Bethesda’s Howard: Oblivion “sacrificed some of what made Morrowind special”

Thursday, 10th March 2011 13:23 GMT By Johnny Cullen

Bethesda’s Todd Howard has said Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion “sacrificed” what was so key to making Morrowind the legendary game it’s become today.

“It should feel alien, kind of ‘stranger in a strange’ land, with familiar looking elements only rooting you early in the game. The whole tone ends up being one of ‘I’m an outsider, I’m uncomfortable,” Skyrim director Howard told OXM.

“With Oblivion, we’re dealing with the capital province, and we wanted to get back to the more classic Arena and Daggerfall feel of a fantasy world that felt more refined and welcoming,” he continued to add.

“But in that, we sacrificed some of what made Morrowind special; the wonder of discovery.”

Howard admits now it’s looking to find the middle ground between Morrowind and Oblivion with Skyrim.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim releases worldwide on November 11 for PS3, 360 and PC.



  1. unacomn

    Funny thing, although I enjoyed exploring the almost alien looking indigenous settlements of Morrowind, it wasn’t until went to places like Pelegian that I felt like I was home.
    Still wish I could have chose the style of my manor, but hey, Redoran did built it, so I guess it’s OK for it to look like a cockroach.

    #1 4 years ago
  2. Hunam

    He’s right. Morrowind was excellent because it was like nothing I had ever seen before and at the time, played before. Oblivion was very by the numbers fantasy which I’d seen a thousand times before and the gameplay was similar to Morrowind so I think it had less of an impact on me because of that, although I did enjoy the hell out of Fallout 3 despite the fact it sometimes didn’t really get the Fallout universe right, but the sense of discovery and wonder were still there. Skyrim does look fantastic, not enough low fantasy around and the gameplay looks really good. Here’s hoping they make up for Oblivion.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. UuBuU

    Both games are great in their own way. The whole issue of Morrowind supposedly being ‘vastly superior in every possible way’ to Oblivion is ridiculous and has been blown out of proportion by elitist forum turds who have awful taste in games and are just trying to look cool by latching onto the older of the two games. It honestly suprises me that more of them don’t try and argue that Daggerfall is superior to both because it has a really big map. :/

    Overall i’ll admit, I slightly preferred Morrowind in it’s day because of the impact it had, but there were many, MANY things Oblivion did which were so much better, and in my opinion, a modded Oblivion surpasses Morrowind easily.

    Trying to argue that Oblivion is anything but an incredible game simply based on comparisons with Morrowind is idiotic at best. And honestly, if I had to pick between Morrowind’s “alien” world and Oblivion’s traditional fantasy world, i’d chose Oblivion’s. Graphics improvements aside, the world looked so much nicer in my opinion.

    Would be great to see some middle ground in Skyrim though.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. DarkElfa

    Well said UuBuU and most of those Marrowind Ellitists were just mad cause they couldn’t get playable frame rates in Oblivion.


    #4 4 years ago
  5. Hunam


    On release Morrowind was far more of a system hog than Oblivion was on release :P

    But I think the elitism thing, I don’t really get that, maybe I’ve not been to the same forums as you guys but I do prefer my fantasy to be weird and alien so Oblvion just didn’t deliver the goods. Plus the whole monster level thing which most people hated. Morrowind let me jump for about 10 miles which was great. I loved the absurd stuff in Morrowind and Oblivion got rid of a lot of that which also put me off. Skyrim looks far more series than Oblvion does sure, but it’s got that weird conan vibe to it, nice and dark.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. Erthazus

    Oh, they finally admitted that they made crap. It’s official.

    Good, maybe they will make decent game this time.

    but for now there is a great outrage about this at Bethesda’s forum where almost every fan says to make it good this time and not like Oblivion.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. UuBuU

    ^^ The clueless idiot has arrived.

    A) Oblivion is not crap, it’s a game universally praised and recognised as being one of the greatest of all time, EVEN IF it’s not quite as good as Morrowind.

