Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind

Following an extended break from Elder Scrolls Online, I was looking for an excuse to go back and try to carry on with the poor level 15  character I started many moons ago when the base game was originally released. When Morrowind was announced as a new chapter (not an expansion), I was quite intrigued. The main reason being that I never had the opportunity to play the 2002 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and I was interested to see what I had missed out on. As I had no idea how to use my old character anymore and I put all my points into the wrong things, I decided to roll a new character and be a High Elf Templar in the vain hope that I might be able to get a good mix of hack, slash and magic to make the most of the experience. I was too hasty in my character choice however and as a result didn’t pick the new Warden class… which I now definitely regret as I can’t give my thoughts on how the new class plays out!

Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind is set 700 years before events of The Elder Scrolls 3 where the giant volcano is dormant and the landscape is littered with huge mushrooms and a fair amount of greenery. Morrowind is a colourful addition to the content available in ESO and while we know the Elder Scrolls titles are typically huge in relation to the numerous side quests and places to explore that run alongside your main story arc, my first impression was that the map seemed quite small. This may have been due to the Red Mountain which only had certain areas that can be traversed but I do not necessarily feel this is an issue as it is an additional chapter and not a remastered version of the original game. While veteran players can jump into Morrowind at their current level, it could be a good starting point to build your levels, carry out quests explore in interesting landscape if you are new or rolling a new character. I enjoyed the tutorial along with the early quests which really got me excited for what was to come.

Initially, I felt like I levelling up faster than with my previous character which is good as I will need to try out the Warden class at a later date. Before I knew it, I was level 10 and then 15. Whether this is down to the One Tamriel level-balancing or just that I was getting the hang of things a little better this time around I’m not sure, but it made it feel like less of a grind in the early stages which can be make or break for some players. My only real gripe being that at times I found it difficult to offload inventory items due to a lack of obvious merchants or places to stash/dismantle things. Aside from that, the areas of Vvardenfell and the characters that resided there were thoroughly enjoyable at times especially when interacting with an NPC with a sharp sense of humour. Usually I have habit of skipping through the chatty bits because after a few moments I want to be hacking at things with my axe again, but I found myself waiting to hear characters out this time around. There’s a fair amount to do over the 30 hours or so of content on offer in Morrowind with side quests and dungeons and battlegrounds (which I avoided as I understood I would die pretty quickly going up against seasoned players making it altogether unenticing). While Naryu Virian may be added to my list of NPCs I would happily go adventuring with, she seemed to disappear entirely from the story but after a little while which made me a little sad.

I usually get drawn into side quests and have a habit of completing these before I get anywhere near the main story which isn’t always a bad thing. I tried to stick to and finish the earlier missions in the city of Vivec before I unleashed myself upon the rest of Vvardenfell in an effort to avoid dallying too long. The look and feel of the game has vastly improved since the early days and I think this is what encouraged me to spend time with Morrowind instead of getting distracted like I always do with a multitude of titles on the go at once. The story is very well written and I found myself caring about the people I was helping and the decisions I was making felt like they actually mattered which feels odd in an MMORPG but not entirely out of place. With a varied and colourful environment to explore, it’s got something to offer old school fans of Elder Scrolls and newcomers. It was my initial worry back at the release of ESO that after a year players may move on but the landscape is still littered with players old and new showing that people are still engaged and interested which the developer is obviously taking on board with the content that has been added since release. The move to add Morrowind to this creates the feeling of nostalgia for hardcore fans in this latest chapter which has seemed popular with many veteran players returning to get involved.

If you have played ESO in any of its forms since release, then the new chapter is certainly something you should consider investing in whether you played TES 3 or not. While there is a fair amount of content on offer including the story, dungeons, battlegrounds and a new class to try out in the form of the Warden, the only issue for some players may be the price tag. In todays market the price for DLC packages varies but for Morrowind those gamers who are willing to part with around £30 (£22.49 in the PSN Summer Sale) for the additional content may not feel the price merits the number of hours play time. Of course, it you are new to ESO then paying around £40 (£33.49 in the PSN Summer Sale) for the base game as well will work out pretty well for you.

The one aspect I have had to read up on is the Warden class (apologies again that in my haste I have not had the opportunity to actually test it out for the purposes of review). The new class brings in your Animal Companion for damage, Green Balance for healing and Winter’s Embrace for defense. Essentially the Warden has it all. I am disappointed that I chose poorly when rolling a new character and missed the Warden as I tend to favour the damage dealing characters that have that element of healing and had I picked this, I may have been able to test out what the class had to offer me. While the Warden can seemingly do anything, I’ve noticed that it is an easily readable character and not just because there might be a bear standing by waiting to kill something. If the Warden you see is covered in ice for example then they will be a tank but if there are mushrooms dotted around their vicinity, then they are a healer. After seeing what the Warden can do, I can imagine it being a good all-rounder for a new starter.

My thoughts on the Morrowind chapter are relatively short and sweet. As someone who dabbled with ESO at launch and made a brief attempt at returning after 6 months or so, I needed a reason to go back which Morrowind has provided. While I have had to read up about the original game and watch videos of playthroughs to get a feel for what is different, I think the approach taken by Zenimax to take it back several hundred years revitalises the content without taking too much away from the nostalgic feel it presents in its location and some of the characters. While veterans may not feel that there is longevity in the content, my only real issue is the battlegrounds as it’s unlikely that I would enjoy that aspect as a new player as I would not wish to end up against folks with crazy Champion Points and get stomped on pretty quickly as there looks to be some balancing issues which will hopefully get fixed sooner rather than later. Apart from this, for me the content has been thoroughly enjoyable and made my return to ESO more exciting than simply starting over again to do the same things I’ve done before. I would highly recommend for beginners and to those of you who want to continue your ESO experience.

Thanks to Bethesda for providing a review copy on PS4 for me to get stuck into.

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