Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Review RPG Codex Retrospective Review: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002)

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Feb 15, 2017.

  1. Make America Great Again Zed Duke of Banville Arcane Patron

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    Not only that, but the Codex's RPG of the Year for 2002 effectively selected Morrowind as #2, behind only Geneforge, through receiving one 1st place, one 2nd place, and one 3rd place vote. +M
     
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  2. I'm With Her Hobo Elf for prison Arcane

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    Dagoth-Ur did nothing wrong.
     
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  3. almondblight Arcane

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    Sure, it had it's defenders. But people wouldn't have said that it's widely considered to be a good game here. Skyrim has its defenders now. In a decade people here will be saying that it's widely considered to be a good game and that people don't like it because it isn't like Morrowind or they don't like open world games.

    Kind of. The Codex got a influx of Bethesda edgelord fanboys who ended up being disappointed by Obsidian and thought the Codex was the Cool Club because of their friction with Bethesda (something similar happened with Bioware fanboys). Being fanboys they didn't quite understand freethought, so they flipped from blindly loving games to make internet strangers happy to blindly hating them to make internet strangers happy (hence the habit of day 1 purchasing and putting hundreds of hours into games they hate).

    As you noted, you have more of a diversity of opinion in the early Codex days, but that's because the userbase had more people interested in a free discussion of RPGs and less ex-fanboys mostly interested in signaling to impress the cool kids.
     
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  4. Make America Great Again Infinitron Trade Master Patron

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    :avatard:

    Note that I didn't say widely considered on the Codex.

    I think there's a pretty broad consensus among the wider online RPG connoisseur community (not just the Codex) that Morrowind was Bethesda's last game before becoming a totally mass market, console-oriented developer. Let's say "good" is shorthand for that.
     
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  5. almondblight Arcane

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    Well then I guess we can say Oblivion and Skyrim were widely considered to be good.
     
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  6. Make America Great Again Infinitron Trade Master Patron

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    Except I wasn't saying that either. Stop pretending to be obtuse plz
     
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  7. tripedal Learned

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  8. loveblanket Barely Literate