    B) You’re a bitter idiot who knows nothing about games.

    C) Go jerk off to Geralt of Rivia’s ponytail please, and stop trolling Elder Scrolls topics.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. Hunam

    @7 To be honest, your point A is a yes/no type situation. Oblivion was massively praised, but it also had one of the biggest backlashes about a year after release where a lot of people, people who never played Morrowind started thinking that it wasn’t deserving of the 10/10 it got. In fact I’ve seen people reference the oblivion backlash to other non Bethesda games too.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. Ireland Michael

    @7 Please show us where Oblivion has ever been portrayed as one of the greatest games of all time. Beyond maybe the ending lines of a few reviews that came out on launch, which would just be hyperbole.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. Hunam

    @9 Loads of people love Oblivion, it’s a game that is still talked about 5 years after it came out. It was the first proper open world game for many people and there are tons and tons of fans about it. There’s even a running joke on those Sent U a message videos on XBL about people constantly asking about Elder Scrolls games.

    #10 4 years ago
  11. Erthazus

    @8,9, guys stop. He just don’t like RPG type of games like Dragon Age or Witcher and thinks that Oblivion is a true RPG game because of it’s opne world environment. Thats it.

    @10, it was a proper open world game for people who started playing RPG games this generation.

    It’s not new. There are a lot of flaws and i hope with SKYRIM they will fix everything.

    #11 4 years ago
  12. aleph31

    #7 I don’t really understand the point about the elitism of the Morrowind fan-base. Maybe I’m out of the loop, but in my case the difference between Morrowind and Oblivion was mainly related to the level of immersion that each of them achieved. After seeing a farmer wearing a daedric armour, just because I had with great effort obtained some portions of one, I decided I had enough with that game and left it unfinished.

    It’s not that I hate Oblivion, I think the rage may come from the fact that most people felt so much identified with their experiences while playing Morrowind, that the deception was really profound when they couldn’t get the same level of immersion in Oblivion. In my case I felt as if I could never get back again to that wonderful world I found after arriving at Seyda Neen.

    #12 4 years ago
  13. UuBuU

    @8 – I think you’re exaggerating a bit there. You make it sound like there was almost a universal “backlash” a year after release… which frankly, is implausible. The game still to this day has a HUGE fanbase, a very active and dedicated modding community, and is still frequently popping up in all-time greatest games lists for both players and reviewers alike. Also, I don’t recall it ever getting a 10/10. Low to mid 9′s was the average I think, which is fair in my opinion.

    @9 Go and google “top PC games” or “favourite PC games of all-time”. I’m sure you’ll see Oblivion popping up quite a bit. ;)

    #13 4 years ago
  14. OrbitMonkey

    Their was a Oblivion backlash?

    #14 4 years ago
  15. UuBuU

    @12 – See, to me that’s a complete overreaction to a very trivial issue which can either be ignored or modded out. Obviously it’s your choice, but personally I think ditching a game halfway through over something so small is ridiculous.

    It’s like the people who whine about fast-travelling and how it breaks immersion – there’s a simple solution, don’t use it. Pretend it isn’t there. It’s really not that hard to figure out.

    Reacting so much to such trivial issues is the gaming equivelant of breaking a nail and bitching about it forever in my opinion.

    #15 4 years ago
  16. Hunam

    EG gave it a 10. I think my wording was a bit wrong, but it did have a fairly big backlash of people thinking it wasn’t as good as they first thought. Like the level scaling and the voice acting and the writing and the main quest and the annoying oblivion gates. But I meant it as people getting over the intial hype and seeing the games flaws rather than everyone saying it’s crap, but it was notable in that it did have a backlash where a lot of games usually don’t.

