Morrowind: Finally done

I bought Morrowind & both expansions a while back to test a theory. I played it last year for a little while, min/maxing like a good little munchkin, and found that the game wasn’t fun at all. My theory was that maybe min/maxing is a vicous cycle that takes all the fun out of gaming; if I don’t really pay attention and just kind of amble around, will it be more fun? Don’t pay cash to upgrade skills, don’t obsessively open every chest, and so on; don’t take it seriously.

Was that ever a fucking mistake. Morrowind is a half-assed game trapped between genres, unable to fully commit to any of them. As a result, it’s far less than the sum of its parts, providing a mediocre, massively time-wasting stretch of entertainment.

Is it a good classical combat RPG? Hell no; no matter what you do, you’ll be able to easily slaughter everything in the game. There’s little in the way of rewards to Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord-style planning. Don’t think about what your character should look like over his life; just slap long sword, heavy armor, and security into the major skills and you’re set.

As a character development Final Fantasy-style RPG, it’s a complete waste of time. I can’t remember the names of more than one or two NPCs, and what I know about those is strictly of the “name, job” variety. Does Crassius Curio have anything interesting to say? Beats me, the fucker’s a two-dimensional quest machine.

Worst of all, it’s not even a good “adventurery” PS:T-style RPG. The dialogue interface stinks; why do the same 1000 questions show up on every person in town? Would it kill them to differentiate the stuff I’ve already asked people, seeing how there’s so goddamn many duplicate answers? Why is the journal and quest system so useless? Even with the Tribunal upgrade, it still misses quests.

The dialogue is mediocre, through and through, and good luck making sense of the fucking plot; it wouldn’t fill a chapter of a B-grade fantasy novel. Maybe the dozens of books in the game have excellent writing, but I’ll never fucking know; they’re replicated FiringSquad.com’s business plan of sticking 5 words on a page, and I feel like I’ve wasted enough of my life on this game.

Is there a big market out there for exploring extremely droll, low-variety, no-goal virtual worlds? I certainly don’t want to buy any more of them.

On a related note, I figured out while I ended up disliking Dark Cloud 2 so much. There’s no rewards to playing well; it’s just stab stab stab plot plot plot, and not particularly good at either of them.

One thing I’ve noticed is that games are tough these days, that is to say, the designers assume that the player is going to min-max and use every loophole available, so the difficulty level is jumped up a notch or something. Baldur’s Gate II is a good example of this with its souped up enemy wizards.

Yeah, I’m one of those people who insists on min-maxing. I think the only way to prevent me from doing so is to hide that information from me. It’d be like using sliders instead of numbers to assign character attributes.

  • Alan

Amen! Your description fits this cheap imitation of an RPG perfectly. I wonder what all major gaming websites and reviewers were thinking when giving praises to this drivel. Morrowind is clearly inferior to Daggerfall, which had more advanced gameplay in 1994 (more balanced stats, difficulty of monsters and dungeons scaled up as you progressed, truly epic scale, intriguing storyline). Ah, yes, plug-ins! Good idea, Bethesda! Too bad 99% of them fall into “new l33t stuff” or “+50 kewl FedEx-quests” category.

I wonder how Morrowind managed to sell well on Xbox. I mean, this crap is barely entertaining on PC, with poor design, horrible UI, swarming bugs etc., I can’t picture myself playing it in front of my TV.

Embrace algorithm-solving! You have nothing to lose but your spreadsheets!

I think BG2’s problem was that they pretty much expected you to obsessively save/reload. Maybe it’s just an inherent problem with the D&D spells memorization system, but there was no way to play the game effectively without constantly reloading your last quicksave. “Oh, there’s two mages up ahead, I need to use my mage-killer spell set. Crap, now there’s a huge army, I need to use my crowd-control spell set.” It was still fun, but played a bit more like, oh, Panzer General, where you’re really just trying to solve a set of unchanged puzzles by varying the inputs.

On an amusing note, I did have fun with Morrowind for the first ten hours or so, but that’s just because I thought what I was doing made a difference! It doesn’t; a cyborg monkey could play the game.

I wonder how Morrowind managed to sell well on Xbox. I mean, this crap is barely entertaining on PC, with poor design, horrible UI, swarming bugs etc., I can’t picture myself playing it in front of my TV.

Are there any other Xbox RPGs? To wildly generalize, I think console gamers have a much higher tolerance for junk gameplay decisions.

Oh, crap, I forgot to mention: I simply cannot believe the amount of “empty” time in the game. Do they really expect people to waltz all over the game world on foot, covering the same ground a dozen times, stabbing the exact same boring monsters? All the traveling would be fine if the combat was interesting, but boy, it isn’t.

I ended up using the coc console command to teleport everywhere I’d visited at least once.

My favorite quest was one where you have to escort a slave to Ebonheart from a Ashlander camp in the upper right corner of the map. That sound you hear is all the readers who’ve played the game throwing bottles at their monitors and screaming, because they know it’d take you about a fucking half-hour of realtime walking even using ship travel. Jesus christ on a pogo stick, I have no idea what they were huffing.

Wait till you see Bloodmoon! There’s an enmormous story quest to fulfull yet another boring “prophecy” by running all over the island and performing FedEx-tasks for six monoliths. By the time I completed the last delivery I was ready to strangle the entire Bethesda staff with my bare hands. As for Tribunal… don’t even get me started - this addon set a new mark for retardedness in computer games.

