The Elder Scrolls

Morrowind on the Xbox Series X – replaying after nearly 20 years

So nearly 20 years after I first played Morrowind, I finally got hold of an Xbox Series X and have downloaded and started playing Morrowind again.

I am sure that for many of us here, Morrowind remains That Game: nothing has ever come close to the amazing, almost life-changing experience it represented. I know that sounds hyperbolic, but it really was a momentous experience. Anyway, here are my observations replaying in the year 2021:

  1. Yes, it's amazing. Your memories don't deceive you. Even with scuzzier-looking graphics the sensation is still there. A vast, strange, hostile world, too big to ever fully explore. Exotic, mysterious, haunting. As excited as I am for ES:VI, I anticipate that it still won't surpass Morrowind for that sheer sensation.

  2. Graphically it's not as bad as you may fear. I'm playing on a 55" LG OLED, and while the text frankly looks awful, it's really blurry, the graphics are impressive by comparison. When you step out of the boat and into daylight, the sharp contrast of light looks really great. The changing colour of the sky is amazing, still so beautiful. Reflections on the water are also surprisingly impressive/realistic.

  3. Moving about is super fluid. Just fabulous, smooth, fluid, fast movement. I haven't got the Boots/levitate yet, but I anticipate that flying is going to be as awesome as it was the first time around.

  4. It's snappy, interface-wise. The simplicity of menus and text dialogue make it feel very responsive and non-laggy. I can't quite remember how it felt on the original Xbox, but I suspect my saves and loads took longer. The interface does feel quite "retro" but honestly, I quite like that. I don't really need fancy 3D animated skill trees in a game. They add nothing to gameplay.

  5. It's hard. Remember that?! It's really, really damn hard. Kwama foragers – WTF? I'm so glad I picked The Steed as my sign so I can outrun them. I have cheated a bit and zipped to Suran to grab a White Woe sword. I honestly don't know how I made it through the first time, and there were far fewer guides back then. And remember how slow the internet was? Many/most people still had dial-up. There was no YouTube. No playthrough videos.

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All in all it's interesting how much I remember and how much I have forgotten. Balmora is very familiar. Pelagiad is literally wiped from my memory.

My final thought is that it is a tragedy that this game hasn't been recreated and remastered for HD. I hope that one day it will be. I fear future generations will find it too "old-fashioned" looking to bother with, and miss out on the phenomenal experience that so many of us here were privileged to enjoy back in the day.


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