The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind — Game Of The Year Edition Review (PC version)

System Requirements:
• 500 MHz Intel Pentium 3 CPU or equivalent AMD Athlon processor.
• Windows ’98 or ME with 128 MB of RAM / Windows XP with 256 MB of RAM.
• 8 × speed DVD drive
• 1 GB of hard drive space.
• DirectX 8.1
• Direct 3D compatible video card with 32 MB of VRAM. (Must support 32 bit colour.)
• DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card.
My recommendations:
• Windows XP with 1 GB of RAM.
• 2 GHz AMD Athlon CPU or faster.
• Sound Blaster Live! sound card.
• nVidia GeForce 3 video card with 64 MB of RAM, probably. (The game seems to be more of a CPU hog than the video card.)
• 1.5 GB of hard drive space, so you have room for screenshots and saves also.
• A monitor capable of 1024 × 768 pixels or better.
(Click on all screenshots to see them bigger. These’ve all been reduced from 1152 × 864 pixels to 800 × 600 pixels so they don’t use as much room for this review download. They have been brightened up slightly also. Even on my MacBook they originally looked a little bit dark.)

After having the XBOX version of the game since about 2004, I got interested this year (2010) in trying to acquire the Windows version. I eventually found the Game Of The Year Edition at the George Street Electronics Boutique in Sydney. It was only $9.95 — an excellent price for a game like this, even though it is getting on a bit now. One of the benefits of the PC version, which I’ve taken advantage of is the ability to add in 3rd party add ons. Another is the use of the console feature, should something go wrong, and you can then type in the correction. Very handy when you get stuck in the scenery or another NPC falls through the floor.
Even after playing Oblivion, Morrowind is still as addictive as ever, and the deluge of quests and places to see when you start out is almost overwhelming. You do feel very slow, weak and poor though, starting over again.
The default control set up was a little weird for my tastes, but you can change it around to how you like. The right mouse button to access the map and sneak on the left control key was right out of place. After using the right mouse button to block for so long in Oblivion, I was always pressing it at the wrong time. (In Morrowind, you automatically block.) So I moved that over to the Tab key and put sneak on the right button instead. On the XBOX, most likely due to the resolution, the map, inventory, magic list and statistics were all on separate screens. On the PC version, they’re all on the same screen, with movable, resizable windows. The journal also has a new Quests list, which I don’t recall ever being on the XBOX. Very handy! Finding what you had going was a pain, going back through hundreds of journal pages. Saving on the XBOX got painfully slow also. Towards the end it took about 30 seconds or more. Zzzzzz. On the PC version, it’s only a couple of seconds at the most. Some of that’s probably down to the higher speed of my PC as well. But apparently the save files are pretty much the same. Somebody was able to get the .ESS file out of the XBOX version save and use it on the PC.
The maximum draw distance is still quite short, but I think it could be a little better than on the XBOX. Even on my 2.4 GHz CPU with the nVidia GeForce 7600, I still get a bit of slow down around Raven Rock, and the Dren Plantation.
One major difference I noticed, and which I had read had happened to other players, was the completion of Raven Rock in Solstheim. This never seems to happen on the XBOX version. The town wall, the buildings to the east of Uryn Maren’s House — they were all new to me!

Another common message from the XBOX version. What it should read as is: “We screwed up again! Press A to wait 5 minutes while you reload from a save that you made half an hour ago.” Trust me, the DVDs aren’t that screwy. On the PC version, the game will just quit.

