The Elder Scrolls is one of the most popular and recognizable RPG game series in the world.

Alongside the absolutely iconic Skyrim, the two previous installments of the game – TES IV: Oblivion and TES III: Morrowind – also enjoy legendary status.

Between the releases of Morrowind and Oblivion, only 4 years passed. Both games represent the same genre, are set in the same world, and are created by the same team. However, they are unique and entirely unique. Ready for a comparison of? Let’s begin!

Setting and World Design:

Although both games are set in the world of Nirn, on the continent of Tamriel, their settings differ significantly. The reason for this is their setting in different provinces.

In Morrowind, players are transported to the eponymous Morrowind, more precisely to the volcanic island of Vvardenfell. This place offers unique and alien landscapes – mountain slopes covered with strange plants and huge mushrooms, and animals living in this climate resembling large insects and crustaceans.

It is a rather unique landscape in fantasy gaming, which simply asks for exploration! It will appeal to players who love rich and truly foreign experiences.

Oblivion, on the other hand, takes us to Cyrodiil – located in the central part of Tamriel. Unlike the dark Morrowind, Cyrodiil offers us a fairly classic medieval fantasy setting – from dense forests and green meadows to snow-capped mountains. Alongside real-world animals (wild boars, deer, bears), we can also encounter several fantastic creatures (unicorns, imps, minotaurs).

In terms of world design, Oblivion is better suited for those who prefer a more traditional medieval European fantasy environment. Also significant, Oblivion’s map size is much bigger than Morrowind’s and the two previous parts of the game.

Story and Main Quest:

Both Morrowind and Oblivion immerse players in vast, elaborate lore and offer an interesting, absorbing story divided into a series of engaging quests. However, the storylines of the individual games differ somewhat.

Morrowind primarily offers players deep, entangled lore tied intricately to the Dunmeri (Dark Elves) culture. The story of this game revolves around the so-called Tribunal, a triumvirate of immortal, divine beings ruling Morrowind, who are fighting against their recent ally – Dagoth Ur, seeking to seize control of the land.

The story of this game will appeal to players who love a complex, layered narrative where the main character’s destiny is shrouded in prophecy.

Oblivion, on the other hand, offers a more immediate, urgent storyline centered around a kingdom in crisis. The emperors of Tamriel are the only ones who can maintain the barrier separating the human realm from the dark, hellish realm of Oblivion.

When the last of them is murdered, this boundary begins to weaken. Now the most important thing is to find the lost heir of the emperor and save Cyrodiil. This storyline suits players who prefer a more direct, clear-cut heroic narrative.

Gameplay Mechanics and Features:

Although both games represent the RPG genre, belong to the same series, and have many similarities in gameplay, there are several significant differences. What does the comparison  mechanics look like?

Despite the obvious and typical mechanics for the series, Morrowind is more unforgiving and more strategic, with a focus on careful planning – both in terms of available resources and the way battles with enemies are conducted.

Video credit: Bethesda Softworks -

This game is made for hardcore gamer and old-school RPG lovers who enjoy a challenge and the risk of real failure.

Oblivion, on the other hand, is more accessible and intuitive, allowing players to delve right into the action – in this regard, TES IV is closer to its successor – Skyrim – than to the previous installment of the game.

Video credit: Gustav Engman -

Oblivion is more tailored for modern gamers looking for fluidity and a more dynamic combat experience. This means it also has a much lower entry threshold.

Magical Systems and Artefacts:

In the world of The Elder Scrolls, alongside melee weapons and bows, magic plays a huge role in combat – which we can combine with classic attacks, only support them, or base our play style on them.

Morrowind surpasses both Oblivion and other instalments of the TES series in this respect. The game offers an incredibly vast system of spells, customizable magic, and legendary items that we can use in various ways.

This title was explicitly created for magic enthusiasts who not only love to play as mages but appreciate the freedom to experiment and craft their spells.

Oblivion, on the other hand, offers a refined, simpler system with more emphasis on enchantments, allowing non-magical characters, such as Barbarians, Warriors, or Thieves (through enchanted, magical weapons), to make extensive use of magic.

The game also offers much fewer but more impactful spells. Oblivion suits those who want a more streamlined magic experience without getting bogged down in too many choices.

Cultural and Social Themes:

As you rightly noticed when discussing the plot and quests, both games also differ in the themes they address, such as politics or religion.

In the case of Morrowind, we delve much deeper into politics, religion, and social hierarchies. Understanding the individual motifs has a significant impact on understanding the entire plot and its nuances, affecting the overall perception of lore.

This game is ideal for those who love diving deep into intricate societal structures and understanding the backbone of a game’s world.

In the case of TES IV, we are not dealing with such deep themes. Although the plot touches on empire politics, it basically serves as a background for the main theme of the game, which is the struggle of the human realm against the demons from Oblivion.

In our opinion, this game is perfect for players who appreciate a grander scale of narrative without getting lost in too many details.

Conclusion: The Verdict

While both games excel in their own right, the choice largely depends on player preferences. Morrowind might be the winner for the purist RPG fan who values depth, complexity, and a distinctive world. If you are a hardcore RPG enthusiast, someone who values a rich and layered narrative, or a fan of unique world-building, dive into Morrowind.

Oblivion emerges superior for those leaning towards accessibility, grandeur, and a classical fantasy setting. If you are looking for a balanced mix of action and story, desire a more user-friendly experience, or are a fan of traditional fantasy settings, Oblivion awaits for you!

Postscript: A Personal Plea

Regardless of the choice, the entire saga of The Elder Scrolls is worth exploring – both the two games discussed above, and the huge, groundbreaking Daggerfall, Arena which started the series, as well as the fantastic and ever-popular Skyrim.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the saga offers a great, deep, and incredibly interesting lore, wonderfully created worlds, immense freedom of action, and countless hours of entertainment that will be appreciated by all fans and lovers of RPG games!