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The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

01 May 2002
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind - cover art
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1,230 Ratings / 3 Reviews
#140 All-time
#5 for 2002
An unnamed prisoner arrives in the island of Vvardenfell, deep in the province of Morrowind. Through the prophecy of an Elder Scroll, the prisoner eventually discovers that they are the Nerevarine, the reincarnation of the ancient Dark Elf hero Indoril Nerevar, who is prophesied to prevent an ancient, all-consuming plague called the Blight from occurring once more.
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The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind: Old Yet Bold
The Elder Scrolls series has been around for awhile and now it's pretty much a very mainstream series with the release of Skyrim, a game that has captured the imaginations of tens of millions of people. Plenty of gamers today are familiar with Skyrim, as well to a lesser extent, Oblivion. However with Morrowind, not too many people are familiar with this release in the Elder Scrolls series, at least in comparison to the later titles. Morrowind is a fairly niche game all things considered; it's very old, it has a PC focused UI and interface, the combat system is based around dice rolls to calculate hits so you can miss even when it looks like you're hitting an enemy on your screen, it's not fully voice acted so plenty of character dialogue is expressed exclusively through text. Quite different from the later titles, yet this game is the best of the Elder Scrolls games released in the 21st century.

To anyone not familiar at all with Morrowind or even the Elder Scrolls series, the game is an RPG with a first person perspective set somewhere in the fantasy world and continent of Tamriel, in Morrowind's case, being set in the island of Vvardenfell, a part of the province of Morrowind; the homeland of the Dunmer, commonly known as the Dark Elves. The game begins with the player being presented as a prisoner destined by prophecy to become some hero and you start the game being released and creating your own character. You start off picking your race with choices being various forms of humans, elves, orcs, cat people or lizard people. Each race (and gender) has different stats, divided into attributes and skills. Attributes being the classic Strength, Intelligence, Luck, etc stats of classic RPGs that determine how strong you are, how much mana you have, etc as well as affecting the effectiveness of your skills, which each skill being affected by an attribute. Your skills being weapon skills, various schools of magic and different ways of interacting with the world and it's denizens.

After selecting your race you're now able to pick, create or let the game pick a class for you after answering a fantasy personality test. When you create your own class you're able to pick exactly which skills you want to focus on, putting them into a major or minor category which gives a boost into the level of the skill and makes those skills affect your overall level. Yes, while skills are automatically increased by using them, leveling your major/minor skills enough times grants you a level, which can be used to improve your attributes, which ones to increase are picked by the player, with bonus points available to attributes that were part of the skills leveled.

One last thing the player does before being let loose is picking a birthsign which give bonuses and/or negatives. The balancing of these birthsigns isn't great with some simply giving decent stat boosts and others giving very basic "powers" basically spells that can be used once a day for free and possibly very crippling negative effects. There are also powers for each race in Tamriel as well which function the same way.

After getting through the nitty-gritty of character creation the player is given a quest and sent on their way. However, the game right away starts to try and side track you a little by giving you a little side quest to begin interacting with the residents of the town you begin in. This is where the greatness of the game becomes apparent with any obligation to complete quests becomes totally optional and the player is free to just wander around and explore the world on their own right, to seek other quests, to search for treasure or just simply explore for the sake of finding out more about the world. Morrowind does a great job on delivering total freedom of exploration. Every house, building, cave, dungeon anything is able to be entered. Almost anything that looks like it can be picked up, can in fact be taken and put into the players inventory. Any character, creature, monster, demon, etc can be killed. Even those who affect major quests (if you kill a character vital to the main quest the game informs you that you wont be able to complete it, yet you're free to continue playing) can be killed. It's kind of a fantasy Grand Theft Auto in that respect except there's a lot more punishment for your actions in Morrowind. If you don't possess the skills to be able to murder or steal without being seen (done through the use of stealth skills, spells or items that grant two forms of invisiblity) then you'll probably have to answer for your actions in the form of guards apprehending you and giving you a choice to serve jail time, pay a fine and relinquish stolen goods or just try and fight them yourself. There are also even other ways to possibly subvert justice available to the player as they progress through quests.

About the quests, they're not the game's strongest points but there's a ton of them. Literally hundreds of hours worth of questing available to the player. Of course, there's plenty of fetch quests, orders to go to somewhere, kill something or someone, find an item but there are ones that are complete riddles, where you have to do a bit of thinking to figure out what you have to do to progress and the game doesn't simply give you an objective marker to follow, Most quests have a set of directions given to the player so they have to navigate themselves through the world. A few quests mark locations on the map, represented as golden squares. These squares represent major cities, settlements or ruins most of the time and are revealed on the player's map as they traverse Vvardenfell.

