The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind Review
The time has finally come to traverse the lands of Morrowind once more. This time however, your sense of nostalgia will be coupled together with a sense of new things to explore, as everything isn’t quite exactly the same as its 15 year old predecessor.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind, developed by ZeniMax Online Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks, has us returning to the legendary island of Vvardenfell (legendary to the fanbase at least), as of 6 June 2017. Unlike previous downloadable content, this expansion is not purchasable with crown points. It is being sold as a separate title; in fact, the developers are reluctant to use the word “expansion” to describe this game, and instead refer to it as a new “chapter”. Near the end of January, ESO’s social media began teasing everybody with the announcement of Morrowind, changing profiles to volcanic rock and the like, likely foreshadowing the Red Mountain’s eruption.
What’s the story?
Much like how the Elder Scrolls Online is basically a prequel to the entire series of the Single Player Elder Scrolls Games, the events of this new “chapter” takes place 700 years before the Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, when the Red Mountain hadn’t erupted yet, still lying dormant; and so the lands of Vvardenfell are still lush with green landscapes, especially towards the North, but even when you climb off the boat in Seyda Neen at the beginning, you are greeted by landscapes teeming with life and greeneries and things that fantasies are made of. Vivec City is still under construction, and Lord Vivec is only just beginning to notice the loss of his power, though still very inclined to receive your help in solving the mystery behind this phenomenon and possible cult activity. I thought that I wouldn’t be all too happy to see the giant mushrooms in the difference in scenery compared to the rest of Tamriel, but I was pleasantly surprised at how amazingly well even that meshes with the lush surroundings and gives it an exotic fantasy “feel”.
The storytelling through the questlines are entrancing, keeping you hooked from the minute you begin, and just continues to drag you in. I often found myself thinking, “Let me just reach this objective and then I can call it a day,” knowing that it might not be that simple; which it wasn’t! I got lost in the fantasy and the stories, helping slaves under oppression from House Telvanni, in particular to one Argonian that has latent magical abilities and helping her climb the ranks of the mage community while dealing with the racism against her and her kind. There are many more fun and story-rich quests, some are quite hilarious too, and sometimes the quests made the game feel closer to a single player game than anything else. One quest in particular focuses on you being the hero of the story, but you then later find out there are multiple heroes with the same title and outfit in other areas (Good cover there ZeniMax!)
It’s all in the Skills
Morrowind sees the addition of a new and unique class, the first addition since the 2014 release; the Warden. This class is distinctly and obviously different to all the other classes, which can be other classes’ downfall, because during a pinch, other classes aren’t as easy to read in terms of what roles they fill. The Warden sticks out like a sore thumb in this case, for instance, if they’re covered in ice, they’re a tank, or if they’re sprouting shrooms at their feet, they’re healers (Oh, the irony). And you know it’s a Warden the minute you see the massive bear skulking around next to them. And thus, they’re a pretty badass class, they’re fully versatile, performing well in DPS, Tanking, and Healing roles. I still enjoy my Nightblade class to be very honest. I have and always will enjoy being a Combat Rogue, but this class has impressed me majorly. I wonder if it could be to their detriment in PvP, however. I like being unreadable in PvP matches.
Though I’d maybe give it a while, because every second person on the server now seems to be a Warden. It almost feels wrong to play with a Warden because of how it can literally do anything, basically, so it’s a great class to start out with if it’s your first time playing! Even so, the class is fun enough to play with even if you’ve played since 2014. I really enjoyed leveling up my Skill Lines and choosing the abilities that suits my play-style, and this is something I think ESO does well in separating itself from other MMORPG games. You can have different classes all choosing to specialise in specific skill lines. Perhaps you want a fully-plated cat but want to stick to healing? Totally doable. Specific classes aren’t limited to specific skill lines, and you can even learn new skill lines as you go if you figure out that the play-style you had in mind is not working out the way you initially expected. I love Dual Wielding a One handed sword with a dagger, though occasionally I might have to replace the one for an Axe if the stats are better.
Despite the quality of story-telling and the new content being way over 25 hours of questing and such, there aren’t many other PvE additions, in terms of Trials, because there is only one new “Raid”. The Halls of Fabrication may look intriguing from a distance, but in the end, like many of the other Trials, actually offers very little incentive to actually take part in. Maybe there will be new Trials added later on, so I recommend sticking to World PvE, taking part of smaller boss events, or also giving the PvP a go with the new Battlegrounds that have been added. They have been really well put together, comprised of both open killing fields and tight corners to get satisfying sneak attacks and the likes in on your foes. The new format of 4v4v4 is actually pretty darn fun. Being used to only one team versus another team, this required everybody to stay coordinated to succeed. It’s really enough to keep you going for hours at a time.
Although, later on Battlegrounds can get a bit annoying. Even though Champion Points are disabled during this mode, weapon and armor set bonuses are still in effect, which can really put a bad taste in your mouth when no matter how well you have mastered your character and their abilities, someone with a better set bonus can still get the advantage over you. Worse; If your entire team attacks a high-level Champion, but can’t put a dent into their health bar. Fortunately, finding an equally matched competitive group will keep you wanting more, like I mentioned before. If a system can be put in place where weapon and armor set bonuses are “equalised”, with minuscule bonuses granted when you meet certain requirements, it could cause PvP to be a lot more enjoyable.
Other than all that, since the addition of One Tamriel, PvE has also been incredibly more enjoyable. No matter your Hero Level, you can tackle quests and take on challenges alongside higher or lower level players, or explore areas without fear of being trampled to dust by a creature of higher levels. As a result, this has also allowed to make Morrowind better accessible to both veterans and newcomers of the game. You can start fresh with a character in Morrowind thanks to the brilliant new player tutorial, or you can travel to Vvardenfell if you already have an existing character, through the Wayshrine made available to returning players. This sets Morrowind apart from all other DLC, so you aren’t forced to level through the previous content before starting with the new “Chapter”.
The Elder Scrolls Online had a very rough start a few years ago, and since then has been redeeming itself, but now with the release of Morrowind, I can say that it is definitely on the right track to becoming one of the more popular MMORPG’s out there. I can happily say that I want to return to Tamriel as often as possible and continue my journey. The improvements that are needed are quite needed, but with time, I can see that it will be improved upon, though my rating will be done on the current condition as it is. The graphics are seriously stunning, even better than I had imagined, and the soundtrack, as always, gives you the classic Elder Scrolls feel, whilst improving on it. The price as of this review, for PC is R645.00, and for both PS4 and Xbox One is R825.00