For a while now I’ve felt an urge to revisit Morrowind. It must be, oh, eight or so years since I last wandered the swamps and ashlands of Vvardenfall, exploring ruins and running errands for various guilds. In particular, I was interested to see how the game looks these days. Over the years fans have created a whole host of graphical upgrades¬† – features like higher resolution textures, new character models, improved lighting.

Problem is, though, the overhead in time and effort to get a modded Morrowind up and running. There are hundreds of mods out there to sift through and choose from. Then you have to be sure they’re all co-operating with each other without any compatibility issues. So the idea got put on the back burner – which was probably a good thing as the last thing I need to do with my time is revisit a massive RPG I’ve already completed several times. Unfortunately for my productivity, though, I was reminded about the Morrowind Overhaul.

 

This project is a collation of masses of mods, all packaged together in one neat installer. The amount of faffing around is minimal – just set it going, make a few aesthetic choices, then sit back for a few minutes whilst various archives are unpacked. It’s perfect for players like me – nostalgic but too lazy to go reading through lists of mods for ourselves.

I’ve only played for a few hours so far, wandering riverbanks bashing rats to death, but my first impressions are good. The game still shows its age in some ways – even with nicer models, character still have rather stiff poses and animation. It does however look a lot smarter than the original we were playing back in 2003. The improvements are quite comprehensive. Swamps and grasslands benefit from more plentiful and organic looking vegetation. Cities boast crisper textures for their flagstones, crabshell walls and decorations in the fine manors. New character faces are way ahead of the awfulness of the lumpen, blocky originals. Oh, and you can reduce the amount of fogging, so you can climb a hill and enjoy the view way off into the distance. So the mysterious Dunmer homeland is even more compelling a place to explore. I was a bit worried about changes being too extensive – turning wastelands too lush and fertile, say, but so far it all seems quite true to the spirit of the original game. (or at least gives you that option).

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Only problem I’ve had some far are a few huge yellow warning signs in some houses where tables are meant to be. oops. Either someone forgot an asset or one mod isn’t talking to another, or a wandering wizard just cast Summon Big Exclamation Mark. But as long as it’s not too pervasive I can forgive, as there must have been a massive amount of work here just collating all the mods and writing such an idiot-proof installer.

Just to be clear, what this mod isn’t doing is altering the gameplay.¬† Everything that was broken or annoying, still is. So the combat is still pretty crappy and level 2 characters will still flail around uselessly as invisible dice-rolls declare their sword swing missed. And Cliff Racers are still hateful. If you do want to try and fix that side to the game, there are plenty of mods for that too, just a separate department, and not one I’m really interested in right now. I love the Morrowind experience, for all its flaws, and am just happy too see the visuals get such an extensive upgrade.