As for traversing Vvardenfell, the player usually will have to do that on foot and this is a major complaint most people have with the game; your character just moves way too slow. This may be indeed partly true, especially at the start of the game but there are plenty of methods of transportation available with boats, various forms of magical teleportation and the use of giant flea like creatures that all instantly send you to various locations. You're also able to use magical spells, enchantments or items to much more quickly traverse on foot. You're even able to use spells to fly, swim faster, or straight up walk on water. Even non-magical ways to improve your character's speed are available through the Athletics skill and Speed attribute. If you wanted, you can create a character from the start focused heavily on moving quickly with the right race and stats.

As you move through the world, you can see that there's a lot of variety in the landscape. Morrowind isn't just your generic fantasy world, it's an alien land filled strange creatures and flora, jagged ruins from demonic entities and the fossils of monstrous creatures dotting the landscape consisting of swamps, volcanic canyons, plains and rocky outcrops. Every town and settlement has it's own style with yes, some of them consisting of just plain medieval style buildings, forts and castles yet others being adobe styled structures, giant mushrooms grown through magical means to be the homes of mad wizards or the insides of those very fossils mentioned above. The sheer variety and bizareness of everything in the world makes exploration so rewarding purely for just seeing what comes next.

Graphically the game hasn't aged well with the amount of polygons, low texture resolution and short draw distance just making the game look so unappealing to modern audiences. Character's faces don't animate and every character and creature animation looking stiff and awkward. On the bright side (haha) the lighting system at giving a sense of cozyness to houses or creating a foreboding atmosphere to caves, ruins and dungeons. Sometimes the player will need a torch or lantern to navigate truly dark areas as well. Also, all these light items, which include candles as well can be placed in the world and create light as well. If the player really needs to see more there is of course, a magical way to do this with spells, enchantments or items. The water as well looks great with some special state of the art (at the time) shader that makes it look well, watery and reflect enviornments. Underwater, unfortunetly it doesn't look as great with the lighting just becoming bright and uniform.

The story and lore of Morrowind is greatly detailed and is told through quests, dialogues with characters and in game books that contain a ton of writing for a video game. Sometimes, the amount of writing feels overly heavy with, for example, charcter diaglogues simply being an encyclopedia of topics. Most characters that can be talked with are generic NPCs and just give a standardized list of lore, rumours and advice adjusted slightly by NPC race, class and region. A hypertext system is used to navigate through dialogue with highlighted words and phrases being able to be clicked to lead to more paragraphs and more hypertext. All the hypertext links are put in a table near the dialogue so character interaction usually feels more like thumbing through a book than actually talking. The disposition system, which affects how NPCs feel about the player character and how willing they are to divulge certain information is slightly better, giving the player the option to sweet talk the NPC which is simply done by clicking the Persuade option. The sucess of this option is simply determined by the player's stats related to talking to people. The other option is to simply indimidate which works depending on the player's level relative to the NPC and the last option is to simply bribe the NPC with three different amounts of gold. There are a variety of choices and outcomes to doing this but it's all simply decided by random chance and the player's stats.

This brings us to the much maligned combat system, which suffers the same issues as the NPC interaction system. Those issues being that it's pretty much totally decided by dice roll. While it is real time, the combat in Morrowind still calculates every strike's hit chance according to stats and attributes of whoever is doing the striking so even if you have a big sword and your standing right up to a character, you can still totally miss. If your stats are totally abysmal for the weapon you are using than you'll miss almost every single time. Don't worry though, the combat is still enjoyable because it can just be approached in so many different ways, due to character customization. You have your traditional swords and axes and staffs, staves, spears, daggers, two-handed swords, clubs, katanas etc for a warrior type character and many, many spells for the traditional mage. You can combine the two as well. Go ahead and be a warrior who casts defensive spells on himself or be a mage who summons himself powerful armour and weapons temporarily when they need an extra hand to hand edge in combat. A lot of things are possible in this game that this already long review can't totally list. Archery, however is heavily flawed in this game. While you have a variety of bows, crossbows, throwing knives and shurikens AND magical enchantments for all of those, the hit chance, especially at the start makes this route of weapons a little underwhelming as opposed to swords and spells.

