Let me get this out in the open real quick, The Elder Scrolls Online is my favorite MMORPG at the moment. Although the quarterly DLC is free with ESO Plus, can Morrowind, ESO’s first chapter, truly make spending the extra $40 or more a worthwhile venture? If you love the story and ESO’s best adventuring content…Yes.
First off, there’s a reason Zenimax isn’t calling this an expansion. It’s not just because it doesn’t add content to the top end of the game, but it’s also because it’s not quite as content-packed as most traditional MMO expansions usually are. There’s comparatively more content in a World of Warcraft expansion, for example. But the question is, do I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth out of Morrowind?
Yes, I still think there’s a solid value to Morrowind. One new class, massive, content-rich Vvardenfell, new PVP Battlegrounds, tons of new recipes, and housing stuff galore. It feels like two DLC’s packed into one. And if you’re buying DLC without ESO Plus (like me), that’s what Morrowind costs. If it’s your first experience of ESO, you get the entire base game as well, which is hundreds of hours more content beyond Vvardenfell. It costs $60 then, but is definitely worth the price.
I feel like the people who pay for ESO Plus got jipped with this release though since they also have to purchase it for access. Perhaps in the future, some additional content is given to them since they don’t get four “free” DLCs anymore. Maybe Wayshrines for free? In all honesty though, Morrowind is worth every penny. Even if only because its content is remarkable and pulls off exactly what it was meant to: this is a return to Morrowind. It feels a lot like the game that made Elder Scrolls a breakout RPG series.
The questline of Balmora, featuring the Morag Tong and Naryu herself is captivational storytelling. I was thoroughly shocked at its outcome. The many secret easter eggs for fans of TESIII are welcomed surprises, and the off-the-beaten-path questing that was perfected with the Orsinium DLC shines even more here. Vvardenfell is huge, lush, and packed with little nooks and crannies to discover!
I’d be doing no justice if I didn’t speak to the Warden as well. While I think a lot of the panic over Warden being intentionally overpowered is misguided, there’s little doubt that the class is a powerful jack of all trades. However, healing is still done better by Templars and Healing Staves, Tanking may very well still be better when performed by Dragon Knights and Shield-bearers. DPS, definitely still feels as though it’s owned by Sorcerers. This is all anecdotal from my time spent in-game, and against other classes in PVP. I suck at PVP, but even I can tell that Sorcerers still have insane damage. Meanwhile, I feel the Warden, at least early on with Animal Companions (DPS) seems a bit underpowered in anything but single target fights.
It’s worth noting that I’m only in my 20s on the Warden, so a late game player can better detail its strengths and weaknesses. I’ve put 30 hours into Morrowind since early access began, and I’m still not done with the island’s content. It’s a nice long grind.
Speaking of the new PVP Battlegrounds: if there’s any one spot in Morrowind that feels like it’s lacking, it’s gotta be the Battlegrounds. The big difference in ESO’s PVP is actually something I’ve been missing without knowing it – instanced PVP with three teams. The hallmark of Cyrodiil, and indeed the ZOS team’s past with Dark Age of Camelot, is its three competing realms. The battlegrounds though are not Ebonheart, Daggerfall, and Aldmeri. The three teams (Pit Demons, Fire Drakes, and Storm Lords) are based on the factions of Elder Scrolls: Arena.
There are three game modes — Team Death Match, Capture the Flag, and Domination. As always, my least favorite is CTF, but TDM and Domination play out usually very well. Capture the Flag seems to always devolve into madness and someone doing something stupid with the flag. I hate it. Win or lose though, you’ll get rewards mailed to you upon successful completion of the matches, and if you do the Battleground Quests given out in Vivec City, you’ll also earn points to spend on Battleground themed gear and other rewards. Plus you’re able to level through Battlegrounds, gain PVP skill line experience and ranks, and so on.
So how do they fall a little flat then? It often feels like the matchmaking is somehow off. Even if you’re leveling, it feels like you’re often pitted against people that are well into their Champion Ranks. That could just be because I suck, and I’m getting outplayed, but it definitely feels like some players can wipe out a whole team when you’re killed in a few good hits during certain matches.
But this problem alone is not enough for me to steer you away from Morrowind. Zenimax Online’s first Chapter is a fresh start for a game that’s already proven itself as one of the genre’s best titles. It didn’t need to get as good as Morrowind, but here we are. Morrowind, along with all the rest of the DLC we’ve received, has made it so that I don’t care to ever see the basic content of ESO again. The original game’s story and questing are now the last thing I feel compelled to do, and Zenimax’s “go anywhere, do anything” design has made it a perfectly fine way to play.
I can’t wait to see where Morrowind’s story ends, and where the next year of content takes us in Nirn. It’s fun to think that this is just the first chapter in the years of content ESO has up its sleeve. Maybe we’ll revisit Skyrim? I could only hope!