When you think of the most well-known game series of all time, it’s hard not to have The Elder Scrolls near the top of your list. And for good reason! The series is beloved for its unique gameplay, wonderful characters, and expansive story. Let’s take a look at The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, one of the most important titles of this classic RPG franchise.

Many people instantly turn to Skyrim when talking about The Elder Scrolls. But diehard fans of the series know that it was built on the backs of four other games in the series. Now, one of those games is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind turns 20 this month. To help celebrate the occasion, we wanted to take a trip down memory lane to revisit the iconic game and series from Bethesda.

The series has a long, storied history going back to 1994 and the release of the first game: The Elder Scrolls: Arena. Julian Le Fay, Ted Peterson, and Vijay Lakshman helped bring the series to life and were clearly inspired by pen-and-paper RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons.

The original was followed by The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall. But it was the third main game, Morrowind, that really put the series on the map. And what a large map it was! 

So if you are ready to take up arms, raise your armor skills, and explore the expansive area of Vvardenfell, keep on reading as we look back at Morrowind 20 years later.

When did Morrowind come out?

As we mentioned, Morrowind is celebrating its 20th anniversary. It was first released on May 1, 2002, for both the Xbox and PC. It was the first game in the series to focus less on a main, centralized story. Instead, players were encouraged to explore a large open world and side quests.

A combination of high fantasy, Dungeons & Dragons, and steampunk helped make the game a huge success. It sold over 4 million copies, won Game of the Year awards, and is still considered one of the best games of all time. That’s quite the list of accolades!

The project lead and designer for Morrowind is a name many of you will be familiar with – Todd Howard. Todd had previously worked on various projects at Bethesda, including The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard, but Morrowind really helped establish him as a designer and project lead.

He would go on to play an integral role in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion before moving over to another beloved and iconic series, Fallout, where he served as game director and executive producer for Fallout 3.

That’s a quick look at Morrowind’s background. Now, let’s explore what made the game such a hit and why you should play Morrowind in 2022.

Why you should play Morrowind in 2022

If you are a veteran of the series or a newcomer, Morrowind holds up extremely well to this day and is well worth diving into.

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is the third main game in the Elder Scrolls series. The first and second games, Arena and Daggerfall, helped introduce players to the world of Tamriel, but Morrowind was Bethesda’s breakout success with the series and helped it become a household name.

And why is this? Well, there are lots of reasons! Morrowind was the first game in the series to really open up the world of Tamriel. Where previous games were very focused on the story, Morrowind encouraged players to get lost in a living, breathing world where adventure always seemed to wait right around the corner.

At the time, it was something many players weren’t used to seeing in video games, so it made exploring Vvardenfell an adventure. The main story, of course, was great! But it was the sidequests and world that kept players coming back. When Morrowind was released, the term “open-world” wasn’t nearly as popular. Instead, it was often referred to as a “free-form experience.”

Morrowind’s skill system and player choice

The skill system in Morrowind was also extremely rewarding. Players would improve their skills by using them, adding to the almost-addictive nature of the gameplay. That means that if you wanted your character to be great with a sword, you’d need to fight loads of enemies. To level up your armor skills, you would need to get hit by enemies a lot.

To reward exploration, players could also level up skills by finding NPC trainers that would level up their skills in exchange for gold. And, finally, players could find skill books scattered throughout the massive world that would also level up skills.

Player choice also helped keep players coming back to Elder Scrolls: Morrowind. While it might not seem as robust as some of the player choices in games like Fallout: New Vegas and even Morrowind successors like Skyrim, the player’s choice was important in Morrowind.

Player choice didn’t come directly through dialogue options in Morrowind. Instead, interaction and their outcomes would be based on the player’s reputation or personality. Also, some missions were more open-ended and gave players more options for how to tackle a quest.

Elder Scrolls: Morrowind is full of interesting game mechanics, memorable characters, stories to discover, and a huge map to explore.

Mods help expand Elder Scrolls even further

We can’t look back at Morrowind without at least mentioning the modding scene in the game. Mods have become more like a feature in Elder Scrolls games and it definitely holds true for Morrowind.

The modding community in Morrowind is still strong today. Nexus Mods is home to hundreds of mods that let players tweak the game to their liking. There are mods to improve the graphics, mods that expand on dungeons, and even mods that completely reenvision Vvardenfell.

While we’re on the subject of mods, we can’t forget one of the ultimate Elder Scrolls mods – Daggerfall Unity. This is a huge fan-made project for Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall and looks to update the graphics of the original while also featuring bugs from the original.

If you can’t get enough of Elder Scrolls and want to explore Daggerfall with a fresh coat of paint, this is definitely something to look for.

How to play Morrowind in 2022

Fans of The Elder Scrolls, RPGs, and open-world games will all find something to love about Morrowind. The game provides hours and hours of entertainment. And it will scratch the itch as we all wait for more news about The Elder Scrolls 6.

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind GOTY Edition is available directly from GOG. With this version, you get the base game, plus you get the two expansions, Bloodmoon and Tribunal.

As an added bonus, Morrowind GOTY Edition on GOG also comes with The Elder Scrolls: Arena and The Elder Scrolls Chapter II: Daggerfall, completely free of charge!

If you have a powerful need for even more Elder Scrolls goodness, don’t forget to check out the spin-offs. Both The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard and An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire were released a few years before Morrowind.

Finally, if you need even more classic Elder Scrolls to sink your teeth into, we also have Morrowind’s successor, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – Game of the Year Edition Deluxe edition. That includes all of the expansions, plus a little tidbit of history – one of the first mainstream microtransactions.

Want to discover more outstanding RPGs? Check our Ultima, jRPG, and The Witcher articles!