The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind Review (PC)

The latest chapter for The Elder Scrolls Online has finally arrived and includes one of the most iconic areas in the franchise. The Morrowind update brings ESO players back to Vvardenfell for the first time since The Elder Scrolls III. Things will be slightly different this time around as the events take place 700 years prior to the original game.

Available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind can be purchased as an upgrade for $39.99 or bundled together with One Tamriel for $59.99. Each version also has a ‘Digital Collector’s Edition’ priced at $59.99 and $79.99, respectively. The base Morrowind game unlocks Vvardenfell, the Warden class, battlegrounds and comes with a Warden costume, dwarven war dog, three treasure maps, and a dwarven crown crate. The digital collector’s edition also includes an armored war horse mount, dwarven spider pet, Morag Tong converter style, grey war bear skin, and a bundle of exclusive emotes.

On the outside, it sounds like this new chapter comes loaded with content, but we’ll take a closer look in this Morrowind Review.

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Not an Expansion

ZeniMax has made it explicitly clear that ESO: Morrowind is not an ‘expansion’ but should instead be considered a new chapter. Thematically, this makes sense because ESO is no longer linear after One Tamriel, and Morrowind is no different with its scaling content; anyone can access Vvardenfell, whether they’re level 1 or 50. It’s also a completely different story with a brand new tutorial, which means it’s technically possible to never leave Vvardenfell and still receive a well-rounded gameplay experience.

However, in addition to not feeling like a traditional MMORPG expansion in terms of linear progression, Morrowind is also a bit light on content. In terms of landmass, Vvardenfell is indeed larger than Wrothgar but a significant portion of the area cannot be traversed due to Red Mountain. In terms of interactive content and longevity, the two are about on par.

It’ll take most players around 30 hours to complete all of the new content including main quests, side quests, delves, public dungeons, and the Halls of Fabrication trial. The main quest itself isn’t actually very lengthy and can be cleared in a few play sessions if powered through, but it will take players around the entire island and set them up to explore the remaining side quests. Additionally, there are added lore bonuses for helping out certain NPCs before finishing the main story.

The two new public dungeons: Forgotten Wastes and Nchuleftingth each come with their own quest chain, and new cosmetics can be obtained by grinding through the hordes of cultists and dwemer. The battlegrounds, in theory, provide quick PvP sessions but do have their own set of problems, which I’ll touch on later. Admittedly, I’m not well-equipped enough to tackle the Halls of Fabrication but I have heard relatively good things about it from other players.

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The Good

There are a lot of things that ESO: Morrowind does right. First off, the new tutorial and starting quests are a breath of fresh air. Knowing that I’ll never be forced to visit the drabness of Coldharbour again felt like a relief, and Naryu Virian is much nicer to look at than The Prophet. There are also a few Easter Eggs that TES III fans will immediately recognize at the beginning of the game.

Setting the game 700 years in the past allowed the ZeniMax developers more creative freedom than simply rebuilding the original Morrowind. This struck a nice balance between delivering relevant content while also creating a feeling of nostalgia. Many areas do look quite different and most of Vvardenfell, with the obvious exception of Red Mountain, is full of lush forests and swamp lands, while Vivec City is under construction. There are also Silt Striders, for those of you who want to ride on giant creepy bugs, that provide an additional means of fast travel.

The improved quest quality doesn’t stop with the tutorial, however, and the entire Vivec City quest chain is fairly exciting. To keep things brief, and minimize spoilers, Vivec’s power is weakening and it’s up to the player to find out why. As players progress, they’ll be traveling all over Vvardenfell and meeting with the different powers of the land to discover what is draining his energy. As an added touch, changes take place in Vivec City and the Ministry of Truth (Baar Dau) descends as the Warrior-Poet’s strength declines.

As expected, voice overs remain present in every quest, which definitely improves the overall production value. Despite the relatively small amount of quests, whether it’s saving a Gnisis mine or clearing out Dreugh each one has a feeling of importance to it.

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Finally, the introduction of the Warden was something that The Elder Scrolls Online sorely needed. It was definitely a popular pick among many players during the Morrowind Early Access period as war bears were seen in every corner of Vvardenfell. There are definitely concerns about its viability in end-game content, but it’s a blast to play while solo questing and in dungeons. It’s just unfortunate that there wasn’t a new weapon skill line added to help specialize the Warden even further.

