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Chris Carter avatar 10:14 AM on 12.11.2012  (server time)
Carter's Quest 2013: Every main series Elder Scrolls game ever

[Read on for a description of every main series Elder Scrolls game ever released in the US, and my completion of them all in 2013.]

2013 is going to be an exciting year. Now that I know you guys enjoy reading my Quests, I'm going to make an effort to do even more of them from here on out.

I hope that you guys have learned a bit about the franchises I've covered so far, as my plan is to inspire others to share their thoughts and feelings with the series of their choice as well (which many of you have done!).

In addition to Metroid and Mega Man Classic, I also have another one ready to go for 2013: Elder Scrolls.

Why The Elder Scrolls?

Morrowind. Yep. Morrowind.

As I stated in my blog, the third entry in The Elder Scrolls saga is one of my favorite games of all time, and cemented my love for the series. No other open world game has replicated what Morrowind did for me.

In honor of that fantastic feeling, I'll be replaying every game in the franchise.

Yes, the first two series entries, Arena and Daggerfall, are fairly dated. But since I grew up on Wizardry, Kings Field, and many more classic dungeon crawlers, I think I'm up for the task. It also makes it easier knowing that the first two games are absolutely free on Bethesda's website.

For this Quest, I'll beat the main story of each game, and keep playing other content as I see fit. Since there are only five games in the core series, I'll be completing every bit of DLC to elongate the third, fourth, and fifth games.

I expect the first two to take quite a while, regardless of the lack of DLC. I'm also including The Elder Scrolls Online, which could also take up a lot of time to complete the main questline. I'll include extended thoughts on each game after I play them, since open world titles tend to provide you with different experiences every time.

If you haven't joined me on my Quests before, the way they work is pretty simple. It's kind of like a retrospective, but rather than just give you an overview of a franchise, I'll generally let you know what I thought of the game when it was released, and what I think of it now.

If I didn't provide a complete vision of what the game is like before I replay it, I'll provide an "extended thoughts" section below each applicable entry. I'll update my progress in real time through my blog, and after I finish the entire Quest, I'll share it with you guys on the front page.


The Elder Scrolls: Arena - PC [Owned]

DLC: None

Size of map: Undetermined, due to instanced design

Although it was far from the first RPG (that was about 20 years earlier), Arena came out the same year as the first King's Field game, cementing it into a gold age of PC RPGs.

Arena is unique in that you can explore all of Tamriel, and not just one or two areas -- Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim are all at your fingertips, provided you can handle the dated visuals.

Speaking of the ability to explore everywhere, the way Arena handled the map is kind of odd. The map itself isn't a continuous, connected world -- it's actually instanced. You have to use fast travel to go between towns, so it's very hard to determine the exact size of the world map.

Like Daggerfall, the game is randomly generated. I hope it holds up somewhat!



The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall - PC [Owned]

DLC: None

Size of map: approximately 487,000 square kilometers

Daggerfall is a classic RPG game, through and through. It provides a number of graphical and engine enhancements over Arena, and starts to follow a more traditional Elder Scrolls formula that would help define the series in the years to come.

You could become a vampire, werewolf, and wereboar (the former two would be implemented in nearly every subsequent game), and the political system was incredibly well done, and pretty much unprecedented at the time.

The game was also controversial at the time as an M rated game, as it showed lots of blood, nudity, and had sexual dialogue (which could be removed through parental controls in the options -- remember those, PC gamers?).

Unlike Arena though, you weren't free to explore all of Tamriel. Instead, you were stuck with High Rock and Hammerfell, although the game is so large, that Morrowind is suggested to be 0.01% the size of Daggerfall's map.

Bethesda jumped through this hurdle by randomly generating most of the map, although that caveat makes it bigger than pretty much every game ever made outside of possibly EVE Online. The sheer scale of the game is so unimaginable that it basically isn't possible today.



The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind - Xbox [Owned], Xbox (Game of the Year Edition) [Owned], PC [Owned]

DLC: Tribunal [Owned], Blood Moon [Owned]

Size of map: approximately 25.9 square kilometers

What couldn't I say about Morrowind that hasn't been said already? The vast plains, the amazing mushroom forests, the detailed ruins and keeps -- it pretty much trumped every single open world game ever released at that point, and the fact that they were able to cram it onto an Xbox disc is nothing short of amazing.

