Ferik wrote:The thing is, while Morrowind lost a lot it also gained quite a bit. The smaller map is one thing, but it's much denser, more detailed, and each area is more innately memorable due to being handcrafted. Same thing with the quests, towns, and NPC's. Not that all the NPC's in Morrowind are unique, far from it, but there's certainly a larger amount than the previous games.
Daggerfall had more NPCs. Granted they were randomly spawned, but they still served the purpose of making places feel more alive. You could talk to them about anything, there were a variety of responses they could give, and they all reacted differently. Some would be more helpful than others (some would tell you what you want to know, others would tell you if they could, others wouldn't tell you even if they could, and others just won't tell you), some would respond more favorably to different methods of talking (blunt, neutral, or nice). They also cleared away at night, increasing that feeling that they were living their own lives (along with shops and guild halls closing at night).
The areas being innately more memorable in Morrowind, I wouldn't say is really true. Daggerfall had plenty of different environments, from rocky mountainous areas, hilly grasslands, plains, forests, deserts, areas that are more wet/rainy, areas that see more snow, etc. It was so designed to make different regions unique that it had a climate map that influenced the weather, and had a system in-place that would dynamically swap a model's textures depending on where you were (which applied to both interiors and exteriors). Sure you may be able to remember more finer details in the later games, but Daggerfall had plenty of memorable regions and areas too (also, a lot of Morrowind's map was taken up by the Ashlands and Molag Mar/Amur areas, which were full of gray, and way too many ash and blight storms; not places I like to be).
The size of Daggerfall's map also played into other things, such as having more realistic travel times/expenses and time scale. And that had an effect on diseases, since it gave more realistic progression instead of just being hit with the effects and having it cured within a day, and affected questing, since almost all quests are timed and can be failed (which itself fed into how quests were randomized and repeatable). Those things also fed into the crime/reputation system, since your reputation and renown were based on who you were working for and how well you were doing what they asked of you. You had an infinite number of quests available, so you didn't need to worry about running out and having nothing more to do.
A lot of this was drastically changed, if not outright dropped, to work within Morrowind's smaller scale world, simply because of how it was all interdependent. Change one thing, and those related things no longer worked as intended, without themselves having to be changed. For sure, you can personally prefer the way Morrowind did it, but it's not a universal truth that it was objectively better. Though there was plenty that was lost for no apparent reason... proper day-night (where NPCs go away at night, shops close at night, and unique night-time music), atmospheric dungeons (with unique dungeon music, and moody sound effects and lighting), a bunch more skills (critical strike, thaumaturgy, climbing, medical, etc), the character creator (being able to pick out details of your past that influenced your starting gear, stats, and reputation, and the whole Advantages and Disadvantages system for custom classes), that there was multiple tiers monsters had for weapon invulnerability (some required steel or better, some required dwarven or better, some required mithril or better, etc). I also liked that temple/religious guilds separated by individual gods, rather than a collective like "The Tribunal" or "The Imperial Cult/Nine Divines", and each god had their own knightly order. These had an immense effect on the game's atmosphere to me, along with the flavor of my character(s). And of course, can't forget about gold having weight, multiple qualities of stores (which affected the kinds of items you buy and the price you buy/sell at), buyable homes and a player ship for free water travel.
Personally, I also like how Daggerfall had more limited access to potions and enchanted gear, and that enchanted stuff was not rechargeable. This made potions and magical gear feel more special since they gave you an extra temporary edge, rather than simply being the next upgrade stage while having an overabundance of potion buffs. I also liked that repairing weapons and armor required you leaving said items with a smith for a few days, so you had to rely on backup stuff until it's done (although it took a lot longer to became worn down enough to warrant repair). And also that an item's enchantments were unknown until you got it identified... you could still use it, but you wouldn't be told what it does, and there was a chance for it to be cursed.
This isn't even speaking of narrative or pacing which is what I feel are Morrowind's strongest suits. The game is a slow burning story about interwoven politics and religion and is quite different from a lot of other titles out there for that reason but it still pulls it off wonderfully.
They are done well enough in Morrowind, yes, though I think Daggerfall did it well too. In Morrowind, you know very early on that there's this whole Nerevarine prophecy business going on which tells of The Bad Guy's defeat, and that you're involved with it (with the opening narration even strongly hinting that you're the chosen hero). While the story is good, it is a pretty straight forward you're-the-hero-to-unite-people-and-defeat-the-bad-guy (even if the bad guy may be some kind of anti-villain, he does still plan on wrecking everything and turning everyone into zombies).
In comparison, in Daggerfall you start off on a mission from the Emperor to put the soul of the now-former King of Daggerfall (who had been killed recently in battle) to rest, as he's haunting Daggerfall City with an army of ghosts . And there was secondary objective involving a "sentimental and personal" letter the Emperor sent to the then-Queen of Daggerfall that got lost somewhere, and he'd like you to find and destroy it (a particularly clever touch, since it makes you think he's alluding to it being a scandalous romance he has/had with the dead King's spouse, and doesn't want that getting around). But over the course of the main quest, you learn that not everything is as it seems. Not only were the reports of the King being killed in battle not exactly true, but the contents of the letter weren't quite what you were led to believe either. And all these things were tied together in the political backstabbing and power struggle between several of the regions, which lead to the uncovering of a powerful golem that was originally used to conquer Tamriel. I also like that you aren't some prophesied hero being sent on a quest to save the world. There is no out-right evil bad guy, and you're simply an adventurer that gets caught up in regional politics that get you sent on fantastical adventures.