While playing the Warden, it’s quite convenient to have access to damage, tanking, and healing abilities on the same class without having to factor in a weapon. I personally enjoyed running around Vvardenfell with my Feral Guardian while throwing out Cliff Racers and ice shards, and I still had the option to heal myself with Green Balance abilities on my back bar. While I preferred the hybrid route, there are stamina DPS and full tank builds that seem quite popular.

 

The Bad

When compared with expansions for MMOs of a similar scale, such as World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, or Guild Wars 2, there simply isn’t enough content to justify the price. Even though it’s being called a chapter instead of an expansion, the price tag essentially remains the same.

Furthermore, the content that is included doesn’t have significant longevity, with the exception of the Halls of Fabrication. My biggest concern is that Vvardenfell will be abandoned after a few months. There’s simply no reason to stick around after all the quests have been completed.

Initially, Morrowind looks like a true expansion because it includes a little bit of everything, however, once you dive in there’s a feeling that what’s included is a bunch of disjointed DLC put into a neat package. That isn’t to say that the content is bad, but it’s really only worth it if you intend to play everything that’s included. If you only want to explore Vvardenfell and nothing else then it’s going to feel like a $20 piece of DLC with a $40 price tag. Considering what’s included, this could have easily been tied into the ESO Plus membership or purchased in separate parts with crowns.

Morrowind review

There are also some problems with the battlegrounds. The core concept of 4v4v4 PvP sounds interesting but so far it hasn’t been great in practice. Initially, there were lots of queue bugs that prevented many players from even getting into a match. That appeared to be fixed on the last few days of Early Access, but there are still issues with teams not always entering with four players.

Additionally, the only battleground queue option is a Non-Champion grab bag which includes deathmatch, capture the flag, and domination. My hope was that battlegrounds would offer players an alternative leveling path. Sometimes quests and dungeons can feel tedious and jumping into a quick couple of PvP matches can take the edge off.

Unfortunately, lower level players get completely stomped and can be quickly discouraged from playing until they reach max level with some decent gear. Having my attacks barely scratch enemies while I get killed in a single combo isn’t a fun time. This isn’t just an isolated incident, as nearly every battleground I’ve participated in has had one team completely dominate the other two.

On a positive note, battlegrounds do offer gear and alliance point rewards. So there is an alternative to Cyrodiil for players who are skilled and well-equipped.

This last point might be a bit of nitpicking, but there’s definitely an underwhelming amount of Naryu and the Morag Tong in Morrowind. For someone who was the focus of the announcement trailer and was heavily emphasized in the chapter’s promotion, she was only present in the tutorial and one quest chain that lasted about an hour and that just felt a little underwhelming.

 

Overall 7/10

Although the quality of the content present in Morrowind meets expectations, it lacks long-term staying power. Players should look at this new chapter as a bundled piece of DLC rather than an actual expansion; it’s essentially Orsinium with a new class and battlegrounds. It does provide an alternative starting path for new players or those who really want access to the Warden, but most of the content is one and done. Morrowind has a little something for everyone, but it’s hard to justify the price for those who don’t plan on experiencing everything it has to offer.

Pros:

  • Engaging quests
  • Morrowind nostalgia
  • Access to the Warden and battlegrounds

Cons:

  • Lacks longevity
  • Battlegrounds have balance issues
  • Feels more like DLC than an expansion

 

Need a second opinion? Take a look at what our friends at MMORPG.com had to say in their ESO: Morrowind review:

“Zenimax Online’s inaugural Chapter is a fresh start for game that’s already proven itself as one of the genre’s best titles. It didn’t need to get as good as Morrowind, but here we are. Morrowind, along with all the rest of the DLC we’ve received, has made it so that I don’t care to ever see the basic content of ESO again.”

 

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About Nick Shively

Nick is an eSports and RPG enthusiast. He can normally be found in the deepest parts of a dungeon or in the arena slaying opponents. Nick has been a gamer since an early age and involved in the industry since 2011. He obtained a degree in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2015.