The first thing want to say is that yes, I have played this game before.
The second thing I want to say is that it’s probably been about 6/7 years since I last played this game. I had a realisation the other day when arguing that Morrowind is better than Skyrim that it really has been that long; so long, in fact, that I might be thinking about the game through the veil of nostalgia, rather than considering it as-it-was. So, I downloaded it, now I’m playing it, and I thought I’d write up my thoughts as I played through it.
I’m playing vanilla, that will be apparent from the images used in this section – I will inevitably mod a few things (like the black sun), but I don’t tend to do anything that alters the game in any significant way. Fixes, and whatnot.
Ahhhh, the music. So familiar! I spend my first five minutes enjoying the title screen. Then I start a new game.
Wake up. We’re here. Why are you shaking? Are you okay?
Yeah, I didn’t have to look that up. I know the start of the game like the back of the hand, so I run through the opening sequence (character creation, class, etc) and am quickly let loose with orders to meet Caius Cosades in Balmora. Of course, that’s not the first thing I do. First thing I do is sell all the stuff the tutorial in one of the earlier rooms encourages you to steal. I empty my trousers of silver plates and wine onto the local traders desk. He takes all my gear, sells me some armour, a bow, an axe, and I’m on my way.
So, first things first, I head off into the wilderness to kill some mudcrabs. They go down pretty easy, I’m a Wood Elf with archery as one of my major skills, so most of the arrows hit (most of the time). Unlike the later Scrolls games, Morrowind makes use of chance; if you’re not very proficient with the weapon you’re wielding you’ll have a lower hit-rate. You can miss, and if you’re a Wood Elf trying to use an axe you can actually miss A LOT (I didn’t want to go for the normal short/long blade play. I’m sorry). I walk a little way into the wilderness and find a sexy looking body laying on the floor:
I steal his clothes, his money, his shoes and his tax collection note. Morrowind kindly informs me that I have a new quest! I know I have a new quest, because I’ve played this opening chapter a few thousand times… but I decide I’ll do it. I’ll get some fun out of it, and it beats sitting on top of the lighthouse doing that other quest where you have to watch that guy walk around the town so slowly. I need to do something in Seyda Neen (sp?) before I leave, it just wouldn’t be right to leave the town straight away…
So, I go back to Socucious Ergalla and we have a chat. I’m a good boy, so I give him the money I found on Vitellius’ corpse (whilst eying up the expensive looking plate sitting on his bookshelf). He gives me a quest to bring the murderer ‘to justice’, which basically means kill the dude that killed the first dude. Ahhhh, I love the smell of uncomplicated justice in the morning…
To the Lighthouse! As Virginia Woolf once said, or might have said, or might of overheard in conversation and used for a title of a book I was meant to read but never did read at university. I meet a darling woman inside. She get’s a little emotional, a little upset, and tells me that Vitellius had a bit of a disagreement with a fellow that lives in a shack by a greasy oily looking pond with a suspicious looking tree trunk in the middle… She asks for Vitellius’ ring and I give it to her, she gives me some potions and then I promptly go upstairs and steal everything she owns that’s worth more than 20 gold.
I go and visit the man in the cabin and refuse to hide the fact that he murdered Vitellius from the law. He get’s angry and starts punching me with his fists. I take out an axe and hit him over the head with it. The battle end quickly. I steal all of his things (which is basically nothing), take all of his clothes and laugh at him before returning Socucious. He rewards my murdering another man with a good amount of gold and pats me on the back. I sell all my loot and grab a few more arrows before leaving the odd old town.
The landscape is rich with berry bushes and rocky outcrops. The ground underneath is a kind of gritty, pebbly material. I follow the path out, through some mountains, and into a hilly clearing. Clumps of rocks gather together for warmth by the feet of tree trunks, and off in the distance are giant mushrooms extending higher than the trees. No doubt it’s an unfamiliar scene for the Oblivion/Skyrim players who are used to rolling rationalism and ordinary creatures: bears, wolves, dogs… this is one of the reasons why I continue to love Morrowind more than the other, more recent, Scrolls games. It’s just more imaginative; more like living in a fantasy world. The Netches, Guars, Scribs and mushrooms. It makes the place gloriously unfamiliar, and really encourages you to explore.
Before I get to Peligiad (sp?) I kill some more crabs and steal some pearls from a few clams I find in a pond by the town. I sell these to a gentleman in a pawn shop and browse his overpriced wears. I ask for 15 gold for my items (two gold above his offer) and he slaps me and almost kicks me out of the store but stops when I tell him I’ll take the 13. I go outside and watch the sunset, then grab a bed at the local inn.
The next day, whilst continuing along the path to Balmora I meet a young woman dressed up in all kinds of finery standing by the path. I chat with her, and find out that she’s a Belieber. Apparently Justin attacked her by the road and took some of her jingle jangle jewellery, but he was nice about it, had one of those posh accents, was well dressed and was really polite about stealing her stuff so she wants to see him again. I want to tell her that getting drunk and racing a very expensive yellow car down a residential street is really not a good idea, and that he could have hurt someone, but she’s a belieber so it’s of no use. Rather than listen to her sing the recent Bieber release I tell her I’ll give Justin her letter if I see him on my travels. Whether I will or not I don’t know. Maybe I’ll hit him by accident whilst racing my own very expensive yellow Silt Rider…
Further down the road I encounter the black sun glitch, and resolve to solve that issue before starting up the game next weekend. Then I fight way way through a mountainous pass and emerge victorious in Balmora. I stand next to an Argonian, huffing and puffing from the run. He stares at me.
I find Caius Cosades’ house and when I enter I’m met by a half naked old man. I start talking to him and he quickly tells me that he’s ‘just an old man with a skooma problem’. After our conversation I explore his house and find it riddled with skooma and drug pipes. He’s made a very poor attempt at hiding his paraphernalia under the bed, but it’s not really under the bed, it’s sort of badly tucked away. I want to tell him that he should hide his gear better in case the cops raid the place, but he looks at me with a pair of stoner eyes and I decide it’s not worth it. He tells me he wants me to join the blades but that I need training. He gives me money, lets me sleep in his bed, but doesn’t let me have any skooma. No, the skooma is only for him, apparently. Greedy bastard.