Why Was The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Not Called Vvardenfell?

Ever since The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall (which, sure, was set in Daggerfall), the mainline Elder Scrolls sequence has usually been fairly simple in its naming conference: plonk a quantity down denoting which entry within the sequence it’s, then observe it up with a single-word suffix with the sport’s setting, and you’ve got your self an Elder Scrolls recreation.

There was Daggerfall, there was Skyrim, and granted, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion largely takes place in Cyrodiil, however we may give that one a go given that you simply spend hours upon hours stomping across the hellish dimension of Oblivion. Also, Oblivion is clearly a cool-sounding phrase whereas Cyrodiil sounds prefer it may very well be a cough drugs.
But Morrowind has all the time been a little bit of a bizarre one. Yes, the sport technically takes place within the province of Morrowind, however solely on the island of Vvardenfell, which makes up not more than 20% of Morrowind’s whole landmass (the Tribunal growth teleports you to the town of Mournhold on the Morrowind mainland, however you possibly can’t discover any of the encircling space).

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The sequence was nonetheless obscure sufficient on the time of Morrowind that Bethesda might get away with it with out followers crying that they have been offered brief (and let’s face it, Morrowind was an unimaginable and huge recreation in its personal proper). But nonetheless, think about if it turned out that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was solely set in Los Santos. You’d be sort of questioning the place was the remainder of the state that was promised, proper?

As it seems, there’s a cause for the discrepancy between title and site. The unique imaginative and prescient was for the sport to embody all the province of Morrowind. This map from earlier within the recreation’s manufacturing (method again in 1996) reveals that the landmass was to stretch method past Vvardenfell. Production on the sport restarted a few occasions since this map was created, and as we all know the map would shrink considerably, however the unique title, Morrowind, caught.

As you possibly can see, there have been to be varied highlands, a ‘Southern Marshes’ area, in addition to myriad cities unfold throughout all the area. The recreation was initially going to function all 5 of the nice Dunmer homes too, however the closing recreation solely options the homes of Hlaalu, Telvanni, and Redoran, whereas the Houses of Dres and Indoril had been omitted from Vvardenfell (although they live on within the lore).

What’s fascinating in regards to the above map is that Vvardenfell was initially going to be nearly solely coated in Ashlands – hostile, craggy terrain that is not actually that a lot to take a look at. When the sport received scaled down, nonetheless, Bethesda moved issues round, took components from different areas, and made Vvardenfell a a lot denser and extra numerous land than initially envisioned. In truth, Vvardenfell turned sort of a vibrant microcosm of what the whole thing of Morrowind was initially going to be.

The area surrounding what was as soon as the town of Stonewood (later Seyda Neen) turned the muggy, swampy area we now know because the Bitter Coast, whereas the area east of the Red Mountain turned the comparatively inexperienced and fertile Grazelands within the closing recreation. While Vvardenfell continues to be a wierd and surreal panorama within the closing recreation, it is also deceptively inexperienced, with tons of flora together with these now-iconic big mushrooms that develop across the extra fertile areas of the sport world. More cities had been crammed into Vvardenfell, and the geography turned extra numerous, with the north, south, and east of the island turning into archipelagos with dozens of islands (it appears like the realm as soon as often called Sadrith Forest turned the archipelago of Sadrith Mora, the seat of House Telvanni).

Condensing The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind into the Vvardenfell area might effectively have been the most effective factor that occurred to the sequence, as a result of with gaming tech the place it was on the time, greater nearly definitely would not have meant higher. The earlier Elder Scrolls video games, Arena and Daggerfall, had been famously enormous, however full of bland procedurally-generated terrain that made the worlds past the cities really feel largely hole. By reeling in its title’s preliminary promise of a whole province, Morrowind gave us one of many densest, characterful recreation worlds launched as much as that time, cramming in an unimaginable quantity of geographical and architectural selection onto one island that was initially going to be an ashen wasteland.

It’s an enormous testomony to the ultimate design of the world that when the area of Vvardenfell returned in The Elder Scrolls Online in 2017, the landmass itself barely modified. You might need thought {that a} area from a 15-year-old recreation might need wanted a little bit of revamping, however past accounting for the truth that Elder Scrolls Online is about a number of hundred years earlier than Morrowind, there actually was no want. From its bizarre geography to its equally bizarre Dunmer inhabitants, Vvardenfell (or Morrowind, as most individuals comprehend it) is timeless.

It’s effectively documented that Morrowind was a recreation subjected to lots of crunch, and that the whole thing of Bethesda was getting ready to collapse till Todd Howard took the group to a lodge, gave them a motivational pep speak, and rallied them to maintain pushing on with the sport (by way of Polygon). At some level throughout this course of, the scope of the sport was reeled in, which not solely helped save the sport, however signalled a paradigm shift at Bethesda, with subsequent entries Oblivion and Skyrim choosing worlds that struck a steadiness between feeling huge and lived-in.

With The Elder Scrolls 6 anticipated to be set throughout the 2 neighbouring provinces of High Rock and Hammerfell, I simply hope that Bethesda is not stretching itself skinny prefer it used to, prioritising scale over the sort of world richness that Morrowind first established within the sequence.

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