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The Elder Scrolls: Arena

aka: Arena, The Elder Scrolls Chapter One: Arena

Description official descriptions

The Elder Scrolls: Arena is a first-person action role-playing game in which the protagonist must rescue the Emperor Uriel Septim VII from his dimensional prison by recovering the eight pieces of the Staff of Chaos. The emperor's position has been usurped by impersonator Jagar Tharn, whose slain apprentice rallies the protagonist in his dreams to find the eight pieces of the staff and return the status quo.

It is the first chapter in the Elder Scrolls series and the first game that is set in the fictional world of Tamriel. The game features 3D environments, with sprites representing non-playable characters and enemies. In the beginning of the game the player chooses the race for the protagonist, based on his or her home province. Each race has its benefits: for example, Redguards from the province Hammerfell have physical attack bonuses. There is no skill system; leveling up occurs after a sufficient amount of experience points has been accumulated. The player is free to raise any of the protagonist's main attributes by allocating the points gained with the level.

Unlike later games in the series the player can travel through almost all of Tamriel, instead of being restricted to certain provinces. There are over 400 cities, towns and villages to explore, as well as many magical items and spells to create. The player can walk endlessly in any direction as more and more land will be procedurally generated. Walking manually however never allows the player to reach other cities; the fast travel feature must be used for this. The player is free to go where he or she wants. The story itself is resolved in a linear fashion, although the locations of items is randomly determined at the start of the game.

Melee combat is performed through mouse gestures and spells are cast using a menu interface. The player controls only a single character, which happens in real-time. In the wild and in dungeons the player can expect opposition from enemies which need to be defeated and who drop loot. In the cities NPCs can be found, some will barter or provide other services to the player.

The CD-ROM release features speech in cutscenes and additional rendered sequences that the floppy version does not include.

Groups +



Credits (DOS version)

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Lead Design
Lead Programming
Additional Programming
Graphics / Artwork
Additional Graphics / Artwork
Executive Producer
Quality Assurance
[ full credits ]



Subject User Date
Skill system in Arena? MrFlibble (17731) 2013-07-21 22:21:38
Release date on main summary Izmir Egal (73) 2012-07-29 19:35:58
Term of development. Virgil (8571) 2007-11-01 05:32:09



Arena was at first, not going to be a RPG, but instead a gladiator style game. Someone came up with the RPG idea, and it caught.

Freeware release

To coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Elder Scrolls series in 2004, Bethesda Softworks released the first game, Arena, as freeware. It can be downloaded from the Elder Scrolls website


The Elder Scrolls: Arena was primarily inspired by a collection of pen and paper RPGs, the Ultima Underworld series, and the first-person RPG Legends of Valour.


A German version of the game was announced and the box distributed in Germany even included a sticker and post card offering to exchange the game for the German version once available. However no localized versions were ever released. One reason may have been that the game's program code is using fixed text lengths, making it very difficult to find equal length translations for other languages.


  • Computer Gaming World
    • May 1995 (Issue #130) – Role-Playing Game of the Year

Information also contributed by Agent 5 and Isak

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Special Edition
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The Elder Scrolls III: Tribunal
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The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind - Game of the Year Edition
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BioShock & The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Bundle
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The Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon
Released 2003 on Windows

Related Sites +

  • Official Elder Scrolls Website
    Bethesda Softworks official site for the Elder Scrolls series.
  • Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages!
    A wiki page that is dedicated to the Elder Scrolls series. It a great source for hints and backround information concerning the Elder Scrolls saga. Just about everything can be found here.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by faceless.

Windows Apps added by Plok. Windows added by Rik Hideto.

Additional contributors: Blackhandjr, Isak, Iggi, SGruber, Patrick Bregger.

Game added January 27th, 2000. Last modified May 2nd, 2023.