Spells. The magic system in Morrowind is incredible. You have spells that do various forms of damage, you have spells that reduce skills and attributes of your enemies, spells that improve your own, spells that make you invisible or at least harder to see, spells to levitate, spells that protect you by absorbing damage, absorbing spells that are converted to more mana for you, life drain, reducing the condition of weapons, magical ways of opening lock doors, the ability to lock a door for whatever reason the list goes on. You can even create your own spells by combining the above effects, making them affect yourself, enemies, allies, make them castable up close, at range, make them area of effect, the more powerful the spell, however, the more mana it might cost and the cost in gold to create it. There's the enchanting and alchemy system as well, you can put spells on items to not have to use so much mana in combat, you can put spells on items that last indefinitely, though these are the most difficult to create. Alchemy lets you create potions that cause all the above effects with dozens of different ingredients combined using various alchemic equipment to create various grades of potions. Be warned though, the alchemy system is the most exploitable in the game, allowing the player to be become many times more powerful than even the games hard coded limits on levelable stats allow. But that's also the thing that makes Morrowind so great, there's so much freedom to just do whatever you want with the game.

We're almost done with the review, there's a lot more that can be said about Morrowind, pages upon pages can be written about it's content but it's a little overwhelming to cover it all.

Next thing to touch upon is the faction system, there are many factions to joins, covering guilds targeting different types of characters, "Great Houses" which are like, tribes that hold political control over various regions of Morrowind. These Great Houses too, target different types of characters. What is meant by that? Each faction has a stat requirement for the player with say the Mages Guild requiring aptitude in Intelligence and magical skills. These requirements start out low so pretty much any character will be able to join but as more quests are given, the requirements start to get higher so progressing in an organization is not only dependent on what favours and jobs you do for them, but how good you are at what they teach or preach. This makes the game much more immersive because how can the Grandmaster of the Fighter's Guild get their job if they've never held swung a weapon in their life? Other factions include religious groups, military organizations and a few others that are revealed throughout the game.

Going back to exploration, the game locks you out of certain quests if you don't meet the stat requirement but it doesn't lock you out of accessing powerful items if you simply explore a lot. Powerful ancient artifacts and magical equipment is sometimes even hiding in nearly plain sight and a character who explores a lot can be rewarded immensely through enough independent adventuring.

The last thing to cover in detail is the modding system. While the review here covers vanilla Morrowind, modding can not be discounted for an Elder Scrolls game in the 21st century. Shipped with the Elder Scrolls Construction Set, a program used in the very creation of the game, Morrowind can be changed in many, many ways. New items, monsters, locations can be added. Graphics can greatly be improved with outside programs and utilities adding modern effects and shaders that make the game look like a modern title. The possibilities are almost endless and the modding community has been alive for years after the game's release. Many of the above flaws of Morrowind can be fixed with enough effort put into modding the game.

The last things to cover without detail, just to inform and not to be put in more detail are the following: The game is buggy, even with official patches, unofficial patches and mods improve it a lot. The environments, especially indoor ones are fairly premade so expect a lot of repetition in locations. The pathfinding is poor, characters retrace the player's steps crudely which can lead to combat becoming easy and escort missions becoming frustrating. The game actually becomes very easy once the player finds enough powerful items, exploits alchemy or just reaches a high enough level. These flaws though, are tolerable when the scope and content of the game are considered as well as the year it was made in.

All in all, if you can get past the age and clunkiness of Morrowind, it's about as immersive and fun to play as an RPG can get. Many won't like it, but the lucky few who do will find hundreds of hours, if not thousands with mods exploring the world of Vvardenfell.

The expansions are heavily recommended for bug fixes and the improved journal system.

Edit: This is a review for the PC version. Yes, there's an Xbox version which the review (aside from mods) can be applied for but that's a heavily flawed experience with issues that don't really exist on the PC.
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SuicideByCandlelight 2016-06-13T23:55:38Z
2016-06-13T23:55:38Z
4.5
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I'm sure this is a great roleplaying game but the fact that I can't hit something right in front of me fills me with such intense rage that I will not be giving it any further chances.
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Sir_RollyPolly 2021-07-08T03:48:08Z
2021-07-08T03:48:08Z
2.0
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Worst game ever
I absolutely adore Skyrim and Oblivion, they're my third and first favorite games ever, respectively. Morrowind, on the other hand, I hate so much. It's like if you took every awesome feature from Oblivion and Skyrim and scaled them down to be as bad as possible. I get that it's a game before them but like I've never seen a game series go from so awful to so amazing. Considering its time of release, I would normally cut slack for it since it's old, but I feel like it could have been so much better. The class system is awful, the stamina/health/magika system is monstrous. The fighting mechanics are an abomination to all fighting games. The graphics are actually satisfactory for 2002. This game took me like 4 months to beat because I dreaded playing it so much then when I did play, it took absolute ages to make progress because of how much travelling is required. Not to mention the biggest pain ever, the saving system, which makes the game about unplayable. The fact that you have to have a specific weapon to match your class for a good chance to deal damage is the dumbest thing ever. Healing and restoring magika is just a nightmare. The story is actually sort of cool but is so slow that I'd rather just read a summary about it online. I am definitely never going to replay this game again, but at least I can say I beat it.
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I'm writing this the day after this game's 20th anniversary. This is my favorite video game of all time, and it has my favorite setting in any RPG, only rivaled by Planescape: Torment. I really, really want to give this game a 10, but it has a lot of flaws. For me it's easily a 10/10, but I think objectively it's maybe an 8.

