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The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind Review - A journey worth taking

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I have always been a huge fan of The Elder Scrolls Online and it has been refreshing to experience the game going through its various transitions over the past two years. The game was a paid subscription title which then released as a free to play game with a once off purchase of the game itself. DLC has released, and various changes have been made to its core, like getting rid of the level system and Alliance boundaries. This turn made ESO a wonderful game that everyone can enjoy with whoever they wish. No level restriction to keep you from discovering new lands and the departure from only playing with your Alliance brought so many players together. 

With all that said and done, the game was in dire need of a large chunk of content and Bethesda delivered in more ways than one. Enter the first large expansion pack The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind. With it, I was able to go back to the days of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and experience a whole new island with new quests, characters and even a brand new class known as Warden. Although this expansion is set 700 before the events of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, its sights and sounds were as close as we would ever get to replaying the third Scrolls game on a current engine. 

Off to Vvardenfell we go!

In a nutshell, the main story took me through the island of Vvradenfell and beyond as I tried to restore the balance and help Vivec, who is the Guardian of Vvardenfell. Vivec City is still under construction at the time of this expansion, which was nice to see and experience as I walked through the streets of the city we all know as the hub or Vvradenfell in TES III. Who would have thought that Bethesda could have improved on the already-expansive world of Tamriel and build an island with so much character and beauty? Morrowind is gorgeous from the start as you enter the Island's dock after being arrested and imprisoned by a gang of pirates. 

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As I have already invested hundreds of hours into the game I both played with my main Dark Elf character and created a new Nord with the Warden class to test out his abilities. The Warden is a nature-based class that is one of the most diverse I have ever played with. His three skills trees let you focus on healing, tank, and even AoE damage. He can adapt to any playstyle and fill any role. I was pleasantly surprised at how diverse he was compared to the other classes and no matter how hard I tried I was unable to margin him into a role or playstyle without feeling that he could also do other things at the same time. 

The Warden uses nature as his source of power with animals being his damage, plants his healing effects, and frost his buffs and defence boosts. Frost Cloak, for example, gives you and your allies a temporary buff to defence and Enchanted Growth increases your Magicka and Stamina regeneration. Of course, the Warden's most iconic ability is his power to summon a wild bear at his side. While this was awesome at first, I cannot help but feel that it still needs some sort of work, as it felt weak and underwhelming. Sure, having a bear by your side looks cool, but its overall health and damage were just not enough to make it stand out as much as I hoped. 

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Vvardenfell in itself is a marvel and one of the expansion's crowning achievements. The iconic Red Mountain sticks out no matter where you stand as lava runs down its side and its top spits smoke. The oversized mushrooms create shade in the lush landscape, and the enemies are all brought to life in the dense ecosystem that has been created by merging all these visually captivating assets together. Never fear, however, as the Cliff Racers do not soar through the air spamming you and making you feel weak and miserable like in TES III: Morrowind. It is the new and fresh creatures and how they belong in their environment that makes the experience stand out amongst other MMOs.

Talking about other MMOs, what ESO does well now is not limit you to any specific location due to your level. Most MMOs require a great amount of grinding when something like DLC or expansion releases, in order to make sure you are the required level to take up the challenge. ESO's One Tamriel system meant that I was able to do anything I wanted with friends who just bought the game for the first time too. 

A story for the ages

Morrowind's overall narrative is as good as you would come to expect in an MMO of its scale, but it tries very hard to make sure you remember some of the moments throughout the 25-hour journey. The quality of its quests was on the same level as the main game, and although you kind of start getting bored of the same long chained quest lines which lead to some rather boring loot, the story does take you to some great places with some memorable characters. I loved a good portion of the main game's narrative, so I could appreciate the amount of effort that went into the expansion's diverse story line.

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The last major attraction to the Morrowind expansion is the new 4V4V4 player arena mode called Battlegrounds (not to be confused with a very popular game with a similar name).Three teams of four players are placed in an arena and have to fight each other to the death in team deathmatch, capture the flag, and domination-like game modes. This battle mode was fun to play and if you ask me, was a step ahead from the game's main PvP mode set in Cyrodiil. 

That is to say that the mode does have its issues. Balancing problems come into play when you enter a match, as Champion Points, which are obtained after you hit the level cap, are not effective. It all boils down to your armour and what you are packing in your hands. It also matters that player skill it not tracked and taken into account during matchmaking. This means that a max levelled champion who has had hundreds of hours with his character, will be matchmaked against noob players and will not have to bat and eyelid to try to kill them. Still, it is a load of fun to play, as the modes are fresh and come across as a casual play date. 

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Morrowind, in the end, achieves something great with its fantastic island packed with hidden secrets and quests, and its great story is easy to digest. It is a great improvement over the bite-sized DLC packs we have had over the years and its Tamriel One support makes it something everyone can try without worrying about progress at all. It is an excellent place to start your Elder Scrolls Online journey and a great place to continue it from too.

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"Morrowind's overall narrative is as good as you would come to expect in an MMO of its scale"

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