Road to Skyrim – Arena (Formerly “The Elder Scrolls Experiment”)

First a little explanation:

For those that don’t know, The Elder Scrolls is a series of Role Playing Games developed by Bethesda Softworks.  There are currently four main games in the series: Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind and Oblivion.  A fifth game, Skyrim, will be out in November.    The goal of this ‘experiment’ is to play through each of the main games in the series before the new game is launched.  I’ll be posting my progress every Monday. I hope to also post plenty of pictures and video to go along with this series.

The Elder Scrolls - Arena

At first I wasn’t sure I could get The Elder Scrolls: Arena to work on my system. I knew I had to use a program such as Dosbox to start the game, but it seemed like it would be a bit of work to get it going. Luckily I found this Elder Scrolls site that has a great program.  It is an already reconfigured download of Arena  with Dosbox preinstalled.  Easy to download, easy to install and works on my computer system.  Very nice.

Once I did install the game, I found that the size of the screen was a bit to large in Full-screen mode and the image was cut off near the bottom. In windowed mode the image was much to small. So I had to go in to the Dosbox configuration file in the Arena folder and do a little bit of twiddling.  This works and  finally screen size was just right.  Not cut off while maximized and not small while windowed.   Though I didn’t want to mess with anything, I guess I did have to fiddle with Dosbox after all.

Arena Story

To really enjoy this game, one has to throw away all preconceived notions of “easy control scheme” and “User customizable controls.” Arena has some odd control choices.  I guess the designers expected the player to always use the mouse because the controls are really laid out in an odd manner.  The arrows are the best way to “move” as far as I can tell, yet I don’t see any shortcut buttons near the arrow keys for switching magic and weapons.  The player can move with the mouse but it isn’t as fast as using the arrow keys.  However using the mouse is a must for some actions, like attacking. The player has to hold down the right mouse button and move the mouse in the direction he wants to attack.   So when the player has to move with the arrow keys while while changing weapons and magic with the keyboard while attacking with the mouse.  This can be quite awkward.

Arena - Dungeon

As it stands right now, I just made it out of the beginning dungeon. Like almost every Elder Scrolls game, the main character starts in a jail. A “vision” that shows a sorceress who was killed defending the Empire helps guide the way, telling the character that he has to go west then south to leave the dungeon. Between the awkward controls and having not knowing the full extent of the controls, I found that I died several times before I finally actually found the portal that took me out of the dungeon. Not that I’m complaining – playing game that isn’t easy is kind of refreshing.

Right now my character is sitting on the edge of a town. I have finally been informed I must find 8 dungeons to find 8 parts of a staff and put it back together to defeat the main bad guy.Shades of the Legend of Zelda?

What is really interesting is both the changes and similarities to the latter Elder Scrolls games. Obviously the game is a first person action RPG, just like the sequels. The controls (as I mentioned before) are not exactly the most user friendly. I can see why the controls have been seriously reworked in the next games in the series. Also Arena is one of the only Elder Scrolls game to actually encompass the entirety of the realm. Each of the sequels takes place in only one or two of the Provinces. In fact it is interesting to see the empire referred to as “Arena” in the lore instead of Tamriel.

Arena - In town

Classes aren’t exactly like they will be in later games either. There are classes to choose from or the player can go through a series of questions to have the class chosen for him. As the series goes on, picking a class has been lessened. In fact the next Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim,  is going to remove classes all together. Races such as the Khajjit don’t seem to be the same either.   The race selection screen makes the Khajjit look like heavily tattooed man instead of a catlike race.  I’m not sure what they will look like in Arena proper as Non Player Characters since I am not to far into the game.

Playing Arena is an interesting experience, especially knowing how the series evolves. I’m not far but I am looking forward to playing through the rest of the game.

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4 comments for “Road to Skyrim – Arena (Formerly “The Elder Scrolls Experiment”)

  1. 06/14/2011 at 14:11

    This is sad coming from an RPG and RP enthusiast, but I’ve never really played too much of these games outside of OBLIVION. I would like to change that one day, although I’m afraid I’d need more time than I presently have. :(

    Either way, very well-written article! :)

    • 06/14/2011 at 18:29

      My exposure to The Elder Scrolls series – I played a demo of Daggerfall I didn’t care much for around the time it released. By the time Morrowind cam out, I had pretty much forgot the series existed. However my brother bought me the Morrowind Game of the Year Edition twice: once for the original Xbox and once for PC. I have played through Oblivion a bit but I have not beat the game. So this is a pretty new experience for myself as well :)

      • 06/14/2011 at 18:39

        I’m not surprised you have not finished Oblivion…I hear it’s a game that’s almost like playing an “Offline MMORPG” of sorts, mainly because it’s just so incredibly massive! :)

        • 06/14/2011 at 18:44

          Yeah I probably won’t be buying many new games in the next five months or so before Skyrim comes out. All these games are pretty big – I have no idea if I’ll beat any of them, heh.

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