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The Elder Scrolls Online has had a rocky time catching on since its original release. Thanks to the introduction of universal level scaling in a somewhat recent patch, the game has finally been in a good spot for a resurgence. I played The Elder Scrolls Online quite a bit when it originally released, but haven’t returned to it since. Fans were especially excited when Morrowind was announced, as the original game of the same name is pretty popular among the fandom. I don’t hold a lot of nostalgia for Morrowind, the original Elder Scrolls game this DLC is based on, but have always admired the game’s aesthetic. Does ESO do justice to Morrowind and repurpose it for its MMO form?
The majority of the Morrowind expansion takes place on its own land mass, Vvardenfell. Although The Elder Scrolls Online is pretty inventive artistically, Morrowind dials it up quite a bit. The land has an identity of its own, with large mushrooms sprouting out of cliff sides and a great use of color in nearly everything. Vvardenfell feels fun to explore, and its lush environments give you a constant feeling of other worldliness, despite the fact you’re playing a fantasy MMORPG.
Since Morrowind is so well contained, it’s a great excuse to start a fresh character and try out the new Warden class. I didn’t spend too much time with the bear companied off-tank, as I’m pretty invested in my main character and didn’t want to miss out on all that experience. However, if you’re interested in trying out the Warden, I can assure you it’s a worthwhile endeavor. Wardens are pretty diverse in their ability to deal out damage while taking damage and staying alive. Most notably, they’re beast masters, calling in a grizzly bear for their ultimate ability.
Unfortunately, the grizzly bear AI isn’t the best, so the effectiveness of said companion is usually luck based. Considering my main character was a werewolf that could spawn additional wolf companions, it was still the better option of the two. Warden abilities might prove useful for those into public dungeons and raids, providing significant damage over time. Generally speaking, it’s a fun and inventive class, but not one that you need to abandon your favored character for.
Oh, the Things You’ll See and Do
Morrowind has plenty of sights and spectacles to take in, mainly in the form of unique and entertaining quests. The Elder Scrolls Online has always been quest heavy, and Morrowind is no exception. Thankfully, the writing in both the main quest line and various side quests is superb. I don’t want to spoil too much about the main quest line, but it revolves around assisting the powerful leader Lord Vivec. Throughout the main narrative you’ll meet characters both new and familiar, all voiced very well and written even better. New characters get plenty of time to shine, but fans of both the original Morrowind game and Skyrim will be happy to see familiar faces.
While the main quest line is entertaining and the narrative interesting, some of my favorite content in Morrowind was side content. Vvardenfell is a weird looking place, and it’s home to some weird stories as well. Some of these side quests saw me delving into purple misted caves and uncovering mysterious experiments. I met a rogue band of assassins in a particularly cool quest, and even figured out some visual puzzles to freshen up the constant action. Not only is there a lot of stuff to see and do in Morrowind, but it’s varied and entertaining.
Bloody, Bloody, Battleground
Another major added by the Morrowind expansion is Battleground, a new location for player versus player combat. For the considerable amount of time I spent playing The Elder Scrolls Online before this expansion, I can assure you very little of it was PvP. The previous giant warscape of Cyrodiil was often uninteresting or way too hectic for satisfying combat. While that still exists, I prefer the newer Battleground, which plays like a more conventional multiplayer mode.
You can join queue for Battleground at any time by using the “activity finder” feature, or speak to specific characters around Vvardenfell. When you enter a game, you’ll play one of three modes: Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, or Domination. There’s nothing too fancy about the rules, and matches are quick and over in around 20 minutes. Team Deathmatch was my favorite of the bunch, providing some solid fast paced action. Unfortunately, it was where the unbalanced matchmaking was most apparent.
The Elder Scrolls Online may have universally balanced their questing system to allow low level players to play with high level players, but that doesn’t make levels meaningless. When comparing a Champion Level 90 character like mine to a Champion Level 400 character, the differences are immediate. For whatever reason, the Battleground matchmaking kept matching me up with incredibly high level players. This meant I would get killed easily and do little damage, but the quick action of all it was still entertaining. Hopefully they iron out some of the matchmaking problems in a future patch.
The Bottom Line on The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind Expansion
I won’t lie, when The Elder Scrolls Online first launched, it wasn’t that great. Updates to the game since then have yielded an enjoyable foundation for the MMO, and Morrowind executed on that. Full of well written stories told through fun and entertaining quest lines, Morrowind feels fresh and unique. If you didn’t like The Elder Scrolls Online before, it won’t win you over, but those who enjoy the quest heavy gameplay loop will find a lot to love in Morrowind. The new Warden class is fun to try and useful if fleshed out, but you won’t miss much if you skip over it. Likewise, the new Battleground modes are entertaining but need some fine tuning.
However, Morrowind has a bit of everything in it, from great public dungeons and instances to challenging world bosses. Some of my fondest memories of Morrowind will undoubtedly be impromptu fights with several world bosses, as random players converged on their spawn locations. There’s something plainly fun about Morrowind that I didn’t feel my first time through The Elder Scrolls Online. Perhaps it’s the attention to character and narrative or maybe the trippy and colorful art direction deserves the credit. For whatever reason, The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind is a great expansion and a worthy reason to hop back on. There’s well over 40 hours of new content to explore with this expansion, so expect to sink quite a bit of time into it. With plenty of content to justify the price, I fully recommend you pick it up.