MOD SPOT­LIGHT

This stu­pen­dous mod takes vanilla Morrowind and adds more of, well, ev­ery­thing.

PC GAMER (US) - - CONTENTS - By Rick Lane

Iknow few vir­tual places as in­ti­mately as Seyda Neen, the port in the south­west of Vvar­den­fell where your Morrowind char­ac­ter be­gins their ad­ven­tures. I’ve fleshed out dozens of char­ac­ters in its Cen­sus and Ex­cise of­fice, and I’ve bought many a start­ing weapon at Ar­rille’s Trade­house. I’ve passed the necro­mancer’s tower count­less times, and I’ve… Hang on, that isn’t right. There’s no necro­mancer’s tower on the out­skirts of Seyda Neen. Ac­tu­ally, I don’t re­call there be­ing this many shacks clus­tered on the coast­line. And was that shady-look­ing tav­ern with the red lan­tern out­side al­ways there? What in Vivec’s name is go­ing on?

Such is the sen­sa­tion of ex­plor­ing Vvar­den­fell with the Morrowind Re­birth mod in­stalled. This enor­mous mod re­mod­els huge chunks of ter­rain, ex­pand­ing towns and adding new dun­geons and ad­ven­tures along­side swathes of other con­tent. It also achieves this with such a del­i­cate hand that, if you haven’t played Morrowind for a while, you might strug­gle to iden­tify where the old Morrowind ends and Re­birth be­gins.

Land­scap­ing

Morrowind Re­birth was first re­leased in 2011, start­ing out as a col­lec­tion of town-over­haul mods cre­ated by trance­mas­ter_1988. Since then the mod has re­ceived 44 ma­jor updates that ba­si­cally give the to­pog­ra­phy of the en­tire is­land a makeover, adding a truly stag­ger­ing amount of new and mod­i­fied places to ex­plore.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, a large amount of the mod’s fo­cus is on ex­pand­ing towns and set­tle­ments. Al­most ev­ery scrap of civ­i­liza­tion has been al­tered in some way. Caldera, the Im­pe­rial min­ing town north­east of Balmora, has seen new build­ings and shops in­tro­duced within its walls, while the perime­ter has been re­mod­eled to in­clude farm­steads with work­ing wind­mills. Mean­while, the mas­sive city of Vivec has seen its en­trance area over­hauled, with a range of shops, houses, and ware­houses added near the Silt Strider port. Even tiny vil­lages, such as the north­ern out­post Dagon Fel, have been ex­panded.

One of the towns that has re­ceived the most at­ten­tion is Balmora. Re­birth’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion has not one, but two en­tirely over­hauled dis­tricts—one near the town’s south gate, and the other on its north­ern hill­side. These in­clude mul­ti­ple new mer­chant ven­dors, such as a Scroll spe­cial­ist and a seller of mag­i­cal clothes. Along­side trance­mas­ter’s

own work, Morrowind Re­birth in­cor­po­rates third-party mods, such as Balmora Un­der­world, which adds a vast sub­ter­ranean mar­ket. Be­neath that lurks a labyrinthine Dwe­mer ruin for play­ers to plun­der.

What’s par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive about these ad­di­tions is how seam­lessly they fit into Morrowind’s land­scape. These new build­ings aren’t sim­ply placed down wher­ever

It doesn’t feel like the game has been mod­ded. It’s more like time has sim­ply moved on

there’s space, trance­mas­ter has painstak­ingly molded the game’s ter­rain to ac­com­mo­date for them. Be­yond the game’s ur­ban cen­ters, trance­mas­ter has added var­i­ous new ad­ven­tures and per­ils. These in­clude ban­dit camps to raid, and mul­ti­ple new dun­geons, in­clud­ing a new Daedric realm to ex­plore, and unique sights such as, err, mass graves.

It’s worth not­ing that Morrowind Re­birth doesn’t add many quests. At least, not ones that will be recorded in your jour­nal. In­stead, Re­birth’s ad­ven­tures are less of­fi­cial, tak­ing the form of notes pinned to walls that hint at the lo­ca­tion of an item or a stash of gold, or bounty hunters that will track you down if the price for your head reaches a cer­tain thresh­old. Re­birth also doesn’t make sig­nif­i­cant changes to the game’s vis­ual prow­ess, although it does make land­scapes more var­ied, while adding vis­ual va­ri­ety to re­cur­ring NPCs like Im­pe­rial guards and skele­tons.

Re­turn­ing home

Along­side its many ad­di­tions, Morrowind Re­birth also makes a mas­sive num­ber of bal­ance changes. Hun­dreds of me­chan­i­cal val­ues have been tweaked, from the dam­age of dif­fer­ent weapons to the weight of items, and the price of trav­el­ing via Silt Strider. It’s im­pos­si­ble to go into these in any great de­tail, but the gen­eral ef­fect makes lev­el­ing slightly slower and the dif­fi­culty more chal­leng­ing. Per­son­ally, I al­ways felt Morrowind was slow and chal­leng­ing enough, but this does spread your progress out more evenly across the mod’s in­crease in scope. Plus, if you get stuck, that’s what the dif­fi­culty slider is there for.

What I like most about Morrowind Re­birth is how nat­u­ral all the ad­di­tions ap­pear. It makes Vvar­den­fell feel as if it has grown and evolved dur­ing your ab­sence, like re­turn­ing to your home­town af­ter years away, only with­out the dis­ap­point­ment at dis­cov­er­ing your fa­vorite cof­fee shop has been re­placed by yet an­other Star­bucks. It doesn’t feel like the game has been mod­ded. It’s more like time has sim­ply moved on. If you want to know just how much has changed while play­ing, how­ever, keep an eye out for hang­ing lanterns. These are trance­mas­ter’s call­ing card, and you will be see­ing them ab­so­lutely every­where you go.

Re­birth in­cor­po­rates third-party mods. The huge Bal­moraUn­der­ground is one of these.

Even back­wa­ter vil­lages like Dagon Fel haven’t es­caped Re­birth’s at­ten­tion.

Ebon­heart’s plaza has un­der­gone a sig­nif­i­cant re­design.

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