The Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon review

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Alejandra Rangel
@alejandrarangel
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A second anomalous expansion

Raise your hand if you've never heard of Morrowind.
It's been a year since Bethesda produced the third installment of its glorious series: “The Elder Scrolls” for PC and Xbox. There is no denying that Morrowind was an authentic pillar for the RPG gamer community, a game to have, play and appreciate for its multitude of qualities.
One of these is its incredible modularity that allows anyone to modify or add anything to the world of Morrowind thanks to the editor included in the game: “The Elder Scrolls Construction Set”, TES for friends.
More or less 6 months ago the first official expansion came out: Tribunal, this was an anomalous expansion because in practice it was nothing more than a gigantic module that was going to be grafted into the world of Morrowind, but making very few changes to the interface and above all to the graphics and sound engine that governed the game.



A second anomalous expansion

Now, 6 months from Tribunal and one year from Morrowind, Bethesda has decided to offer fans of the original title the second official expansion: “The Elder Scroll III: Bloodmoon”; technically it is like installing a huge expansion module (* .esm) of about 120Mb.
Bloodmoon will also bring the game version to 1.5.1629 which includes all the innovations added in Tribunal, which therefore will be present in the game even without the installation of the latter.
As we said, the system initially detects Bloodmoon as an expansion module and loads it exactly like any other module. Loading an old save-game, the game will automatically convert the old quests adapting them to the new mega module installed. Unfortunately I found some compatibility problems of the old modules used previously in Bloodmoon, this incompatibility is systemic, so much so that in the official Bloodmoon forum numerous threads have appeared asking for a compatibility list between the amateur modules already present and Bloodmoon.



A second anomalous expansion

To avoid any problems I decided to play Bloodmoon using a smooth configuration: Morrowind, Bloodmoon and of course the inevitable “Morrowind ITP - Final Version.esp”.
With this configuration I had no problems whatsoever, on the contrary, the ITP localization module adapted perfectly to the new expansion, presenting everything that belongs to Morrowind translated (interface, object descriptions, dialogues, etc.), leaving in English only the dialogues and the names of the objects and places proper to Bloodmoon, in a synergy that pleasantly surprised me.

Alien in a foreign land

Fortunately, Bloodmoon does not present a way to access the new Machiavellian and abstruse area like Tribunal.
The expansion takes place exclusively on a new gigantic island called Solstheim, northwest of Morrowind Island, easily accessible at any time from the port of a well-known coastal town of Morrowind.
Obviously, being designed as an expansion for players of a certain level, I strongly recommend that you access it only with a character already strong, with a lot of energy points and able to hit very hard.
Upon arriving in Solstheim, the first sign of civilization will be Fort Frostmoth, an outpost of the Imperial legion in the frozen and inhospitable land of Solstheim. From here your new adventures will start in three different narrative strands, not to mention the dozens of occasional quests that will come your way.
The main quest will unfold along all the places of Solstheim, taking you along an exciting narrative path to learn about the religion, customs and habits of the people of the north, as well as meet their own destiny narrated in an ancient prophecy of the moon. red. The cultural state of the peoples of the north draws with both hands in classical Nordic mythology, proposing in a new key concepts already known by reading mythology books or simply by reading or renting the "13th warrior".
Sometimes you will feel just like the character of that novel / movie, an alien in an alien land of irrepressible beauty, but of lethal danger.



Alien in a foreign land

The quests are very well structured, starting in a fairly classic way, they will surprise you with twists and turns in situations. Some quests reminded me a lot of Ultima IX, while others seem to take their cue from Rowling's novels and especially from the latest "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire".
The quests will lead you to have your own home or to conduct your own business, but I won't tell you more so as not to spoil the surprise.
One of the most recurring narrative strands in Bloodmoon is that of werewolves (werevolves), the real leitmotif of the expansion to which we owe the title and the wonderful red moon that will stand out in the clear nights above you.
Bethesda will give you the chance to become a werewolf yourself, with all that this entails for you. Becoming a werewolf in fact depends on the infection of a virus which, caught during the fight with a werewolf, involves the gradual but inexorable transformation into a beast.
I will not tell you if there is a remedy for the infection, it will be up to you to decide in one of the perhaps most suffered and meditated choices of the entire Morrowind saga.



A new land full of opportunities ...

Speaking of setting, you may like it or not, personally I love Nordic settings like Icewind Dale and I found Bloodmoon amazing for how the island of Solstheim was designed.
It goes seamlessly from frozen moors to deep snow-covered forests, from inaccessible white and dangerous peaks to shores of pure ice. Walking on a frozen lake you can hear the thin layer of ice below you crunching in a sinister way, you will slip if you climb on an iceberg, you will be absolutely blinded by the snowstorms that will unleash around you.
The fauna will be very numerous and nasty. It will appear that every square inch of Solstheim is filled with fierce enemies. It can literally be said that you will have to sweat every foot of the road and as you progress through the game, the entire island will be littered with the corpses you leave behind.

