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.”