The Elder Scrolls III: Prophecy - game review
"... the hero sniffed. Qatar has been troubled for a few days, and yet it has not even set off deeper into the island, where it is said to be even colder. Where, according to the stories of some soldiers from Fort Snow, the ground is frozen and the trees resemble snow statues. The frosty wind roared incessantly in time with the march, white fluff crunched underfoot, and the snow falling from the sky ruthlessly sliced his face. It will be a long journey, thought the hero ... "
Bethesda Softworks has recently (and even earlier, the Polish version of the game has recently seen the light of day) with another addition to its work - The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. The expansion pack is called Bloodmoon and is much more extensive than the previous development, Tribunal. I am not going to dwell on whether Morrowind was successful or not and what are its advantages and disadvantages - someone who is interested in this game will read the review anyway, to which I invite you.
The first thing that stands out is a completely new terrain added to the game. Remember that there was only one city in Tribunal? The fact that it was deep underground and there was no shortage of fun or terrain to explore, but the addition was a bit too small. After the end of the Trinity, some hunger remained. Fortunately, there will be no longer enough of it here. Solstheim is a sprawling island to the northwest of Vvardenfell. I can't say exactly how big it is - it's about 1/7 of the area of the base game. There are rivers here, a large ice-bound lake (the bottom of which I recommend searching), forests, plains, mountains, and even a glacier, caves and tombs. During the trip we will be often visited by snow and frosty wind. However, the terrain and weather are of course not all that Bloodmoon makes available to us after installation.
You need to get to the island for a good start. I do not recommend swimming unless someone likes such challenges. Much easier to pay a little for the boat transport to the haulier in Khuul. When we get off, our eyes will see a fort that we have met on Vvardenfell, and more precisely - Fort Snow, one of the few centers of civilization on the island. You get the impression that nothing has changed ... but only at the beginning. It is enough (against the urging of the local guards) to bypass the fort and venture into the forest to face even wolves and bears. Apart from snow-covered forests and the ubiquitous white powder, the authors did not forget about the interiors. The aforementioned fort does not stand out in any way, but the village of Skaalów or the Thirsk banquet hall (the last two centers of civilization on the island) does. Wooden houses with a thatched roof are very impressive. Vikings immediately come to mind. And rightly so, because just as the entire island of Vvardenfell was inhabited mostly by Dark Elves, the Nords are actually the only inhabitants here. You can feel the Nordic climate not only in the village, the geographical names themselves are raw and as hard as ice. It is even more interesting when we learn about the beliefs and customs of the Nords in the village - this is something completely new. Honor and staying in a group are essential for them. All these stories about trolls, beasts, werewolves, brave and ruthless barbarians ... All together create the atmosphere of the game. And the most interesting thing is that in such stories - about which the bards will then sing (literally!) - we will take part ourselves. Apart from houses, there are also ice, white and blue caves or brown and black burial mounds where the Nords used to hide their ancestors. Even the "coffins" have unusual ones, as they are blocks of ice that are practically impossible to break. The ice castle of a certain giant that we will have to visit is also breathtaking.
However, we will not see everything immediately. An example is the colony on Raven Rock. At first, nothing is there. Only when we join forces with the East-Imperial Trade Company, the settlement is slowly developing. One day you can only see scaffolding, prepared boards and stones, and then houses, watchtowers and walls emerge. The effect is truly amazing, you can feel the development of this place. Kompania Handlowa is a kind of "organization", such as a warrior guild. We will also be promoted in it, depending on our commitment, there are several tasks waiting to be completed. At one point, the authors made sure that the player could choose an employer - one who only counts money as a greedy, or one whose main goal is the good of the colony. When the campaign is over, we will own the colony along with our own property. Here, too, the architecture is completely new.
A certain difficulty may be the fact that transport is provided only between the fort and the colony (if it is created at all). You have to walk practically everywhere. On the other hand, the atmosphere of wildness is more intense here than anywhere else. Wolves run in the forests, bears and wild boars walk. Thanks to these "normal" animals, the world of Solstheim is somehow more accessible, easier to empathize with. Speaking of opponents, it must be admitted that the creators tried to get new meat for our swords and axes. These animals only open the list. Added, among others Draugras (they are similar to Ghouls and Ghasts), wolf undead (he's a zombie-wolf, flattened and with protruding bones), Gharle (powerful ice giants), little Rieklings (there are even specimens that ride wild boars!), Berserkers, crazy priestesses, tree-like Spriggans ... Some animals have skins. One of the blacksmiths can (for a fee, of course) create an armor from the fur of snow bears and wolves, which will protect us from the cold. Skins are also new ingredients for potions, as are various flowers and shrubs that grow in forests. Some interesting effects have been added that can be obtained by properly mixing the ingredients. Alchemists can already rub their hands.
