The older Elder Scrolls

A couple of weeks back Bethesda gave away Morrowind to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of The Elder Scrolls. Of course I snagged a copy, but then I did something crazy. I tried to play it. One point of gamer-shame I carry around with me is that I’ve never played a significant way into any of the Elder Scrolls games (other than Elder Scrolls Online). I’ve bought them all, but generally drift away after 5-10 hours which is like reading the preface of a book then tossing it aside.

Morrowind, in 2019, was a struggle. It looks dated, the UI is clunky and the game is HARD. But hey, I’m on PC now, there are MODS. So I started looking into mods for the game and, well I won’t go into details but there’s a lot to take in and at some point I got tired of researching and decided “Y’know what, maybe we should turn to one of the newer Elder Scrolls games.”

So I bought Skyrim Special Edition, which is I think the 5th time I’ve purchased Skyrim (bought at launch, bought it on Steam at some point, bought the Special Edition on both PS4 and Xbox One, and now SE on Steam). But now I had mods in my craw so I wanted to mod Skyrim too.

That actually went a lot better since Skyrim was designed to be modded. There’s still a certain amount of fiddling you have to do, mostly in terms of load order and what mods co-exist happily and what should over-write what. In the end I followed a guide on YouTube. You don’t have to watch the video, just look at the mod list in the summary. That’s where we’ve landed, people essentially blogging in the description field at YouTube.

It’s looking pretty good, though every so often I get a surprise, like Aela the Huntress showing up in bondage gear thanks to one of the armor mods (though I’m not sure which one).

But at this point I’ve been playing WITH Skyrim more than playing it, and Morrowind was still floating around in the back of my head. AND Lola was demanding that I spend more time on the couch so she could rest her furry little head against me and snore.

So I snagged the Xbox (like, original Xbox) version of Morrowind for $15. Thanks to backward compatibility it runs on the Xbox One X and some mad scientist at Microsoft or Bethesda has tweaked it to run at 4K, even. I mean it is still super-dated but it’s better than “vanilla.” The UI is still clunky and the game is still hard. I ‘cheated’ on that last bit by reading and following a guide for the first couple hours of the game. That cut down the initial frustration a lot. Mostly the character creation bits. On my first try (on PC), rats were destroying me. Following this guide I can take down everything in the starting area without too much effort.

Funny thing is, I glommed onto Morrowind on the Xbox harder than I did the modded Skyrim on PC. I think it’s just so retro that it feels like something different, if that makes sense. These games take (I think) 100 bajillion hours to finish, so I’m not fooling myself that I’ll play through either of them, but I’m getting something out of them that I didn’t when I was younger. I think I just have more patience now. I read all the books I find, talk to everyone and just in general go slower and kind of take it all in more than I did back in the day when I couldn’t wait to get out there and kill something. In a way they’re scratching that MMO itch, in that what I generally love about MMOs is having a HUGE world to explore. (The other players in MMOs aren’t a huge draw for me because I’m weird.)

I dunno how long this nostalgia kick will go on. First old MMOs, now old single player games. I think I’m just enjoying them because these games are too old to have much drama surrounding them. Plus, to paraphrase @dog_rates, “They’re good games, Brent.”

4 thoughts on “The older Elder Scrolls

  1. I played the hell out of Morrowind for a couple of years after it released. I enjoyed the cosmetic mods that people came up with, and so .. not too long ago, I bought it again when it was on sale (I have one of my old Mournhold expansion CD’s, but I can’t find my original CD for the game itself. Oh well.)

    I still remember working out on my own how to cheese Alchemy to become completely invincible, how to use the “Creeper” to get all the money I could ever want, and stuff like that.

    I made character after character to try out different aspects of gameplay or to try to roleplay living in the world in different ways — the orc who eschewed all magic and enchantment and also only would use or wear Orcish armor and weapons, the Argonian that wouldn’t leave the water, the Breton who eschewed weapons in favor of only using magic…. stuff like that. In all of that, I never once in 2 years of playing actually completed the main story quest. I followed it a couple of times, but never seemed to get past the parts in the city of Vivec. Go figure, right?

    I remember so little of it anymore though, that I had a hard time getting in to it. I downloaded a lot of mods that update the graphics to look a bit more modern, but didn’t do any that changed the gameplay at all. And yet, I found I just couldn’t get back in to it. No idea why.

    Funnily enough, I stumbled across a “speed run” video that showed a person create a character and then “beat the main quest” in about 6 minutes. It went to lots of places I’d never seen, fought monsters I’d never heard of. Made me realize just how little of the whole game I’d actually played, in spite of usually playing an hour or 3 a day for nearly 2 years. I just lived in the world, rather than play the game, i suppose.

    Maybe that’s why I had a hard time getting back in to it. I feel compelled to actually do the story now, but my memories of never doing that are rebelling against how I feel now, perhaps?

    1. 6 minutes!?

      I hit level 2 last night after something like 4 nights of playing (I mean they weren’t long session but still, had to have been 4-5 hours altogether).

      I did find a good video about installing a graphics update and something called Morrowind Rebirth. I’m not sure how much the latter changes things though. If I was up to starting over on PC I might follow this guide to mod it. Maybe if I decide to start a second character. I love your “themed character” ideas!!

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