Oblivion Isn't the Elder Scrolls Game That Deserves a Remake
Take me back to Vvardenfell.
With The Elder Scrolls VI still only a glimmer in Todd Howard’s eyes, it seems Bethesda may be looking backward in the hopes of delivering something special to fans. Recent rumors suggest a remaster/remake of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is in the works. The reports of the Oblivion remaster/remake (the rumor is not clear on what the project’s final form would take) comes from a now-deleted Reddit post claiming Metal Gear Solid Delta co-developer Virtuos is behind the project.
While this prospect will excite plenty of gamers, the entry in the series that deserves a new lease on life the most is the seminal RPG The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.
Almost every entry in Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series has some greater importance to video game history. Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim each feel like a pinnacle of gaming in the era from which they were made. While none of these games are bad, Morrowind is particularly suited for a modern update.
Oblivion was released in 2006, but despite its age, the game’s core mechanics are relatively easy to understand for modern audiences. No doubt the game could use a graphical update, but if you have the gumption, you can mod the game to look much easier on the eyes and have a grand time with it today.
Not so with Morrowind. Released in 2002 for PC and the original Xbox, Morrowind feels like a game from a bygone era of game design. It is a much more system-driven game than the fluid action-forward style of Oblivion and Skyrim — sort of an in-between of traditional CRPGs and the modern action RPG. Morrowind’s deep systems and branching dialogue are at the heart of what makes the game great. Yet it is undeniable that it needs a facelift for the modern gamer. Hence fan projects like Skywind, which endeavor to recreate the game in the Skyrim engine.
But the systems of Morrowind are only part of the game’s charm. The world is equally enthralling, inviting players to the alien-looking island of Vvardenfell. Giant mushrooms sprout out of the ground and perplexing creatures roam the land. It keeps the elves and traditional fantasy of Elder Scrolls while injecting it with an unsettling unfamiliarity that makes Morrowind still feel like the most unique entry in the series.
The perplexing design of Vvardenfell makes Morrowind feel far more expansive than it is in reality. If you have played Morrowind it might surprise you that the game’s map is the smallest game in comparison to both Oblivion and Skyrim. Interesting encounters in the world, as well as the lack of simple fast travel, made everything feel bigger, however. As opposed to Oblivion’s objectively large world that could quickly feel lacking where it counts
Morrowind is a watershed moment for open-world RPGs, as well as a pivotal turning point in The Elder Scrolls — without which Oblivion and Skyrim would not exist. The historical importance and charm of the game remain valuable, and while it is always important to keep the original game playable, it would not hurt to give it a modern update in the vein of Capcom’s Resident Evil remake series. Taking the core of what makes a game so special and figuring out how to remake it for the modern day without losing that core.
Many fans of the series will be happy for the Oblivion remaster/remake to be confirmed in some way, and they are right to be excited. But I’ll keep hoping that this means we will get to return to Vvardenfell sooner rather than later.