The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind: Tribunal

3_1Did Morrowind even need expanding?

The first official expansion pack for Morrowind, Tribunal sets off not grafting an extra island for you to find and explore, but instead inserting itself into the main storyline. The way this happens is fairly interesting. Whenever you go to sleep in the world, you’ll sometimes find yourself rudely awakened by the sharp pokes of an assasin’s dagger. The assassination attempts (carried out, naturally, by the Dark Brotherhood), will carry on until you seek to resolve this, and this acts as the artificial prod for you to start Tribunal.

Follow the string of clues and you’ll eventually be lead to Morrowind’s isolated temple-city of Mournhold (accessible only via teleportation). Getting to Mournhold and getting through the initial quests with the royal courts is relatively easy though. As you delve further into the conspiracy and the religious Temple quests, it becomes more difficult. Completing Tribunal will require splitting some big and very well equipped heads.

Those looking for a large new island to explore will be somewhat disappointed with Tribunal. It might not have the vast expanses of its younger brother expansion Bloodmoon, but Tribunal nonetheless does make up for it by offering a huge sum of new items, quests and characters to interact with. Once in Mournhold, you have to please the royal courtiers and then go into the vast subterranean areas located under Mournhold, engaging in the usual role-playing dungeon crawls. The pack is geared towards Level 20-30 players, so getting some experience under your belt beforehand is necessary.

13_1Unlike the rest of the game, Tribunal is noticeably more focused. It’s quest line has a beginning, middle and end. It’s a lot more linear. And while you don’t have to stick around in Mournhold indefinitely (you always have the option to go back), the whole plot in Tribunal is so self-contained that you’ll probably not return after completing its questline. Unlike Morrowind, Mournhold is very isolated. That conversations with Tribunal’s characters have very little to do with the inhabitants outside of the capital city makes it a less attractive place to dwell in once everything is said and done.

Quests in Tribunal are predictable. There are of course delivery-style quests from one person to another. Objectives like seek and destroy, assassinations by writs of execution and easter egg hunts appear as well. Some of the more stirring portions of the story include defending Mournhold when it’s under attack. But these novelties are far and few in between. The endgame involves questing under the goddess Almalexia herself, which, unfortunately, is not as gratifying or interesting as it sounds. I would have rather fought off dragons standing atop at Vivec. Alas, such epic landscapes will have to be reserved for later.

7_1Ultimately, Tribunal was a lot different than what I expected it to be. I thought it would be a new land where you could simply go exploring again. Instead, it’s more like a mini-series set in Morrowind. Travel distances are shorter. Quests, dungeons, characters and objectives are more densely packed together. This makes the game more focused, and is also a great way to earn some quick experience and nifty items. But you also lose out on the wonders of traveling from one point to another. As claustrophobic as it feels, Tribunal does hit where it counts – new quests, characters, stuff and enemies to enjoy.

System Requirements: P III 800 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 32 MB Video, Win98

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