The second game I ever played on the Xbox was the Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (released in 2002). The third installment in Bethesda's critically acclaimed Elder Scrolls series found it's way into my hands via my neighbor at the time. He was friends with my brother, Ben, and had recently broken his leg or something. His mom signed him up for Blockbuster's all-games pass to ease the recovery period (seeing as he couldn't go outside and play basketball or football on a broken limb). The all-games pass was a rental program that you could sign up for at Blockbuster that essentially let you rent games for free as much as you wanted. It was rad. Anyway, said neighbor pretty much rented every game for the Xbox at the time and my brother would borrow them from him when he was done with them. It was tight. One saturday morning, I went down to the basement (where the Xbox was hooked up to that old TV from the 70's) and saw another few games that I hadn't seen yet.
|You had me at ancient runes...|
The one the most caught my attention was Morrowind. The cover resembled an aged sandstone carving and had some kind of engraving on it. It had kickass RPG written all over it.
I was right. The moment I put the game in, it happened: hour upon hour of my life was taken in one moment. As the disc spun inside that infernal, black machine, thousands of future assignments and chores were left undone. This game would consume me. I didn't know it at the time, but I had just put in my favorite game of all time.
The game begins in a prison ship. Your character, a prisoner, is awoken from a restless sleep and told that the ship has reached Morrowind. A guard escorts your character off of the ship and into a swampy port town. There, the character is processed by a robed bureaucrat (this is the character creation process of the game). After that, you pass through a room filled with objects to interact with. I was amazed when I first played: almost every item could be picked up and put in the inventory (and thus sold in classic RPG fashion). Hot action! Passing through that room (after a good, healthy looting) led you to a guard captain who tells you why you were freed from bondage and what you are to do now that you are free.
|Kickin' rad paper map that came with the game.|
From there, you are free to do whatever you want. Disregard the orders. No one will stop you. After that brief introduction you can go adventuring, steal items, sell items, kill mudcrabs, kill citizens, train your skills, join a guild, join another guild, join yet another guild, explore the countryside, explore ancient ruins, search for treasure...
What was I supposed to be doing again?
I don't recall ever finishing the actual main quest line until much later in life. I was in the 4th grade when the game came out, so I didn't have the patience or the drive to finish that doozy of a quest (it's really not too bad). There were bandits to kill, vaults to crack, and governments to topple. It took me years of my life to discover just a fraction of what the game offered. I still put that game in and find new things (new quests, new items, new places).
Even though I can essentially bend the stat system over a table and make it my whore, I still love playing that game. It's got a unique setting unlike any other RPG I've ever played and that is what made it so fun to play. The game was chock full of lore and backstory. There was a real life to the world. Sadly, by today's standards it takes some imagination to play, but I whole-heartedly recommend giving it a go. Immerse yourself in it: you may find yourself hooked on a near-endless adventure like I did all those years ago.