For those of you who haven’t read my XBOX review of the game, you take on the role of a prisoner, transported from the Imperial City in Cyrodiil, who appears to fulfill the prophecy of the return of Nerevar. He was the husband to Almalexia and leader of the Chimer in the battle at Red Mountain where the Dwemer were defeated. If you know nothing of The Elder Scrolls, then I’m just ranting jibberish. LOL. You set out to defeat the evil Dagoth Ur, but at the same time destroy the link to power that the Tribunal have. Along the way you need to unite 4 Ashlander tribes and be called the Nerevarine by all of them as well as becoming the Hortator of 3 Great Houses of Morrowind. In this case, House Hlaalu, House Redoran and House Telvanni.
Sotha Sil (The Clockwork City)
Norenen-dur: Citadel Of Myn Dhrur
Almalexia’s Temple in Mournhold
Raven Rock nearing completion
Yep, you can actually lock a Holly Bush!
Inside Castle Karstaag

Some of my favourite places include the little hidden nooks and crannies in Vivec, the attractive architecture on the interior of the Mournhold buildings and the Manor District of Ald’ruhn, Under-Skar. Just magnificent! There in the Venim manor, you’ll find an excellent section of the bedrooms to unofficially set up your own place. There are 4 rooms, all without anybody around. Perfect for sleeping, and loot storage I say!
Most of the manors here, for some strange reason, personally made me think of a young kid / being a young kid, and playing with toys there. I don’t know why. It doesn’t have a childish look, but I just seemed to imagine it. Perhaps there’s a cosiness, despite the huge rooms and long hallways.
In terms of towns, and the area of “public” areas, I feel as though there’s a lot more in Morrowind, than what was in Oblivion. Vivec, Balmora and Ald’ruhn especially. Dungeon areas though are generally a lot smaller than the sprawling underground parts of Cyrodiil. Bamz-Amschend under Mournhold, Norenen-dur and the maze like Old Mournhold seem to be quite large however. I would have liked to’ve seen more to the above ground area though. Mournhold seems very small for the capital of Morrowind. Although the Gates Of Symmachus seem to suggest that there could be more beyond the walls.
One of the parts of Bloodmoon that I enjoyed the most was the Raven Rock expansion. From nothing to a small town, you get to choose whos side you want to take and there even seems to be quite a lot more speech related to what you’re doing.
Morrowind offers you a lot of factions to join as well. The Mages Guild, Temple, Morag Tong, East Empire Company, House Hlaalu / House Telvanni / House Redoran, Imperial Cult, Imperial Legion and with the Thieves’ Guild and Fighters Guild, there’s decisions to made as to who you’re loyal to.
Enchanting seems a lot more flexible in Morrowind than it is in Oblivion also. You can actually make up stuff such as a shirt that constantly heals you, and you’re able to enchant things yourself without the need to find someone to do it for you. So long as you have a charged soul gem, a spell and item that you want to enchant, you can do it anywhere. Of course, you need to have a good ability in doing it for it to be successful and powerful. Magical items in Morrowind also automatically recharge over time.
Another thing, unlike in Oblivion, is that your Intelligence actually does affect your alchemy skill. So you can create a Fortify Intelligence potion and then create a better potion of the same thing. These can be done over and over (to a degree) so that you can make ultra powerful potions. You can use ash yams, bloat, horker tusks or netch leather. Ash yams and netch leather are probably the easiest to get ingredients.