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    My first rpg was Ultima 3 and I remember every Ultima game as they came out, offered something new until Ultima 8, where the series ultimately (npi) fell apart. For years after, I compared every rpg to Ultima 4,5,6, and 7, allowing nostalgia to dictate both my feelings about those games and the new games trying to win me over. Long story short, two years ago I went and replayed the entire Ultima series and realized that nostalgia was a heck of a drug. While revolutionary at the time of release, the games did not hold up as experiences beyond the story concepts explored after Ultima 4 pulled the series above "go kill the evil wizard, because evil stuff".
    For a long time I treated the Elder Scrolls series the same way. I never looked at Arena and Daggerfall as having much to offer beyond the shock and awe of big numbers, world size, number of dungeons, etc. But those numbers were largely meaningless as these games were wide as an ocean and deep as a puddle, as the saying goes. Morrowind was the first game since Ultima 5 to have interactive objects, realistic npc conversations, day and night npc schedules, etc, that made me feel like I was seeing a generational leap in rpg gaming. I felt the same way about Oblivion when I walked out of the sewers of Imperial City for the first time and when I emerged from that cave after Skyrim's opening. Unlike many old school fans, I thought the series got better in the most important ways while losing a couple systems that I didn't use much anyway, spellmaking, and the crazy magic enchanting systems. Year after year I found that wearing Morrowind fandom was some sort of odd badge of honor for my generation and I simply didn't understand it, so I went back last August, to give it another go, just like I did with the Ultima series a couple years prior and I almost actively disliked the experience.
    1. The Setting. It replaces some of the trees with mushrooms and the architecture, in some parts, is mildly alien. This isn't some exotic land the likes of which we have never seen, it is fairly standard fantasy with some oddities thrown in to make players feel a little off. a trick that films like to play by sometimes showing images that contradict other scenes in terms of time period, season, etc. I liked the environment, but it certainly wasn't mind blowing. Console constrictions, and even the limits of the times PC hardware, definitely forced design decisions that were less than ideal. Vivec looks very impressive from the outside, but is little more than a confusing maze of locations without any real sense of place and little to do despite its size. It certainly looked nothing like the early screenshots which showed an open air city teeming with activity and airships flying above, and nothing like the promotional materials showing massive slave camps being liberated and enemies on insect mounts both grounded and flying. The dungeons, as mentioned were very tiny and linear with little opportunity to avoid combat with a stealthy character, talk your way past guards, or any of the other things that were certainly possible at the time.
    2. The NPC's. They can discuss a lot of topics, the problem is that they are, with rare quest related exception, the same lines of dialogue over and over and I found myself clicking through all of them anyway every single time on the off chance that I might be missing some new quest, or clue. They largely stay in the same place, and really don't interact with each other or the environment, making even the largest cities and structures feel lifeless. For all the credit the npcs get, they are in many ways a step back to pre-Ultima 5 times, and I couldn't name a single interesting or memorable npc having just finished the game and its expansions in early November 2017. In many ways, Oblivion took an even larger step backwards with the silly influence mini-game, but it says quite a bit when I can remember and fondly recall more NPC's in Skyrims Riverwood than I can the previous 4 games in the series in total.
    3. The Story. Stop evil mad god thing, fulfill prophecy, yadda yadda. Some of the names are hard to pronounce and they call zombies something different, but there is nothing new to see here. Standard fantasy rpg gibberish the industry has never seemed to be able to improve on with the incredibly rare exception (Ultima 4 is the only game that comes to mind in this regard.)
    4. The Combat. This is the great divider imho. Some people want the chance they hit something in combat dictated by stats, some people want to swing a sword and if it hits, it hits. I'm very much on the side of fans that absolutely loathe the combat in Morrowind. Some make the argument that your characters stats should decide if a sword strikes, not the players ability. This is a false argument. I may be lousy at sword play, but as a functioning human being, I can still swing a sword at something two feet from me and hit it with 100% accuracy. Now if you want my strength, or my skill with a sword to adjust how much damage I do, or possibly lead to things like me dropping my weapon or staggering my foe, then I'm all ears. If you tell me that even someone that has never swung a sword can't hit something right in front of their face with it, I'm calling bs. Combat was one aspect of the game where I believe the series has improved with each iteration. It still could use some depth, but since combat is what we do in most rpgs most of the time, I only got tired of Skyrims combat once I had become too munchkin to find a real challenge.
    5. Exploration. They nailed it, but they always nail it. Nobody creates better open worlds than Bethesda and even though there have been missteps in recent games like the voiced protagonist in Fallout 4 and the ability to run all factions in Skyrim, the bottom line is there isn't much in gaming that gets me more excited than getting past the opening sequence of a Bethesda rpg and knowing that I will have hundreds of hours of wonderful places to explore and experience. Far more than the stories, or the characters, I find I remember almost every inch of these places they create as if they were old homes.
    6. The Systems. Oddly both a strength and a weakness for the game and the series. I'll never understand why I can't climb up onto a roof, or mantle across a ledge. All you can really do to interact with the environment is the annoying jump climb thing up the side of mountains you're weren't meant to climb, and click "e" to interact. Even in 2017 the odd little Creation Engine Bethesda uses still doesn't have such advanced technology as ladders and mirrors, yet I can summon vertibirds and construct a city from scratch. The one thing I will agree with critics of later ES games is that I have no idea why they took out spellmaking and the odd magic enchanting. Sure it can break the game, but that is easy to avoid by not allowing some game breaking enchantments until after the conclusion of the main story. Tell us the story and then let us go nuts. I understand that games have a limited dev time and resources need to be allocated and prioritized for balance, but they really should have taken the time, or spent the money to bring one or two people in to balance and keep these features.
    7. Conclusion. The first few hours were awkward, like bumping into an old girlfriend you were really into and now you just don't have anything in common and you just want the conversation to end and move on. By the time it was over, I was so tired of the experience that I didn't play another game until late January of this year. The combat was awful, the npc's were lifeless, the quests were all over the place with most still being FedEx style delivery snoozefests, the world was interesting, but nowhere near as exotic as I remembered. For every insect hut and giant mushroom was a standard swamp, a dense forest and a medieval looking castle. Certainly it deserves its place in rpg history. It really was the closest gaming had come to giving us a real living fantasy world to explore upon release, so in terms of it's historical significance I would agree that it is a top 5 rpg. I would still put Ultima 4 at number one, but my top 5 remain solid (Ultima 4, Morrowind, Deus Ex, Fallout 2, and Fallout New Vegas) even if their positions may change from time to time. In terms of it being a game worth playing today, I would say only for the patient or those that think Skywind will never actually release, and it isn't just the game's age. I still love to play Fallout 2 every couple years and it is buggy and clunky as can be, but it is still a fun "game" even if the tech is horribly dated. I can honestly say that with the rare exception, I just didn't have much fun with Morrowind. This will likely be my last experience with the original Morrowind and I'm glad I did it. As a guy that turns 40 in November, I'm getting to that point where it's too easy for me to say that things were better in my day, that they just don't make em like they used to, but I know that's a load of crap, the world isn't getting worse, I'm just getting old, and replaying some of these things I loved dearly in my youth and by approaching them honestly keeps me grounded and makes me realize that while the past has it's place, it can't be glorified at the cost of reality and the reality is that we are getting the most amazing game worlds now and will get even more amazing game worlds in the future. There will be mistakes, cough Fallout 4 cough, but at the end of the day, the envelope keeps getting pushed and I envy the kids today that are in elementary school and booting up there computer for the first time to play Skyrim or the Witcher 3. I just hope those kids never lose their sense of wonder at the future by getting stuck in the past, because they are going to see things in gaming that we can't even imagine and I hope they embrace them.
     
