Turns Out a Step Back is a Step Forward

Seeing as I got a better response than I expected (i.e., no response) from my previous blog post I've decided to share more of my continuing venture into Morrowind. I've already given up on tracking the hours I've spent wandering the world, but I'm sure I've crammed in a lot the past few days. Yet, I still don't feel like I've accomplished much. I consider this a good thing because despite the fact that I hardly seem to have advanced in any quest line I've been having tremendous amounts of fun. It may have seemed a bit presumptuous of me to claim last time that I enjoyed the game more than Oblivion, but now that I've had a more extensive look into the game's mechanics, environment, story, etc. I can safely say that this is now my preferred Elder Scrolls game.

Since my ramblings a few days ago, Walks-Like-A-Fool has really started come to life in the game world. He has begun climbing through the ranks of the Fighters Guild, however his progress has been halted by a quest to retrieve some sort of "code book" from a member of the Thieves Guild, of which WLAF is also a member of, which rules out the option of stealing (or killing and looting) the book from the holder. I suspect that he'll need to advance a few ranks in the Thieves Guild in order to get more information about this book from his fellow thieves, who he has yet not quite gained the loyalty of. This, however, also has been put on hold because the stupid third-person-talking Khajiit is requiring him to break into a level 95 locked chest to steal some brandy, probably so that she and the other higher ups in the guild can have a party showboating their superiority to us lonesome "footpads". Bitch. WLAF's security skill isn't quite that high yet, but he is hoping to find or buy some sort of super-duper unlock scroll that works on such unforgivably difficult locks.

This brings me to a point about the game that is really starting to grow on me. I don't exactly know why, but I feel much more compelled to make use of scrolls, enchantments, and birthsign powers in Morrowind than I ever did in Oblivion. My guess it's the fact that I never felt challenged enough in Oblivion, or that in Morrowind I'm actually required to think about how I want to approach a fight (or work out a way to avoid one). I feel a bit ashamed for not utilizing such things more in Oblivion, but I never felt the need to, but now that I do in Morrowind the game has become much more dynamic. For example, I found a ring that grants me invisibility for ten seconds when cast, which has already saved me numerous times. Likw when I got lost in the Molag Amur region and had to sneak past all sorts of Daedra, lest they kill me in horrifying swiftness. The best use for this ring, however, was to avoid the cliff racers.

Oh, the cliff racers.

I had already known about the infamous bastards beforehand, and distinctly remember having frustrations with them when I first played Morrowind years ago (but I think that had more to do with the fact that I didn't know how hit rolls worked, and just assumed I wasn't able to land a hit because they were flying). However, now that I have seen them in full action I can truly say that these are the most stupidly maddening inbred pterodactyls ever and I hate them. I hate their faces, I hate their appropriate shit brown hue, I hate their pubescent screech. I. HATE. Them. I will not ever get myself lost in Molag Amur again, for I probably fought off at least 50 of those wing flapping assholes during my time there.

Why was I lost in there in the first place? Well, WLAF, while visiting Caldera on an errand for the Fighters Guild, noticed an old man wandering around just outside the city borders. He looked lonesome and needy, so WLAF, being such a decent little reptile, approached him to find out what his deal was. Turns out it was just a really ugly lady (even by Altmer standards) whining about some jewelry that she idiotically let a group of petty thieves steal. Believing this to be an insult to thievery everywhere, and to earn some quick drakes, WLAF set out to find the offenders. Little did he know this would be the cause of the great cliff racer extravaganza that I so aforementioned. The only directions he received were that their hideaway was east of town over the hills. Okay, he thought, no big deal. Well, during his struggle to jump up the impossibly traversable "hills" he winded up going all over the area, literally high and low, searching for this place. He went even east past the Ghost Gate, but to no avail. He did, however, come across a handful of Imperial chartered mines that he would return to later to rob and victimize. Finally, upon noticing a small fog-of-warred patch of map very near the town, he found the cave, killed everyone inside (except for the slaves, who he freed), and then slit his wrists for being so careless. After collecting his reward he contemplated on what the point was to go on after such an abysmal adventure, but at least he got to see the not so beautiful dust-ridden valleys of Molag Amur and a very educational glimpse of cliff racer anatomy.

WLAF made a noble effort to clear out the Caldera Mine and free its slaves, however, being a Hlaalu operation, didn't have the might to do so quite yet. Instead, he murdered everyone in the mining offices and freed the two slaves that were in their shacks, and made a mental note to come back and clear out the actual mine later. The office workers turned out to be enough trouble as is. Well, at least the one Dunmer (the mage and "warrior" were easy to dispose of), who had a big ol' warhammer of death that met my face several times before I claimed victory over the elf. This brings up a gripe I have with the game; to kill this Dunmer I employed the cheap strategy of running through one entrance of the building (the one opposite of him), shooting at him with my crossbow a few times as he chased me back out the door I came in, then I would enter the OTHER door, rinse, and repeat (he also got stuck in the spiral stairwell at the end, making it even easier to riddle him with bolts). I know it's a setback of the older technology, but man does that make some fights sure uneventful. I could always opt to not exploit this, but then again I probably won't come across too many places with such a convenient layout. However, could they not have made it where NPCs could at least open doors that don't transport you to another cell? The doors inside the Dwemer ruin I went spelunking in, for example. They were all double doors, and I could simply open one door, lure an enemy to me, and as he mindlessly ran at the half-open doorway because he couldn't fit I would continue to kill him with ease. Or I could just lock NPCs behind swinging doors and save me some ammo. Either way makes some of the combat a bit disappointing.

