Gaming PC 4

Basic Modding Guide for Morrowind

***This article is out of date now that OpenMW overall surpasses MGE-XE visually.*** For up to date mod lists, head over to the OpenMW modding site here. I prefer the Graphics Overhaul or Total Overhaul lists, though the process of manually installing and messing with 200+ mods is ridiculous and I may look into automating the process more at some point. The only thing I recommend on top of those lists are OpenAL Soft (if the latest version breaks surround sound for any surround users, revert), and for anyone who can’t stand Morrowind’s RNG combat, use the Combat Experience – Depth Perception mod (100 ESP) listed in the mod table below.

The only downside to using OpenMW over MGE-XE is that there are a number of mods that require MWSE and don’t support OpenMW, but the opposite is also true. For me, the most notable MWSE-only mod is UI expansion listed below. Therefore, we will leave this article here for anyone who wants to try out MGE-XE.

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is a 2002 action RPG from Bethesda Game Studios. The first Elder Scrolls game to gain strong mainstream attention, the first one to use a fully hand crafted level, and Bethesda’s finest work to date by far, it is no surprise that Morrowind remains highly popular today. It has the moddability that Bethesda is known for today, and its modding community is not slowing down.

Here is a mod list that is great both for first timers and veterans. All elements of the game are vastly improved with these mods. Our example mod list is a non-purist, MCP+MGE-XE+MWSE based list. There is a toxic, irrational hatred for such non-purist builds by almost all old game communities, a mindset many game developers disagree with. These mods will make Morrowind look as great as can be, since the original game’s technology and visual quality are so outdated.

Mods like these are how Morrowind goes from looking like this…

To this:

Before downloading any mods, launch the game first so that the configuration files and what not are created.

Now for the actual mod list. Note that you will want a mod manager: I recommend Mod Organizer 2.