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  9. an Administrator Arcane

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    Caius Cosades? Fargoth?

    But it's not like other typical Chosen One stories. You are a NOBODY when you start the game. And you won't realize that you are Nerevarine until late-game. Until then, you are just a simple adventurer doing jobs for Blades.
     
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  10. Fenix Arbiter

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    loveblanket can you at least format your text?
    Like this

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    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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  11. lukaszek Magister

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    ill take a bait...

    corpus disease is something new and different. Its very horrific and calling it zombie is either lack of understanding or oversimplification
     
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  12. loveblanket Barely Literate

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    If that is how you want to look at it. I can call a dragon a serpent because it came out of the sea, it doesn't make it any more imaginative.
     
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  13. loveblanket Barely Literate

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    I did write it like that, I can show you the backup text file. I have no idea why it appeared like that. For each paragraph and number, I went in 5 spaces. If you know why that happened, I will be all ears and adjust for the future.
     
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  14. loveblanket Barely Literate

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    No, I don't remember them at all and I literally just finished the game a couple months ago. What exactly makes them memorable? I remember walking into Riverwood no matter which choice I made in the tutorial and getting to know a unique family unit. I remember Faendal (sp?) because he was my first companion and died at the burial mounds at the foot of the mountain you take to meet the Greybeards and I actually felt bad and gave him a proper funeral. I remember helping him win Camilla's heart and then feeling horrible that joining me cost him his life and the life he could have had with her. I never felt like any npc in Morrowind was good for anything other than moving a quest forward, or finding terrible directions to somewhere I think I might have needed to be. As for the chosen one nonsense, I'm not sure what your point is. I didn't know my final role in any of the ES series. Sure, I learn earlier in Skyrim that I am the chosen one, but that is the very definition of semantics. Nerevarine later, Dragonborne sooner, or guy that never really matters in Oblivion. All 3 stories are still basic fantasy with nothing to differentiate them but a few meaningless visual distinctions and some hard to pronounce names. Stopping the evil god is the most tired story in fantasy and no matter how Morrowind approaches it, it is still the same old tired nonsense. Like I said, in terms of important rpg's, it is in my top 5 and I've played every one that matters and a ton more that don't, but to say it is superior to Oblivion and Skyrim is a stretch and one that after a replay where I really wanted to be proven wrong and join the herd, it's one I can't agree with. I get why people love it, and I did when it was released, but I just can't pretend that in 2017 it is a great game, and I surely can't pretend that I liked it more than Oblivion and Skyrim. If you did, awesome. The world is big enough for more than one opinion which gets back to the heart of the point I was making.
     
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  15. Make America Great Again Infinitron Trade Master Patron

    Infinitron
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    8. Does Game Feel Like It Was Designed For 12 Year Olds In Every Way

    Well I guess we should all throw out our Tolkiens and read Forgotten Realms novels from now on since loveblanket says it's all the same old tired nonsense.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017
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  16. fluent Arbiter Possibly Retarded The Real Fanboy

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    I actually think Morrowind has some excellent characters. The thing is, they don't spell out every detail and you use your imagination more based on the details that are given. You fill in the blanks, in other words.

    For example, you meet Fargoth and get a silly Wood Elf greeting that is voiced, "Hail, friend!" or something like this. You have a little chat with him, see his goofy looking face and how he tells you about how the local Imperials strong arm him and take his stuff. So already you're getting a feeling for who this little guy is. You later explore (naturally, not guided) and find out that Fargoth also gets strong-armed by a local Nord, bullying him out of his money. You see that Fargoth has a secret hiding place where he keeps his meager stash. All of these things are ATMOSPHERIC details that are told a lot by the environment, even down to what the character is wearing. Also, if you break into Fargoth's house you find he has a ton of alcohol stashed, which suggests he is either a raging alcoholic or bootlegging or something. Who knows what the little guy is up to. :P

    This type of environmental and natural character stuff in the game exists all over the place in Morrowind. There are other memorable NPCs as well, such as Divath Fyr, the very, very old Telvanni master wizard. Caius Cosades, the Skooma-loving somewhat of a mess Blade who can't even bother to put on a shirt, and do I even have to mention Vivec? Almalexia? Sotha Sil, even though he doesn't even make an appearance in the game?

    I think the difference in how you perceive this is directly tied to your level of investment, as that will determine if you get this out of the game or not. If you don't care much about the world and don't pay attention much, you will miss a lot. That goes for ANY RPG, new, old, graphically impressive or an ASCII game.