The game installation is pretty straightforward. The DVD lets you add in Tribunal and Bloodmoon individually, but you should do them in that order. The latest patches were already set up, so there was no need for me to download anything else.
In terms of stability, the PC version seems slightly more stable than the XBOX version, however, I’ve still had 2 instances of corrupt saves and it just loves to die suddenly for no apparent reason. So backups of saves are a must! I also found it a good idea to quit every 45 minutes or so and reload, because on rare ocassions, you can be playing with a corruption that doesn’t show up until you next reload, and a string of corrupt saves is not a good thing. I lost over an hour’s worth of stuff one night. Reloading again is quicker than on the XBOX too, because you can skip the intro videos.
Another minor difference is BluDev’s Ring Of Viewing. The XBOX version only lets you watch 6 of the Bloodmoon videos, whereas on the PC you can see 9.
Getting good screenshots is fairly easy as well, because there’s so much neat stuff! You can rack up several hundred pictures in no time. I think you have to enable it though in the Morrowind.ini file.
In this game and Oblivion, I always found the Daedra interesting. While there aren’t quests in Morrowind for EVERY Daedric Prince, the shrines sure are more impressive than the ones in Oblivion. You’ll get to serve the likes of Sheogorath, Molag Bal, Malacath, Mehrunes Dagon, Azura, Boethiah and Mephala. Although she’s tied in with the Morag Tong stuff. In Bloodmoon, you’ll get to come face to face with Hircine also. As for travelling to Oblivion, Morrowind doesn’t really put this in your reach. Although when you go for the Daedric Crescent Blade, you travel to an unknown Daedric shrine. As to where it’s located, well that appears to be unspecific.
Transport in Morrowind is a lot more apparent than in Oblivion. In fact in Oblivion there was only about 1 boat that took you back & forth between 2 places. But with Morrowind, getting around and saving time is a breeze. While the boat services and Silt Striders are common, the instantaneous travel methods are the ones to look out for. The Mages’ Guild will get you to Balmora, Caldera, Sadrith Mora, Ald’ruhn and Vivec for a small fee in absolutely no time at all. Mark & Recall spells are a great way of getting back to exactly where you want from anywhere else, which if used correctly can help you shift huge amounts of loot and also get you out of trouble. Speaking of which, while Almsivi and Divine Intervention spells are aimed at being a form of self rescue, they can be powerful transport methods too. Especially in Solstheim. A Divine Intervention spell can take you from the north coast to the south in a flash, and Almsivi intervention will get you straight back to Gnisis. After you complete Tribunal, a certain ring is also a nifty way of getting around as well. I currently have my Mark position inside Castle Karstaag, because it doesn’t seem to be accessible again after a certain point in the Bloodmoon quest. But this allows me a quick way of getting to Solstheim from anywhere.
The other form of transport around Vvardenfell is one that’s unmentioned, but which you’ll need to work out for yourself. (Except if you get a certain official plug in for the game.) These are the Propylon Chambers that form a kind of ring around Red Mountain. Each one is at an old Dunmer stronghold and allows you to travel clockwise or anti-clockwise. Generally the strongholds aren’t close to any major towns, apart from Rotheran, Berandas and Hlormaren. To work them though, you’ll need to find the indexes which are scattered about the island. They are all pretty small and have a value of 500 Septims. Once you have them all, you can travel to any other Propylon Chamber via the ones in between along the route in which ever direction you prefer. This all takes place instantaneously in a thunderous boom. If you only have some, you can only travel to the destination of the index(es) you have.

Admiring people is a good way to obtain extra information and better prices on those who sell and buy things. If you’re a tight-wad like me, you can get more money for cheap items worth only 1 drake by selling them individually. Selling them as a group you’ll be offered less.
If you’re sent to kill somebody, taunting them will usually get them to initiate a fight with you. Remember that if someone attacks you 1st, you have the right to kill them.
For those of you wondering when the Tribunal expansion kicks in, it’s when you’re coming up to about level 5. For me, I was on level 4. The Dark Brotherhood will attack you eventually and you can then speak to the guards about it. Transport will then be available from Ebonheart.
If you wish to kill King Helseth at the end of the main quest, (and you’ll find out why you might want to do this,) the best way is to use one of the Ebony Arrows Of Slaying from behind Thirsk in Solstheim. It’s quick, effective and I didn’t even get any bounty. Usually everyone in the room besides Karrod will attack you though, but hey, you can score some pretty sweet loot! People will then talk about his assassination. Be sure to grab his ring too. It will make you a little bit more invincible.
Beast races, like the Argonians and Khajiiti can’t wear boots or full helms, so that’s something to keep in mind when you start your character for the 1st time. When I played the XBOX version, I played as an Argonian. On the PC I decided to be an Imperial. Each race has varying positive or negative features.
Selling stuff is important if you actually want to make some decent money. The best items to sell are armour and weapons mostly, because they have the greatest value. Finding places to sell them is easy enough, but to get good value, you need to know where to go! The 2 best places where you’ll get the full value for your items are Creeper in Caldera and the Mudcrab Merchant down by Mzahnch. Another good way to make money is trapping souls. You’ll need to obtain a Soul Trap spell, and an empty soul gem capable of holding the soul of the creature you’re going to kill. These will sell for quite a fair whack of dough, especially the likes of Daedric creatures. Ascended Sleepers’ souls are good for making enchanted items with a constant effect dealie. That way you can have apparel that fortifies certain attributes you want cranked up. You can also have restoration properties too. But it’s up to you what you want to do with the enchantment.
If you like collecting stuff, then you’re going to need some handy places to put it. Luckily, when someone snuffs it, or if you find a vacant unused room, you can take it over for yourself. Most containers won’t respawn their contents, but if you’re unsure, you can always put something cheap and recognisable in them to see 1st. Depending on how you play may affect what houses you’ll be able to acquire, but here are a few joints that I found for a place to sleep and bung down your hard earnt (, or stolen) loot:

What Place:
Where It Is:
Venim Manor Bedrooms
Ald’ruhn
Caius Cosades’ House (Obviously when he clears off you can use it.)
Balmora
The Blodskal’s House Skaal Village
Factor’s Estate Raven Rock
Telvanni Canalworks slave area Vivec
Dren’s Villa Dren Plantation
Velas Manor Godsreach
Shenk’s Shovel (Right up the back on the top floor) Caldera
St. Delyn Waist North 1 & 2 Vivec
Uryn Maren’s House Raven Rock
Your room in Thirsk Thirsk

If you’re looking for some impressive plug-in abodes, check out the Morrowind Mods By Spok. I found Yorick’s Tower very impressive. :-) While we’re talking of plug-ins, be sure to consider Wild Rare Ingredients. This fixes up some ingredient related stuff, plus if you like, the Stalhrim & Adamantium Respawn Mod.

Graphics: Initially when I first played the game, they were very impressive. Now though, they’re not quite as good looking, but you will still find some nice looking areas. You can see that a lot of work has gone into the texturing, even if it isn’t all that high quality in all situations. Look at the armour people wear, the variations of potion bottles and the architecture of the towns. Some of the special effects look a bit dodgy, especially after the improvements in Oblivion, and the water reflection’s nowhere near as good, but the array of plants you can visit for ingredients is still pretty sensational. So I’d proabably say about 85%.
Animation:
Distant NPCs tend to jerk along more so than ones who are close, and without the physics that Oblivion added to the game, it sometimes looks a bit dodgy when something dies. The frame rate suffers in high detail areas, even on my PC which is well above the minimum system requirements. But it is better than on the XBOX if you have the hardware to run it. 75%
Sound:
Excellent music by Jeremy Soule and other nifty ambient effects. Footstep sounds are pretty much all the same, whatever surface you’re on however. The main theme song will most probably get in your head. 93%
Playability:
Once you have the controls set up how you like, this is just fantastic. At 1st all the menu stuff can be a bit overwhelming, but you’ll get used to where things are, and what things are about. Best to play in the 1st person perspective too. 95%
Lastability:
When you’re not doing main quests or side quests, you’ll often find yourself doing your own quests of sorting out loot, getting new houses / bases and making money! There are truckloads of interesting places to explore — some which have people or things that will start a quest you might not have known about too. Burrrilliant! 97%
Overall:
The game might be quite buggy, and if the game play just stunk, then I probably wouldn’t recommend it. But it doesn’t. The huge amount of land you can explore, the numerous quests and exciting main story lines make this a must have purchase. Assuming you can still find it of course. (Although I think you can pay to download it now from the Internet.) There are quite a few game play features that are better in Morrowind than Oblivion, so if you’ve played the later installment of The Elder Scrolls series and missed this one, then you should consider giving this a whirl as well. If you download MGE, you can crank the visuals up a bit closer to Oblivion standards, but apparently there are a few weather issues with it. 94%