The Elder Scrolls

Arktwend; a praise to mod, a warning to future players and a review.

I've recently finished Arktwend main quest, with overhaul mod. There are still some side quests I haven't done and locations I haven't visited yet so I might try those later. Overall, its been really enjoyable, mixed with frustrating towards the end. I think it highlights some of the best things modded Morrowind can do (even back in 2006), bundled with very bad gameplay and balance choices. This became a bit longer than I expected but considering some lack of information around the mod in english, I tried my best to address the good and the bad stuff.

The Good

Good world building. Despite the lack of many lorebooks like Morrowind has and being more close to a classic fantasy setting, overall it was coherent that it didn't felt like someones mishmash of ideas. Loved the steamtrain as fast travel btw.

The environments. This is probably the best part of the game. The environments are top notch. Mountain areas are mountainous, forests are forests and not bunch trees sprinkled on a field. Stormwend is very well designed and other towns are really good with their own atmosphere to them. Some very good set pieces in dungeons too that made me wish there was more of those.

My immersion is off the charts. There is good use of other mod functions here to make that happen. Animated NPC's, graphic herbalism, some basic crafting, glow after dark, streets become empty at dark… You can even buy a shop and have customers to sell your items (Which is not that useful since shops easily have thousands of gold available but its the thought that counts). It gives the living world feeling very well.

The Bad

Enemies… Just why are there so many of them. Not only they are bullet sponges, there are too many of them. Not Sotha Sil Expanded "you can and should just run past them" too many (no offense Trainwiz), but "there are too many that they clog the corridor. Oh and you have a companion so you can't run past them" too many. In some areas, its understandable, like a group of monsters inside their cave or when you are fighting against an army. But overall, it makes Morrowind combat even less enjoyable. (although it makes Destruction more viable due to its AoE effects, but you'll still need some potion abuse to get the best out of it)

Dungeons are too long with little to no reward in them. I did found some artifacts around, some of which helped till the end, but most of the time my reward for entering a nonquest dungeon was either a dead end or an exit to someplace I already have access to. This is why I haven't explored everything and just rushed the mainquest.

The Ugly

Game is linear. Not just dungeons, story puts you on a railroad and going from x to y is usually made on the same path. Scenery makes it fine walk on them multiple times, but it becomes a chore after a while if you don't boost your speed. Game opens up a bit towards middle, but some quests needs you to go through city gates and using recall to jump back to Stormwend can skip it and put you on an aimless wander.

The mod is not complete. It becomes obvious when you find an empty house or reach a place with nothing to do. There is also copy-paste of some interiors from Morrowind (I get it, its hard to do them. But do you really have to copy same tavern layout or mages guild halls with same NPC's in them?) I want to believe this and many linear dungeon halls were temporary fixes and wouldn't be in if it was completed. This also makes few things feel irrelevant or lackluster. Like one quest you find a special object and its plot relevance is never addressed, or some guild questlines end too fast.

Translation isn't perfect. It isn't as bad as Myar Aranath (I don't think I can even finish that) and only in some places it became vague to understand what was going on. Also sometimes Morrowind names rear its head, with spells, books or items.

Doesn't do much to fix some Morrowind issues. You still need to abuse training, alchemy and/or enchanting to not get frustrated with gameplay, or just dump the difficulty. Longblades are still the best choice, not only endgame weapon is a longblade but you can also find good longblades earlier than other good weapons. At least Bound Weapon are viable choice with magicka regen every race have and each race have a good +20 bonus to one weapon skill so you don't suffer as much misses early on when making a character based on that. Also lots of healing potions make restoration less mandatory and lots of 100 level locks make security a useless skill. And I dared not to open everything to look around after stumbling into a place I shouldn't be there yet.

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I didn't get to use any of the runes the game adds because I had Atronach birthsign and just absorbed the effect (My min-maxing backfired on me!) Also chalks are interesting to leave a mark/note, but you can do that with mini map already.

Story twists were meh. first one was ok, second one came out of nowhere, third one at the end felt weird.

Should you play it?

