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October 23rd, 2013, 14:10
Originally Posted by Fluent View Post
How is Arena by the way? Good game? I'm interested in that and Daggerfall once I'm finished playing Morrowind. Never really gave them a shot yet.
I like it a lot. Yes it has pixels as big as my fist, but some of the art is still nice if you're retro-minded.
Arena is very easy to jump into, make a character, grow a few levels, and take a look at the world. You don't have to worry about factions much, or anything, just take some quests from patrons or go dungeon-romping.

It's also interesting to see where TES started. Personally I think the leveling system where you manually assign points to stats is head and shoulders above the later iterations, where you don't choose the character you want but try to assemble a combination of skills that won't screw up your attributes entirely. Yes there are trainers in the later games that mitigate this problem… but that's more of a flaw too if you ask me. Trainers make you not play the game but gather money to pay them, which is a very dubious design decision.

They never really achieved the class distinction they wanted in the later titles. Say… I have an idea of a paladin I want to play, so I want to have great melee skills, an ok dodge/ block skill, and a minor Restoration skill. Ok, but with trainers, why not raise my Restoration skill more quickly? Speaking of which, why not make Restoration one of my major skills so it will raise more quickly by use, too? And then… why only Restoration? Let's add Destruction as a major skill, too. It's not like all skills are equally useful, anyway.
In Arena, being a healer achieves exactly that - you have medium armor, ok weapon selection, and you can buy/ cast all defensive spells more cheaply (and offensive spells are more expensive). Plus you get a nice bonus on your healing rate. This class distinction makes for fun multiple playthroughs. Some may say this doesn't reflect in-game player choice very well, but I'd rather have a system that works than one with a lot of loopholes.

Then, there's no stealth in Arena. Something I'm fond of, in fact, as I don't enjoy characters very much who are stealthy all the time. Instead, thief classes have a chance to land critical hits (3x damage). So, they play much like a warrior class in combat, just with inferior weapons and armor. You can use thiefly skills outside of combat though, like picking locks, pockets, shoplifting, and sneaking into rooms in inns. I like it, and I think they may have made stealth a bit too much of a focus in later games, esp. Skyrim. TES was never about stealth, it's about exploration, combat, and generally messing with the power structures of a fantasy world.

Then… lore. Arena doesn't have much, just the flavor that you get from reading the manual and short in-game descriptions, like those of special holidays. Also, NPC's from different regions use different wording, which is a nice touch. Which is another thing I actually prefer about Arena compared to later games. Yeah, Daedra, artifacts, yadda. There are artifact quests in Arena, you just don't get a lot of lore to go with them. To me, that makes the world feel more open, if that makes sense. You just don't know everything about the world and its higher powers.

I'm planning on replaying all TES games only using pre-set classes and no trainers just to get a better experience sometime, and Arena is always a good place to start.

tl;dr Arena is a fun little dungeon romp with nice music and art direction (esp. in dungeons) and worth your time, especially if you want to do some TES research.




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