Mod Name / Hyperlink Description
Patch for Purists An unofficial patch that does not conflict with the ones below.
Unofficial Morrowind Official Plugins Patched This mod fixes bugs in various official plugins of the game.
Mesh Correction Mods – First, Second, Third Correct original meshes and UV maps, which also improves performance.
Morrowind Code Patch Massive unofficial patch full of optional features, many of which let you rebalance parts of the game to your desire, correcting illogical Morrowind design choices but again you can choose not to use those specific changes.
Morrowind Optimization Patch Fixes mesh errors and improves performance in some unusually performance heavy areas without sacrificing visual quality. Yes, this old game needs these optimization mods. Upgrading graphics in old games (especially MGE XE above) is very inefficient. Modded Morrowind is one of the hardest games to run for any PC.
Graphic Herbalism Automatically harvests herbs just like the old Graphic Herbalism, but using the container’s leveled lists.
Project Atlas Similar to the above mod, it fixes optimization issues in the game, many of which relating to meshes.
Morrowind Graphics Extender XE (MGE XE) The ultimate graphics mod for Morrowind. Has features such as a new per-pixel lighting system, new shaders, totally revamped water, distant land generation, etc. OpenMW still can’t do all of this, this is one of the main reasons we recommend this instead.
MWSE 2.1 Nightly Build Some mods require this, which is newer than the stable build included with MGE-XE.
Tamriel Rebuilt This ambitious megamod adds the Morrowind mainland to the game, since by default the game’s open world only encompasses the small island of Vvardenfell and the tiny island of Solstheim added by Bloodmoon expansion. Mainland Morrowind is far bigger than those two combined.
Morrowind Rebirth One of the most impressive mods for Morrowind, it adds so much detail to the world of Vvardenfell, expanding on it making the game feel less empty and gamey and more like a real place. It also makes some balance improvements and fixes a lot of issues.
MacKom’s Humanoid Heads + Khajit Head Pack + Khajit Head Pack Fixed Messages + New Hair for MacKom’s Heads Head and hair replacers. Beware of childish modder drama getting MacKom’s mods deleted periodically.
TR Heads Replacer (MacKom’s heads) New models for character faces that are just universally improved over the base game. It has some requirements you’ll see when initiating the download (including Tamriel Rebuilt): make sure to install those first! If this gives you issues, change the dates of TR_Data.bsa and PT_Data.bsa to dates in the past using something like Attribute Changer.
Better Bodies Plugins for MacKom’s Heads Body replacers compatible with MacKom’s heads. Only download “Better Bodies meshes for MacKoms heads Fixed Pluginless”. And no this isn’t just a sexual mod, although that option is there for the prepubescent/repressed.
New Beast Bodies – Clean Version Like the above but for beast races.
Tyddy’s Retextures Many individual texture mods from one skilled author. Pick and choose what you like. I personally use the vast majority of what he has but you can skip the creature ones, except for Alit and Kagouti which are not covered by Darknut’s retextures below.
Darknut’s Creature Retextures – First, Second, Bloodmoon, Tribunal Upscaled creature retextures.
Blighted Animal Retextures Makes blighted animals look a bit different. Has options for using Darknut’s textures as a base, most recommended.
HiRez Armors – Native Styles V2 Fixed and Optimized High resolution and optimized armor replacers.
Darknut’s Little Weapons Mod Complete High res weapon retextures. Necessary since the original game’s look horrible due to their microscopic textures and very low mesh quality.
Better Clothes Complete Also necessary due to how dated and low quality the original game looks. Use Darknut’s textures.
Hirez Better Clothes Even higher res addon for Better Clothes Complete, so load this after.
Apel’s Fire Retexture Much needed improvements to fire visuals.
Signposts Retextured 2.0 Considering how this game relies on directions, it’d be really helpful if signposts were truly legible without the need for captions. So here you go. Only download 2.0, and the TR version does not include the base version.
Grass for Morrowind Rebirth 5.6 This mod adds grass to the terrain of Morrowind and is compatible with Morrowind Rebirth unlike every other grass mod (and Morrowind Rebirth is a must, one of the best overhaul mods ever). Be sure to use the Ashland Grass for Morrowind Rebirth 261 addon. This is a huge immersion booster. To use this with MGE XE, do NOT enable this mod in your Mod Manager (leave it unchecked). Instead, when you run MGE XE’s distant land generator wizard, do it with this mod (all plugins/ESP files) selected. This will generate distant land with this mod enabled. Once it’s done, ensure all of this mod’s ESP files remain unchecked (otherwise the grass will be a solid object that you can’t walk through). Does not work with the latest version of Rebirth.
Tyddy’s Landscape Retexture High res landscape retextures.
Skies IV Very high resolution sky replacer. Beautiful.
New Starfields Ultra high resolution replacers for star patterns. Provides a fantastical look.
Lua Lockbashing MWSE implementation of a lock bashing mod. Allows you to gradually destroy locks by bashing them.
Combat Experience – Depth Perception By default, Morrowind has a horrible combat system that combines hack and slash gameplay with dicerolls for chance to hit. These two designs are incompatible with each other and the end result is one of the worst melee combat systems in gaming history; feel free to not use this mod and see for yourself. This mod has several versions that alter hit chance, including one that gives you a 100% hit chance, so that you can no longer stand right in front of someone, hit them and then not actually hit them (without them visually dodging the hit) due to failed dice rolls.
UI Expansion A must-have MWSE based UI mod that adds searching, filtering, more visual feedback and more.
Ultimate Icon Replacer Replaces icons with far better designed ones that makes it easier to discern inventory items.
Better Dialogue Font Nicer looking font that’s better suited for high resolution displays too.
MWSE Daleth’s Book Jackets MWSE implementation of a mod that gives every book a unique cover. Requires MWSE 2 which is included with MGE XE.
DSOAL Converts the game’s audio to OpenAL and enables all of its EAX effects and 3D HRTF. Read more about the procedure here.
d3d8to9 Converts D3D8 API calls and low level shaders to D3D9 for improved compatibility and performance. – EDIT: NO LONGER WORKS WITH MORROWIND ON WINDOWS 10 21H2! At least not for me. Try it for yourself; if the game doesn’t start, it is probably this file’s fault.

Make sure you generate distant land in MGE XE AFTER installing all other mods.

Note: If your texture mods don’t work, which is a common issue on Steam version, download the “tes3cmd” file listed here (alternate link). Place it in your Morrowind Data Files directory. Then open cmd (search for it in the Start Menu), and change the directory to your Morrowind Data Files location like so.

cd C:Program Files (x86)\Steam\Steamapps\common\Morrowind\Data Files

Once this is entered, enter the next command.

tes3cmd resetdates

This should ensure all mods are working properly.

Do you have any favorite mods that might be compatible with these? Let us know in the comments below.

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What specs do you think would be required to run Morrowind with this mod list?

Joshua Guptill

update on which one you would suggest now that tr heads replacer won’t work? most of the requirements are hidden by the uploader.

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