The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
|Platforms:||Xbox 360, PC|
Even before Morrowind, Bethesda Softworks made their name with their Elder Scrolls series, but it wasn't until The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind that this company became a synonym for one of the best role playing games available. There is hardly someone who is old enough to remember release of this game and haven't played it in that time. Morrowind received lots of awards including most important Game of The Year and was still considered best RPG game years after its initial release.
Morrowind pushed the concept of the 'open world RPG' much further than it was common in that time. Remember that this is 2003 we are talking about, most of the RPG games used isometric layout and truly 3D were usually only first-person shooter games who had generally very linear level design. With Morrowind we suddenly walked through houses, talked to NPC face to face, experienced first-person combat with swords and magic and we could do all this in very open world where you could decide to spend tens of minutes just walking in one direction and exploring the environment.
It was also one of the first games that allowed player to manipulate with lots of items around the game world and literally pick everything up, from dishes, plates, clothes or pieces of furniture to items like flowers, agricultural tools and crops. People who were used to explore the gaming world and pick up every item, ended up with their inventory full of useless garbage that you couldn't sell for a single gold piece. So if you wanted to play Morrowind, first thing to learn was to set limitations to your greed, because otherwise you would spend first ten hours in the Seyda Neen village just selling every spoon you could find around the place (and yes many of us did). There were literally thousands of hundreds of items you could find and store in your inventory, many of them not useful at all, but lot of them could be sold to a vendor (with limited amount of gold) or crafted via alchemy. Later in the game, you owned a house and it was possible to fill it's indoors with all these items - raising questions like "How the hell I steal that golden plates from inside that holy temple?".
Attributes and major/minor skill system made lots of players cry at first. It didn't allow you to spend your experience points on whatever you chose like was common in other RPG games. Instead you level up in exactly the areas you are using during your gameplay. That allowed realistic progression of character, although grinding of skill points was still possible when done by experienced player. You weren't limited by chosen class, there were endless combinations of what you could become, it wasn't uncommon to have a mage waving a sword or a warrior in heavy armor sneaking past guards. Repeated playthrough have been lot of fun because you could take very different approach and develop entirely new playstyle. Solving lot of optional quests required use of certain skills and with what you couldn't deal with previous walkthrough you could easily manage with different set of your character's skills.
Morrowind offered in much unequaled story, featuring very long conversations with so many informations that translation groups spend entire months trying to translate just the main storyline into another language. You begin as a completely anonymous citizen who arrives on the island of Vvardenfell as a prisoner and little by little discovers the story of Nerevar and your part in whole narrative. Main story line is incredibly elaborate and player has a chance to uncover whole history of world he plays in as you come across number of old books and scrolls which helps reveal the background of what is really going on. Nevertheless one of the very enjoyable things in Morrowind have been side quests, when you usually worked for one of the many world's factions and groups, including royal houses (Hlaalu, Redoran and Telvanni), Imperial Legion, Mages Guild, Fighters Guild and many others.
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has set the direction of a role-playing genre for the next few years and almost every RPG had been compared to Morrowind and wanted to become its equal. It's hard to tell if Morrowind's successors The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has lived up to their younger's brother reputation, but it's indisputable fact that he paved the way and made it much easier for these sequels to stand out in the RPG games market.