If you can deal with(or exploit) vanilla Morrowind mechanics then yes, even if its just once to see whats this mod is about. If you can't deal with endless hordes of enemies on very long dungeons, then don't. Most mods probably won't work with it, but MGE works and MWSE exclusive mods might work and be a quickfix to some problems (something like multimark mod can probably solve some dungeon frustration by splitting it into segments)

For the next part, I'm going to give general review of the game based on "acts" to give my opinion on different parts. Even if the late parts are where the problems become obvious, early parts are good enough that makes it worth a play. If you want to play it fully, don't read it to avoid spoilers. If you don't care at all or want to know what happened here since you played Nehrim/Enderal

  • prologue, the best start for TES game 5/5

The starting area, even if we spend very little time on there is very well made and it makes you want to play the mod. Even if the story here is a bit cliche (I think its almost same hook as Baldur's Gate) events happen quickly and it made me go "oh shit" multiple times. Not much to say here other than follow the main story.

  • act 1, to the civilization 4/5

There isn't much to do here other than running east, towards the civilization and fight your way through the forsaken lands. Despite the linearity and "enemy groups on the road" problem, the tension of the situation you are in keeps you moving forward. You probably suck without any gear, so let the companion kill monsters, he is more than capable. Once you reach the hamlet, things get a bit easy with access to shops.

  • act 2, entering Stormwend 4/5

Finally you can do some side quests and explore the area a bit. Monastery quests aren't mandatory but gives a good sword for a very easy task. Its also a good idea to save in different slots before going out because wrong turns can take you to place you shouldn't go (happened). You can probably go east beyond Stormwend, go another city to get some good gear/training. Even moving towards the city becomes a quest in itself as border is closed. The "boss" of this section are the knights you fight in the tournament. I managed to cheese them by using spear's reach and obstacles in the arena.

  • act 3, time to explore 5/5

With Stormwend open to you, so does the game open up. With access to many shops and services, you can finally have the character build you want to have. Shops have a lot of stuff and they are renewed so alchemy is easy and you can buy lots of potions or arrows. Main quest follows on the thieves guild (strange design choice, because dialogue indicated you should join the city watch) but you mostly do sidequests for different factions, explore rest of the world, perhaps go into the sewers and come out to surface in someplace different, join a guild and do their quests, basically do whatever you want before saying "time to continue the main quest". One long quest here is Tommy the dwarf adventurer's quest, which takes you back to start and further in towards the undead infested area. IMO, this is the part when the number of enemies becomes ridiculous, and that has a companion with you doing the killing. If you have a hard time here, you will have hard time moving forward. I started some potion abuse after that and moved onto using bound spear/longbow exclusively because enchanted spears weren't that good in shops. I might have invested in longblade or axe here because some good items became available after some quests. I also moved deep in a dimension filled with golden saints which was a good money source with their ebony/glass/daedric loot and found a very funny mushroom cave. Moving into the mainquest, it involves thieves guild and their activity around baron of other town and dark crystals.

  • act 4, Dwarves 3/5
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a.k.a. if you don't like the mod so far, better stop here

After witnessing some flashy events in the city, we got a quest from Kaiser, the city's evil ruler, to go to the dwarves and learn about these dark crystals. Reaching there is easy since you can take the steam train from next town. Dwarf king has a very simple quest for us, find his missing son. Easier said than done, since to do this, you need to circle around a giant mountain (much longer than climbing High Hrothgar), enter into some old mines, go deep, go to deep and kill a demon king to save the son. You also get some dark crystals for Kaiser, but using recall back to Stormwend would break things (and leaving the son down there is a dick move) so we need to get out. So you use a zeppelin, crash the zeppelin on a mountain, hike down from the mountain and go all the way back to dwarves. This is one very VERY long path to take, willed with many masses of enemies. However, some places down there are very cool to see like the zeppelin or the general descent into the old mines as you fall deeper and deeper. If you can deal with this whole ordeal, you can deal with the endgame (fortify str and speed potions may become mandatory for this point)

  • act 5, Kaiser 4/5

With dark crystals, we can turn back to the city. Surprise to no one, Kaiser betrays you and sends you to prison. After the prison escape, we get a little reveal that feels like it came out of nowhere but expected for this type of story. You finally get the quest to defeat the second big bad evil guy (which is funny since you can do it almost immediately after he captures you, and kill him when he is suppose to be empowered). Then you get a cool, op sword, even cooler housing on a tower and portal door access to many areas you have visited (or skipped) so far (which is accessible much early on if you can open some 100 level lock). With the cool sword, you go to a place where its importance is written on some Nehrim wiki entry (this is where the missing lore pieces makes story weird to follow) and get the quest to beat the biggest bad evil guy. with portal doors, its also a good time to explore if you want to. This feel more like a suitable ending to the game considering some developments. Rest feels like tackled later and lack some polish.

