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Bethesda's Todd Howard Shares wild Trick That Let Morrowind Run On Xbox

Last week, Microsoft announced the purchase of Bethesda, bringing all the publishers’ studios under the Xbox Game Studios brand. This isn’t the first time Bethesda and Microsoft have had a tight working relationship, however, with a history spanning back to the original Xbox. And on that system, the Bethesda Game Studios team got very creative developing software.

During a recent podcast with Microsoft’s Phil Spencer and Larry Nelson, as well as Bethesda’s Pete Hines and Todd Howard, the group recalled some of the history between Xbox and Bethesda’s titles. Howard, longtime designer on series such as The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, mentioned how The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind was a marvel to get running on the original Xbox. Turns out it featured some ridiculous tricks to do so, too. This includes a workaround you may have not even known was possible while playing a game.

“If you’re running low on memory, you can reboot the original Xbox and the user can’t even tell,” Howard explained. “You can throw a screen up though. When Morrowind loads sometimes you get a very long load, that’s us rebooting the Xbox.”

It seems like a ridiculous hack, but it’s one Howard says Microsoft informed the development team of as an official means to circumvent the console’s low memory, especially when taxed with a game featuring areas as large as Morrowind did. It almost seems like another age entirely when compared to the capabilities of current consoles, with the Xbox Series X allowing players to have at least three games running at once that you can quickly switch between. You can switch between them almost instantly, too.

In GameSpot’s 2002 review of Morrowind, the game received a score of 8.7/10, and was described as “a beautiful-looking, sprawling, and completely open-ended game that allows you to play pretty much however you like as long as you’re willing to fill in a few blanks using your imagination.”

Microsoft’s purchase of Bethesda brings up a lot of questions about the future platforms its games will launch on. Spencer has stated that current exclusivity deals on PS5 for Arkane’s Deathloop and Tango Gameworks’ Ghostwire: Tokyo will stand, and that platforms for future games will be decided on a “case by case” basis. We’ll have to see what that means for some of the biggest Bethesda franchises, including Wolfenstein, The Elder Scrolls, and Doom. In the meantime, you can look forward to Doom Eternal coming to Xbox Games Pass on October 1, and also check out our Xbox Series X hands-on preview and look at the system’s load times and Quick Resume feature.

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