Speaking of the Dwemer ruin, I cannot believe how wonderfully alluring the Dwemer culture is. I had never experienced such a magnificent moment in Oblivion as I did in Morrowind when I came across this ruin, which, for those who have played the game, is the one with what I assume is an observatory. These are far more unique and interesting than the Aylied ruins from Oblivion (which isn't the Aylieds' fault, but the designers'). Their technology is incredible; I particularly loved the security devices (like that roly poly thing). I cannot wait until I find more of their remains and learn more about the mystery behind them.

WLAF is currently around level 8, I believe, and is on his way to complete an errand for one of the Blade informants, which requires him to retrieve a skull from an ancestral tomb (of which he is not a fan after finding a few during his misadventures in Molag Amur). Prior to leaving Balmora he completed a task for the Imperial Legion leader at the fort of Moonmoth, which ended in WLAF taunting various members of the Cammona Tong until they attacked him, making any legal implications against him get covered up. His reward was a chameleon ring worth 12,000 septims (and he found a duplicate of it not too long after). He'll just continue to make use of his invisibility ring, however, so he has no use for this ring other than to barter away. While at the fort he also inquired on how to join the Legion, but was told he needed to go to another fort, so that is also on his task list. Considering this errand of his is taking him back toward the Seyda Neen area, however, he will make his first appearance in Vivec, whose gorgeous skyline he laid his eyes on before he stopped off at a ranch outside Pelegiad. It's a Hlaalu ranch, and after assassinating a few members in their shacks, surveying the ranch in its entirety, and stealing the slave key, he's planning to raid it once he gains a bit more power (these are some seriously wealthy and dangerous ranchers - WLAF has already obtained two Daedric weapons off of them). So don't fret, poor slaves, he'll be back to free you soon enough.

I've put all of my other games on hold for the moment while I get deeper into Morrowind. The game is fantastic, and it shames me to see that as technology advances the series seems to be going in the wrong direction. Morrowind has its flaws, but most of them seem to be because of its age, and although Oblivion fixed many of them it threw out a lot of why I love Morrowind so much. So I'll await for the arrival of Skyrim in skepticism, but even if it isn't what it should be I'm still glad Bethesda gave us Morrowind.


A Step Back Into Morrowind

My anticipation for Skyrim has been fluctuating lately, so in hopes for keeping it high I decided to delve into Morrowind, which, I'm sad to admit, I have never given a real chance until now. A few years ago as I was starting to burn myself out on Oblivion I decided to go out and buy the game of the year edition of Morrowind, especially after reading the ravings of longtime Elder Scrolls fans, who claimed that Oblivion couldn't hold a candle to it. I fell in love with Oblivion as soon as I stepped into it, so I had high hopes for its predecessor. As the game loaded and the main theme kicked in I remember getting some goosebumps because the soundtrack in Morrowind is, in my opinion, far more powerful than Oblivion. Once I started playing, however, I froze from disappointment. Being the idiot I was back then, oblivious to the fact that Morrowind was years older than Oblivion, I shut the game off after playing not more than two hours, finding myself lost, confused, and cringing at how outdated everything was. Disheartened, I put the game back on the shelf and never returned.

That is, until recently. Now that I have a fully functional brain and a taste in games deeper than a rain puddle I started to realize that Oblivion really wasn't all that I used to think it was. Don't get me wrong, I love it, and it still is a great game, it's just not exactly what I'd call a masterpiece. Now as the release of the Elder Scrolls V approaches I'm really starting to question the series's direction, as well as wonder what I missed when I let Morrowind collect dust in the corner. This compelled me to give it another shot, and after about ten hours of playing I'm loving every second of it.