My biggest problem with the game is that if you don't know what you're doing in this game, you will probably not have a very good time. On the other hand, if you know what you're doing, the game will be too easy.

The trade-off for the game being too easy is the deepest magic system I've seen in any RPG, one that respects the player and lets them do almost anything that they want. You can multiply your jump height so much that you can fly across the map, you can make a sword that explodes and kills everything in a 25 meter radius, you can even fortify your stats into the thousands with potions if you know how.

Granted, you have to develop your character to the point of being able to do these things. Morrowind has maybe the most drastic character progression in any open world game I've played, because of the amount of trust and freedom that it places in the player. In the beginning of the game, you might be struggling to hit mudcrabs with a rusty knife, but as you learn more and your character grows, you'll be able to kill divine beings like Vivec and Dagoth Ur with ease.
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spagoot 2022-05-02T21:01:28Z
2022-05-02T21:01:28Z
4.5
4
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I can understand it being a revolutionary game in the world of Western RPGs at the time of its release, but it is really hard to see this game as "fun & enjoyable" without a lens of its old glory and nostalgia held tight on your viewpoint. It simply doesn't stand the test of time,

In the list of games released in the same year (2002) like GTA Vice City, Super Mario Sunshine, The Legend Of Zelda Windwaker, MGS2: Substance with Sons of liberty and Halo: Combat Evolved released a year earlier, as compared to all these games, Morrowind is the one that is in its least playable state by far. To me honestly, it isn't even as good as games like Hitman 2, Jet Set Future, Ratchet & Clank (same release year) when playing it in the current day and age, and yet it's the one rated most highly here for some reason,

To begin with some of its core issues, The combat sucks (which kills the entire thrill of finding new monsters and species to fight), the graphics look ancient, traveling system is slow and annoying as you move throughout this vast and barren world, OST is just the title theme looping again and again throughout the game's runtime, the NPCs are rigid animations and so much of the dialogue is read only, which bores the fuck out of you.
The game is frustrating even with fan made mods fixing its hopeless state. Even if you ignore the same issues which still plague TES games to date like broken gameplay, clueless NPCs, embarrassing voice acting (which i count as a plus point for boring games) and very small amounts of genuine content being laid across a bare vast world, it still opens a plethora of issues for you to deal with.
If simply put, THIS GAME HASN'T AGED WELL PERIOD.

Now, why the fuck is this game rated above every single GTA game ever
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aryanarora 2021-05-20T11:27:22Z
2021-05-20T11:27:22Z
2.0
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Ranking a game like Morrowind in the modern gaming era is hard because you have to almost look past all the improvements and conveniences western RPGs have made since this game was first released, and even future Bethesda games made huge improvements and as a result Morrowind feels very much like a game of a long lost era.

For 2002, Morrowind was one of the most ambitious and open games. You could go anywhere you wanted from the start of the game with no restrictions, you could kill any NPC you want even if they were crucial to quests, you could do many of the quests in any order you wanted, and the game gave you a set of dozens of skills you could choose to level up and focus on. On top of that the game had a big open World with tons of creatures and villages you can explore and the variety of different kinds of weapons, magic spells, and armor was pretty decent for a game that came out in the early 2000s. The game is set in a big World with rich lore, there are tons of books and dialog branches you can choose with NPCs to learn more about the different areas and the lore behind the different races and history of the land. Hell I'd even argue World building and depth wise, this game has more going on than both Oblivion and Skyrim, which sort of skimmed on lore and deep characters/story to make a more streamlined game. This game has tons of story and backstory that it almost feels like Lord of the Rings with how much history and detail was put into this World.

However outside of story and World building, that's essentially where my praise ends. The gameplay and design of the game just feel outdated and have many things that make the game frustrating. I know back in 2002 the genre was still starting to figure itself out and this was the first true 3D Elder Scrolls game, but for starters the combat system in this game is just annoying, the games combat is based on a dice roll system where you can miss swings and do no damage. Now if this game didn't allow you to control when you swing and was more like a traditional RPG in terms of combat I could forgive this, but missing in this kind of game just feels so odd and makes combat tedious and dragged out, especially early in the game, I know it improves as you level up your weapon skills and you miss less, but it still makes the early game incredibly frustrating and combat takes way too long. The other thing is traveling across the map to different locations in this is so tedious and long. You can use carriages to travel between different towns, but if you want to travel somewhere in the middle of the map you need to go there by foot since there is no fast travel and your character moves like he's in quicksand, even when he's running. The core of Elder Scrolls is exploration and traveling through a fantasy World, but if the traveling in more tedious than fun then it really discourages exploration.

