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RPG Codex has wrangled up a retrospective review of The Elder Scrolls: Arena, Bethesda Softworks' original first-person role-playing game that led the charge for what would turn out to be a very successful and decades-long series for the developer. I still remember ordering this from a J&R Music catalog back in 1994 and waiting several days for it to arrive, which also reminds me of how far we've come with purchasing highly anticipated games the second they're released:
On occasion, you might enter a town or city right when they are in the midst of a local holiday, and while that may mean celebrations with alcohol and debauchery for most people, for your character it basically means discounts at shops. Inns are probably the most important establishment for any player, open at night and serving as a place to rest and restore hit points without interruption. You'll often use them simply to wait out the night so you can shop during the day. Temples are for healing characters who aren't equipped with potions or talented in magic, and the mage guilds are vitally important for those who wish to identify items, learn new spells, purchase magical equipment or design their own magic. Finally, blacksmiths can sell you armor and weapons, and also repair them as they become worn from use. Of course, all of these wonderful services cost money, and so off you will go in pursuit of lucrative side quests and dungeons.
Arena's towns have plenty of side quests available, most of which consist of escort and FedEx-type missions, made slightly more interesting through the imposition of time limits. Unfortunately, they normally don't pay as well as a quick jaunt into the nearest dungeon, and so I found these mundane quests not worth the hassle. Sometimes, though, you'll be sold some information that reveals the location of a valuable magical artifact. These treasure hunting side quests are worth completing, as they can result in an important boost to your equipment loadout. However, even they feel quite dull in comparison to the more unique main quest dungeons. As big as Arena may seem, it has a lot of filler locations that exist only to give the illusion of size rather than delivering any actual substance or unique lore. This, of course, remains a problem in every Elder Scrolls game that came after it.