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Why I bought The Elder Scrolls Anthology

I guess this is what it feels like to be a nerd… or a fanboy. I’m not sure which. Even though I own Oblivion and Skyrim (the fourth and fifth entries in the Elder Scrolls series) and their expansions on PS3, as well as a Steam version and a boxed, greatest hits-style copy of Morrowind (the series’ third title) and its expansions on PC, when I saw this sexy box set containing all five Elder Scrolls titles – along with all of their expansions plus a big, paper map for each – I just had to have The Elder Scrolls Anthology. I guess I’m just weird that way.

Even if you’re not nuts like me, there are a few good reasons to buy it. To begin with, five expansive, in-depth games for the price of one is a heck of deal, especially if you don’t own any of the Elder Scrolls games, or if you’ve got big chunks missing here and there.

Another good reason would be if you’re curious about the first two games, Arena and Daggerfall, which a lot of you may have missed. I borrowed Daggerfall from a friend back in the day, but while I was busy with it, my old man decided to upgrade our home PC to a Pentium. Unfortunately, it was an IBM Pentium-equivalent rather than a genuine Intel one, and while it was lightning quick and outperformed all of my friends’ PCs, it had a nasty habit of refusing to play certain games – Daggerfall being one. So my time with it was short-lived.

And yes, I know Arena and Daggerfall have been available for free on Bethesda’s website for some time, but they’re so old that they have to be emulated with DOSBox; and if you’re a Windows kid, you might be clueless when it comes to tweaking and configuring DOSBox. Especially for Daggerfall, which requires DOS CD-ROM configuration. Luckily, the installers on the TES Anthology discs do it all for you.

Once you get these two pieces of nostalgia up and running, you might be quite shocked at the humble origins of this premier role-playing franchise. Arena (1994) is very basic, practically an action game. Interaction with NPCs is extremely limited and it’s hard to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing. Daggerfall (1996) is slightly easier to get into and a bit more sophisticated gameplay-wise, but most players will probably need to read a walkthrough to figure out how to find the main story thread. They’re an interesting window into an era of gaming before standardised control schemes and common gameplay features, when learning to play a new game was an intimidating undertaking in itself.

The rest of them – Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim – are obviously much more modern in terms of gameplay and design, and they come with all of their add-ons, so even just for those three games, the package is worth buying. You do need an Internet connection and a Steam account to activate them, though.

I love Oblivion and Skyrim to death, but Morrowind will always have a special place in my heart. It’s got a great atmosphere and the best story of the series, involving religious persecution, politics, slavery and a dark secret between a trio of demigods that is linked to the disappearance of an entire race.

Even if you’re only mildly interested, at only R599, it’s an interest you can afford to indulge.

  • Matthew Fick

    Great article. Morrowind was also my favorite, between all the side-missions, messianic main quest, guilds and dark elf houses, there was so much more to sink your teeth into. Just that one quest in the “Tribune” expansion where you must act in a play made it for me.

    • Matthew Vice

      I have so many fond memories of Morrowind – and I’ve still got a lot to do. Like, I never joined the Imperial Legion or the Imperial Cult, and I never got to truly explored Solstheim, because another PC upgrade caused the damn game to stop working. I have really bad luck with that.

      I remember acting in the play in Mournhold. It was quite funny. Afterwards I went and bought a pack rat companion from a vendor in that plaza. Gave him one of my favourite swords to carry (I think it was the one you get from rebuilding the daedric shrine with the help of the orcs). Then he was abruptly killed by a fireball from a bonelord that was meant for me. It was tragic.

      • Matthew Fick

        I have a very specific Mournhold memory:
        I had to escort this one priest through the sewers and into a cavern to perform some ritual mcguffin. Problem was, his A.I. sucked. So I found myself at the top of a cliff with this dude after 1000 quick-saves and loads. So, the only way down was to jump and land in the lake. I doubted I could do it, I was certain the Priest couldn’t do it. But I jumped. I treaded water, turned and watched the Priest follow suit. He jumped all the way to his… safe landing. Amazingly, his dumb A.I. was good enough to make a risky jump, but not good enough to survive a goblin fight. I just though I’d share that :) .

        Anyway, Imperial Legion is pretty fun, but I never liked heavy armor. And I was only in the Cult for a short while (can’t do Blunt and Unarmored)

        • Matthew Vice

          That’s quite something, considering followers in later Elder Scrolls games never jump down places to follow you. They’d sooner run all the way around an entire mountain that jump down a three-foot ledge.

          Well, at least in Morrowind, there’s no limit on training, so you don’t have to spend too much time on skills you don’t like. You can just pay someone to train you as much you want . It costs a fair bit, but it’s quite easy to make a lot of money once you know how.

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