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The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

01 May 2002
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind - cover art
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1,734 Ratings / 5 Reviews
#140 All-time
#6 for 2002
You, an anonymous uncertainty, have been chosen by Emperor Uriel Septim VII of the Cyrodiilic Empire to work for his secretive agents in Morrowind, land of the insular and isolationist Dunmer, in exchange for your freedom. Braving the deadly Corprus Blight, facing down volcanic ash storms, fighting off nightmarish abominations and navigating the cutthroat political intrigue of Vvardenfell, you must journey deep into the land of the Red Mountain and uncover the ancient secrets at the heart of the Dunmer people--as well as your own mysterious fate.
"Reach heaven by violence..." -Lord Vivec, 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon 16
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A prisoner is personally picked by Emperor Uriel Septim VII to be freed in Vvardenfell and work for the Blades, the Emperor's prestigious service order. Working for The Blades, the prisoner is tasked with unraveling the Nerevarine prophecy and putting a stop to the plans of the mysterious Sixth House cult.
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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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As a wise man once said, it's a "A Moon-Suger fortified experience"
My fucking god this game is so broken, I love it. My mage achieved CHIM within the first 10 hours of the game without trying. It also tells a nuanced and relevant story without screaming what it want you to feel and think into your face, alongside teaching the most important lesson of all, excessive drug use.
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MyMusicTasteHasAIDS 2023-03-28T12:20:47Z
2023-03-28T12:20:47Z
5.0
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This is my stuff pile at my home in Ald-ruhn. It's gotten twice as high since this screenshot and the Slit-strider guy is looking very worried.
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Morrowind, or the Joy of Being Lost
I have the theory that is is likely the best game Bethesda ever did and everything that came afterwards its just a repeat of what they achieved here. The side content ranges from fetch quests to some okay and interesting stuff, but what tops it all is the main quest, there is a sense of discovery not only exploring wise, but in a narrative sense as well.

The story is also tied to the sense of progression and leveling up, you start as a prisoner who is sent to work as a spy by the emperor, and there is a mystery you have to unveil, since you are a spy, you have to make a cover identity on your own, and the game tells you to do side content on your own and level up to get better at what you do, and better yet, it is all part of your mission, your cover identity, there is no weird sense of immersion breaking urgency like in Cyberpunk where you are dying and it just feels off when you want to explore, or like in Breath of the Wild where they say Ganon is about to break free and you are collecting dragonflies for a girl and her sister, Morrowind gives you the perfect mood to explore and do your own story and it only gives you the information you need at the final of the quest when things are about to go wild.

Morrowind also features a more natural and realistic depiction of the chosen one narrative, since this time you have to convince people and go through several tests instead of being told you are the one and being believed as such by others as a matter of fact, you have to win it, you have to convince them with actions, mere words don't do, people are very apathetic about the prophecy because naturally they don't believe it and just want to see results from you, people in Morrowind are all about to see to believe, and weirdly enough, even when it reduces the power fantasy factor, it makes the story feel a lot more real.

The lore is amazing and everything you hear about the Disappearance of the Dwarves is just neat, it is the kind of cryptic shit that scrambles my brain, the mystery about the real truth of the death of Nerevar, that weird wizard dude that clones his wives, the cult and the use of the Kagrenac tools by the tribunal and Dagoth Ur, it's just so good, it's all so good.

Also, no quest markers whatsoever. I first felt it was frustrating not knowing where to go, but Morrowind taught me about how rewarding the sense of exploration can be, and the sense of freedom that comes with it, no compass telling you where to go, its all about your own story, you get clues and get to discover things, beautiful things, scary things, unbelievable things.

The gameplay is fantastic too, there are just so many things you can use to achieve your goal, sure, the RNG combat is weird at first, the stamina use when walking is weird too, but the more you level up the more satisfying it becomes to hit more frequently, you can either specialize in long blades, or you can use stealth, the magic system is vast and full of possibilities. I was sad first when I used all my Icarian flight scrolls and I couldn't find any on the game, but then I learned you can do a spell to increase your jump and reduce your weight and boom, I was able to make a bootleg icarian flight spell myself, jumping from mountain to mountain. It is all about those little tricks and things you can do, the abilities, the possibilities that just add to the repeatability, the ability to levitate between cities, using the voice of the emperor to charm others, it is just all so good, so good.