I spent well over 300 hours on one character just exploring, crafting items, and making up my own quests (this is with zero time spent on the main quest). Speaking of crafting, while some may say it breaks the game, the ability to create pretty much any item or spell increased the game's enjoyment tenfold.

I was able to spend hours creating spells like "Cure, Cura, and Curaga," as well as a "Mario Jump" spell that allowed me to leap hundreds of feet into the air. You could levitate, craft "The One Ring of Invisibility," -- anything. If you could imagine it, you could probably do it in Morrowind.

The one major detractor from the game is the fact that it hasn't aged well. Without a solid texture pack on the PC, you'll probably feel the burn of jagged, dated visuals.

While I don't think Tribunal was anything to write home about, Blood Moon rocked, and I'll be doing both for this Quest.



The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - PC, PS3, PS3 (Game of the Year Edition), Xbox 360 [Owned], Xbox 360 (Game of the Year Edition)

DLC: Knights of the Nine [Owned], Shivering Isles [Owned], Mehrune's Razor [Owned]

Size of map: approximately 41.4 square kilometers

Oblivion, I felt, had a much less interesting world, and premise, than any other TES game before it. There's something about the plain feeling of Cyrodil that just didn't resonate with me.

While the trademark sidequests had some pretty great storylines, the main quest was probably the weakest and most repetitive yet. The gist is that you're constantly trying to seal "Oblivion Gates" to prevent evil forces from bursting through into Tamriel.

The problem is, the Oblivion realm is dreadfully boring, and Bethesda tends to re-use assets and even layouts so often, that it really takes away from the allure of the game.

That "samey" feel kind of projects itself onto the game in general, actually. Unlike the previous games (Morrowind especially), sometimes it's hard to discern where you are unless you look at your map. For me, that's not a hallmark of an Elder Scrolls game in the slightest. Contrary to popular belief, Oblivion's map is actually larger than Morrowind.

Still, while I think Oblivion isn't a great Elder Scrolls game, it's a pretty solid RPG that pretty much every fan should experience at least once.

I'll also be adding on the fairly short and lackluster Knights of the Nine and Mehrune's Razor questlines, as well as the incredibly detailed, and amazing Shivering Isles expansion.

To be frank actually, Shivering Isles comes close to Morrowind's greatness and originality, and judged seperately as its own game, is probably one of the strongest Elder Scrolls titles.



The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PC, PS3, Xbox 360 [Owned]

DLC: Dawnguard [Owned], Hearthfire [Owned], Dragonborn [Owned]

Size of map: approximately 40.0 square kilometers

Skyrim immediately grabbed me more than Oblivion ever did, basically within the first hour. Although Bethesda just substituted green plains for snow (which also got old sometimes), the "dragon" hook gave the game markedly more character right off the bat.

The concept of a "dragonborn" hero that actually feels heroic, and the mere fact that dragons constantly patrol the skies made for a much more interesting, and fun game.

As always, the sidequests were much more fun than the particularly drab main questline, but I probably wouldn't have it any other way, as a few of the sidequests had better narratives than full retail titles.

Although I think Bethesda could have done better, Skyrim is still quite an amazing game, and a great gateway into the Elder Scrolls series. In addition to the rather short main quest, I'll be playing every expansion released for the game to date, and will update this Quest should any more DLC surface.



The Elder Scrolls Online - PC

Size of map: Unknown

I have no idea what to expect from The Elder Scrolls Online. In some ways, I can see it ending up like my Old Republic experience: getting to max level, enjoying the story, then promptly quitting. In another breath, I can see the vast lands of Tamriel in glorious HD, and not just restricted to Morrowind, Cyrodiil, or Skyrim.

Subscription based models are pretty tough to run these days in tandem with Blizzard, but given the prestige of the series, I can see them trying it initially. We'll see what 2013 brings, but honestly, I'm just excited at the idea of being able to see Summerset Isles close up.



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