Gaming My Way

09 Oct

How to Make Morrowind More Like Oblivion

With Skyrim coming soon, I’ve noticed lots of people (myself included) pulling out Oblivion or Morrowind for some more quality time to hold us over until 11/11/11. I’ve also noticed that there are many people out there that, like me, have a hard time getting into Morrowind after playing Oblivion because of many of the improvements Oblivion has made to the series that are not present in Morrowind. That’s what this guide aims to fix. The set of mods here is not going to make all of the changes, of course, but it will help bridge the gap. I pulled this list together because I wanted an Elder Scrolls game that wasn’t Oblivion, but didn’t play like it came out back in 2002 either. Naturally, you will need a PC copy of Morrowind. Sorry Xbox fans. For those on the PC, here’s the short list of mods.

1) Morrowind Sounds and Graphics Overhaul

First things first. You probably want a graphics upgrade. If you don’t, that’s cool, you can skip this one. Otherwise, you’re going to want to install the Morrowind Sounds and Graphics Overhaul. This beauty is a compilation of tons of graphics enhancements for Morrowind, and it comes with a nice installer and guide to getting everything working the way you want it. Naturally, it won’t look as good as Oblivion from a technical standpoint. There’s only so much that can be done with the engine Morrowind is on. But this mod does a great job of pushing the engine to do more, and I think you’ll be impressed. Here’s a video showing off the best of this Morrowind Overhaul mod.

There are also some new sounds added, notably some voice acting for a few important plot points. If, like me, you prefer to read, you can disable those added voice overs. Be sure to grab all the patches as well for this mod, since they offer more options for graphics and added sound, as well as a nice gameplay tweak in the final patch. What is this gameplay tweak you may ask? Well, in the Morrowind Code Patch (included in this package), there is the option to enable “swift casting.” This makes it so the spell button in Morrowind no longer puts you into casting mode, but instead casts the spell you currently have selected, just like Oblivion. This alone makes gameplay for hybrid characters feel far more fluid.

For those of you not picking up the sound and graphics overhaul above, you can still get the swift casting and other game tweaks that may appeal to you by downloading and installing the Morrowind Code Patch separately.

2) Magicka Regeneration

Next up, there’s Magicka Regeneration. Because really, who wants to have to chug a potion or rest for a day after casting a couple powerful (or not so powerful) spells in order to keep casting. It’s not quite as forgiving as Oblivion’s magicka regeneration, but I find this mod regenerates magicka at a comfortable rate while adventuring. Just be sure to note that magicka does not regenerate during time that you are using Morrowind’s wait command. Likewise, when sleeping, magicka regenerates at Morrowind’s normal sleeping rate. It’s a small thing, to be sure, but something to be aware of while playing.

3) Bantari’s Ravenloft Mod

So now you have need of two more things. You need a stronghold, and fast travel. Yes, fast travel, though it is done fairly differently than in Oblivion. I assume it has to be without a lot more digging into the game engine, and this mod is primarily a stronghold mod which I also use for fast travel since it suits me.  It’s the best I’ve seen yet for Morrowind, and I appreciate the effort that went into it. With that said, there are two things to note about how it works. First, it’s a portable mansion you can access at any time to stash gear while adventuring, and you can return to where you were moments earlier by employing Mark and Recall spells. Alternatively, there is a teleporter room in this mansion with a Map of Vvardenfell with handy markings to bring you to any city in the base game, along with some other important plot locations. It’s not everything, but it sure beats walking, and makes Morrowind far more enjoyable. When you want to go somewhere new, just go to your stronghold, use the teleporter room, and off you go. As for the trinket that lets you access the stronghold? Well, the author of the mod wants you to work a little for that, so I’ll just say this. If you play from the beginning of the game, you can’t miss it. Otherwise, you want to be looking on the path through the Census and Excise building in Seyda Neen that you went through at the beginning of the game.

So with these mods, what’s missing? Well, the combat is still pretty lackluster compared to Oblivion’s, but really, I don’t think Oblivion’s was anything to phone home about either. Fast travel does require some movement, though once you get used to it, it’s almost as fast as navigating the menus in Oblivion. There’s still very little voice acting as well, which I am perfectly fine with. When I grew up, we read everything that characters said in our rpgs. You may feel differently though. Most notably, there is no compass to point you toward quest objectives. This still takes some getting used to, but talk to npcs and read your journal, and that’s something that can be overcome. Directions for quests are very well written in this game, and there are plenty of landmarks to follow.

That sounds like a lot, so here’s a quick summary of what you get. Enhanced graphics. Spellcasting while keeping your weapon ready for use for a smoother combat experience. Constant magicka regeneration to make spellcasting a more consistent option. A stronghold to store your gear like those available in Oblivion. Finally, an option for fast travel that doesn’t involve getting to town and then going town to town on silt striders or through the mage guild. Just finish your dungeon, jump to your stronghold, then teleport to any town you need to get to in order to finish up. Includes Ashlander camps too, among other helpful locations.

Morrowind is, of course, still its own game. Even with these mods, as I explained above, there are some differences in gameplay. Some are pretty major, notably the lack of compass, and will take some adjustment. This set of mods should help lower the level of adjustment needed so anyone used to Oblivion can get back into Morrowind faster if they wish to do so, but you will still most likely need to get used to it.

All in all though, this is a package that moves Morrowind very far in the direction it needed to go to keep up with Oblivion, and I was very pleased with the improved experience these mods provided. Many thanks to the authors who created them and put them all together. I hope this guide helps you get some more life out of Morrowind.

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