Some of the lore was taken along with for the next games, but, I feel this is the only game for me worth exploring. I do like the nordic inspired landscapes, but I haven't felt the drive to explore them when its approach feels so soulless, and while Oblivion and Skyrim are the definition of what I would call generic fantasy, Morrowind's world is creepy and alien, it is scary and wonderful. The steampunk inspired Dwarf ruins, the construction in Sadrith Mora and the closer islands, the open maze that can be Vivec city, the houses made of stone and the manor district of Aldrun, the skeleton warrior filled castle of Firemoth, the altars in the Sixth House bases, the master index forts, that bonelord between the lava I found in a cave raiding one of my trials, it is all so good, so good!

While Daggerfall aimed at a sense of freedom and size with the procedurally generated world, Morrowind uses the manual approach and gives you locations that are all lovely handcrafted one by one without cramming up so many things in a small space, still giving you a big land to wander around and sight-see, Morrowind is the joy of being lost and discovering a place for the first time, to discover something beautiful or incredible after hours of walking, to find a lost fella and help them along the way for then discover the witch that cursed him was actually in the right, Morrowind is about dying, about fight your way in, Morrowind is about having an adventure, and it is one of my favorite games right now.

Plus Dagoth Ur is a pretty hot monster husbando. His aura is unmatchable.
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Bowsette 2023-02-17T00:51:53Z
2023-02-17T00:51:53Z
5.0
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Playtime: 140 hours in record
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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
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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Catalog

Kapitan_Pazur The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2024-02-27T14:18:52Z
2024-02-27T14:18:52Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
P_D The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2024-02-25T09:58:47Z
2024-02-25T09:58:47Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
JJ155 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2024-02-25T03:13:47Z
2024-02-25T03:13:47Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
CaptainPlasma The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2024-02-24T19:41:17Z
Windows
2024-02-24T19:41:17Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
LOVE_ME_FOREVER_FOREVER The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2024-02-24T15:39:25Z
Windows • XNA
2024-02-24T15:39:25Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Marsaff The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2024-02-22T18:04:52Z
2024-02-22T18:04:52Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
ZachGM The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2024-02-20T23:35:00Z
2024-02-20T23:35:00Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Giann96 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2024-02-20T08:43:59Z
Xbox • XNA
2024-02-20T08:43:59Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
caramellio The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2024-02-18T20:23:45Z
2024-02-18T20:23:45Z
5.0
3
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
hyperhaxorus The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2024-02-18T17:29:49Z
2024-02-18T17:29:49Z
72
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
noyade The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2024-02-18T14:42:27Z
2024-02-18T14:42:27Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
DonMira The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind 2024-02-17T15:23:53Z
2024-02-17T15:23:53Z
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
ESRB: T
Player modes
Single-player
Media
1x CD-ROM
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  • Previous comments (80) Loading...
  • thisisnotmyrealface 2023-10-27 03:33:43.87035+00
    great story, great atmosphere, and one of (if not the best) open world in video games, but its so fucking clunky. I've played 90s games that were less clunky. I've played 80s games that were less clunky.
    reply
    • henryvines 2023-11-20 14:06:48.189467+00
      The true essence of Bethesda
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  • PiccoloZ 2023-11-06 22:07:32.565961+00
    This should be in the top 100 imo, one of the best Roleplaying games, and the best Elder Scrolls game.
    reply
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  • Nalima 2023-11-10 10:59:08.148639+00
    I will never understand what people see in this garbage game. If you get through the ungodly amounts of jank, there's nothing there, literally empty mountains, copy pasted caves and wikipedia dialog.
    reply
    • Previous replies (2) Loading...
    • aminstrel 2024-02-04 04:10:02.878361+00
      it facilitates imagination, which is essential for good roleplaying. much better than the rpgs that have 'meaningful' choices which ultimately just contort their narratives away from good storytelling.
    • babyclav 2024-02-05 22:28:44.984403+00
      saying this while having mass effect at an 8 is crazy
    • caramellio 2024-02-18 20:24:59.137437+00
      the jank is the game my friend. magic is fun bar daggerfall
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  • marten91 2023-12-03 05:57:01.830052+00
    This game has one of the best main villains ever created, on par with Andrew Ryan, The Master from Fallout 1 and few others. And the best thing is, he finally shows up for like last 20 minutes of the game
    reply
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  • mickilennial 2024-01-04 12:10:16.977013+00
    I've just kind of fallen out of love with this one. Played it a ton as a teenager but now I can't bother playing it for an hour or more.
    reply
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  • pankakemarine 2024-01-07 06:41:06.644329+00
    Bro jumped too high and died
    reply
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  • caramellio 2024-02-18 20:25:55.454139+00
    i dont know why i hate loving morrowind and love morrowind at the same time
    reply
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