Microsoft remastering Oblivion and Fallout 3
According to leaked documents, Microsoft is remastering Oblivion and Fallout 3. This is boring. The past decade of countless remasters has been quite dull, but remastering these two games is particularly tedious. Is it even worth it when all Bethesda has done since Oblivion is remake Oblivion with additional space suits or shouts? Boring. But even though I think the flood of remasters is a lamentable sign that big publishers are giving up, if they still want to do it, why not Morrowind?
Why Morrowind deserves a remaster
The 2002 Elder Scrolls game is a beast too ambitious, strange, disjointed, and prickly. It’s a game that’s happy to leave you lost, confused, misunderstood, weird, frustrated, and stuck. Find locations and items by paying attention, without following markers! Meet the last Dwarf, a rotten guy with mechanical spider legs! Speed up travel by riding a network of giant insects! Befriend a strange god! Visit many intentionally mundane places! This might be a giant fraud of a prophesied savior! Destroy a divine meat-robot in the making! Use crafting to become revolutionary powerful! Even though Bethesda’s open-world RPGs are simply not for me, I can respect Morrowind.
To be clear: I know why they’re not doing Morrowind. It’s because the 2002 Elder Scrolls game is too ambitious, strange, disjointed, and pointy. It’s because it’s happy to leave you lost, confused, misunderstood, weird, frustrated, and stuck. Bethesda has spent 21 years doing their best not to remake Morrowind, 21 years sanding down knotty bits and filling in rocks, 21 years mastering the art of creating giant games that offer dozens of hours of harmless nothing in particular. I understand why people don’t like Morrowind, but I think if a game doesn’t have enough personality to be reasonably hated by some, it can’t really be loved by others.
The challenge of modernizing Morrowind
I would be so curious to see what modern Bethesda could do with Morrowind in a remaster. They could impose a big part of it in the regulatory form of Oblivion/Fallout 3/Skyrim/Fallout 4/Starfield. Add fast travel. Stick quest markers everywhere. Add style to dungeons and mines, expanding their mundane worldliness into downright boring mini « adventures. » But unless they’re willing to remake the game, I think a lot of Morrowind would resist being Bethesdafied. I don’t think modern Bethesda could make Morrowind modern, and I don’t think they could make Morrowind modern either. There’s an enthusiastic weirdness they couldn’t kill.
The need for something new
I don’t want Bethesda to remaster Morrowind, though. I’d rather see efforts put into creating something new. I understand the commercial reasons that push risk-averse publishers to endlessly remaster games that sold well, but aside from a few highlights (like the Quake 2 remaster adding a whole new campaign), these versions are so uninteresting. It’s miserable in an industry that was already cursed by companies’ desires to pulverize everything successful with sequels, prequels, spin-offs, reboots, and mobile gacha games. At least a sequel is something new. I’m also slightly dismayed by the fact that many publishers spewing remasters create the illusion of a boring canon of « classics » that absolutely must be released on every system under the sun. There is still so much exciting stuff happening in the world of video games, but now more than ever, it feels like many of the biggest companies have given up.
Play Morrowind now
Anyway, you can still buy Morrowind and make it perfectly playable on modern PCs using the fan-created replacement engine, OpenMW. It’s Morrowind but slightly more sophisticated and it even adds multiplayer. And well, modders who are working on remaking Oblivion in Skyrim are now aiming to launch Skyblivion by 2025. At least I can respect that as a curious act of devotion. Good god, some fans are still working on their Morrowind remake in Oblivion.
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