A new land full of opportunities ...

In Bloodmoon there is (fortunately!) No monster respawn and, even if unrealistic, your hunting trophies will remain on the ground as an everlasting memory of your fights.
You will have to deal with wolves, bears, spriggan (a kind of anthropomorphic creature of the woods) as well as with mercenaries, bersekers and so on.
From the point of view of the variety of opponents there is certainly no complaint.
Speaking instead of the NPCs, they will be relatively few but with a very high characterization.
The NPCs will recognize you when you have given them the opportunity to introduce you and will be grateful if you do them a favor.
The dialogues with the NPCs will therefore be dynamic, both the passive ones (the words they will tell you when you pass by them) and the active ones, during a dialogue session.

Everything good?

If you still didn't understand, I really appreciated Bloodmoon, but alas it is not free from defects that could even undermine its playability.
Let's start with the quests, some triggers in their structure do not fire, preventing you from moving forward. Emblematic is the case of a quest that asks you to free a missionary, after having found and freed her, the trigger that will allow you to conclude the adventure positively does not go off.
Not bad after all it's just a secondary quest, too bad that this also happened to me with a quest in the main vein, forcing me to reload an old save and do it all over again.
Fortunately, then everything went well, but in any case this denotes a certain superficiality in the beta testing phase.
From the graphic point of view, we are faced with a setting designed with absolute mastery and enchanting beauty, at times ruined by a slowdown of the graphic engine for loading the areas, which sometimes lasts whole seconds.
In the long run, this ends up turning a game session into a constant torment, considering that in Solstheim there is no transport system and you will have to run a lot, both to reach a place and to escape a host of angry beasts.

Everything good?

I wonder if after a year we could not do more to optimize memory management, perhaps assuming a gradual system of loading the textures that does not involve the total block of the game.
In addition, Bloodmoon will occasionally slam you at the desktop without warning, this will happen randomly, maybe in three hours of play everything will go smoothly, then you will find yourself at the desktop twice in 20 minutes.
All of these issues have been spotted by tons of users on the official Bloodmoon forum, and Bethesda has stated that a patch is in the works to improve the situation. Unfortunately, the timing of realization is not known and in any case a more precise and timely beta testing phase would have been enough to solve at least the problem in the triggers of the quests.
Ultimately remember to save a lot, very often in Bloodmoon.

In conclusion

I admit, I started Bloodmoon with a certain sufficiency, I didn't expect much from the proposed quests or from the new setting.
How wrong I was!
Bloodmoon enriches Morrowind with a wonderful new island and a significant number of interesting quests, as well as a stimulating and exciting narrative vein.
I enjoyed playing it a lot and my more than positive opinion allowed me to postpone the listed defects, which shows how much the positive aspects are much greater than the negative ones.
An expansion that cannot miss on the shelf of every fan of The Elder Scrolls saga; for everyone else, Bloodmoon might be the good excuse worth buying the original game.

Presentation: 7
The expansion is of course in English, we still don't know anything about the Italian packaging or the presence of a paper map of the new island, the US version is complete as usual.

Graphics: 7,5
The same as Morrowind, unfortunately the serious problems in the management of the memory are now unacceptable a year after the release of the original. After all this time, Morrowind's engine should run smoothly, not stalling at every push.

Sound: 6
Same sound as Morrowind, two points less because if in Morrowind they were already few and in Tribunal they didn't correct the problem, in Bloodmoon it was imperative to add at least a couple of musical themes.

Gameplay: 9
The setting is superb, the quests are interesting and challenging.
Plenty of possibilities will present themselves to you, including becoming a werewolf. Morrowind's gameplay to its nth degree.

Final verdict: 82
Too bad for the flaws, if Bethesda had paid more attention the vote would certainly have been higher. On the other hand, you cannot penalize an expansion so well done and structured that, due to its qualities, the purchase of the original game alone is worth it.

Gabriele "AarnaK" From the River


Silence and Ice

I look at the immense frozen land that stretches out below me, walking is difficult, let's not talk about running.
The menacing crunch of the ice suggests that there must be water underneath, I just hope I don't find myself fighting with a crack in the surface!
Yes, fighting, since I landed in Solstheim I have done nothing else, this inhospitable land: wolves, bears, spriggan and so on have blocked my way, not to mention the other horrors that I don't even dare to utter.
But despite this, Solstheim is a land that one cannot avoid loving; the landscape, the population, here I have found a name, a reputation, a place to call home, I don't think I will leave this island any time soon and if I do, it will be with deep regret and sadness.
A distant howl, not a normal howl, by now I am learning to recognize it, they are coming, they are coming to get me, well I'm ready, it's time to finish this story!

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