Yet this crap somehow attracts people. Morro even made it to some place in weekly NPDTechWorld charts last summer and was thoroughly licked by critics. Why the high marks? Did they fail to notice what Morrowind is about or just were afraid to acknowledge its flaws because Bethesda would never trust them another review copy again?


or see here:
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/g/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind-705661/

I must commend Games Radar UK on being sane and awarding it only 60 of 100. The rest of the press was either playing something else or zombified:

“It ranks right up there with recent classics such as “Baldur’s Gate,” “Fallout,” “Arcanum,” and “Planescape: Torment”…”

“I’ll still be playing it in months – if not years – from now, that’s for sure…”

“One of the largest and most richly detailed fantasy worlds ever to wear a set of polygons. There are literally hundreds of hours of gameplay”.

Gothic 1 and 2 pretty much spoiled Morrowind for me. Back when it came out I was praising it with wild abandon, but after putting about 40 hours in it started to go down hill quickly. I was a non-combat focused class (agent) who specialized in light weapons and light armor and I was unstoppable at level 35. Nothing could stand in my way. Daedra were a joke.

The thing with this game is that you need usermade plugins to make it challenging, but the problem with that is that you have to do some work to have fun with the game. That, I have a problem with.

I somewhat enjoyed Dark Cloud 2 for it’s puzzly natured world drafting and expressive visual design moreso than the sum of it’s ‘game’ parts which I too found a bit overbearing after extended play. I definately got more out of that experience than the daft RPG adventuring Morrowind was attempting to sell however.

Pretty much nailed my brief experience with Morrowind from the inane combat proceedings, to the uninviting world traipsing. I often felt that Bethesda really choked on the sheer mileage they were attempting to instill in this freeform universe; it smelled appetizing, but at the cost of a routinely interesting game experience I lost my hunger all too quickly.

My money should have gone to Gothic me thinks…

Morrowind hits the same buttons with me that Elite did. It’s immersive. If you don’t get that immersion then there’s not a lot left (ie. Frontier). Don’t think I’m comparing the two games - that would be silly.

Whether you regard immersiveness as an influence on gameplay is another matter altogether.

I don’t much like immersion, but I don’t see how Morrowind has any of it, either. Super-realistic F-14 simulations, ok, but Morrowind’s world is so empty that it’s about as immersive as putting a paper bag over your head.

Wait, wait. You don’t much like immersion? Did I read that right?

That’s like saying, “I don’t much like addictive gameplay,” or “I don’t much like a strong plot/good graphics/riveting sound/etc.”

It just doesn’t make any damn sense.

Good night.

In fairness, Bloodmoon’s main quest is a bit meh, but they do show some signs of improvement in the Raven Rock sequence. The world actually deigning to respond to your actions, or giving you choices that make things happen, more characterisation on the main players, and a few other tweaks make it a big improvement. I enjoyed playing that, while I’m hard pressed to remember much of interest about Morrowind, even having completed it.

I stopped playing Morrowind a day after I made myself 3 rings of Jumping or acrobatics or some shit, then launched myself over the entire map a good couple of times… It was slow to start with, then slowely drove itself into the ground by gving the player a bit too much “freedom”

Perhaps “atmosphere” would be a better description of why I found Morrowind appealing, but I don’t think a world needs to be “realistic” to be immersive either. It’s an intangible and subjective quality that some games seem to have and others don’t.

I’ve played Morrowind a lot. A lot. Lots of lots. I’ve got Tribunal, and will be working my way through Bloodmoon. I’ve enjoyed the game and the atmosphere that it has. It certainly has its flaws but even so, I’ve spent many hours on it.

Xbox RPGs? Kotor is fantastic!

Morrowind is far from my favorite game ever, to be sure, but saying that Daggerfall is better?!

Uh…

Uh…

No, really. [size=7]UHHHH…[/size]

Words just absolutely fail me. Daggerfall takes all of Morrowind’s problems and multiplies them by, I dunno, INFINITY, and it’s incredibly ugly to such an extent that it manged to make Might And Magic 6 look good.

At least Morrowind was easy on the eyes and (after installing a patch or two and using the no-CD crack) only showed signs of OCCASIONAL bug infestation, as opposed to Daggerfall where every five steps I found myself wondering “did they have blind people test this thing? Whoops, can’t worry about that question now, I just inexplicably spotted another monster lurking behind that closed door!”

Saying Morrowind isn’t as good as Daggerfall is like… saying Daggerfall isn’t as good as Battlespire!

I’m not a fan of immersion, either, unless it’s absolutely consistent and backed by something more inspirational than generic AD&D or anime.

When it comes to games, it’s the mechanics that hook me, not the “atmosphere” or the plot or the characters or the bump-mapping.

Morrowind is obviously not the type of game you like Jason. It’s open-ended in much the same way as an MMORPG or, come to think of it, The Sims. They provide a world, a loose storyline, lots of room to explore, and you provide the rest.

Yet you’re sitting here comparing it to Wizardry1, Planescape Torment and Baldur’s Gate 2, three VERY linear adventure-style RPGs (yes you have lots of room to explore in BG2, but it is linear. You have quests to do, you have a story to play, it isn’t at all open-ended). Morrowind just isn’t that kind of game.

I agree with you, Morrowind isn’t my cup of mead either (I much prefer a story-driven RPG to an open-ended one for many of the reasons you describe). But I still think Morrowind is an excellent game for what it tries to do, provided you can fill in the gaps with “role-playing” and a love for exploration and freedom.

One last thing… you finished Morrowind, Tribunal, and Bloodmoon without enjoying yourself? Why?

Hey, I’m not the one who slapped the “RPG” label on it. If people want to play it, great, but I can’t figure out how it’s fun using their stated reasons. I can see it with GTA’s fleshed out world, but this?

Another thing: can the fun of exploration get any lower? 99% of the time you end up in just another cookie-cutter smuggler’s cave, free 10 slaves, and pick up no items of note. Of course, the final 1% of the time you’ll stumble on a virtually unguarded mega-artifact.