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. We’re using the original game + MGE XE as a base, not OpenMW, since OpenMW still can’t come close to this level of visual fidelity.
Mods like these are how Morrowind goes from looking like this…
The order in which you install mods is actually somewhat important, so I’ll list them in proper order. But first, let me list some tips that apply not only to Morrowind, but many other games too.
- Before downloading any mods, launch the game first so that the configuration files and what not are created.
- Once you’ve done this, download the mods you want. Preferably the ones that will be listed below. Once you have all your mods ready to go, you should avoid downloading new big mods (that have ESP or ESM files). Save games might not import properly if you do. If you’re making a new game then it doesn’t matter. So modding Morrowind is a bit more tricky than Oblivion and Skyrim.
Now for the actual mod list. Install them in the order they’re listed! Also note that for Morrowind, you’re going to want a mod manager. I recommend Mod Organizer 2.
|Mod Name / Hyperlink||Description|
|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.|
|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.|
|Project Atlas||Similar to the above mod, it fixes optimization issues in the game, many of which relating to meshes.|
|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.|
|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!|
|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.|
|Trimmed Grass for Morrowind Rebirth||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).|
|Landscape Retexture||High res landscape retextures.|
|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.|
|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.|
Before I go on, remember how I said that the order you install these mods is relevant. Going with the order listed above is safe, but really all that matters is this:
- MGE XE is installed BEFORE all retexture mods
- Combat Experience – Depth Perception is installed after Morrowind Rebirth
- Distant Land in MGE XE is generated AFTER ALL MODS ARE ALREADY INSTALLED
- Once distant land is generated in MGE XE, make sure you uncheck the Grass for Morrowind Rebirth ESP so that the grass doesn’t appear as solid immovable objects in the game
- Note that ESP files with a capital “ESP” as the file extension, opposed to lower case, will not show up in Morrowind Mod Manager (not an issue with Nexus Mod Manager Community Edition, never tested Vortex)! In this case, use an alternative mod manager or just change it to lower case .esp
If you follow this order and Windows asks you to overwrite files, say Yes to all. Now for the load order, you’ll want it to look something like this:
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 MorrowindData Files directory. Then open cmd (search for it in the Start Menu), and change the directory to your MorrowindData Files location like so.
cd C:Program Files (x86)\Steam\Steamapps\common\Morrowind\Data Files
Once this is entered, enter the next command.
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.