I must be honest, Morrowind was one of the first games I played on PC (I only played on consoles before) and nostalgia may be blinding me. However, even after playing dozens of hours in Oblivion and Skyrim, Morrowind still remains as my favourite Elder Scrolls game.
Morrowind was released in March 2002 and was well received by the gaming community.
Graphics and environment
Skyrim is a newer game by many years. Because of this, the graphics must be better? Right?
To an extent, this is true. The textures in Skyrim are visually a lot better; the lighting is more advanced; the faces are more detailed; there are more particles.
However, even though if you compare the graphics, Skyrim looks a lot better, Morrowind is a lot prettier. Hardly ever in Skyrim or Oblivion have I stopped to admire the scenery or stopped at the top of a hill to see some new and unique beautiful environment at the other side. In Morrowind, I stop all the time, admiring the detail in the area. I often feel the need to travel on foot to my next destination so I can admire the world whereas, in the later two games, I will nearly always use fast travel.
The map in Oblivion feels too generic and like other fantasy settings with lots of forest and castles. Most of the map seems to be a copy and paste from other parts. Skyrim has the best dungeons and the world does invite exploration but there is nowhere near as many unique environments as in Morrowind which definitely feels like the most alien and unique world.
The gameplay in Skyrim and Oblivion is obviously a massive improvement over the gameplay found in Morrowind, mainly due to them being newer and improved based on user feedback. However, the gameplay in these latter games doesn’t feel unique. You don’t play the game and think how different the gameplay is compared to other games, it is very similar to the gameplay in many other games. However, in Morrowind, the gameplay feels unique. From the way the game works out whether you hit your target to the way you communicate with NPCs, the gameplay in Morrowind is like no other game.
This is where Morrowind really excels. After the short tutorial and cinematic at the start of the game, you are on your own. You walk out the building with no sense of direction, overwhelmed with the scope of the game. You are not told what to do, you are sent out into the world to make your own adventures and find your own quests. There is the main story but you would have probably forgotten about it by the time you leave the first village after speaking to NPCs and getting quests. You are given a lot of independence in Morrowind, a thing that the later games don’t give you. Skyrim and Oblivion start with a long mission and then it points you in the right direction with a blatant quest marker. You know exactly what you are meant to be doing and the games give you little independence compared to what you get in Morrowind. This makes Morrowind feel like a bigger more immersive game with lots more to discover and find.
I am not exaggerating here, the music in Morrowind makes nostalgia tingle down my spine, something that the music in Oblivion and Skyrim didn’t do. Don’t get me wrong, all three games have an amazing soundtrack, however, the music in Morrowind matches the atmosphere of the game more instead of the more heavy music in Skyrim.
In all three games, you meet other lifeforms, be it human NPC’s or creatures. You will meet unique lifeforms in all the games. However, in Skyrim and Oblivion, there are a lot of creatures and NPC’s that feel like re-skins of each other with no unique points that stand out. In Morrowind, every creature you meet feels different and unique in its own way and it is unexpected what creature you will meet around the next corner whereas, in the latter games, you don’t have this sense of not knowing.