The Elder Scrolls: Arena

aka: Arena, The Elder Scrolls Chapter One: Arena
Moby ID: 803
DOS Specs
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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.

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Credits (DOS version)

17 People · View all

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



Average score: 77% (based on 24 ratings)


Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 60 ratings with 7 reviews)

Under a rough surface lies an epic adventure

The Good
The World. A huge gaming world full of quests, factions, lords, ladies, and death awaited the player everytime you started a new game. A new game is certainly that..a brand new game, with new dungeons, new quests, new people. The replayability of this game was staggering

The Bad
The Bugs! Horrible bugs that just seemed to multiply as time went on. Casting magic missle often scheduled a date with the DOS prompt. You really had to save often to have any hope of enjoying this game

The Bottom Line
This game was the first of an entire series of Elder Scrolls adventures. Each new game brought forth a new perspective to the land. I highly recommend playing it even if its for the sake of seeing where it all began. If the presentation doesn't impress you, the scope will!

DOS · by MaiZure (59) · 2003

Simpily one of the best games ever.

The Good
The Elder Scrolls Arena, is the first game in the Elder Scrolls series, and it is very good. With 8 races, and 18 classes, you have a bit to chose from. It's non-linear, very, if you want to kill a elf, walkng in town fine, if you want to break into a noble house and rob it fine, if you want to be a noble knight and kill those scumbag, fine. The fighing system is good, simple, you click and drag mouse. Theres over 400 places to visit, and the wilderness, is real fun to travel, on your way you'll find, people, temples, houses, wayside inns, and crypts and that sort of stuff. It's big. Also the holidays, which make thing cheaper, free. Then the mighty spell maker, you can make powerfull spells.

The Bad
Bugs. The most annoying one is, when you save your game, the game frezzes, and you lose you save game, making save alot, with servel, games, and that can get confusing. But it's pertty rare.

The Bottom Line
If your a rpg fan, and see this game, buy it.

DOS · by Blackhandjr (89) · 2000

Made to look foolish by Morrowind, unfortunately.

The Good
The first-person RPG was quite a revolutionary idea that has been used in future titles like Deus Ex, System Shock and Arena's sequels, Daggerfall and Morrowind.

The Bad
NPCs have the personality of a particularly boring cheese sandwich, the control and journal system gets on my nerves and plays slow on DOSBox (you can increase the speed but it messes up the sound) and made unfortunately inferior by Morrowind.

The Bottom Line
This would be a good game but I played it after playing Morrowind and the whole experience was made worse.

DOS · by Neon Hammerite (35) · 2005

[ View all 7 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
Skill system in Arena? MrFlibble (18361) Jul 21, 2013
Release date on main summary Izmir Egal (73) Jul 29, 2012
Term of development. Virgil (8563) Nov 1, 2007



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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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.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 803
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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 27, 2000. Last modified March 15, 2024.