Another thing is I know this game is 2002 so it would have been hard to get voice actors to give dialog to every character in this game. But sometimes I felt like the dialog different NPCs had to say in this was just so repetitive and it would sometimes feel like you were reading a book when going through all the dialog options. The thing is many NPCs have the exact same dialog as others and only special ones really have unique dialog. Speaking of which persuasion feels kind of odd in this game. I just feel like they tended to overload you with dialog at times instead of just only giving dialog branches to important NPCs instead of every NPC. The other thing is how quests are set up in this game, you have a part of your journal where you can view quests and it just feels clunky how it is set up since you have to find in your journal where the quest is and click on the location the quest tells you to go to find it on your map. Some quests won't even tell you exactly where to go and you'll have to find it on your own, but to be honest this is only a minor complaint.

The map in this game isn't as detailed either and so I found the map to be more distracting than useful in this at times. Maybe its just because the map in Oblivion and Skyrim were so well-designed. The graphics and animations in this are also pretty ugly looking, which is unfortunately the problem with early 3D graphics from this era. This game just looks really ugly and the character models look oddly proportioned. I know in 2002 these graphics were not too bad, especially for a game this size, but these graphics and textures end up being distracting at times and break the immersion occasionally.

Now I know there are about a million mods for this game these days, you can mod the game to have better graphics that look like Oblivion, you can mod the game to make it where all your attacks hit and there is no dice roll mechanic, you can mod the game to make your character walk faster and I think there are even fast travel mods. But that's the thing, I don't think a game is good if it needs mods to improve its issues. Yeah back in 2002 these issues were manageable since we didn't have any other games of this scale or freedom. But now we've just been a bit spoiled and the game ends up feeling tedious. The only reason to really play Morrowind today is for the unique World and story, which I guess is a decent enough reason, but without mods the game is more of a chore to play than anything. Sure with Mods this game manages to be a solid experience, but I can't rate a game based on mods that Bethesda themselves didn't even put out, because on its own Morrowind really isn't that good due to the issues in gameplay and outdated mechanics. Maybe its because Oblivion was my first Elder Scrolls game, but I just couldn't get into Morrowind, and it just feels like a game that will take too much time and patience to play without any mods.
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Coins95 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2022-08-15T18:46:57Z
2022-08-15T18:46:57Z
5.0
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jakkos The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2022-08-15T09:36:19Z
2022-08-15T09:36:19Z
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patobravo The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2022-08-14T12:37:48Z
Windows
2022-08-14T12:37:48Z
1
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CoolestManOnTheBlock The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2022-08-13T15:12:58Z
2022-08-13T15:12:58Z
3.5
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man19572160 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2022-08-13T01:37:07Z
2022-08-13T01:37:07Z
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lmaobox The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2022-08-12T16:44:20Z
2022-08-12T16:44:20Z
4.0
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nick_winkler The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2022-08-12T10:51:18Z
2022-08-12T10:51:18Z
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bleakage The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2022-08-11T23:31:05Z
2022-08-11T23:31:05Z
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Slight86 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2022-08-10T21:28:56Z
2022-08-10T21:28:56Z
1
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aisatsana102 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2022-08-10T21:11:43Z
Windows
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Flayven The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2022-08-09T09:14:05Z
2022-08-09T09:14:05Z
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abigailkatz The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2022-08-06T00:28:48Z
2022-08-06T00:28:48Z
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ESRB: T
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  • Previous comments (30) Loading...
  • dontwannaknow 2021-12-04 01:26:13.02782+00
    after grinding out whatever weapon ur using the combat gets significantly better
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  • Max200404 2022-06-11 22:27:36.835533+00
    Unmatched otherwordly atmosphere and some really amazing cities here
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  • Max200404 2022-06-23 22:24:02.974152+00
    Also kinda looks like xen in some places
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  • DaymanNightman 2022-07-15 22:48:37.196137+00
    "I can't hit anything" my brother in Christ you have 0 fatigue and low agility/willpower
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    • Qwertchi 2022-08-01 17:07:27.277022+00
      This is way too true. Almost anyone I see complain about the combat and "not being able to hit anything" just has a critical misunderstanding/lack of knowledge on combat mechanics.
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