Morrowind, the first expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online has arrived for PC/Mac players eligible for early access, which includes people who have pre-ordered the Digital Upgrade and Digital Collector’s Edition Upgrade. The expansion launches for everyone else and console players on 6 June 2017.
As soon as the servers came back online after patching, I jumped in to the game and decided to create a brand new character for exploring Morrowind and the new Warden class.
A Nord is born
Creating a new character is something I only do when I feel that it is necessary to add something new to my gaming experience. It’s something I take seriously, because each character I make has to be meaningful to me – they’re my avatar through which I will be experiencing everything. As I play, I tend to form backstories for my characters, make decisions and gameplay choices that shape their personalities and morality, and that feeds back into how I’d make them react to future content.
While I could take any of my existing characters on a trip to the newly accessible island of Vvardenfell in the province of Morrowind, I decided to keep them back in mainland Tamriel for now. The character that has made the most progress in the game is my Daggerfall Covenant Templar, and he’s currently working through the Ebonheart Pact storyline which intersects with other areas of Morrowind and characters that will appear later on Vvardenfell. I feel like I should finish that up before taking him forward.
Along with the launch of the Morrowind expansion, there’s a new origin story for newly created characters, allowing them to start off on Vvardenfell and have the content there as their starter experience. That sounded intriguing to me, as I wondered how it would compare to the old origin story and how it would integrate into the existing game.
I currently have a Breton Templar, an Imperial Sorcerer and a Dunmer Nightblade, so for my new Warden I decided to pick the Nord race. It’s a race I haven’t played yet and the innate traits for the Nords, such as cold resistance, seemed like they would be a good thematic fit for a Warden, which uses frost magic.
After clicking the randomize appearance button a few times, a guy that looked like something I could work with appeared. In every game, I spend hours in character creators sculpting looks and tweaking every slider option until eventually a character stands before me on the screen that feels just right, as if I’ve always known them and they were always meant to be. I’d compare it to an artist sculpting a block of stone and saying that the statue that eventually appears was always inside there, it just needed to be released.
Then came the hardest part – thinking up a cool name. I already had a few options in mind, as I’d come up with a list of possible Nord names for my intended replay of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I had researched some old Norse sounding words and meanings, then randomly put together prefixes and suffixes until I got some that sounded OK. The first two that I tried failed, because apparently they’ve already been taken. The third option worked, and thus “Ulfmund” was born.
Upon launching The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind, you get an intro cinematic narrated by Vivec, one of the Living Gods of the Dunmer, which shows off some of the interesting locations you’ll find on Vvardenfell, and then it zooms in on an unassuming ship out at sea…
Then the game begins and you’re sitting at a table down below decks having some refreshments and reading a letter from a friend, congratulating you on your choice to go exploring Vvardenfell and find some adventure. It’s very different from the original origin story, where you wake up in Coldharbour, after having been sacrificed by cultists and having had your soul stolen by Molag Bal.
You’re not “The Vestige”, caught up in a struggle to reclaim your soul from a Daedric Prince. Now, you’re just some guy with a soul on a cruise on your way to a strange new land. I found that refreshing. But of course it doesn’t last…
Someone had previously pointed out to me how every Elder Scrolls game has your new character starting off as a prisoner making an escape, and this is true once again. Your ship is rammed by slavers, and you are captured along with the surviving passengers. You wake up bound in chains in a cage. Helping you and the others to escape is a Dark Elf woman called Naryu Virian, who reveals herself to be a Morag Tong assassin hired to take out the head slaver who captured you.
Escaping from the slaver island serves as a good crash course through the basics of the game, such as finding equipment and putting it on, basic combat, picking locks and sneaking. After heroically saving the other enslaved passengers and helping Naryu take care of the slavers, you arrive at your originally intended destination – the port town of Seyda Neen. You’ve then got a blank slate and can begin your adventures however you want.
Timey wimey wibbly wobbly
So far, I’m really enjoying myself in Morrowind. Before getting into the expansion content, I wondered how it would fit into the rest of the game, from a story perspective. The adventure on Vvardenfell seems to be self-contained, so you can experience it and the rest of the content in The Elder Scrolls Online in any order you like.
From the perspective of my new Nord Warden, Vvardenfell is the starter area where he’ll learn how to be a hero. After that’s done, once he steps into mainland Tamriel he’s destined to be murdered by cultists and have his soul stolen by Molag Bal, starting the original main quest. So in this case, Morrowind becomes a prequel to the rest of the main story. I get to see what my character does before having his soul stolen and becoming a Vestige, which I think is pretty awesome.
From the perspective of my veteran Breton Templar, who has already defeated Molag Bal, reclaimed his soul and stopped the Planemeld from destroying Tamriel, Morrowind becomes a sequel adventure where he was prophesied to go by both the Prophet and the Daedric Prince Azura. I’m interested to see if playing Morrowind and having all the previous story experience behind you makes any differences to the story. For example, my character has already met Naryu Virian before while fighting plague spreading cultists in Deshaan. Will that change some of the dialogue in conversations?
Either way, I hope that playing the content on different characters will feel like I’m getting a different experience.
The adventure continues…
It’s a pretty exciting time for players in The Elder Scrolls Online. My initial experience of this first official expansion for the game is positive, and many more players will get to join in on 6 June.
That’s all for now. I’m eager to get back to Morrowind and continue my adventure!