The Elder Scrolls

A Morrowind fan recommendation: Kingdom Come Deliverance

I recently set up a modern gaming PC after years because I was interested in a few games that came out recently which my old PC failed to play (or play well) (Outer Wilds, Half-Life: Alyx, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, even Disco Elysium). And I have to say, I'm particularly impressed by Kingdom Come from the perspective of finally having a game which gives a similar (not the same) impression as Morrowind. Actually, I'm surprised it hasn't been mentioned much on this subreddit.

Beyond obvious comparisons like it being first-person and "medieval", the biggest similarity is its emphasis on the world feeling real and tangible, rather than the gameplay always being fun.

The quests are oriented similarly to Morrowind's, where some person in the world tells you "go do X", and you find yourself where to go and how to accomplish it, and in the process learn something interesting about the world.

Your stats and progression are tied to the things you do, and therefore the role you play in the world. In this sense, the game goes even further than Morrowind. My first attempt ended up being very good at hunting in the woods, developed survival skills to the point I could eat raw meat, and just lived out there. Whenever he returned to town, everyone hated him because of how smelly and dirty his clothes were. A second attempt I focused on melee combat, and mostly stayed in towns unless otherwise needed. He was clean, strong, entered tournaments. Currently I'm a thief who's been banished from a lot of places because he got caught stealing too many times, but learnt to read and now specialises in stealing books to read.

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The world obviously isn't a super-imaginative high fantasy setting, but instead an earnest and pain-staking attempt to make an accurate representation of medieval Europe. In both games there is full commitment to making the world immersive and tangible, and creating worlds that exist with or without you. The feeling of actually walking through history more than makes up for the loss of fantastical elements, imo. It's a strange feeling which I think you can only get in video games, and which I've never had before: the feeling that this is how it really was (even if it wasn't quite how it really was).

The game also loses the "be anyone" quality of Morrowind – in Kingdom Come you are always Henry of Skalitz. It clearly does this for main story reasons, but I find it doesn't much impact the roleplaying decisions you make. After the initial tutorial, you are still free to wonder off and do/be whoever you want.

The combat has had a mixed reception, but I think it's much more involved, frantic, and interesting than Skyrim's take on a refined first person melee combat. Similar to Morrowind, you really feel the progression of your character as they get stronger and better.

A broader thing I've been thinking about is this game's relationship to Morrowind in the same way Disco Elysium is like Planescape: Torment.

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Planescape: Torment had a "spiritual successor" developed by the same creators of the original game, Torment: Tides of Numenera. It tried very hard to recreate the feeling of Planescape: Torment and in the end created something which ticked all the boxes of a "planescape" follow-up but ended up quite hollow. It was exactly what it set out to be, a refinement of what was already done, but didn't go any further. Juxtapose it to Disco Elysium, which took Planescape: Torment as a major inspiration but added totally new game mechanics, a totally new (and interesting) setting, with a completely different tone, and you'll see that Disco Elysium is the true successor to Planescape: Torment. It is more than just a follow up to P:T; it's the Planescape: Torment of its generation, 20 years after the initial release.

To me Kingdom Come inhabits a similar place with Morrowind, although there are obvious differences. If Skyrim ended up being reductive, removing what seemed like it didn't work to streamline the game while "ticking the boxes" of an Elder Scrolls game, then Kingdom Come is additive. It looks at what is enjoyable in a game like Morrowind and builds upon it. Part of why Kingdom Come has been quite divisive (other than the initial bugs), is its complete commitment to its setting and gameplay mechanics. It's not always fun in terms of gameplay, but it IS always presenting an immersive world and RPG experience, and everything from the mechanics to visual presentation are designed to accomplish this.

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So, if you like Morrowind and are in any way interested in medieval history, I would highly recommend Kingdom Come: Deliverance. It's the closest the industry has ever come to an actual Morrowind successor.

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