The Moment That Makes Morrowind A Masterpiece

Kotaku's Heather Alexandra has penned a new short piece on Morrowind that analyzes one moment in particular that changed her perception of the narrative favorably compared to its successors, Oblivion and Skyrim. Be warned that the quote could be considered a spoiler, in case you've yet to play the 2002 title or finish its main quest:

Eventually, you confront Dagoth Ur. He asks if you truly are Nerevar reborn. This moment is the moment that makes Morrowind great. There are a variety of answers to the question. You can declare that you are Nerevar. You can claim to be a loyal agent of the Empire. You can claim to be your own, self-made hero. Or you can say that you don’t know.


This is getting into esoteric lore territory, but there’s a concept called ‘mantling’ in The Elder Scrolls. The saying goes: “Walk like them until they must walk like you.” In completing the main quest, it is entirely possible that you acted like Nerevar so fucking hard that you became him regardless of the truth. Even when you make a choice to say that you are self-made, it might not matter.


In a single moment, the game’s narrative becomes infinitely more complex. The writing leverages intense metaphysical concepts that cast further doubt about the story. These rich underpinnings and bold player choices never survived the transition into Oblivion or Skyrim. The setting was sanded down, and the beautiful ambiguities were thrown away.