30 in 30: Bethesda Softworks

Bethesda Softworks is next in line to receive the "30 in 30" overview treatment on CVG, with a majority of the feature spotlighting key figures Todd Howard and Pete Hines, as well as notable releases Morrowind and Fallout 3.
In 2002 Morrowind was the ultimate single-player RPG. Every aspect of the game defied expectations by throwing out the tried and true, but stagnant RPG formula and rewrote it. No longer were players simply stuck in a loop of killing nasties, accruing experience and gaining levels.

In Morrowind there were more ways to play the game than most people could even begin to fathom at the time. It was enough to render leave the player feeling utterly overwhelmed, one of the many emotions that has come to personify many of Bethesda's games since.

One of the many strokes of genius in Morrowind was the ability to create a custom class, which meant player could fashion a character that suited their needs and the more ambitious adventurers could replay the game over and over with different approaches supported by their bespoke hero.

Another genius move saw character development tied into how often a particular skill was used. Reliance on bladed weapons advanced the characters proficiency with them, favouring particular spells raised their effectiveness. Even non-combat skills such as the ability to repair armour could be developed simply by carrying out the action. The system provided the player with a very real sense of character progression and gave purpose to even the most menial of tasks.

Morrowind absorbed RPG fans like few other games of the time could, it quickly became the game all other RPGs aspired to be like and still stands as one of the landmark release in the genre's history.