    Ultimately, Oblivion, like Morrowind was a flawed gem. But the flaws in Oblivion were more bothersome to me than the flaws in Morrowind. Fallout was much more like Morrwind tbh and I liked that more than Oblivion. But to be honest. Oblivion is a big game, but it’s not CoD or GTA big, nor even Assassin’s Creed big, but probably the next step on the ladder down. I just think it has more vocal fans than most of the above games hence why it feels like it’s a giant game.

    #16 4 years ago
  17. Ireland Michael

    @10 That doesn’t answer my remark. *Show* me where Oblivion has been constantly praised as one of the greatest games of all time. By someone other than a random fan on the internet.

    As a kid, I have an obsessive love for Power Rangers. That doesn’t mean it’s the greatest show of all time. A fact isn’t a fact unless it stands up to peer review, and he is claiming something he can’t prove.

    And hey, I think Oblivion is a decent game, so please don’t start. I think it did lose a few elements that made the series great, namely its diverse lore, it’s unique location design, and it’s sense of exploration. But its still decent.

    They seem to have taken the fair criticism of the last game on board for this one. So I’m hopeful.

    Contrary to popular belief, critical thinking is a good thing. You can like something while still seeing its flaws or mistakes. That’s how you make something better.

    #17 4 years ago
  18. aleph31

    #16 well, the farmer with daedric armour was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, it’s not that the whole decission of abandonning the game was based on that, but it serves as an example.

    In art, there is something called “suspension of disbelief” (just read the first paragraph on Wikipedia:

    Well, even though Morrowind was much more a fantastic and weird world, it seemed much more real to me than Oblivion. The experiences I got were more profound, living an epic story full of solitude at the same time.

    #18 4 years ago
  19. UuBuU

    @16 – For me it was almost the other way around. First time playing it, my impressions weren’t good at all. The NPCs were poor, the Oblivion gates were tedious as hell, etc. But the more I played it, the more trivial and obsolete those flaws became and with the help of mods, the game really came into it’s own. It’s just not as easy to get into and feel immediately immersed as Morrowind was.

    I agree about it not being a giant game though. Definately noowhere near the likes of GTA or CoD in terms of popularity. It just has a very vocal and dedicated fanbase.

    #19 4 years ago
  20. UuBuU

    @17 – A lot of the ‘greatest of all time’ lists are composed by reputable gaming sites, not just “random fans on the internet”. Obviously, any opinions on what the greatest games are is going to be hugely subjective and a lot of people will disagree with the selections on any one list. But the fact is, Oblivion AND Morrowind both appear on an awful lot of these lists which suggests a lot of people consider them both to be all-time greats.

    I do agree with your comment about critical thinking though. I like Oblivion a lot, but I definately can see it’s flaws. The problem I have is with people who home in on those flaws and call the game crap because of them. It’s nonsense, and to me just reeks of a spoilt generation that expect perfectly polished games.

    #20 4 years ago
  21. Ireland Michael

    @20 People calling it “crap” are clearly nothing more than rambling fanboys.

    Calling it a step back and an inferior sequel though. That’s a valid opinion.

    #21 4 years ago
  22. Epic Fool

    @3 I liked Daggerfall. Loved it in fact, bugs and all.

    Could never quite get into Morrowind, don’t really like it’s art style, always thought that as a sequel to Daggerfall it was quite disappointing in fact…

    Sank a couple hundred hours into Oblivion though, so I must think it’s alright.

    #22 4 years ago
  23. Ireland Michael

    Oh man. Daggerfall.

    I think I wasted more time of my life in that game that *any* other game that’s ever been created before or since.

    Did they ever actually manage to patch it to state where the main story was actually completable? Hahaha!

    And gamers think they have it bad now, when minor bugs can be resolved and patched within a day or two. Little whippersnappers have no idea how good they have it. =P

    #23 4 years ago
  24. The_Red

    Ok, “stranger in new world” elements were part of what made Morrowind great but what about 120837435 other things good things about Morro that where missing in Oblivion?

    #24 4 years ago

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