  • act 6, South Desert 2/5

Think of this act like act 4, Its nice to look at things built around this region, but most of the place is sand and endless amount of enemies. At least this time a city is placed where you can return few times before going too deep into the enemy area. So you go south past the old forest to get to to a ship to get to a pirate island to get to a ship to get to desert city. Its done pretty quickly. When you reach the desert, 3 old allies join you as companions + you get some men to fight alongside you. With these men, you can go south and kill the guy sultan wants you to kill. Then be a smartie and go west and clear the are of enemies. after that go east and fight the endless hordes of undead/demons with backup. Sultan doesn't need to know his men did trice the work they were signed up for. Anyway, after going all the way there to kill the BBEG, turns out he isn't there and we get the second twist that came out of nowhere and isn't even addressed later on. Anyway, we also get some cool time travel/flashback kind of explanation to what was going on in the land. Its a bit late to tell all these stuff but some of it was mentioned in previous dialogues. after that whole trip we get one final chance to do whatever we want (restock on potions, skill train level) on the land before getting teleported for final battle.

  • act 7, the end finally 2/5

So we get teleported back to the desert. Thankfully you listened to my advice and cleared the west area (And totaly not done it because you thought thats where you need to go before and killed everyone with a party of 8), reach to the temple and face the OMFG WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS AMOUNT OF ENEMIES I wish I had taken a screenshot to share it because it just shows everything wrong with the mod in one single frame. Anyway, after killing them, get teleported to another dimension for final battle. kill him, get a really unnecessary twist, fight the second stage and win the game. Honestly, that horde of enemies was a tougher fight than final boss, tho I didn't used alchemy to make my magicka and wisdom absurdly high and just blast them all with spells. Anyway, after its done you teleport back to Stormwend and get a choice to finish the game(fade to black and die for main menu) or continue playing (they leave with some cryptic messages) If you continue, you get to use daedric armor from final boss, and I've read somewhere an optional area is even harder than the ending so there is that to do if you want to.

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What is the story:

Background: A boy becomes orphan and study under a mage. he opens a book, unleashed dark powers or Arkt and becomes witch king and starts doing evil he razes Storm, the old capital, but angel/god Wend's forces arrive to stop him. They succeed and rename the country ArktWend to remember this battle of good vs evil Weakened after defeat, humans manage to seal Arkt away in another dimension. However Arkt manages to split its power in dark crystals and his servant manages to spread them around Around twenty years ago Stormwend's king gets killed by Kaiser to seize power, one of the kid gets raised in a monastery and the other one is considered dead Dwarves dig too deep and find the cavern where dark crystals come from, but Demon King kills them and turns them into zombie-demon things

Game: You come of age in the monastery, get a special ring and dark forces try to hunt you. You try to evade them with help, but they manage to capture you and ship you to a prison You somehow escape the ship as it was burning, reach to Stormwend and make a name of yourself as a knight. After stopping Masterthief and Baron's attempt to harness dark crystal's power, Kaiser notices you and sends you on your quest to dwarves, to get more dark crystals. after returning with the crytals, Kaiser finally puts you into the prison. however, Calisto, a rouge mage who helped you before helps you escape. He also reveals he used to be kings councilor and you are the legitimate heir to the throne. You kill the Kaiser, become king and get the special sword that belongs to your ancestor, indicating your claim on the throne. You then go to Tyrat where god Tyr used to rule and unite the realm to fight against Arkt. You go to Enderal (not the Skyrim mod continet) to kill the Arkt, only to get revealed he hasn't returned but still prisoned in another dimension. Also your brother is head cultist or something so he have right to rule as well or something like that You enter a portal in Arkt's temple and finally beat him. He then possesses Calisto and reveals gods are the real bad guys and he wanted to stop them. or something like that, translation is weird. anyway you defeat him again as you return to normal world, envoys of god Tyr appear, saying your test is finished and you should go with them. Without Arkt's influence Wend transforms the kingdom, its fate sealed thanks to your actions and Nehrim is the next stop (forshadowing to the next game)

Edit: some fixes

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