After tinkering with the Morrowind Graphics & Sound Overhaul for a bit I loaded up that lovely opening title sequence, got more goosebumps, and began my journey into the Dark Elf infested land of Vvardenfell. Like Oblivion, the first thing I did was remake my character about a bazillion times. Granted, there ain't exactly a whole lot of customization options in Morrowind, but the presence of minor skills (and more skills in general) made me think through the class process a whole lot more than in its successor. I went for an Argonian, of course, and upon being reminded of the downright goofy movement animations (particularly for the beast races) I felt that no name was appropriate for my new character other than Walks-Like-A-Fool. After naming my lizard friend I left Jiub, raced the guard to the exit of the ship, and filled out my forms that officially said I was a lizardman with fins for hair, specialized majorly in mostly stealth and a few combat skills, and minorly in personality skills that will make people be less afraid of my scaly face (as well as a few more stealth/combat skills), a class I named Prowler after searching Thesaurus.com for a name alternative more creative than "Thief". Now that I was an official outlander of Morrowind my first course of action was to steal the first thing I could, only to have it forcibly taken from me without any repercussions whatsoever. I then completed the immigration process, and was left on the footstep of the customs office with nothing but a lockpick and dagger. Little did they know, that was all I needed, as I immediately broke into their storage facility, stole everything in sight, and bartered away anything I didn't need.

It was at this point in the game that I first realized I just might like Morrowind more than Oblivion. I was dropped into an unknown world without any help, could sell stolen goods to anyone I damn well pleased, actually got useful information out of the much more informative text based conversations, and was surrounded by a world of far more variety and uniqueness than Cyrodiil ever came close to.

After completing a few deeds for the townsfolk of Seyda Neen, including clearing out a nearby cave, I reacquainted myself with what was previously my main turnoff of the game - the combat. Even a lot of hardcore Morrowind fans find little satisfaction in this, but for whatever reason it felt refreshing to me. Perhaps it was because it wasn't as easy as Oblivion, or maybe because the animation and sounds were so hilariously aged, but I was able to really enjoy both melee and ranged combat this time around. Needless to say, I was having a good time, and I was even able to free a few of my lizard friends from a cage within the depths of this cavern. I decided to set free the captive Khajiit as well, despite their general cruelness to me that I was about to discover later in the game.

Like my character in Oblivion, I made up a back story for WLAF to make sense of why he was on that prison ship to begin with. Turns out WLAF was sick and tired of the slaving habits of the Dunmer, so he decided to become a vigilante of sorts to kill off any slavers he caught wandering around the border of Black Marsh and Morrowind, only to be caught and sent to the Imperial Prison after willingly and proudly confessing to the capture, torture, and murder of many, many Dunmer slavers. So goes the story of Walks-Like-A-Fool, and now he finds himself deep into enemy territory. At first he did not care why he was brought to Morrowind, but his curiosity has peaked after having a mysterious dream and contact with a supposed messenger for Dagoth-Ur and the Sixth House. However, he will also continue his ungoverned vigilante ways. WLAF will take cover in the Fighters Guild, because a ranking member of a respected guild is a much better persona to carry than ex-prisoner outlander. He will also infiltrate the Imperial Legion, if not only to search for a way to repay them for imprisoning him in the first place. The Morag Tong, however, has truly intrigued him, and he will join once he makes his first trek to Vivec. Also, being in Morrowind, it's hard to ignore the Houses, and after further researching them WLAF has decided to penetrate the inner workings of House Hlaalu and tear them apart from within, and will assassinate any member of Redoran or Telvanni he sees.

I regret judging Morrowind so poorly some years ago, but it's never too late to correct that. WLAF will continue his adventures throughout the summer, and after finally finishing this game and its expansions I just might recreate Teelius, my character from Oblivion, and give it a more fair assessment as well (especially now that I have had time to refine Teelius's story in my head). Oblivion, obviously, does have its plus sides, such as animate NPCs, which [the lack thereof] is so far my biggest gripe with Morrowind (it makes thievery very tedious, but then again Oblivion's psychic NPCs weren't much better). Hopefully by the time Skyrim is out I'll be fully hyped for a new Elder Scrolls game because I'm already working out my Dragonborn's story. Until then, WLAF will continue his adventure through Morrowind, slaughtering each racist Dunmer one at a time. Those red-eyed bastards.


Rock Band 3 Wishlist

If some of these songs, or at least artists, make it into Rock Band 3, I will be forever pleased with Harmonix. I'm missing a bunch of artists that I'd love to see included, but didn't pick out a specific song. I tried to limit the list to bands I at least know have a chance, but I may have snuck a few in that have absolutely no chance. A man can dream.

Invalid Litter Dept. - At the Drive-In

Love Shack - The B52s

Clash City Rockers - The Clash

Romantic Rights - Death From Above 1979

Tecmacula Sunrise - Dirty Projectors

Stacked Actors - Foo Fighters

Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones - The Hives

Summer Romance (Anti-Gravity Love Song) - Incubus

Only If You Run - Julian Plenti

All Day and All of the Night - The Kinks

Viscera Eyes - The Mars Volta

Time is Running Out - Muse

All Apologies- Nirvana

Into the Hollow - Queens of the Stone Age

Know Your Enemy - Rage Against the Machine

Beat on the Brat - Ramones

By the Way - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Freewill - Rush

Bury Me - Smashing Pumpkins

Driving South - The Stone Roses

Soma - The Strokes

Tell Me What You See - The Von Bondies

Raised By Wolves - Voxtrot

Phenomena - Yeah Yeah Yeahs