5/1 – The Elder Scrolls: Arena
Hello and welcome. My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.
We are halfway through DOS week and let’s celebrate with the start of one of my personal favorite game series of all time. Today’s game is The Elder Scrolls: Arena, released on MS-DOS in March 1994.
After releasing a number of sports games and adaptations of franchises such as Home Alone and The Terminator, Bethesda was eager to start a franchise they could call their own. In 1994, they released two wholly original games, one of which was a first person RPG called The Elder Scrolls.
While first person RPGs were nothing new at this point, with series like Wizardry and Might and Magic being out for some time, The Elder Scrolls stood out by incorporating an almost action-game fighting style where players would click and drag the mouse across the screen in order to strike at foes or cast magic spells. It also impressed by having a truly infinite world to explore, with developer designed buildings, dungeons and wilderness being randomly generated throughout the world as it is explored. Players must use a quick travel system to travel from place to place in order to continue the main quest.
The story takes place across Tamriel in the 389th year of the 3rd era, so 34 years before Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and 235 years before Skyrim. The Emperor Uriel Septim is betrayed by his advisor Jagar Tharn who traps him in another dimension. After killing many of Septim’s loyalists, Tharn sends the player character and other soldiers to the dungeons. However, the court mage helps the player escape and instructs them to re-assemble the Staff of Chaos which can destroy Jagar Tharn and free the Emperor.
The Elder Scrolls: Arena released to solid reviews but sales were low initially due to the misleading box art and name, which suggested a more gladiatorial action game, rather than an RPG which, ironically, doesn’t actually have an Arena. Word of mouth picked up, however, and Arena started to sell much better, eventually earning enough to justify a sequel. The Elder Scrolls is on-going, although with only four numbered sequels made in the last 25 years. Still, the series has only grown in popularity and a sixth game is currently in development.
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