red Mountain, which serves as one of Mundus’ many Towers, are two such examples. The last surviving Dwemer also appears in Morrowind, providing players with a rare chance to converse with the mysteriously-vanished race. The concept of CHIM, which features prominently in Elder Scrolls lore, is particularly relevant. Additionally, Morrowind lacks voice acting, meaning that NPCs aren’t limited in what they can say to the Nerevarine. As a result, players can pry into various topics regarding the world around them. Combined with the many lore books found throughout the game, Morrowind is a standout example of worldbuilding.
However, the aspect of Morrowind that has arguably stuck with Elder Scrolls fans the most over the years is its story. Everything from the Nerevarine waking up on the boat to Vvardenfell to the final battle against Dagoth Ur has significantly impacted players over the last twenty years. The Nerevarine is objectively one of the most important player characters in the franchise, and Azura’s involvement in the game’s main plot has made her one of the more memorable Daedric Princes in the Elder Scrolls pantheon. The structure of various other key elements in the series, like Tamriel’s guilds and Daedric quests and artifacts, also received a new precedent thanks to Morrowind. Spellcasting was vastly more complex, too, especially thanks to spellmaking.
Almalexia, Vivec, and Sotha Sil are by far the most memorable figures from Morrowind’s main questline, though. Vivec, in particular, is a significant part of much Elder Scrolls lore, and all three make appearances in The Elder Scrolls Online, thanks in no small part to their popularity among Elder Scrolls fans. While every Elder Scrolls game has its fair share of notable NPCs, even Skyrim, few have had as much impact on the series. It will be interesting to see what The Elder Scrolls 6 borrows from previous games and spin-offs from The Elder Scrolls. While it’s likely it will lean heavily on the events and characters from Skyrim, particularly given the lack of proper resolution in the Civil War plot line, it remains highly probable that developers will take inspiration from Morrowind in some shape or form, continuing to expand the game’s impact over its 20-year-long history.
Ky Shinkle is a Senior Gaming Features Writer for Screen Rant as well as an overall avid gamer and writer. Her prior experience is primarily that of a narrative designer for video games, although her writing has covered all formats from screenplays and novels to stage scripts. A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, when she isn’t writing she works on digital media projects and other types of fiction writing. Ky currently works out of Ohio and enjoys spending her free time either playing RPGs or running with her dog.
source: Screen Rant