Well, last week I said I wanted to get back to The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, and this week I can say that I’ve been following through on it! I’m not playing pure Morrowind; I’ve applied many mods to fix bugs and improve the visuals. I’ve also added things to make combat and character growth less frustrating, and I gave myself a healthy running speed boost on top of that. With all that said though, I’ve left the core of the game intact and it’s already lead to some interesting experiences.
Before really diving into Morrowind, I expected that the biggest difference was going to be in how I got around the map. Morrowind doesn’t have point-to-point fast-travel like Skyrim does, so your options are limited. Silt Striders, boats and teleporting between mage guilds helps when it comes to getting from city to city. For everything else though, you’re walking. This situation definitely did make a difference too, and not just the kind I was expecting.
For one thing, I found myself really taking in the island of Vvardenfell and really paying attention to where everything is. It quickly became a requirement thanks to mostly having to discover specific locations manually before they’re marked on your map. So instead of viewing the island as a smattering of points of interest (like I did with Skyrim), I’ve come to see it more as a web of paths and roads linking the various places. It actually feels quite a lot like slowly discovering my current IRL city. There several portions I know really well, and they’re all linked by roads I haven’t often deviated from. So yeah, it’s made Vvardenfell feel like a much more real place.
The lack of a fast-travel option has also forced me to get very creative. There have been several occasions now where I’ve run and swam quite a long way to reach my destination only to discover that the enemies are much more powerful than I thought they’d be. Retreat is an option, but it also means undoing all the time and effort it took to get out there in the first place. Uh-uh. That’s not happening. It took too long to get out there, so I’m not going back empty-handed. This doesn’t change the fact that I’m under-leveled and poorly equipped, so I’ve had to get creative.
I’ve exploited map geometry to prevent enemies from ganging-up on me. I’ve used doors to dash-in and do damage before dashing-out and closing the door behind me. The enemies won’t follow, so I can heal-up and save before doing it again. Most recently I was confronted with two mages who really liked casting strength draining spells. I didn’t have any restore strength potions on me (HUGE MISTAKE), and my character is focused on Long Blades primarily. I did happen to have a ton of enchanted arrows and a bow I got from a skeleton a little bit before, so I sat out of range and used them all trying to whittle those jerks down. I’ve hardly anything in bows, so they didn’t work very well, but it was enough for me to run up and finish them both off with a bound sword.
I definitely didn’t want to wind up in that situation again, so I’ve gotten into the game’s spellmaking mechanic a bit. Next time I run to a hot-shot spellcaster or undead, I’ll be ready with drain magicka, drain intelligence, restore strength spells among other things. I think I’ll also delve into alchemy enough to make my own health and magicka potions. I don’t know if those potions become easy to acquire or not, but for my first 20 hours they’ve been downright scarce! I normally wouldn’t care to do any of this, but retreating all the way back to town just isn’t an attractive option in Morrowind.
I have to say, there’s a lot about Morrowind that I’ve found to be either frustrating or just plain inconvenient. Still, I can’t say I dislike it. Morrowind’s limitations have forced me to pay closer attention to my game and made for some interesting adventures. If the next Elder Scrolls game borrows a bit more from Morrowind than it does from Skyrim, then I think fans will be in for a really cool adventure. Until then, I’m going to keep chugging along in Morrowind and doing my best to overcome its challenges!
Do you have any games that’ve challenged you like this? Do you like more limitations in your games or is convenience king?
image from The Elder Scrolls Online website