When Elder Scrolls Online released in 2014, Bethesda promised an expansive world that spanned the entirety of the fictional world of Tamriel brimming with lore, discovery and good story telling. At the most part they succeeded and while the game included the lands of Cyrodil, Skyrim and Daggerfall, many couldn’t help the fan favourite of Morrowind had been left to the way side. Until now.
The newest expansion of the story based MMORPG add a bunch of new areas to explore and story content to blast through. However, there are a few lasting issues that this particular critic can’t get past. The same main problem plagues my immersion and much like Star Wars: TOR, I love the universe but struggle to get on board with the rest of the die hard fans.
I’ll get in to all that but first let us go over some positives. First of all the world of Elder Scrolls Online is stunning, it’s still one of the nicest looking MMO’s on the market and Morrowind is no exception to the rule. Nostalgia runs at an all time high and memories come flooding back after walking past the gigantic Striders or strange mushrooms placed around the world. The graphical fidelity of ESO is one that has always caught me off guard in new areas where godrays, reflections and foliage are in abundance. At times even a modded Skyrim doesn’t come close. The variation in Morrowind’s landscapes are no exception and although smaller in scale to the original game, Morrowind has never looked so good.
Morrowind starts with a landing in to Vvardenfell, from there you are approached by a number of NPC’s that follow the same routine of “Hi Adventurer! I have this incredibly sensitive issue, maybe I could place all of my trust in you?” Oh sure stranger, let me put my schedule on hold for you. You then proceed to the next NPC who gives you another task and so on. Over and over again. Here we come to the real brunt of the issue I have with ESO: Morrowind. Throughout the massive new storyline you are consistently heralded as the saviour of all, the one true hero and there is only you. Only to turn around and see another 10 other “unique saviours.”
It destroys all immersion and it’s one reason why I have struggled with the likes of ESO for so long. These type of story driven systems are best suited for single player RPG’s and is a huge reason that many MMO’s stay clear of this kind of story telling. The quests themselves do have a decent amount of variation but many still rely on the MMO formula of, go here, fight this many monsters, collect this many, come back. It’s not unique in any sense. Sure there a few quests that involve other actions but nothing all too engaging.
Morrowind also comes with the brand new Warden class. The Warden seems to fit in to the jack-of-all-trades category, however they are the master of none. They can heal well, tank well, support and damage well. Each new tree varies greatly from the other and differs even more from every other class in the game. One tree focuses on healing and support spells, another on frost based crowd control and damage, another is focused all around the Warden’s pets.
One of the biggest disappointments for me with the class is the lack of intuitive interaction with the Bear companion. When I first saw the Bear in trailer I got hugely excited. Classes like the Druid in World of Warcraft have always been a favourite of mine. But once I actually got to use the fuzzy companion I realised it was nothing more than just a pet that accompanies you in battle. I feel like they missed an opportunity here. I was hoping to assume direct control of the companion in a tactical sense. In no other MMO has there been a class where direct control of the pet through your character has been enforced. It would be awesome if the abilities you actually pressed on the keyboard were the different attacks the bear would lay down, kind of around the same lines as the Lone Druid from Dota 2.
The music is somewhere we can get a little bit positive about, Elder Scrolls’ score has always been amazing ever since the original Morrowind and ever since then the two preceding titles used some kind of adaption of the theme. ESO does wonders with the original scores, especially with the Morrowind tracks. When I first loaded up the expansion I was blown away with emotion. The memories of that kid creating his first Nord came crawling back. However while nostalgic, it is different. It uses the same key, pitch, tones and instruments, but adds it’s own twists to the original to make it sound completely different. The voice acting is still stellar, much like the rest of ESO, but still does little to save the game from its very obvious flaws.
The way I look at ESO: Morrowind is exactly the same as I look at ESO in general. An engaging story combined with freedom of choice, go anywhere you want and experience anything you want. But that’s just it, it’s theme park of the Elder Scrolls series rather than a fully blown game. Everything looks like it does it the games and sounds like it does in the games, but minimised to scale and to fit within the limitations of an MMO. There’s little more to do other than experience Tamriel.
Don’t get me wrong I think ESO: Morrowind is great. It adds a ton of content for players who’ve stuck with the game for a long time. The community love it for being Elder Scrolls. And I can’t fault them, Elder Scrolls is one of the best series in creation. But even though Morrowind adds more content that has ever been released with a myriad of quests, dungeons, npc’s and locations, I feel like they dropped the ball with the Warden class and added nothing significant to the game to change it in a drastic enough way for me to stop me viewing it as nothing more than a nostalgic theme park.
Grab Morrowind on PC here
Console version for your digital stores or local shops.