Good Games That Are Good: Morrowind

I’m not sure where to even begin talking about Morrowind.  To call it my favorite game of all time (tied with Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri) seems like a disservice.  It is, somehow, more than that.

morrowind-artRed Mountain by Lelek1980

The world of Morrowind doesn’t like you. Its creatures don’t like you, and its native inhabitants – the dunmer, or dark elves – also don’t like you. The emperor has a special feeling about you and has dumped you off here in the dreary marshes of Seyda Neen, and has let you loose there. He suggests you maybe go talk to a guy in a nearby town.

But that’s it. That’s all you’re told. There are quests, if you choose to do them. There’s even a main storyline you can beat. But that’s not the meat of the game, because the meat of the game is that the land of Vvardenfell is a living, breathing world, replete with competing religions, factions, cultures, and histories.

dwemer_spell_by_davinarfel-d5typhl
Also Mesopotamian engineer elves who uploaded their soul into a giant robot. Canon lore btw. Art by Lelek1980 again.

Morrowind feels alive in a way that’s difficult to describe.  I can talk all day about how the lore is really deep and meaningful and inspired by Hindu mythology and this and that but ultimately no words I can say could begin to do it justice.

And that’s fine, because the only way to experience Morrowind is to play it alongside your character.  Just like your character, you have no idea why you’re here.  Just like your character, you’d rather not be here.  Just like your character, you don’t care for anyone here because they certainly don’t care for you.

But then, slowly, as the mysteries of Morrowind unravel, the place and its people start to grow on you and your character both.  And then by the end of the game when you have the chance to save them, you feel it.

That’s what makes Morrowind so special.

(also you can break the game by way of alchemy and enchanting, but that’s a whole ‘nother article.)