    I will end with a quick note that I believe many modern games spell out too much to the player, either through graphics, cinematics or dialogue. Maybe technical limitations led to the older RPGs not having as much of these things, but having the player meet you halfway with their imagination makes for the most memorable RPG experiences. IMO.
     
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  17. Crooked Bee pro-vacation Patron

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    Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    :nocountryforshitposters:
     
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  18. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

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  19. Cudgel Educated

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    I think that this is more then just a problem with RPGs. So many movies, games, songs etc. are made by checking spreadsheets to add what the most amount of people like and then crammed into a story that appeals to the largest amount of people possible. This is because the suits don't know shit about human expression so they are unable to tell when someone truely has an interesting or good idea and so they have to resort to what they do understand, the aforementioned spreadsheets. Ubisoft, while not an RPG developer, does this so transparently that it is piffle.

    It works because most people have no interest in using their brains when they are 'consuming' entertainment. There just isn't the same amount of money in respecting the intelligence of gamers.
     
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  20. Make America Great Again Zed Duke of Banville Arcane Patron

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    Divayth Fyr [​IMG]

    • Offer the Dwemer artifact as a gift. [Dwemer Coherer has been removed from your inventory.] "A gift? For me? How thoughtful. And shrewd. I suppose you know I am a collector. And that such a gift is bound to please me. I congratulate you on your diplomatic skills. So, why have you tried to butter me up? Come to consult the great Divayth Fyr? You have the divine disease? Want to plunder the dungeon? Or leer at my daughters?"
    • the divine disease: "The magical principles of corprus disease are elusive and miraculous, far more subtle and powerful than any conventional sorcery or enchantment. I'm persuaded that it is in some manner the curse or blessing of a god. Perhaps both a curse and a blessing. The victim, of course, cannot appreciate the marvelous nature of corprus. It saps the mind and destroys the body. But to a wizard, it is a profound and glorious mystery, a riddle worth a long lifetime of study."
    • plunder the dungeon: "When you live for thousands of years, you need a hobby. Something you love, always sparks your interest. I collect treasures, and invite thieves to steal them. I'm a collector, and a sportsman. I collect enchanted items and ancient artifacts. Have quite a few Dwemer pieces. And, as a sportsman, I love letting thieves try to steal my well-guarded treasures. Only a few rules. One, don't hurt the inmates. Two, don't hurt my daughters. My Warden and guards can look out for themselves."
    • daughters: "Not bad for someone born in a jar, eh? Charming and talented. Not daughters, really. A little project, a side benefit of my researches into corprus disease. Made them myself, from my own flesh. Nice, aren't they? Alfe Fyr, Beyte Fyr, Delte Fyr, and Uupse Fyr. Quite a comfort to me in my old age. Hah hah."
    :M

    Really, the two most interesting characters in Morrowind are Vivec and Dagoth Ur, since they're part of the story of Nerevar and Nerevar's betrayal, and I'd probably place Yagrum Bagarn the Last Living Dwarf in third place. But there are numerous other interesting characters, it's just that the presentation is understated and requires the player to put effort into exploring, reading, and making connections between various pieces of information.
     
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  21. Make America Great Again ERYFKRAD Arcane Patron

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  22. Xi Arcane

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    I think the Codex considers Oblivion the worst in the series. With Morrowind and Skyrim as notable mentions next to Daggerfall/Arena. At least within the last 10 years.
     
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  23. Bohrain Educated

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    Skyrim isn't filled with people who look like they have fetal alcohol syndrome and it's more stable for mods so all the Loverslab stuff works a bit better. Otherwise it's just as shit as Oblivion.
     
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  24. Xi Arcane

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    Skyrim was a step in the right direction compared to oblivion. The TES series would do well to learn from some of the Fallout systems, imho.

    They've tried a few poorly designed systems now so hopefully the next chapter can learn from some of the decline. TES6 will be interesting to disect once they start releasing little polished turd snippets.
     
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  25. Invictus Arcane The Real Fanboy

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    I pretty much got back into "modern" PC gaming after almost a decade with my trusty 486x in which I replayed Wizardry 7, Might and Magic 3 and World if Xeen, Darklands, the Goldboxes and the few odd Ultima 7 and oscure games here and there but Morrowind is what prompted me to get a proper modern computer and I like it still to this day, its design choices are still great, fantastic NPCs (hell even Dagoth Ur is very interesting) fantastic setting and inmersion
    Yeah the combat kind of sucks but it isnt too bad but anybody who really wants to "get" the game I would urge them to do the Tribunal pilgrimage quest, the sense of history and background is perhaps the best ever for a videogame and once your immerse yourself in it is it so fantastic.
    Some of the quests are a bit Fedexy but the few standouts make up for any shortcomings
    Easily one of my top 5 games of all times and between Jumaro's Lets Play and this I hope more Codexers give it a try
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2017
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