Better Late Than Never Reviews: Morrowind and Oblivion.

Introduction -

This is going to be a little different to my prior reviews, I am going to be comparing Morrowind and Oblivion, the third and fourth entries into the Elder Scrolls series respectively, and then making a summary at the end. As this is quite different I'll happily take feedback as to whether this format works. Of course, I will still be doing my usual reviews.

Morrowind and Oblivion


A Comparison

By Liberaliter

Morrowind and Oblivion are made by Bethesda, famed for creating games with sprawling open worlds and a plethora of freedom in the hands of the player. Morrowind was released in 2002 on the PC and Xbox and looked mighty impressive for its time. Oblivion was released in 2006 on the Xbox 360 and PC and on the PS3 in 2007 and still looks good in 2010. Although similar, fans are divided over the two games, many prefering the older Morrowind to Oblivion.

So What's The Premise?

Morrowind -

Morrowind takes place on the large island of Vvardenfell, in the province of Morrowind. It is the home of the Dark Elves, or in their native tongue, the Dunmer. The tale starts as all TES games do - with your character under imprisonment. In Morrowind you are being released to the small swamp town of Seyda Neen, by the Emperor's decree. The main plot line see's you in the center of an ancient prophecy in which you are supposedly the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, destined to defeat the Blight - a disease eminating from Red Mountain. Ok so the chosen one out to save the world routine is cliched, but it is the how the story is carried through the quests which drive you though the game which makes Morrowind such a rewarding experience. The world is detailed and the characters unique and interesting. You may feel overwhelmed ar first by the sheer scale of the world and the lore and backstory thrown at you, but the detail in world's history, its politics and its people are what makes Morrowind so enjoyable. It feels alive and real and you really do feel like a nobody off the boat, thrust into a place you know nothing about.


Oblivion -

Oblivion, following the tradition, starts with your character imprisoned in a dank cell in the Imperial City. This time, with no hopes of escape. That is until the Emperor makes another appearance, although this time far more prominently, which see's him and his guards escaping through your cell. Well it wouldn't be very interesting if it was the Argonian's next door would it? Surprisingly enough, he recognises you from his dreams, and thus starts off the chain events which see's you destined to save Cyrodiil from a great evil. Ok so Oblivion is cliched as well, but this is made worse by the fact that for all the good you do, the hero is always the Emperors illegitimate son who you save early on. The world is not as developed either and I personally found the main story far shorter than Morrowind's. Their is a distinct lack of lore in Oblivion. Morrowind felt rich, deep and rewarding whereas Oblivion does not feel nearly as complex. Some of the characters are far more likeable, but that is maybe down to the voice acting. The narrative is also much more smoother, but it all feels too simple.


So What Is There To Do?

Morrowind -

Of course, TES was never about sticking to a strict linear path. You don't even have to do the main quest and are free to take your characters wherever you want. This open ended gameplay feels vast in Morrowind and although the game world is smaller than in Oblivion, it feels much bigger. This may be down to oblivion's fast travel and a fewer number of towns. Morrowind to has a lot more secondary quests on offer, with plenty of Guilds and Factions to keep anyone busy. In no particular order; The Fighters Guild, The Mages Guild, The Thieves Guild, The Imperial Cult, The Imperial Legion, The East Empire Company, House Hlaalu, House Telvanni, House Redoran, The Morag Tong, The Tribunal Temple, The Aundae Clan, The Berne Clan and the Quarra Clan. Not to mention the Blades and the Ashlanders which you join through the main quest. I count sixteen. Yep, sixteen guilds and factions to join, each with lengthy questlines of their own. That's before I've even mentioned all the side quests strewn throughout the world.


Oblivion -

Oblivion, as mentioned, has far less towns and possibly far less side quests. It also has less factions and guilds. Again, in no particular order; The Fighters Guild, The Mages Guild, The Thieves Guild, The Arena, The Dark Brotherhood and The Knights of the Nine. That is far less then Morrowind but the main difference here is that the quests in Oblivion feel far more fleshed out and better all round. The Guilds are detailed and the quest lines long, even if there are less of them. The lack of towns is also made up for by the improved AI and NPC schedules. They feel alive and the quests are more fun. Oblivion may lack in numbers, but it makes up for it in detail and variety.


But How Do They Play?

Perhaps most importantly is how the games actually play. Morrowind's combat uses die rolls and tradition RPG stats to make the combat drag on at times. You will be swinging a weapon but not necessarily hitting your opponent. Oblivion improves on this and lets you hit every time, but the damage varies. A mage isn't going to be any good with a claymore. Oblivion being a newer game has the advantage in the feel of the gameplay, especially with the inclusion of a brilliant physics system. The combat feels much better and killing an opponent to see him stumble down a steep drop is always fun. Magic is improved as well, if a little scaled back. Now you don't have to ready spells, instead you can cast them right away. The drawback is that there are less spell effects available. But playing a mage seems much more feasible this time round. The little improvements made in Oblivion also make it a step above it predecessor. Things such as the AI, while not perfect, are far better. As is the inclusion of voice acting (whether it grates or not). Morrowind though is a more complex RPG, and at times a lot harder.

In Conclusion -

Both games are very enjoyable, I have spent countless hours in both. Bethesda makes awesome games and I urge you to play both. Morrowind I prefer however, it is much more engaging, even if the modern improvements of Oblivion are very good. In many ways Oblivion scales things back, reduces the complexity and streamlines things, for better or worse. Morrowind is timeless, it may look bad compared to the beautiful Oblivion but unless you are a graphics whore you won't mind. Oblivion has its moments, but if you really want to get sucked into a game and don't mind a steeper learning curve, Morrowind is where it's at.

Well, I agree with quite a lot of the points, but overall I disagree.

I much preffered Oblivion's combat and world, it jsut felt better to me.

So yeah, good review.

Good review but again I pitch the point that I cannot get into morrowind. 6 separate times I have tried but I just find it impossible for me to get into...

Completely agree with you on that one. Morrowind did feel much richer and I enjoyed it more than Oblivion (which was brilliant as well)

Good review but again I pitch the point that I cannot get into morrowind. 6 separate times I have tried but I just find it impossible for me to get into...

Yeah it can be hard going, but once your there it is fairly straightforward. Then again it may not be for you.

Mass Effect gets praised for streamlining for ME2...And Elder Scrolls always gets dissed for streamlining for Oblivion.


I prefer Oblivion simply because the modding community can bring back alot of what made
Morrowind so good with the updated graphics. Not all of it, but enough for me. The best
game would be Morrowind with the newer engine.
I almost forgot...great review!

So, basically, buy the deluxe double pack from Steam? Good review, although I don't think there was enough on gameplay in this review.

So, basically, buy the deluxe double pack from Steam? Good review, although I don't think there was enough on gameplay in this review.


Mistakes were made.


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