In terms of items, we will not be disappointed either. Starting with the usual weapons of hunters and Skaal, to heavy Nordic armor or silver weapons. This one, in turn, will be especially useful in the fight against werewolves, the topic of which I will elaborate on in a moment. There are armor made of wolf and bear skins (I already wrote about the snow ones). You can also make weapons and armor from Stalhrim. It is a new mineral that is extremely valuable, light and durable. It is this "coffin" where the ancestors of the Nords lie. It's just that you need a special pickaxe to split it. We get it in one of the missions for the Trade Company. There are also various artifacts, although in this particular case there is nothing special… Well, maybe except amulets or a spear that we will get at the end of the game. Unfortunately, the rest of the items are not powerful enough to be of interest to anyone who has traveled the length and breadth of Vvardenfell.
The plot axis is completely unrelated to the one known from Morrowind or Tribunal. Oh, we just go to the island to see what's going on there. The main thread has several tasks. It is split between quests for the captain of the fort, quests to prove your worth to the Skaal, and then unraveling any confusion that has accumulated. Actually, it is not known what is going on until the last task, and the plot is full of several surprising moments. It is especially interesting when we become infected with a disease after a werewolf attack ... It is easy to heal (just drink the potion), but how many will not be tempted to see what it is like to be a werewolf? Few, I suppose.
Well, I also wanted to taste this feeling. And I got a taste ... It's just brilliant! The screen becomes slightly elongated at the edges and shorter in the center. The edges are flanked by a red color. But the sounds are the best, e.g. wolf panting while running or when we are preparing claws to run over someone's throat ... Running on all fours in the snow I felt like a real wolf! Anyway, if someone has played Aliens versus Predator and played the role of an alien, let them know that the feeling here is similar. Looking from the coefficient side, the strength and speed increases to 150. Some skills (eg stealth) are at a hundred, others - at zero. In addition, we have to rip a man's guts out every night and imbue our reign of blood and murder. Well, being a werewolf is not as easy as it sounds. And it is especially not easy when a group of pissed off Nords with silver axes is running at us ... Even if we give up the gift of lycanthropy, we will later get a ring that allows us to turn into a werewolf (without consequences). This "furry" aspect of the game is really great, big applause for the authors.
There were also side quests. They are as interesting as the main plot. For example, by helping a certain captain to remove the curse, we obtain a key to the tomb, where you can (literally) swim in gold. We will hear rumors about buried goods from almost everyone. My advice is to make sure that the rumor of pirate treasure is just nonsense ... Another task will be to kill a terrifying monster that feeds on human flesh, play an archeologist researching the existence of snow elves or investigate a crash of an airship. However, I think there were some more quests in the Trinity expansion. Bloodmoon, on the other hand, offers many more locations to explore, which you do not have to visit, and where each one has something different (e.g. necromancers hideout, berserker lair, cave with a boar pen, etc.). The authors also used the mechanism known from the Trinity, i.e. some objects and persons appear only when we are in the process of performing tasks related to them. Thanks to this, we cannot accidentally "spoil" anything.
The graphics, apart from the previously mentioned things, have not been changed. Still, for example, a weapon "sticks" into gloves or one part of the armor is where the other is. Still, the hero, standing on some obstacle, has an empty space between him and his feet. To correct these errors, you would have to change the entire engine, and that would probably be too difficult. No new music has been added, but there are sound effects that are at a fairly appropriate level. Only the voices have not changed, there are still two (male and female) for one race. It is a bit annoying if the monk, the guard and the captain of the fort speak the same. Any changes known from Tribunal, such as an orderly journal with missions, the ability to write down your own notes or the option to sell very expensive items for the maximum amount of gold that merchants have - are also here.
I do not recommend playing the expansion with a beginner character, although on the other hand, a character on a tens-some level will be too easy. The complete completion of the expansion pack will take about several dozen hours (and I'm talking about completing all the main and side quests, including exploring the area). Unfortunately, while in the Trinity it was necessary to think before attacking some opponents, so here it is enough to have the appropriate level so that no one is an obstacle for us. Even the last boss is easy to defeat. Much more fun is sneaking through a maze full of werewolves. I have no objections to the Polish version of the supplement, I did not notice any errors. I got used to the "cinema version" of the product and it's good that CD Projekt has not changed that. However, I was disappointed because I hoped that in the box I would find a map, a picture of which I often saw on the Internet. Unfortunately, there was no map there.
The final grade is 85. If someone thinks it's too much, I'm in a hurry to explain. Despite the aforementioned errors, Bloodmoon I liked the most in the entire series. Here it is easiest to feel the atmosphere, the environment hits the player the most. If you expected redundancy and boredom, you will be disappointed. The Prophecy is great fun, but may not appeal to those who hate snow and winter ...
Piotr "Ziuziek" Deja