Stunning fantasy RPG
The Elder Scrolls series of fantasy RPGs are of course legendary, with Morrowind, Daggerfall and Skyrim being enduring genre classics. Arena is actually the first game in the franchise and while it may not have the polish of later efforts, it is certainly worth playing for RPG fans and historians alike. Taking place in the now well known land of Tamriel, the games sees players getting caught up in a complex plot which requires them to recover the eight pieces of the Staff of Chaos which can save the Emperor from the clutches of a treacherous mage. Gameplay will be familiar to anyone who has played an Elder Scrolls game before, and plays out in first-person perspective, with the player exploring various environments, slaying monsters and embarking on quests. While all this may sound somewhat standard now, Arena really was ground-breaking for its time. The sense of scale on display here remains impressive, with a vast world to explore and which is procedurally generated to create a truly unique experience. The player is free to wander in any way they see fit and this is one of the game's great pleasures, with much enjoyment to be had from simply adventuring. Of course, there are the now established features like levelling up, quests and magic, with hundreds of items, weapons and spells to create and discover. Arena is obviously visually dated but this doesn't get in the way of things too much and when combined with its epic and compelling story, exciting combat and wonderfully realised world, it remains a true classic of the genre. It is highly challenging though, even for genre veterans, but if you are curious about how the Elder Scrolls series started, this is a must play.