Turns out that if you run more than 300 mods in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, it becomes an unbelievably beautiful game with a fantasy world that rivals those developed and released in this decade.
These are the fruits of the OpenMW project, which began thirteen years ago and has welcomed countless fans and developers to the undertaking. The title might throw you off, but OpenMW is not a mod of the original game. It's actually an extension to the 2002 Gamebryo engine for Morrowind, combined with an editor that allows users to create and integrate their own mods or games into the engine. Resultantly, OpenMW is able to support PC, macOS, and Linux machines, offers improved physics, artificial intelligence, numerous quality of life improvements to the user interface, multiple quicksaves, compatibility for joysticks, improved rendering precision, a new water shader and terrain engine... the list goes on.
It's Morrowind, but not as we know it, in essence. Moreover, OpenMW is working on the undertaking with Bethesda's blessing, so there's no worry that this wonderful creation will disappear without a trace. A maximum of 2,147,483,646 mods may be supported by the engine, but these 300 mods appear to be just the ticket. The saturation and vibrancy of the environments have been magnified, and this combined with the comparatively simplistic models and geography gives it the air of a storybook brought to life. A storybook filled with shambling Corprus Stalkers, tricksy Netches and very angry Slaughterfish.
The visual fidelity is awe-inspiring, and it's cheering to know that Morrowind is enjoying a renaissance thanks to the OpenMW team's tireless work. In the latest update (dated November 2020), the priorities have been smoother animations, addressing the performance bottleneck when it comes to physics and collision detection, compatibility with assets from more modern Bethesda titles, and randomising the items found in containers.
The response to the sizzle reel has also been heartwarming, with veteran players amped to return to one of their favourite RPGs. "OpenMW is gonna be legendary when it comes out. I legit get giddy hyped when I think about the possibilities," said Cantaim. It's not the only passion project to the earlier entries to The Elder Scrolls, as the Skyblivion mod has been progressing smoothly as a love letter to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
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