Your eyes fall upon a deep red beauty, slowly beckoning to you. You’re unsure of whether or not you should approach but you do, because something within compels you to. You reach out and pick up that strange new game, The Elder Scrolls: Arena.
It’s been more than two decades since Tamriel was first introduced to us. It’s been one fantastic ride after another. For the most part. The Elder Scrolls: Arena gave us engaging, albeit unrefined, combat and paved the way for RPG games everywhere. As many gamers and developers noted, that first Elder Scrolls game showed us all just how much of an awe-inspiring world could be stuffed into our primitive computers.
But our fascination with The Elder Scrolls: Arena was slowly waning and we thought that perhaps it was time to quit. That was when The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall arrived to revitalise our fascination with Tamriel. Everything we knew about The Elder Scrolls: Arena had disappeared. The game was no longer that concerned with combat, instead, it drew us into a world brimming with pixelated adventure (and nudity) as well as plot depth. For the first time, we were invited to join guilds and orders and partake in the faith of Tamriel. There was just one problem— No matter how large a map is, it counts for nothing when every town and bit of landscape is identical to the one you just left.
But we loved The Elder Scrolls, too much to say that we had had enough because we knew that if we held on just a little longer, we’d have something magical. But after a while, we got An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire and The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard instead. It wasn’t exactly what we were looking for to spice things up but everything else in the past had been great so we gave these new games a chance. They were disappointments, to say the least.
Battlespire took many of the qualities that made The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall incredible and rid itself of them. It was a cramped, hack-and-slash video game with a poor storyline and overall, felt more like the expansion pack it was originally conceived to be.
Meanwhile, The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard seemed as though it might show us a new side of the series and offer a spectacular adventure. After all, adventure was in the name. Here was a character we hadn’t created. His name was Cyrus and we played him from a third-person perspective. It was interesting enough. Hammerfell was a somewhat exotic location, beautifully rendered, and reminiscent of the Prince of Persia games (pre-Sands of Time) but it wasn’t the Tamriel we fell in love with.
Two years passed and our screens were graced with one more TES game. Even though we had our doubts, our hopes were high, keeping in mind how wonderful the games had been before. The world had changed, technology improved, and we were about to embark on an adventure unlike any we had ever seen. Into the land of Morrowind we wandered, deep in the homeland of the Dunmer (or Dark Elves). Once again we were given a nameless character to create, shape, and throw into battle. The water seemed to sparkle, the sky seemed to breathe and for the first time in a long time, we felt immersed in this world once more.
It would only get better from there. In 2006, we marched into The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion to stop Mehrunes Dagon from obliterating Cyrodill. The game was littered with bugs and poor voice acting (a staple of the Elder Scrolls games). You’d meet the homeless and downtrodden peasants and they’d speak with all the finesse of the cultural elite. It was terrible but some of our most treasured memories came from that game, until of course, 2011.
That moment we had all awaited ever since we completed our first quest in The Elder Scrolls: Arena. TES V: Skyrim was the promise of epic adventure and endless action. From the moment we heard the dragon’s roar, we knew that Skyrim would prove itself to be unforgettable. Even now as you read this, there are thousands continuing their endless journey through the icy landscape, devouring dragon souls and slaughtering the undead Draugr.
We were young when we were first introduced to The Elder Scrolls, we’re older and wiser now and we know that what we have is special. There have been a lot of mistakes and issues that threatened to ruin the games. But in hindsight, we can laugh at the dragons flying backwards, beggars who descended into the ground never to be seen again, our own characters falling into the ground and appearing elsewhere. We’ll remember all the fun we had, the endless moments we spent stubbornly trying to force our noble steeds up the side of a steep mountain, forcing our way into countless dungeons and finding nothing of note. Let’s just hope that The Elder Scrolls doesn’t feed us more unnecessary things that threaten to change our relationship. After that whole Hearthfire debacle, you’d be forgiven for rethinking this whole relationship. Adopting kids? Looking at real-estate? We love you The Elder Scrolls, but this isn’t quite the direction we want this relationship to go.